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All About The Russian Dwarf Roborovski Hamster

These eight facts about the smallest of the pet hamsters will help you decide if it is the best hamster choice for you.

By Lorraine Hill
Posted: March 21, 2012, 10:45 p.m. EDT

see Hamsters table of contents

1. Roborovski hamsters (also known as desert hamsters) are the most recent species of hamster introduced to the pet market.

2. They are the smallest of the hamsters kept as pets, being only 1 1/2 to 2 inches in length.


3. Roborovski dwarf hamsters (Phodopus roborovskii) live on average for three years and are not particularly prone to any illness.


4. Like the other dwarf hamsters, Roborovskis are normally crepuscular — most active at dawn and dusk. However, they are sometimes active for periods during the day.


5. At a glance, no visible physical differences exist between male and female Roborovski hamsters.


6. The normal coloring of the Roborovski hamster is sandy-brown with a white belly and distinctive white “eyebrows” on the face. Unlike the other dwarf hamsters they have no dorsal stripe.


7. The only mutation in the Roborovski species, the “white face,” has a face that is white to above the eyes with the white extending into the shoulder area on the sides. The coloring across the hamster’s back is also diluted from the normal coloring.


8. Because the Roborovski hamster is extremely active and fast, it is not easy to handle. Roborovskis are a pet for observation more than play, but they have a docile temperament. Their speed and size make Roborovski hamsters poor choices as a child’s pet. Other pet species will walk on the surface of a sofa or table, allowing you time to guide it backward if it approaches an edge. A Roborovski will run full-tilt as soon as it is released. It will dive straight off the edge of a table or sofa and probably injure itself. Other pet hamster species can also be held and petted — this is impossible with a Roborovski. A person who enjoys watching a hamster rather than cuddling, holding or playing with it would make an excellent Roborovski owner. Roborovski hamsters are great to watch and provide hours of entertainment. Anyone watching a Roborovski run on an exercise wheel will be amazed that the wheel doesn’t spin off its spindle!

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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