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Dwarf Hamster Information

Updated on November 30, 2011
By Mastawindu (Own work) [CC0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Mastawindu (Own work) [CC0 (], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

What is a dwarf hamster?

A lot of people are curious about dwarf hamsters, especially the robo dwarf hamsters- no it's not a robot - but what exactly are they? As the name might hint, dwarf hamsters are extremely small hamsters.

Officially, dwarf hamsters belong to the Phodopus genus and include the Russian dwarf hamster, the Robo dwarf hamster, and the Siberian dwarf hamster. "Dwarf Hamster" is also a term used to refer to most hamsters of the Cricetulus genus such as the Chinese dwarf Hamster, because of their similar small size.

Table of Contents

Features of the Dwarf Hamster

Robo Dwarf Hamster

Russian Dwarf Hamster

Siberian Dwarf Hamster

Caring for a Dwarf Hamster

Chinese Dwarf Hamster

Features of the Dwarf Hamster

  • Small Size: 2 and a half to 4 inches
  • Nocturnal
  • Short Tails
  • Eat pretty much anything: fruits, vegetables, leaves, flowers, seeds, insects, mealworms, etc..

I, AndreasF [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons
I, AndreasF [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Robo Dwarf Hamster

The Roborovski, or Robo Dwarf Hamster, is one of the most popular choices of dwarf hamsters. Perhaps it's because the name reminds people of robots, or perhaps it's because they are the smallest of all hamsters - dwarf or not.


While these hamsters are nicer than most other hamsters (they are less likely to fight with other hamsters to the death), they still aren't very big fans of humans. Don't expect them to warm up to you right away; it will take time. A little contact every day may eventually, after a few months, lead to the hamster trusting you enough to hold. However, essentially roborovski hamsters are the equivalent of pet fishes: they're pets you look at, but don't really interact much with.

On the bright side, robo hamsters don't usually bite so even if they don't let you hold them, you can still play chase the hamster with them.

Lifespan: 1 to 3 years

Other: Robo hamsters prefer fresh food to pellets. Some may refuse to eat pellet food.

By Allen Huang (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Allen Huang (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Russian Dwarf Hamster

The Russian Dwarf Hamster, also known as Campbell's Dwarf Hamster, has the shortest lifespan of all the dwarf hamsters. In captivity, they live 1 to 2 years. They bear a dark stripe along their spine, which is commonly used to tell them apart. However, this isn't a fail safe as sometimes other hamsters will also have stripes or other markings that can be confused for stripes.


This hamster is very active. Since - like all dwarf hamsters - they are nocturnal, this means they'll start running around on their wheel at nighttime. This can be distracting for light sleepers, so it might be wise to place your pet in a more neutral room, or to remove the wheel before going to bed, or to buy a quiet wheel and maintain it so it doesn't rust quickly.

These dwarf hamsters can fight, though often won't if they were all raised from a young age.

Life Span: 1.5 - 2 years

Other Facts: Russian dwarf hamsters don't like strong-smelling bedding. Make sure your bedding is hamster-safe as this can cause deadly allergic reactions. If unsure, just use paper towels.

By Jpbarrass (Own work) [GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jpbarrass (Own work) [GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Siberian Dwarf Hamster

There are many similarities between the Siberian dwarf hamster and the Russian dwarf hamster, including the spinal stripe. This can lead to them being mislabeled by some breeders and pet stores. Even their names are similar as the Siberian dwarf hamster is also referred to as the Russian Winter White Dwarf Hamster. This is also because this little animal's coat changes from dark to white as winter comes.

Siberian and Russian Dwarf Hamsters are able to produce live and mostly healthy offsprings, though certain diseases do increase with these hybrid races.


They can be as active as the Russian Dwarf Hamsters mentioned above, so the same advice regarding wheels applies. In addition, Siberian dwarf hamsters also have a reaction to the cold; they basically curl up in a ball. An owner should pay attention to this behavior and try to relocate, or better insulate, the animal's habitat as prolonged exposure to cold can be dangerous.

Life Span: 1 - 3 years

Other Facts: Babies become aggressive as they get older. I guess even hamsters have to deal with unruly teenagers...

Litter Training Hamsters

Caring for a Dwarf Hamster

Hamsters, dwarf or not, are fairly easy to take care of.


As mentioned, they will eat pretty much anything. Pellets from pet stores are an easy way to guarantee your hamster receives proper nutrients. If giving fruit, make sure to give a selection low in sugar. Just like humans get deadly complications from too much sugar intake, so do hamsters. If you are unsure about a fruit's sugar content, don't give it. Vegetables and seeds are safer choices.

It's best to give new food every day. If giving pellets, you may want to give for 2 days. However, if you are giving fresh food, that simply will not do; you must remove fresh food if it has been out for a day.


Provide a Water Bottle that is cleaned every day.


Your dwarf hamster will need his or her own "room", more commonly known as a cage or habitat. Many cages come with additional accessories (food bowls, water bottles, food bag, wheel, ramps, tubes, etc..)


Your cage will need bedding. This provides a soft layer to sleep on. A hut, igloo, or other small enclosure will also be appreciated; even hamsters like some privacy and it can keep warmth.

Toys and Fun

Being a pet can be boring if you don't have something to entertain you. Be kind to your pet - give him or her some toys. This includes:

  • A wheel
  • Tubes and other maze-like structures meant for hamsters
  • Ramps and made-for-hamster ladders
  • A ball so your hamster can safely explore the world outside the cage
  • Hamster-approved bells and other small noisemakers they can use on their own


Since hamsters will also do their urinating and defecating on their bedding, it will need to be changed. If you have only one hamster, once a week (maybe even once every 2 weeks if you have a clean hamster) will be enough. However, if you have more, you will need to clean more often. This includes removing all of the old bedding, spraying the cage with an animal-approved cleaner, cleaning, and then putting new bedding in.

Don't forget to also clean the accessories inside the cage. Even wheels, ramps, and food bowls need to be cleaned.

Optional: Litter Box

Hamster can be litter-trained with enough patience. Purchasing a litter pan for hamsters isn't enough; the hamster won't understand what it's for. Every day, once or twice a day, use a scooper to grab some bedding with pee and/or poo in it and place it inside the litter pan. Eventually, the hamster will catch on, but don't expect quick results.

By SloMo2639 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By SloMo2639 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Chinese Dwarf Hamster

Out of the many unofficial dwarf hamsters, the Chinese dwarf hamster is probably the most popular and the only one that will be covered in this article. However, it's unclear whether it is truly the most popular as another unofficial dwarf hamster, the Solokov dwarf hamster, used to be called "Chinese dwarf hamster" before they determined they were different species.

The Chinese Dwarf Hamster is also commonly known as the striped dwarf hamster.

Where are Dwarf Hamsters For Sale?

Dwarf hamsters are sold at most pet stores. They may not have many varieties, but typically they will have roborovski and russian dwarf hamsters.

These Names are Confusing

Yes, they are. Here's a list of the names each can go by:

Robo Dwarf Hamster

  • Roborovski/Roborovskii dwarf hamster

Russian Dwarf Hamster

  • Campbell's Dwarf Hamster

Siberian Dwarf Hamster

  • Djungarian Dwarf Hamster
  • Russian Winter White Dwarf Hamster

Chinese Dwarf Hamster

  • Chinese Striped Dwarf Hamster
  • Striped Dwarf Hamster

Solokov's Dwarf Hamster

  • Chinese Striped Dwarf Hamster (old name)

Other References

The author of this article works at a pet store. She has acquired animal knowledge through store training, interactions with coworkers, as well as discussions with customers. She works mostly in the small animal department, which includes ferrets, birds, and rodents - such as dwarf hamsters.


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