Other Names: Siberian hamster or Siberian dwarf hamster. Sometimes also called the Djungarian hamster (in America, the name Djungarian is more often applied to the Campbell's Russian hamster).
Expected Life Span:
1.5 - 2 years.
A small compact hamster that reaches an adult size of about 3.5 - 4 inches (8-10 cm). This means they are small enough to squeeze through the bars on many hamster cages so an aquarium is a safer choice for housing.
Behavior and Temperament:
Dwarf winter white Russian hamsters are nocturnal but may be active for short times during the day too. They make good pets, and are generally quite good-natured. Because they are small and quick they can be a challenge to handle, especially for kids.
Unlike Syrian hamsters, dwarf winter white Russian hamsters are social with their own species and can be kept in same sex pairs or groupings, but usually only if introduced at a young age. It is not a good idea to introduce adults or new hamsters to a group. Occasionally, hamsters that were raised together may even have to be separated.
Dwarf winter white Russian hamsters are normally a dark grey color on their backs with a black dorsal strip along the center of the back. The fur on the belly is white. However, in the winter, the fur can turn white to varying degrees (a change triggered by changes in day length). Selective breeding techniqes have produced a few different coat colors
. Winter white Russian hamsters also have furred feet.
Notes about Care:
Basic care is like that of other hamsters. As mentioned above, a wire hamster cage may not be escape proof so an aquarium or other solid sided cage with a ventilated but secure top is preferable. Avoid cedar or pine wood shavings, and keep cages well cleaned though to prevent ammonia build-up from accumulated urine as ventilation is diminished with solid sided housing. Feed a good quality hamster food supplemented with small amounts of fresh foods. See Hamster Care
for more detail.
Do I have a Campbells or Winter White?:
Typically, the Campbell's Russian hamster is more commonly found in pet stores. However, it can be hard to tell the difference and sometimes they will be mis-identified by pet stores. However, there is also concern about the trend to hybridize Campbell's a Winter White Russian hamsters. More on identification and hybrids can found on "The Pet Web Site."