Chinese Dwarf Hamsters – Facts & Care
Chinese dwarf hamsters, also referred to as Chinese hamsters or Chinese striped hamsters, are small rodents from Mongolian and Chinese deserts.
Chinese hamsters aren’t technically dwarf hamsters. However, they got their name as a result of their small size compared to other pet hamsters.
They have longer tails than several other hamsters and are easy to keep as pets.
They are generally easy to tame and docile, though some can be a bit nippy and skittish. You can easily find their diet in most pet stores, and their housing doesn’t consume too much space.
Chinese Dwarf Hamsters Appearance and Colors
Chinese hamsters have a slightly different appearance compared with every other hamster species. They have much thinner and longer body shapes and longer tails.
They have slightly longer bodies than the Russian dwarf hamsters and are about half the size of Syrian hamsters.
Many people compare the appearance of Chinese dwarf hamsters to common rats, and the reason isn’t far-fetched.
While they share similarities in appearance, they also have gentle temperaments and are easily tamed. Here are the most common Chinese dwarf hamster colors:
- Greyish white with dark dorsal stripe
- Greyish brown with black dorsal stripe (referred to as agouti)
Selective breeding has resulted in many fur color varieties, so you might find slight variations from the above list. Here are some major distinctions between a Chinese hamster and other hamster breeds:
- Long tail (rat-like)
- Thin and long body shape
- Dark brown fur
Chinese Hamster Temperament and Behavior
Chinese dwarf hamsters are nocturnal, which implies that they’re awake all night and sleep only during the day. But sometimes during the day, they might wake up to eat and run around occasionally. Still, it’s not ideal to wake and handle a sleeping Chinese hamster. That can make it grumpy, and it might attempt to bite you.
Chinese hamsters are good-natured and can be comfortably handled as pets if you’ve consistently held them from a tender age. But a hamster can be nippy and nervous if it’s not used to being held.
Moreover, due to their small size and speed, handling them can be difficult. The best way to handle your hamster is in a sitting position, as it can become seriously injured if you drop it by accident from even a short height.
Chinese dwarf hamsters don’t bond with humans as cats or dogs would. But once your hamster is comfortable around you, it might move to the side of its enclosure when you’re around.
You can either keep them alone or in small groups or same-sex pairs. However, if kept together, hamsters might express territorial aggression among themselves.
The best way to prevent aggression is to get littermates that can get used to one another’s presence while growing together.
Avoid your hamster coming in contact with any other pet around your home, as they might harm this little, fragile rodent.
Hamsters are very quiet pets, even though their activity at night can keep you awake, especially if their cage is close to your bedroom. You’ll need to spend some hours weekly on keeping their environment clean and feeding them.
Ensure to handle your pet hamster and allow them to play in a safe place outside of their enclosure or a hamster exercise ball for a few hours each day (especially in the evening when they’re awake).
Housing Chinese Hamsters
Before you are going to buy a Chinese hamster, you need to take in consideration a few things before getting the best hamster cage for them.
– Minimum Cage Size
While Chinese hamsters are small, they still need an enclosure that’s as large as you can afford. It’s typically their main space for exercise and play, so having ample space is vital for their health.
The minimum recommended cage size for Chinese hamsters is 12 inches wide and 24 inches long. This measurement is equivalent to a twenty-gallon aquarium.
– Cage Type for Chinese Hamsters
Unlike Syrian hamsters, these Chinese dwarf hamsters can be kept in groups or pairs, and the number you plan to keep should determine which cage you buy. There are 3 major kinds of hamster cages, namely:
- Small animal habitats
- Glass aquariums
- Wire-top cages (classic)
Each cage type comes with its benefits, and they all work well. They generally either have a wire top and plastic base or a plastic or glass aquarium. Wire cages will enable better ventilation.
However, keep in mind that Chinese dwarf hamsters are thinner and smaller than most other hamster species, so they may often squeeze between the bar space between metal wire cages. Ensure to select a cage with narrow bar spacing to avoid running after an escaped pet hamster.
Place a one to two-inch bedding, such as paper-based products or aspen shavings, in the base of the enclosure. Avoid using cedar or pine bedding as they can lead to respiratory problems in your hamster.
Include a small hideout or nest (which you can find in pet stores) in the enclosure. Also, include a solid-surfaced hamster wheel for exercising.
Furthermore, there are several kinds of tubes, bridges, and burrowing tunnels that you can include in your pet’s habitat for enrichment. Ensure to add some chew toys specifically designed for hamsters or wooden chew sticks, as this will enable the wearing down of their teeth.
Chinese Dwarf Hamster Food and Diet
Hamsters in the wild eat a wide variety of grains, seeds, insects, vegetation, and nuts. In captivity, your hamster can be fed commercial hamster feed supplemented with minerals and vitamins.
Follow the instructions for the daily measure of feed. Most owners fill a ceramic bowl with a day’s measure of food and place it in the enclosure. This can be done at any time during the day, since hamsters love grazing all the time (day and night), instead of eating designated meals.
You can supplement the commercial food with fresh fruits, timothy hay, vegetables, and grains. Put them in a separate bowl from the hamster’s main diet. Their overall diet shouldn’t contain more than 10 percent of supplemental foods.
Some options include oats and pieces of carrot and apple. It’s advisable to feed only fresh foods when the hamster is awake (especially in the evening), to enable eating them before they begin to spoil. All fresh foods must be removed within 24 hours. Also, ensure to remove food pieces left in the bedding.
Ensure to always provide clean water for your hamster. You can attach a little animal water bottle to the side of the cage, which is more hygienic than a water bowl. But before removing the water bowl, ensure the hamster is constantly drinking from the small bottle.
How to Take Care of Your Chinese Hamster?
Keeping your Chinese dwarf hamster healthy shouldn’t be difficult. Providing clean water, good food, and ample space for playing and exercise is all you need! Here are a few other things to consider when taking care of your hamster.
Your hamster needs toys to remain playful and active while in their enclosure. Toys help to enrich and improve their health and lifespan.
Their most needed toy is a great hamster wheel as they enjoy running. Climbing toys are also important as they are also incredibly great at climbing (with their longer tails).
Giving your dwarf hamster an unhealthy diet can cause severe issues like diabetes. Always opt for healthy food mix from reputable companies and supplement their diet with veg, healthy treats, and fresh fruits. If you’re not squeamish, you can offer them mealworms!
A food dish will keep your hamster aware of a regular source of food, but you need to be cautious about hamsters’ aggression during meals. Consider getting two bowls if you have multiple dwarf hamsters and ensuring their cage has enough running space.
You’ll need a top-quality bedding material and substrate for the base of the cage to absorb any mess. They need to be replaced every week.
How To Clean Your Chinese Hamster Cage?
Ensure to clean your hamster’s cage weekly with a disinfectant spray (pet-safe). This will halo to maintain a bacteria-free home for your hamster and keep it happy. Here are some basic steps to cleaning your hamster cage:
- Relocate your hamster into an exercise ball
- Remove and bin old food, dirty sawdust, and bedding
- Remove cage accessories and toys
- Clean every surface with a pet-safe disinfectant
- Scrub, rinse, and dry the cage
- Rearrange the cage, putting toys and tubes back together
- Replace any old substrate and bedding
- Return your hamster into its cage and clean the exercise ball
Chinese Hamsters Common Health Issues
- Respiratory Issue: this problem is com/on in hamsters, especially if there’s inadequate bedding material in their cage (like sawdust). Common symptoms include reduced energy, sneezing, and redness around their nose.
- Wet Tail: hamsters and other rodents in captivity are prone to wet tail. Affected hamsters will often have diarrhea, reduced energy, and reduced appetite. It’s highly contagious, so ensure to isolate any affected hamster.
- Teeth Problem: hamsters’ teeth grow continuously. If they don’t get proper chew toys, it might lead to overgrown teeth, causing pains while eating. If you notice abnormally long teeth or your hamster not eating, contact a vet who can trim their teeth if necessary.
- Diabetes: every hamster is prone to diabetes. But you can avoid it with balanced diets. Be careful with feeding treats and high-sugar foods.
Breeding Chinese Dwarf Hamsters
At five weeks old, Chinese dwarf hamsters become sexually active and are ready for breeding. If you’re looking to breed Chinese dwarf hamsters, prepare enough space for the pups.
Female Chinese hamsters remain pregnant for about 18 to 21 days. Ensure to remove the male during this period as pregnant hamsters will be extremely aggressive.
Identifying a pregnant Chinese hamster can be difficult as their bellies protrude only with 3 to 5 days of delivery! New pups are usually born blind, hairless, and deaf, but they become mature in no time.
Female pups can stay with their mother, but you should remove males from the litter after four weeks. Here are some important steps to take when breeding hamsters:
- Include some calories in the hamster’s diet by increasing protein and calories
- Clean the cage and remove any toys or objects that can harm a baby hamster
- The delivery process takes about two hours, and new pups are born at 20-minute intervals.
- Don’t disturb the hamster’s cage for up to two weeks after birth
- Ensure to top up their food and water, and it’s advisable to provide excess supplies a few moments before delivery
- Separate the dwarf hamsters after 4 to 5 weeks
What is the Lifespan of Chinese Hamsters?
Every hamster has a short lifespan, between 18 months and three years. The Chinese dwarf hamsters are no different as they live for two to three years in captivity.
While it may look like a short time, it actually makes Chinese dwarf hamsters more ideal for first-time keepers. You will have enough time to tame the pet, nurture it, and develop a connection without spending many years of commitment as with cats, dogs, and other pets.
Keep in mind that each hamster is different, and a variety of factors can influence their lifespan, which includes:
- Quality of life
- Quality of breeder/pet store
- Amount of exercise
- Diet and nutrition
- Health problems
How Big Do Chinese Dwarf Hamsters Get?
The Chinese dwarf hamsters live up to their name as they are the smallest hamsters, growing to about 5 – 10 cm (2–4 inches) long. They weigh an average of 1 to 2 ounces.
Are Chinese Hamsters Good Pets?
Chinese hamsters are an ideal small pet! Every dwarf hamster makes for lovable pets, and Chinese dwarf hamsters are even slightly better.
Chinese dwarf hamsters are usually gentle and good-natured animals. Although handling them can be slightly more difficult than Syrians due to their speed and small size, you can become perfect with practice. Some breeders consider Chinese dwarf hamsters as the easiest hamster to tame.
Keep in mind that these animals are active at night and sleep only during the day. That shouldn’t be an issue as long as you enjoy spending time with them after work.
So that’s all you need to know about keeping a Chinese dwarf hamster! We hope this guide helps you provide a happier and healthier home for your pet.