Hello and welcome to your one-stop dwarf hamster resource!
Despite being a much loved pet in many UK households, there's a surprising lack of good information out there for the new dwarf hamster owner. That's where we come in!
I've built this blog with the goal to help out every new or aspiring dwarf hamster keeper out there, while creating a community for everyone who has a passion for these incredible animals.
Wondering where to start? Check out some of our key dwarf hamster guides which will provide all the info you need to keep your pet healthy and happy. If you're a more experienced hamster owner - feel free to browse the blog for a range of tips, advice, thoughts and much more!
Below I'll go into more detail on the essentials of dwarf hamster care.
There are five different species of dwarf hamster and I have previously written up a comprehensive guide on all the different types. For now, here's a quick overview on the different hamster types out there. (scroll down for images)
The Winter White is originally from Southern & Western Siberia, an area which has extremely cold winters and lots of snowfall. That's why the Winter White has a thick white/grey coat and furry feet! They're usually sociable creatures but if you do decide to keep a group, it's best to let the hamsters grow up together from a young age to avoid fighting.
Interesting fact - This breed is known to have fur which becomes more white in colour as winter approaches!
The Campbell's dwarf is known to be a curious creature, spending most of it's hours running on a hamster wheel and exercising. They are also the most common breed of dwarf's currently found in pet stores. They can usually be spotted by a dark dorsal stripe that runs down their back.
Interesting fact - Due to breeding, over 40 different colour patterns are available with this breed!
Winter Whites and Campbell's dwarfs both fall under the term 'Russian dwarf hamster' due to the area in which they were discovered. They are also very similar in appearance but you should avoid housing the two breeds together.
This breed is famous as the only hamster which has a tail. It resembles a mouse which may be why this breed can be hard to find in pet stores. It has adapted extremely well for climbing, originating from mountainous areas.
Interesting fact - This breed is not a true dwarf hamster but due to their size being so similar to the dwarfs, they are often grouped in with the other breeds.
The Roborovski breed is the smallest dwarf hamster out there! Often reffered to as 'Robos', these hamsters aren't as common as the Russian breeds but can be found in many pet stores across the UK. Robos are very fast and can be hard to handle, it's more of a pet to watch and enjoy rather than interact with.
Interesting fact - Despite their size, Robos live longer than most other hamster breeds (3-4 years).
How To House Your Dwarf Hamster
When choosing a home for your dwarf hamster, there are few things to consider. You need to find an enclosure that's a good size, has space for exercise and doesn't have bars that your little pets could squeeze their way out of. I've had first-hand experience of these mini Houdinis!
Points to consider:
- Size - It's always best to give your hamster as much space as possible. A minimum cage size for a pair of dwarf hamsters would be 80 cm long, 50 cm deep and 35 cm high
- Capacity - Always consider how many dwarf hamsters you'd like to house and the adult size of the species you'd like to keep. Larger cage = More hamsters!
- Bar Spacing - Dwarfs, particualrly Robos, can fit through the smallest of spaces and are very flexible animals. Be sure to chose a cage with minimal space between bars
- Floor material - It's always a good idea to choose your substrate in advance and stock up - you'll get through a lot of it! Sawdust/wood-chippings are the common choice
- Bedding - Grab a bag of soft, comfortable bedding for your hamsters. This will help keep them warm and feeling safe when sleeping
- Enrichment - You don't want your dwarf hamster getting bored! Get some cage accessories (wheels, tunnels) to keep your pet happy and healthy
- Food Stores - Invest in a good food bowl that your dwarf won't be able to topple over. You may need more than one bowl to avoid squabbles at food time!
- Ventilation - Avoid all-plastic enclosures. A cage with metal bars will provide good ventilation and keep cleanliness up
- Cleaning - Get a pet-safe cleaning product and schedule cage cleans every week or so. A clean cage is essential for proper dwarf hamster care
For a more detailed guide to housing your hamster, read this. If you're looking for a great first hamster home, we recommend this dwarf hamster cage as a perfect all-round option for your pet.
The Dwarf Hamster Diet
This isn't a new diet fad! Keeping your dwarf hamster healthy means providing him or her with a balanced diet. In the wild, hamsters are known to eat dry foods such as seeds, grains and grasses as well as the occasional insect! Hamsters are omnivores by nature and it's important to feed a similar diet as they would eat in the wild.
Wondering what to feed your dwarf hamster? There are many good food mixes out there but it's important to know that dwarf's have a very low sugar tolerance. Unfortunately, these little guys are extremely prone to diabetes.
To avoid a case of dwarf hamster diabetes, be careful when choosing commercial foods and treats. Many have a sugar content that is just too high. I've been feeding this great all-purpose food mix for years and my dwarfs love it!
- Grapes & Cherries
- High-Sugar Foods
Hamsters are greedy. They will often stuff as much food as possible into their pouches and then beg for more! Don't give in to your pet's persuasive powers because overfeeding a dwarf hamster can cause serious problems. One tablespoon of food each day (per hamster) should be perfect.
Remember to feed treats sparingly and stick to low-sugar options whenever possible. Hamsters often store their food in an area they feel to be safe. You may be surprised by all the buried and hidden food found during your first clean-out!
The First Hamster Checklist
Bringing home your first dwarf hamster is exciting but you need to be prepared. There are a few items you need to have ready before bringing a new pet home! Here is a handy checklist that lists everything you'll need to get sorted before bringing your first dwarf hamster home.
Picking Up Your First Dwarf Hamster
Wondering how to choose a dwarf hamster once you're at the pet shop? Before you visit your nearest pet store, it's important that you already have everything from the checklist above, so you can keep a dwarf hamster safely. Remember not to rush into anything!
It's also important to have done your research and chosen a breed that suits your lifestyle. Each breed will require a different amount of space, have different temperaments and need different amounts of attention.
Here are some steps to take once you're ready to pick up your pet!
Pick The Right Breeder/Pet Shop
Sometimes, smaller pet stores can be a better option than big chains as they often spend more time with the animals. That's not to say you can't find a good store that's part of a large chain - just be sure to do your research.
Look the store up online and find some reviews. Join this Facebook group and see if anyone else has some experience with the store you're considering. A quick look around at the conditions of all the animals can be all it takes to discover whether a pet shop is good or needs improvement.
Observe The Cages & Habitat
Be sure to take a close look at the conditions the hamsters are being kept in. Do the cages look clean, well kept and not overstocked? A dwarf hamster living in a poor habitat is likely to develop health issues and should be avoided.
If you find a hamster living in an unhealthy habitat, it can be tempting to try and 'save him' by bringing the pet home. This isn't a good idea. Purchasing the dwarf hamster will just lead to the store buying more - putting even more animals at risk.
Talk To Employees
Another good way to assess the quality of a pet store is to ask the employees some questions about the dwarf hamsters. A good pet store should know the breeds, age and diets of their hamsters. If they don't have much knowledge to share, this should be a warning sign!
Ask To Handle
Not all pet stores will let you handle a dwarf hamster. However, it's always worth asking because this can help you see if the animal has been tamed correctly. If the hamster seems nervous or aggressive, this is a bad sign. A dwarf hamster should show interest and curiosity when being handled correctly.
Check Health & Age
As a final check, take a look at the dwarf hamster you'd like to purchase and check its health. He/she should be well fed (not overfed) and be active in its enclosure. You should also make sure there are no cuts or marks that could indicate fighting.
Check for clear eyes, good colouration, happy temperament and no hair loss. Dwarf hamsters only live 1.5-3 years, finding a hamster that's young will allow you to enjoy your pet for longer and create a true bond.
Did you know we have a Facebook group specially for dwarf hamster owners? It's a place to learn, ask questions and help out other pet owners! You'll need to request to join but once you're in, you'll have full access to even more useful information. Join the party!
So, hopefully you've learned something new about dwarf hamsters and you've come to appreciate these amazing pets!
Don't forget, there's lots more useful info to browse including great guides for the new hamster owner and brand new blog posts covering just about everything a pet keeper needs to know! Here are some great posts to get you started.