Russian Dwarf Hamster Facts – Top 17 Asked Questions…Answered
Welcome to our question and answer section where most Russian Dwarf Hamster facts are revealed. In this section you will learn a lot about your Russian Dwarfs, so grab a pen and paper or alternatively bookmark this page.
Before we start, does anyone know why this play toy has become the most popular buy of 2018?
What Are Russian Dwarf Hamsters?
Russian dwarf hamsters are a species of hamster in the genus Phodopus. It is native to China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russian Federation. There are two types of Russian Dwarf:
- Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamster
- Russian Winter White Dwarf Hamster
Campbell’s are more popular kept as pets by children and adults because most pet stores have this type. They are easy to tame and friendly towards house mates and can live together under certain circumstances. Please see Russian Dwarf Hamsters Fighting – What To Do
Campbell’s are generally dark brown, has a narrow stripe on its back and grey fur on its underside (stomach). See picture.
Russian Winter White dwarf hamsters are very similar to Cambell’s but for one distinctive feature. Winter whites turn white in the winter (when the days get shorter) and grow white fur. The reason for this is to camouflage in the winter snow and to hide from overhead predators like eagles and owls in the wild. Although same size, lifespan and behavior, Russian winter whites are more rare and there real name is Djungarian hamsters.
Both are considered as Russian Dwarf Hamsters.
What is the difference between Dwarf hamsters and Syrian hamsters
Dwarf hamsters are similar to Syrian (Gold Hamster) hamster and larger breeds by characteristics and behavior. Although they both enjoy similar activities, dwarf hamsters are considerably smaller and easier to care for. A Russian dwarf hamsters average full size is roughly 80 mm in length and a Syrian is roughly 140 – 180mm in length.
Although most hamster breeds can not live in pairs, Russian dwarfs can live with a fellow gender* (please see Can Russian Dwarfs Live Together).
Russian Dwarfs are easier to look after, cheaper to keep and require less space compared to a Syrian. Dwarf hamsters are not as good pets for children under the age of 7 though and do not live as long as Syrian hamsters. Please see Russian Dwarf Lifespan for more.
How you Should Handle a Russian Dwarf Hamster?
Russian Dwarfs should always be picked up from underneath (as if you would scoop water with two hands). This is the best way to let your hamster get used to you and best for taming Russian dwarf hamsters. Please see our video below.
In the early weeks of keeping a Russian Dwarf Hamster you should apply these tips above in the video. This will help your hamster become used to you and realize that you do not cause a threat to them. Remember that you are a giant to them and they are easily scared.
Are dwarf hamsters good pets?
Russian Dwarf Hamsters are a type of dwarf hamster and come in handful of colors. They are very friendly and sociable with others that are introduced properly or from the same litter.
Dwarf hamsters are great pets to have because they are easy to tame, easy to care for, very lovable and inexpensive to keep. However dwarf hamsters are not great pets for children of the age 0-8 and are easily frightened, which can lead to biting or nibbling.
How Long do Russian Dwarf Hamsters Live
The lifespan of a Russian dwarf is roughly 16-24 months. This can vary between hamsters.
Are Russian Dwarf Hamsters Nocturnal?
Yes. They come out at night when most of their primary predators are sleeping. Advice for this ; move their cage into another room only at night to prevent being woken up.
Campbell’s are more active at night compared to winter whites. Winter whites can be active in the day for short periods
Also they are more likely to bite or nibble in the day if they are scared or woken up. When woken and frightened they can feel threatened and bite.
Tame hamsters generally don’t do this but if suddenly cooped out of their cage half asleep, they may bite.
Best food for Russian Dwarf Hamsters & Can Russian Dwarfs Live Together?
When choosing the best food for Russian dwarf hamsters there is a wide variety. A great example of good food is a mixture of dried fruit, nuts and muesli.
They also love fruits and vegetables once a week. See which fruits and vegetables your hamster loves in our care/diet section.
Russian Dwarfs are very sociable and enjoy the company of others. However many Russian Dwarfs hamsters prefer to live on their own and this is normal. How are we to know what they prefer?
Dwarf Hamsters are very territorial (after 2-3 months) and generally will not except a new visitor to live with them if they were brought up alone from 3-4 weeks old (it is their territory and they will fight for it). On the other hand they can live side by side with one or two of their brothers or sisters from the same mother (if brought up with them from an early age). Every Russian dwarf hamster is different.
Females have a higher chance of living together than males because males have scent glands used for marking territory. Because males are territorial they generally fight however females do not have scent glands so can live together and considered more peaceful to one another.
Males at an age of 6-8 weeks will play fight. However this may turn into fighting for dominance.
This can be due to food, space and territory. If two males are kept within a small cage and or do not have their own food bowls, toys and bedding they may fight to the death. The main reasons for Russian Dwarfs fighting are due to food, space and territory. If your hamsters are climbing the cage bars and knawing, see How to stop dwarf hamsters biting the bars in 3 steps.
Females do not have scent glands so can live together. Although in many cases both genders live together as long as plenty of space is available.
Can I keep a male and female Russian dwarf together? – They will breed and if the father isn’t split within 24 hours of birth they will breed again. The father will breed with the siblings at around 3 weeks, it is better to remove the male before the babies arrive. In the wild a male and a female will get together to breed then go their separate ways.
Male and female Russian Dwarf Hamsters that are kept together from a young age (3 weeks of age and above) will mate and have babies. It is not advised to breed dwarf hamsters.
Compared to other dwarf hamsters species, Russian father hamsters become very good fathers and help, protect and look after the young and the mother. This includes cleaning, bringing food and protecting if danger is present.
If your hamster has suddenly had babies or you are unaware of what gender your hamster is please see – Learn How to Care for Russian Dwarf babies by clicking here.
When having two Russian Dwarfs together in the same cage you should always be prepared to split them up, even if you never have to. Check out the Top 10 best dwarf hamster cages!
What do Russian Dwarf Hamsters like?
Hamsters love to play, run and create nests to hide. 5 things Russian Dwarf Hamsters love:
1. Flying Saucer – This is a non fixed wheel that is slanted to create an easy to use/run wheel. On Amazon here.
2. Wooden Accessories- Wooden toys are great for hamsters. They are cheap, ready made and great for their teeth. We recommend wooden houses, ladders and bendable play toys over plastic accessories.See our TOP 10 Accessories They LOVE.
3. A Big Cage with tubes, space and at least 2 floors/platforms. Watch our Video review for the Ferplast Duna cage.
4. “Chewies” – Did you know that a hamsters teeth never stop growing? Chewies are great for their teeth and provide a tasty chew for your hamster whilst preventing their teeth overgrowing.
5. An exercise ball – This is a great way to keep your hamster fit and healthy. Click here to see how it works.
How Much Do hamsters Cost
Roughly between $10-30 or 10-20 GBPs per Russian Hamster.
When are Russian Dwarfs gestation period? From 3 weeks old they need to be split up and put into genders unless you want more babies. A female dwarf hamster can become pregnant at 3-9 weeks of age. Not sure if your Russian Dwarf is a male or female? See our picture below.
Are Russian dwarf hamsters friendly
Every hamster is friendly when tamed towards humans however Russian dwarfs are more friendly to their same kind than other hamsters including Chinese, Roborovski and Syrian hamsters. In the wild many live together in colonies and many do not. It depends on the hamster and what they prefer. Many Russian dwarfs can live together when brought up with another from a young age.
After about 9+ weeks it becomes harder to introduce two Russian dwarfs together.
Dwarf hamsters compared to Syrian hamsters are easier to tame and handle from an early age however dwarf hamsters can easily become “wild” within a week. Syrian hamsters once tamed are tamed for life. A tamed Russian dwarf is a friendly hamster and will not bite whilst being handled.
Is it Easy to Tame Russian Dwarf Hamsters?
When you know how to tame Russian dwarf hamsters it is easy. Here is how to do it.
This works for both new and older hamsters.
Carefully scoop your hamster up with 2 hands at least once a day. When holding your hamster let them run around your hands and arms (being careful not to drop them). Do this for at least 5 minutes everyday.
After around 1-2 weeks your hamster will be fully tamed and easily picked up. This will also stop them biting you. Regular handling makes taming easy and lets a hamster get used to you. Please see the video on how to handle your hamster here.
Which Gender is Easier to Tame?
Both male and female are easy to tame and none are harder.
Can Russian Hamsters Swim?
Should You Wash Your Hamster?
NO. Russian Dwarfs can easily get hypothermia after being exposed to water around their body. This is because their fur keeps them warm but when wet it becomes very hard to for their body to warm up again.
A sand bath is the solution. You can purchase sand baths at Amazon.com or you can create your own.
Please note that you must use chinchilla sand and not any other type of sand.
Shaking, flipping over, not opening eyes or visual lumps
Any of these can mean a number of things and its best not to predict the future of your hamster before seeing a vet.
Shaking and flipping over can mean your hamster has eaten something to big, there may be a internal problem or something more fatal. It is always advised that you take your hamster to the vet. It may become worse.
Itching & scratching regularly – In the beginning weeks of watching your dwarf hamster you may notice scratching and itching. It is normal for Russian dwarfs to scratch regularly to keep them selves clean. However if marks or cuts appear there is a problem. Here are 3 things that could be causing your hamster to scratch:
- Dust – dust is found in the bedding and in the atmosphere. It can cause hamsters to itch continuously. Get them a sand bath to help keep them self clean.
- Bedding – Change the bedding to something that specifies non irritating for dwarf hamsters. Good brands like Carefresh.
- Sun exposure – The cage should be kept out of suns reach at all times. Cage temperatures easily rise under direct sunlight and this can cause your hamster to itch like mad!
That has been our Russian Dwarf Hamster Facts
We hope that we have answered most of your questions however if there are some we have missed please leave a comment and we will answer them ASAP.
Have you still got Russian Dwarf Questions? Check these out:
- Best cages for Russian Dwarf Hamsters
- How to stop your hammie biting the bars
- Our TOP 5 dwarf hamster cage accessories
- Normal vs Problem dwarf hamster behaviour