Author: Joanne Rosser
Last Updated: August 8, 2020
Dwarf hamsters make excellent pets and are super affectionate. If you’re thinking of getting a dwarf hamster as a pet, it’s helpful to know the difference between each breed type.
There are three different types of dwarf hamster breeds that can be kept as pets:
- Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamster
- Siberian Winter White Russian Dwarf Hamster
- Roborovski Dwarf Hamster
Below you’ll find more information about the different types of dwarf hamsters and how you can tell each species apart.
Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamsters
This species was discovered by W.C. Campbell in 1902. They are native to central Asia, Mongolia, and northern Russia. They are very popular and the most common breed you will find in pet stores.
Scientific Name: Phodopus campbelli
Colors: Agouti, Argente, Opal, Albino and Black
Markings: A narrow dark grey stripe on the back about 1 inch above the base of the tail.
Length: 3 to 4 inches
Average Life Span: 1½ to 2 years
Winter White Russian Hamsters
Winter Whites are also known as Siberian or Djungarian hamsters. This species changes its color from a grey-brown color to white in the winter. This helps them camouflage themselves against the snow, protecting them from potential predators. Winter White Russian Hamsters are often mistaken for the Campbell’s Russian because of the similarity in color. You can tell them apart by their markings.
Scientific Name: Phodopus sungorus
Colors: Agouti, Sapphire Blue, Pearl
Markings: Dark Dorsal stripe on back and dark side arches
Length: 3 to 4 inches
Average Life Span: 1½ to 2½ years
The Roborovski is a desert type hamster and is the smallest of all dwarf hamster breeds! They are native to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. Robos are hypoallergenic and are ideal for owners who are prone to allergies. However, due to their speed and small size, it’s quite difficult to hold on to them!
Scientific Name: Phodopus roborovskii
Markings: No stripe on the back and “eyebrow-like” white patches above each eye
Length: 2 inches
Average Life Span: 3 years
Fun Fact: Roborovski Hamsters are hypoallergenic!
Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamster vs Winter White Russian Dwarf Hamster
There are two major differences that can help you tell each dwarf hamster breed apart. Usually the dorsal stripe of the Winter White Dwarf Hamster is darker and wider compared to the Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamster. Also, when looking at a Winter White Dwarf Hamster, you can technically count 3 dark stripes – one on top of the back and the two famous dark ‘arches’ on both sides of the Winter White that separates the darker color to the lighter underbelly.
Dwarf Hamster Diet: What To Feed Your Dwarf Hamster
There’s not a huge difference in diet between a normal sized hamster and a dwarf hamster. However, you need to be careful not to give too many sugary treats to dwarf hamsters. This is because they are naturally predisposed to diabetes. A nutritious balanced diet includes: proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fats and plenty of water.
Let’s see some of the common foods your dwarf hamster will enjoy:
Pellets: Pellets (hamster food) is recommended because it is specially made for hamsters. You can find hamster food at any local pet stores.
Fresh Vegetables: Fresh vegetables are good for your dwarf hamster’s diet because it provides essential vitamins and minerals.
Here are some healthy suggestions:
Please note that fruits should be given only in moderation because too much may cause diarrhea for your dwarf hamster!
How to Choose a Healthy Dwarf Hamster
It’s important to choose a healthy and active dwarf hamster when buying one at a pet store or from an existing owner. Be sure to ask if the hamster has been hand tamed before buying. This way, you don’t have to worry about hand taming when you get home. Below is a checklist of things to keep in mind when shopping for a new dwarf hamster.
Signs of an Unhealthy Dwarf Hamster
- Constant sneezing
- Bare patches of far
- Unusual size
(Make sure the dwarf hamster is not too thin or fat looking, if the hamster is wider on the midsection than others, it could be a pregnant female hamster. This is highly likely if she has been kept with male hamsters)
- Wetness around the tail
- Observe its reaction to humans e.g. watch out for aggression
Signs of a Healthy Hamster
- Soft and healthy looking fur
- Clean, bright eyes
- Active and curious behavior