Depending on the classification, there are about 24 different species of hamsters in the world; some say there are only 19.
Regardless of the exact number of hamster species, only five of them could be considered as “dwarf hamsters.” Dwarf hamsters are special even amongst the hamster world.
It doesn’t take a genius to discover that dwarf hamsters are the smallest of their kind (measuring between 4 cm and 12 cm) but they also have a number of qualities that set them apart from other hamster species. First on the list is the fact dwarf hamsters are the most sociable of their kind.
Unlike other hamsters that couldn’t be placed in the same cage, dwarf hamsters are known to be sociable creatures. In fact, they’re one of the few hamster breeds that you could place in pairs or colonies in a single enclosure.
Species of Dwarf Hamsters
When dwarf hamsters develop bonds, they are even known to huddle together before sleeping. If you’re interested in knowing more about these amazing animals, here are the 4 types of dwarf hamster species.
These beautiful hamsters are not actually dwarf hamsters, though they bear the name. But because of their diminutive sizes, they are put together under the same category as the dwarf hamsters.
The Chinese dwarfs originated in Mongolia and North-Eastern China and were first domesticated sometime during the late 1910s; the same time they started to be used for laboratory testing.
Just like most hamsters, Chinese dwarf hamsters live short lives, with an average lifespan of 2-3 years. If cared for properly with little to no health issues, they can live up to 4 years.
As far as features go, the Chinese dwarf hamster is easily distinguishable among the hamster species because of its elongated body structure compared to the roundish shape of other dwarf hamsters.
Also known as Cricetulus griseus, they would appear more similar to a mouse than a hamster. Just like a mouse, the Chinese dwarf also has a hairless tail which can grow about an inch long and is the only hamster to have one.
For coloring, the Chinese dwarf has a gray top with black stripes and a light bottom. Males would have prominent sex organs about the size of their heads which may be the reason why these hamsters aren’t as popular as the others.
Because it isn’t actually a dwarf hamster, it’s not surprising that this animal is the least sociable of the 4 species. It is still possible for them to be able to peacefully coexist with hamsters of their kind if you start socializing them at a young age.
Males are more likely to be friendly with each other but you can also try to put females together. However, at the first sign of fighting, you should immediately separate the hamsters regardless of gender.
Out of all the dwarf hamsters, the Chinese are the least popular and most difficult to find since they don’t appear on pet shops as much as other dwarfs do.
2. Dwarf Campbell’s Russian Hamsters
There are two types of Russian dwarf hamsters and this dwarf hamster breed would be the first one. Campbell’s dwarf hamster appears highly similar to the other Russian, the Winter White, but has smaller ears, more furry feet, and lacks a dark patch on its head.
Main colors for the Campbell would include agouti (wild natural color), argente (sandy), and albino (white). However, as of today, this breed has over 40 color variations.
Dwarf Campbell’s Russian hamster can live only up to 2.5 years and can grow to a length of 10 cm (largest among the dwarfs). With the scientific name Phodopus campbelli, the Campbell is more prone to diabetes than other dwarf hamsters.
This dwarf rodent was named after Charles William Campbell who discovered the species way back in 1902 in Mongolia and took it all the way to London. Dwarf Campbell’s Russian hamsters are known to inhabit in Eastern and Central Asia and are one of the most popular dwarf hamsters today.
Despite their popularity, Campbell’s Russian hamsters are also known to be the least friendly towards humans which don’t really make them great pets for children. They are known to nip and bite when they feel threatened.
When it comes to their own kind, however, they can be quite sociable and can even live in groups when introduced to each other young.
3. Winter White Russian Dwarf Hamsters
The second Russian dwarf hamster, this animal has a number of names. Sometimes called the Siberian dwarf hamster or the Djungarian hamster, the Winter White Russian dwarf hamster is no doubt one of the most sought-after hamster breeds in the world today.
Scientifically, this breed is one of the three hamsters of the genus Phodopus and is technically called Phodopus sungorus by experts. What makes this breed of dwarf hamsters so special, however, is not its name or where it came from but what it can do.
Winter Whites look highly similar to Campbell’s but have a more Romanesque nose. Furthermore, its coat is much softer to the touch and is less wooly. They mainly come in three colors: natural pearl, sapphire, and sapphire pearl.
However, they can also come in a variety of other colors. Unfortunately, these colors would mean that the Winter White isn’t purebred but rather, a hybrid. Winter Whites and Campbells are often crossbred to produce a colorful offspring but doing so often results in hybrids with genetic defects.
Purebred Winter White dwarf hamsters can only be found at certified breeders and if you happen to see one at a pet shop, it is more likely to be a hybrid.
Winter Whites, just like all hamsters, have fairly short lives, being able to live up to only 3 years. They can grow as long as 10 cm and are known to be easily-tamable as well as being highly sociable towards their own kind.
They are commonly found in Siberia, Russia, some parts of China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan.
4. Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters
Now, we head on to the smallest of the 4 lower classifications of dwarf hamsters – the Roborovski dwarf hamster. This special dwarf hamster got its name from the man who first discovered its species; Russian explorer Lt. Vsevolod Roborovski, back in 1894 in Nanshan, China.
Despite its small size – being only able to grow up to 5 cm in height, the Robo dwarf hamster is also known for its mastery of speed and longevity. The quickest among the dwarf hamsters and all hamsters in general, the Roborovski is able to run a hundred miles in a single night.
Given this information, this dwarf hamster is also one of the most active hamsters around. Its speed and agility make it quite a difficult pet to tame as it has been known to slip through and jump out of its cage from time to time.
When it comes to longevity, the Roborovski is known to live as long as 4 years in captivity; still a short life but the longest of all hamster species nonetheless.
Robo dwarfs are generally shy creatures and are not an ideal pet for children. Despite this, they are not known to nip or bite humans often even when threatened. Roborovskis are also not as sociable as other hamsters but could coexist well with others of its kind when introduced at an early age.
Now a common household pet, Roborovskis were known to inhabit the Gobi Desert as well as parts of Mongolia and Kazakhstan prior to their discovery.