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All About The Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamster

Learn these 10 facts about this hamster species to see if it’s the right pet for you.

By Lorraine Hill
Posted: March 21, 2012, 10:25 p.m. EDT

see Hamsters table of contents

1. The Winter White hamster originates from Siberia and its Latin name is Phodopus sungorus.

2. The Winter White hamster’s coat turns white in winter, thus its name. In the wild, this coat change provides camouflage against snow. The change in color occurs during a few days to a few weeks. The extent to which the hamster’s coat changes during the short light periods may vary from just a few faded patches to a whitening of the entire coat. This coat change can occur in all varieties of the Winter White hamster. Lack of exposure to seasonal light cycles usually prevents this coat-color change in captivity.


3. The Winter White hamster is 3 to 4 inches long.


4. Winter Whites livs an average of 1 1/2 to 2 years.


5. The males are generally larger than females.


6. Winter Whites are not particularly prone to any illness, but they can suffer from the same illnesses as the Campbell’s hamster, a species to
which it is similar.


7.  Winter White hamsters generally have a more tolerant personality than the Campbell’s hamsters and are less likely to bite. Their small size makes them better suited to older teenagers and adults than younger children. A potential owner for a Winter White needs no specific personality traits beyond a commitment to provide proper care for the hamster.


8. The Winter White is a sociable species and best kept in single or mixed-sex pairs or groups. The decision to keep a mixed-sex pair or group should not be taken lightly because breeding will occur and hamster litters can be produced every three weeks.


9. Introduce Winter White hamsters that will live together at a young age — preferably 5 to 8 weeks. For best success, the hamsters should come from shared living quarters. Hamsters that have lived alone may not accept a companion peaceably.


10. The best cages for Winter Whites are aquariums or large plastic storage tubs. Use a wire-mesh lid to prevent escapes and injury from falling objects. Dwarf hamsters such as the Winter White Russian hamster can squeeze through the bars of many wire cages.

Excerpt from the Popular Critters Series magabook Hamsters with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Hamsters here.

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