The Russian Dwarf Hamster (Phodopus Sungorus) is native to Eastern Kazakhstan and southwestern Siberia. The Russian Dwarf Hamster is also called Siberian Dwarf Hamster or Dzungarian Dwarf Hamster.
Head-torso length : up to 13 cm
Russian Dwarf Hamsters are dusk active, meaning they are most active in the evening and early morning. However, the animals sleep cyclically, which means that a few hours of sleep is alternated with a few hours of being awake, so these dwarf hamsters are also regularly awake during the day.
Tame and familiarize yourself with the Russian Dwarf Hamster
Always read carefully before you decide to get a Russian Dwarf Hamster. They are very nice pets that are regularly awake, so that they can also be seen during the day. This can be especially fun for children. Although the Russian Dwarf Hamster looks very cuddly, he doesn't always like to be cuddled and he finds it very scary, especially in the beginning. Because the animals cannot see depth, they can run from your hand if startled, so it is important when children handle the animals that there is always a parent present who can help and support.
A new resident should be approached calmly, especially at first. The animal must first become familiar with its own enclosure, feel safe in it before it dares to approach people. Of course there are also daredevils who immediately approach you and are social, but most hamsters are a bit shy the first time. Give the animal time and try to make contact calmly by talking to the hamster. Handing over some treats often also works well to gain the trust of the animals.
Housing of the Russian Dwarf Hamster
Russian Dwarf Hamsters need a spacious enclosure of at least 80 x 40 cm ( LICG ). A good stay gives the animals the opportunity to dig. In the wild, Russian Dwarf Hamsters build beautiful tunnels and they would like to continue to do so in captivity. A castle in the wild is at a depth of at least 1 to 2 meters and is about 1 meter long. The depth of the castle depends on the ambient temperature. When the temperature rises, the dwarf hamster digs deeper underground to reach the cool earth, a kind of natural air conditioning.
Hamsterscaping is therefore very nice for Russian Dwarf hamsters.
At our house this translates into a spacious stay with digging possibilities! A terrarium is the best choice because of its closed nature. It is important that a terrarium allows good ventilation, so preferably has two grids (top and bottom). This is especially important in summer when temperatures rise above 25°C.
Russian Dwarf Hamsters cannot tolerate high temperatures in combination with high humidity, so a temperature between 20 - 24°C is recommended and a humidity below 70%. You can use a hygrometer to measure these values.
House for a Russian Dwarf Hamster
Russian Dwarf Hamsters are lucky! because almost all houses made for hamsters are a good size for this dwarf hamster species. Russian Dwarf Hamsters are prey animals and do not like to walk open and naked through the enclosure, if they come across a shelter now and then they already feel a lot safer. Our advice is therefore to have at least two houses for the hamster. A house where the dwarf hamster can sleep and another where he can hide. At least one of the two houses must be larger so that the dwarf hamster can also dispose of its food supplies. Being able to put away food supplies can cause stress for the animals.
Running wheel for a Russian Dwarf Hamster
The hamster running wheel is a very important part of the design of the dwarf hamster house. Russian Dwarf Hamsters are active animals that like to run, often at night. This is because they naturally run a lot at night in search of food. This is, as it were, in their DNA. In addition, scientific research has shown that running on a running wheel makes hamsters happy, digestion is improved and the animals in general remain in good condition.
Ground cover for the Russian Dwarf Hamster
It is important that the ground cover for Dwarf Hamsters can be dug, ie that they can make holes and holes in it, which preferably remain standing. This can be achieved by choosing ground cover that is digable in itself or by mixing ground cover to make it digable. An example of an excavatable ground cover is for example the Humus and the Holenzand , but also Cotton & Cotton . A nice mix is, for example, the mix of Cotton & Hemp Fiber, Cotton & Wood Fiber or a mix of Wood Fiber, Hemp Fiber and Hay. Ground covers such as Back 2 Nature are not suitable because the animals cannot dig in them. An ideal height of the ground cover to dig in is around 20 cm.
Sand bath for Russian Dwarf Hamsters
Russian Dwarf Hamsters like to take a sand bath every now and then. Sand has a degreasing effect and therefore also has a cooling effect. Because sand is degreasing, it also has a drying effect. Animals with skin problems should therefore not be given a sand bath. If the skin dries out too much because of the sand, it can start to itch, causing the animals to bathe even more. It is therefore important to monitor the bathing behavior of the hamsters and to remove the sandbox if there are signs of skin problems (red spots, bald spots, scabs, wounds).
Winter Paralysis in Russian Dwarf Hamsters
If the ambient temperature is below 17°C for a long time, these dwarf hamsters can go into winter paralysis . This is different from hibernation, namely shorter. The animals wake up briefly every day after which they go into paralysis again. It only occurs in Russian Dwarf Hamsters. It is very important to recognize this well, because it is often thought that the animals have died with all the consequences that entails. A Russian Dwarf Hamster in winter paralysis feels cold and sometimes even a little stiff. Take the animal in your hands and let it warm up in your hands and wake up.
Winter paralysis is triggered by a drop in temperature on the one hand, but food scarcity can also play a role on the other. If the animals are malnourished and it is slightly colder, but warmer than 17°C, they can also go into hibernation. The length of the day also plays a role here. If it also starts to get dark at 5 pm with the hamsters, the body can receive a signal that winter has started.
Russian Dwarf Hamsters are nest builders
Russian Dwarf Hamsters are real nest builders, they always need nesting material so that they can line their burrows with it. Making a nest is therefore part of the natural behavior of a dwarf hamster. Therefore always give him 15-25 grams of nesting material.
Nest material should be nice and soft, absorb moisture and have fragile fibers so that the animals cannot get entangled in it. Materials such as cotton, hemp, toilet paper and hay are ideal.
Russian Dwarf Hamster food
Russian Dwarf Hamsters are granivores (seed eaters). The diet of Russian Dwarf Hamsters consists mainly of seeds and a small amount of vegetable food in the form of herbs , but also animal proteins. The dwarf hamsters catch small insects in the wild, so it is good if their diet also contains animal proteins.
Russian Dwarf Hamsters carry their hamster food in their cheek pouches. What you see is that the hamster stuffs his food into his cheek pouches and quickly takes it to his house or pantry. Transporting food in the cheek pouches is also called "Hoarding". Thanks to the cheek pouch muscle, the food is retained in the cheek pouch and the hamster can transport it safely and quickly.
Dental formula: 1013/1013 (Incisor ratio at the top - bottom = 1 : 2-3) Incisors keep growing
The percentage of crude fiber in the diet must be a maximum of 10% for optimal digestibility and absorbability of the food.
Gnawing material for Russian Dwarf hamsters
Russian Dwarf Hamsters have a natural need to gnaw. This is because dwarf hamsters are rodents and have growing incisors. It is therefore necessary that they can gnaw on something to wear out the teeth. If dwarf hamsters have too few opportunities to wear the teeth, the teeth can become too long or grow crooked, with all the consequences that entails.
Some Russian Dwarf Hamsters gnaw gnawing very actively and others don't at all. It is on the one hand a matter of taste, but on the other hand a matter of need. If a dwarf hamster has no need to gnaw because the teeth remain at a good length through food, hay or other nibbles, then he will gnaw less on gnawing wood. It is good to always offer natural gnawing wood so that the animals can always gnaw if they have a need to gnaw.
Dental Problems in Russian Dwarf Hamsters
If you notice that your hamster is very eager to take the food, but then doesn't eat it, there may be something wrong with the teeth. Drooling can also indicate dental problems. If you suspect that you have dental problems, it is best to contact your vet.
Reproduction of the Russian Dwarf Hamster
Russian Dwarf Hamsters are semi-solitary (live in flocks in the wild). Once young are born, the parents care for the young together until they are old enough to leave the nest.
The female is willing (in rut) and ready to mate every 4 days. This will take approximately 12 hours. If a successful mating has taken place on these days, the young are born after about 19 days.
The difference between males and females can be seen in the distance between the genital opening and the anus. This distance is greater in a male than in a female.
Sexual maturity : from 4 weeks
Health of the Russian Dwarf Hamster
Russian Dwarf Hamsters are generally quite healthy animals. The most common health problems are dental problems, diabetes, Parkinson's (shaking) and eye problems. In connection with the dental problems, we recommend that you check them regularly in order to discover any dental problems in time.
To prevent diabetes it is important that the Russian Dwarf Hamster is pure bred and not hybrid (crossing with the Campbelli), in addition, the color Mandarin has the greatest chance of developing diabetes, so it must be well bred. Animals that already have a predisposition to develop diabetes (genetic, certain breeding lines) should not be given sweet snacks.
Parkinsons or the trembling in dwarf hamsters is mainly reflected in the black-related colors such as: Black, Russian Blue, Merle Black, Pearl Black, Merle Russian Blue, Pearl Russian Blue.
It is not necessary to treat the animals preventively with anti-parasite. It is not necessary to give extra vitamins with a complete hamster food.
It is wise to consult a veterinarian if you have the following symptoms:
Drooling, moist nose and eyes, protruding teeth, not eating, losing weight, eating foreign materials that are softer than the food.
Bald spots, lots of scratching, scabs, wounds, bumps and lumps
Wet and dirty ass, drinking a lot, falling over, listless, different shape and color of the droppings