“ Animal Species: Rodents / Small Pets „
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A long time ago on here I requested a link to write about my Russian Dwarf Hamster Eric Donald. I was told to write my review here which actually really, really annoyed me as he is not Chinese he's Russian however I will bury our pride and write about him here!
Eric is about 8 months old now. I bought him for around £15.00 at the time from Pets At Home store cos I bought him as a she and with his sister (least I think she was a she!) and I called him Doris Pearl and his sister Edna Deidre. I'm hamster mad me and thought nothing of having five hamsters in my home and the Russians you can house together alot of the time though you do have to watch this of course (colonies)!
Sadly though two days into having them both Edna simply died in my hand right out of the blue. I don't know what happened and me and my flatmate at the time were totally devasted. She was only a few weeks old and it didn't seem at all fair as I'd only just lost my Syrian boy Colin.
I then quickly researched whether I could rush out and get a mate for the then Doris (it was only later I found his bits and that he was renamed Eric lol). I am a member of the Southern Hamster Society and I gave them a call about it and they said no I couldn't as the 8 weeks had passed in his life to which I could introduce him to mates (male or females) and if I did add one they'd more than likely fight to the death. In hindsight it was a good job that I was advised against it as the then Doris was male and I'd of bought a female and got over run with rodents I bet! lol.
Well like I have mentioned he is a Russian and he is typical in appearance of the breed. They are very small with a sort of rounded body and measure in length around 10-12cm when fully grown with a pointed head, alert and pointy ears and dark slightly beady eyes (2 lol). Colour wise the most popular colour around is grey with a white underbelly and a black stripe running down the length of their backs but I have seen them in brown and white with a dark stripe running down the back too, Eric is grey and really lovely to look at!
Their life span is around 1 1/2-2 years though again these have been known to outlive other breeds of hamsters quite alot with alot of people saying their hamsters are still going strong just under three years which is really great for a small furry!
I haven't bred with Eric though I have with Syrians and like Syrians the period of pregnancy is 14-16 days. Personally I had a bad experience with breeding hamsters and 7 of my 11 babies died so I have to admit I don't fancy ever doing it again!
So a little history lesson on your Russian Dwarf then?! Campbell's Russian dwarf hamster (Phodopus campbelli) is a species of dwarf hamster. It was discovered by W.C. Campbell in 1902 in Russia but also in China though of course they are refered to as Russians!
Cute cuddly and prone to weight gain my Eric is not one bit active though this isn't typical of the breed at all apparently. He is lazy! Simple as that. Like all hammies he is nocturnal though I have to admit more often than not I do have to check he's still in the land of the living. He's great at making a bed though he has a little house to the top of the cage he enjoys residing in and he stays asleep for many more hours than he ever is awake lol.
He's ever so easy to look after and docile. He's never bit me or anyone else to date and I can't see him ever doing it. He eats normal hamster food along with my other Syrian boys though you can buy a dwarf mix which is basically smaller bits of dried food and sometimes better for them because Russian dwarfs are very prone to diabetes but I did try a smaller mix for him and it didn't seem to go down so well so all I do is limit his treats somewhat to readdress the balance a bit. Believe me and all Eric loves his treats and like all hamsters loves to store food in his pouches!
I do groom him with a little soft brush from time to time, clip his nails and unlike my Syrians he has never needed his teeth trimmed (thank the lord as its a job that makes me cringe!). Hes sociable enough too and although he lives on his own in a large tank cage (as these little hamsters can escape out of the smallest hole or space, not that Eric does hes far too lazy for that lol) I do have a playpen that I pop all my four into supervised for some exercise and never once has he been involved in a scrap and he keeps himself pretty much to himself and my bigger boys ignore him like he's not even there and carry on trying to fight amongst themselves lol!
My Eric is not active although he does have toys and a wheel and things of course and lives a life of luxury. All hes interested in is sleep and food. I do cuddle him and pop him in my pocket and the likes but really he doesn't want or need me!
Hes a good climber (when he can be bothered, which again isn't very often!) looks lovely and is known to me and everyone around him as little pudding cos he is a bit of a blob lol but hes lovely, tame and very calming to be around.
My experience with the Russians is a very positive one. Hes quiet, doesn't bite anyone and looks after himself, in fact for me he is probably a little too independent for me really! I barely see him!
All in all do I reccomend this breed? Well yes I do but I wont lie and say I'd get another one as I am pretty much sold on the more lively and inquisitive breed of Syrians but thats not to say I don't love my Eric and cherish him very much as I do!
All animals should be a considered purchase of course and I'm very much against these being bought for children and believe that they should be in a family environment and adored by all. No longer are these a cheap pocket money pet and my lot cost a lot of money to look after but they deserve it!
After watching G-Force I was set on getting a small pet. A guinea pig would have been lovely but I haven't really got enough room for one, so I popped down the pet shop and absolutely fell in love with Chinese Dwarf hamsters.
I now have two and have never had a regret about buying them. They're very fun and active. I bought them when they were just a week old and at first, they were very timid and shy and wouldn't let you touch them but now you can't keep them quiet!
I am keeping them in a Rotastak Space Commander cage. It's full of tubes which is very good for the hamsters as they are very active and love to run around. Another good thing about the cage is that you can keep adding things on to it, which makes it more fun and spacious for the little mites.
You have to be very careful while handling them as they are very small and most of all, very fast. You also have to be careful of what cage you keep them in too, as they can fit through the smallest gaps.
Once they get used to you, they are very fun and loving pets.
The only bad thing about them is they tend to sleep through the day and play through the night!
Hamsters are very cute and fun to just sit and watch. We bought two Chinese hamsters from the pet shop after our Syrian died. We have had them about four months. The information card about the Chinese hamsters stated that they were very lonely if they lived alone and lived longer with other hamsters. We bought two brothers. They are very fast hamsters and not very suitable for any child under 10, they are also very small. Chinese hamsters are a lot more fun to watch because they can get anywhere. Most hamsters can climb anywhere but they usually fall to the bottom of the cage whereas Chinese hamsters just 'cling' to absolutely everywhere in the cage.
They also hook their tails around your finger.
Now to move onto their temper. We now only have one of the two hamsters we bought four months ago as one of the brothers brutally murdered the other one. I spent my usual Wednesday off college upstairs doing some work on my laptop, my boyfriend came home after work to check up on the hamsters and he came in and said he reckons one of the hamsters has killed the other one. So I go and check. What I see is a very hyper hamster darting around the cage, up and down the bars and it climbed on the bars closest to me and I saw its mouth and belly hair tipped with blood. The other hamster is laying face up drenched in its own blood. Its face looked maimed but I think that was just the blood that had soaked its face and got stuck and flattened. He wasn't moving and I was quite upset about it; I squinted closely and I could see him still breathing very slowly. There was nothing I could do. It was 8pm at night, we had no idea where the nearest vet was and I fear they would have just laughed at us anyway and I had to watch it die while it looked at me. The other hamster ran to the dying hamster and sort of plonked itself on it and started doing something to it. I have no idea if it was trying to hurt it, kill it, eat it or wake it up but I saw the dying hamster waving its paw around frantically underneath the active hamster and shouted for my boyfriend who then moved the alive hamster into a separate cage.
I stay well away from the alive hamster now. It sounds nutty but I just cannot see it the same way anymore. Of course hamsters don't have morals but a life is a life and I had to sit there and watch it die. They were my boyfriend's hamsters anyway so he takes care of the remaining one now.
To conclude, I would NOT allow your children to have Roborovski or Chinese hamsters as pets as they kill each other. If you buy only one then I cannot see a problem, just make sure you have plenty of toys in there so it doesn't get bored.
They do not eat much and food will last a lot longer than that of a Syrian hamster.
I would definitely recommend the Chinese hamster as a pet. I didn't get my first one till I was 24 and I still have her nearly three years later. She is mental!!
The Chinese breed are very small and much more mouse like in apperance compared to a syrian or roborovski breed. They are characterised by the fact that they have a tail. Only a short one mind. I found that the Chinese hamsters are a bit more feisty than the syrian for example.
For such a small hamster mine has a big personality. Now you may think that strange for a hamster but she always comes to the cage door when you make kissing noises (how sad) and she takes the smallest seeds from you without a single nip! As I said before I have also had her nearly three years so I odn't know if it is that she is some sort of bionic hamster or if it is because they are hardier than other breeds.
The only thing I would seriuosly stress is that the Chinese breed are the ONLY breed of dwarf hamster that are not social. A lot of pet shops sell them in pairs and they should really not do this with Chinese ones!! I myself bought a pair of females and within a week they were fighting and hanging off each other. I bought a book on hamsters and it stated 'The only breed not social is the Chinese..' So i immediately went out and bought another cage.
A friend went out and bought a pair for her daughter so I warned her to seperate them ASAP she didnt and it resulted in one chewing the other ones head off and this is not the only incident I have heard about so I cannot stress enough to be careful when buying!!!
I also like to call this breed the pocket rocket because I dont think I have ever seen hamsters run so fast! Im not so sure if they make good pets for very young children as I don't honestly think that they are all so great at being handled but for older children and big kids alike I think you can have hours of fun watching them run about.
I first had a Chinese Hamster at the age of 17 so quite a late starter for small pets! however it was a great decision.
The chinese hamster is much smaller than your normal hamster and is probably a similar size to a small mouse. They are mostly greay in colour with a dark stripe down the middle of their back. They are very easy to look after and feed on normal hamster food.
I found the few I had very very friendly and they very rarely bit me as long as they were handled straightaway so as to get used to me. I used to let it out of the cage on a daily basis and often sat on the sofa with it beside me!
They dont live too long though and i think on average 2 years is about right but if you are thinking of a pet that is easy to look after and cheap to buy at about £8 this is a great choice.
This animal was one of my first pets i named her choccy she was the best to me.
these are very very friendly i found she barely bit me i have owned three and i find they are very friendly to handle and if u are a bit warey my advice is to wear a pair of gloves whilst handling these little hamsters thats what i first did.
aslo be very carfull as they bite thorugh cage bars and can squeeze through them if they bit it down enough.
because they have such a thick lair of fur.
because a little mouse can fit through a pen the part where the ink and the plastic covering it goes through the part you hold basicly.And hamsters and basicly the same size so imagine what they could fit through.
also they do hybernate so dont allways asume they are dead as have none some one with an experiance of that.
also they are only none to live for about 2 years maybe a bit more so they dont really last for a very long time maybe not an ideal gift for a small one as they dont survive for a huge amount of time.
I'm surprised that I haven't been banned from my local pet shop, not by the shop themselves but by my husband. Every time I go to buy supplies for all my little friends I find myself feeling sorry for the animals that are kept in little cages where they can't hide from the prying hands and eyes of all the hoards of children (and adults) and so my collection of small pets seems to be forever increasing. Some of the latest furry friends that I've adopted and brought home are my Chinese Hamsters, Eeny, Meeny, Miney and Mo and now I'm going to tell you all about them, their personalities and how I take care of them.
---A bit about Chinese Hamsters---
Although they are often referred to as dwarf hamsters, Chinese hamsters actually fall into a group known as rat-like hamsters, as with all hamsters they are rodents and as such have continuously growing teeth. They are much smaller than the more commonly kept Syrian hamster, are much slimmer than other breeds and only grow to about 10cm in length. As the name suggests they originally hail from China (in the north to be a bit more exact), and they are very sweet natured if a little nervous and fast. The characteristic that really separates them from other hamsters is that they have a noticeable prehensile tail that they use to help them climb. While still young they are very quick and can be difficult to catch but as they get older they seem to slow down, mellow out and are easy to hand tame. In the wild Chinese hamsters are burrowing animals who will live in close proximity to each other and are therefore quite easy to keep in a colony as long as they have a large enough cage (and are introduced at a young enough age). Their life-span is reasonably long (for a small rodent any way) and they can live for 2.5-3 years, or even longer. One fact that I found quite interesting is that in certain states of the USA you have to have a license to keep Chinese hamsters, and another fact that I found quite sad, is that in years gone by they were commonly used in laboratories instead of mice.
---Housing Chinese Hamsters---
Housing Chinese hamsters takes a little more consideration than their larger Syrian cousins. The bars in wire cages are generally spaced a little too far apart, and due to their small and svelte body frame they would probably be able to escape. The Rotastak style of cage, is also less than suitable, as the small Chinese hamsters would probably find it quite hard to climb the vertical tunnels. Mouse cages would possibly be suitable, but my own solution was to buy a glass tank that had been specifically built for small rodents. I bought the largest tank that I could afford and it has several levels with ladders, the lid is separated into two sections. The main part is made of sliding glass panels, and the other section is made from a fine wire mesh, which allows the hamsters to satisfy their natural urge to climb.
Once the I'd bought the tank I set about furnishing it, and there were quite few things that I needed. Firstly a nice layer of wood shavings is required, I make this quite deep on the bottom layer so that the hamsters can fulfil their natural burrowing instincts. Finding a water bottle that works in a tank can be a challenge, but we did find one that attaches to the side with suckers. I also needed to buy a sturdy food bowl, bedding, mineral block and some wood pieces for them to chew. The final touches were a couple of hidey holes, one of which is a tube made of vegetable matter that is safe to chew on, and the other is a house made of hay.
---One Chinese hamster or more---
When I did my research before buying these hamsters, there were several conflicting reports as to whether you could house these hamsters in a colony or not, so I decided to ask in the pet shop and was informed that yes they can be housed together, but as with any animal (or even people) there can be conflicts. After receiving this advise I actually bought four of the little fellas, and they do seem to get on very well, especially as I've supplied them with more than one sleeping area. In actual fact I'll often find them all curled up together, which does look very sweet. I am, however, prepared to separate them if any fights start.
---Feeding Chinese Hamsters---
The basis of my Chinese hamsters diet is a basic hamster mix, they don't eat anywhere nearly as much as Syrian hamsters, and I always wait until the bowl is empty before adding any more. As with other breeds of hamster they do stuff their cheeks and hide food around the tank, but again they don't seem to take quite as much as my Syrians. As well as the hamster mix I like to give my hamsters a little fresh food daily, and my four enjoy curly kale, raw broccoli, carrot and apple, the trick with introducing fresh food is to do it slowly, give them too much at once and they may end up with the runs. My little munchkins also enjoy the occasional treat, along with commercial treats of seed bars and chewy/crunchy bits, they do enjoy fresh (unsalted) popcorn. One treat you should never give your hamsters is chocolate, it is toxic to them. No matter what they are fed, I always remember to ensure they have a constant supply of fresh water.
As with all hamsters, Chinese hamsters are nocturnal, this means they don't come out until after dark, so if you want a pet that's up during the day then they are quite simply not for you. Once they are up they are very active, and spend a great deal of time running, climbing and digging. It's important that you give them plenty to do, as I've said before, there's enough wood-shavings on the bottom level of the tank for them to burrow, and an area where they can climb, but I do find other ways to keep them amused. These can be as simple as hiding their fresh food in different areas of the tank, or putting an exercise wheel in for them to run on.
Although I find my four are very friendly and will allow me to pick them up without biting, it is possible that they will nip. One of the main reasons that they will bite is that they have very poor eyesight, but a very good sense of smell. So if you've just fed them your hands will smell of food and they may think that they've just been given something nice to eat when in actual fact it's your finger. So don't blame them if you do get bitten, it's not their fault, and certainly don't punish them, otherwise any work you've done in taming them will be undone. Once they were tamed (and it's a remarkably quick process) they are very cuddly and love nothing better than being stroked or sleeping in my pocket.
As with many pets we keep in our homes, Chinese hamsters are prey animals, this means that other, larger animals (and birds) see them as a good meal. Due to this they have evolved to not show any illness, so it may be hard to tell if they're not feeling in tip-top condition. There are however a few things you can look for, if they're not eating as much as normal then there may be a problem, also if there stools are watery (they're usually quite small, black and solid) then there probably is a problem and you should get professional advice. They can also catch colds (just like us) and if they don't clear up within a couple of days you should once more get veterinary advice. One problem that seems to be less likely to occur in Chinese hamsters than Syrian is wet-tail which is a particularly nasty illness often caused by stress, with symptoms that include diarrhoea and apathy, if you suspect one of your hamsters has this then it's important to get it treated immediately as it is potentially fatal.
As Chinese hamsters are rodents, there is one other important aspect of their health that you need to take particular care of. That is their constantly growing teeth, tooth care is actually very easy, simply give them enough hard matter for them to chew on and the teeth will be kept at a good length. Mine have several different things to chew on, including a tube, commercial gnaw treats and blocks of untreated wood (you can buy these in pet shops if you don't have suitable trees in your garden). The consequences of not allowing your hamsters to gnaw adequately are pain and eventually death through starvation as they become unable to eat.
Another important aspect of your hamsters health is keeping their home in a clean and hygienic condition. As they can't clean it for themselves, it's up to you to make sure that any mess is cleaned out on a regular basis. I've found my hamsters are actually quite tidy in their toilet habits and prefer to go in just one corner of the tank, so I remove any faecal matter daily, I also check around the cage for any stored fresh foods on a daily basis. As well as this spot cleaning, I clean the tank out completely on a weekly basis, to do this I need to remove all four of them and I have a small plastic tank just for this purpose. I then remove all the old wood-shavings and bedding (keeping a little for replacing in the tank), disinfect and then set everything back up. Keeping a little of the old wood-shavings and bedding helps the hamsters feel more comfortable and prevents some of the scent marking they do. The water bottle is rinsed and refilled daily, and is cleaned with boiling water once a week along with the food bowl.
As with many small animals, it is possible for Chinese hamsters to breed at a very young age, however they are notoriously difficult to breed especially when kept in a colony. It's extremely easy to tell the difference between the sexes once they reach maturity. How can I put this, you will definitely be able to tell if you have any males, they are very well endowed. I'm not particularly bothered if my mine breed or not, as I know that I will be able to find the babies new homes, but if you don't know if you'd be able to home them then please don't even think about deliberately breeding them.
---Buying Chinese Hamsters---
If this review has encouraged you to adopt your own colony of Chinese hamsters then perhaps I can give you a few tips on buying them. Firstly make sure you've bought everything you need before actually buying the hamsters (shopping list below), and then visit your local pet shop. Chances are you won't find any of these for sale, they do seem to be quite difficult to get hold of due to the difficulty in getting them to breed. I happened to be lucky in finding mine, but after looking in other shops only one out of the three in my area sell them.
Once you have found somewhere to buy them, have a look around the shop, is it clean and do all the animals appear well cared for? If not then I would suggest going somewhere else, if you are happy with the actual shop have a look at the tank the hamsters are kept in. Is it clean, is there food and fresh water available, do the hamsters themselves look healthy? If you have any doubts then again don't buy. You are looking for hamsters that are curious, bright eyed and don't have "wet bottoms", if you see any sign of diarrhoea then steer well clear. As they are nocturnal don't expect the hamsters to be too alert, remember they do like to sleep during normal shop opening hours.
Specially designed glass tank (or similar)
Water bottle (designed for glass tanks)
(This all came to about £60)
Hamsters (I paid £10 for 2)
As with all the pets in this house, I would never suggest buying Chinese hamsters for your children, rather they make interesting pets for the whole family to enjoy. Due to their speed and small size they are not the easiest of animals to handle (especially by children), but they are easy to tame and fascinating to watch as they go about their daily (or is that nightly) lives. Although they sleep all day they are very active in the evening and at night and as such it's important that we give them enough to do. I find them entertaining intelligent little creatures and find they actually "do" far more than my Syrian hamsters. Although it's not cheap to give them the best habitat possible (in a house, of course their natural habitat is the best, except for predators) they do reward the expense as they happily climb or burrow to find their treat of the day.