Siberian Dwarf Hamster

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Other name(s): Winter White Russian Hamster; Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamster;Siberian Hamster; Djungarian Hamster; Dzhungarian Hamster; Hairy Footed Hamster; Furry Footed Hamster

Scientific name: Phodopus sungorus

The basics:
The Siberian Dwarf Hamster is also well-known as the Winter White Dwarf Hamster because of their unusual ability to change from a dark to white coat in the winter. Sweet-natured, the Siberian is often preferred over other breeds because of a low tendency to nip. However, this is an agile, quick-moving, and energetic hamster that may be difficult to catch and hold. Because of this, they may not be the ideal breed for households with children. In addition, the Siberian Dwarf Hamster may be more likely to trigger allergies in those with sensitivities.

Though it may be possible to find Siberian Dwarf Hamsters in pet stores, their similarity to the Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster means they are often misidentified and interbred with Campbell’s. If you have your heart set on a Siberian, your best bet is to find a reputable breeder who can ensure you’re getting the real deal.

The Siberian Dwarf Hamster still exists in the wilds of southern and western Siberia and eastern Kazakhstan. The Siberian’s color-change adaptation developed to camouflage them for the long, snowy winters.

Appearance / health:
The Siberian Dwarf Hamster is a small hamster that matures to a length of 3 to 4 inches long. They have a rounded, oval body with short legs, a short tail, and a head that blends into the body. The heads is broad and short with a blunt nose, wide-set eyes, and small rounded ears. Hamsters have large, expandable cheek pouches which will become more or less visible based on how full they’ve been stuffed with food.

The Siberian’s body is covered in short, thick fur. The Siberian Dwarf Hamster is perhaps best known for their seasonal color-change ability. While the change is less common in the domestic variety, wild Siberians have an ashen-grey to brown coat, with a white belly and a dark dorsal stripe down the back. During the winter, their coat may change completely to white. Domestic Siberians can also be pearl, sapphire, and sapphire pearl, and may not experience any color change or less pronounced color change.

The Siberian Dwarf Hamster and the Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster are very similar in appearance and are often mistaken for one another. The Siberian’s eyes are larger and the ears are smaller.

All hamsters are prone to certain illnesses including impacted cheek pouches, over-grown teeth, respiratory infections (often from too much moisture, drafts, or very high temperatures), “wet tail” (diarrhea caused by stress), and indigestion related to food. The Siberian Dwarf Hamster has an average lifespan of 1 to 2.5 years.

Behavior / temperament:
The Siberian Dwarf Hamster is energetic and good-natured. Unlike many breeds, Siberian Dwarf Hamsters are often social with other hamsters, and when raised together or introduced young, can be kept in pairs or groups of their own kind. They are a curious and energetic hamster who should be given plenty of options and opportunities to exercise and explore. They are said to be sweeter and less prone to biting than their cousin, the Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster, but may spend more time sleeping and less time outside of their hideout.

Hamsters, including Siberian’s, are nocturnal and will be most active in the evenings. They may venture out occasionally during the day for food or some brief exercise. When disturbed during the day, they may be more prone to bite and you should never reach into a sleeping hamster’s house. They like to run, climb, and gnaw and should be given appropriate ways to do so. Hamsters have poor eye sight so care should be taken if they are allowed to explore areas they could fall from.

Your Siberian Dwarf Hamster’s cage will be the most important investment you make for your new pet, and many commercial cages are much too small for an adult hamster. Recommended floor space is at least 360 square inches and bigger is always better. Popular cages include 20-gallon long glass tanks, wire cages, and modular cages. For dwarf hamsters, wire cages should have a gap between the bars of no more than 0.3cm. On their own, modular cages are usually much too small but are designed to be expanded via stacking and tubes. Though modular cages look bright and fun, they can be difficult to clean and may have ventilation problems. Cages with external or linking tubes are not recommended in households with cats or other animals that might knock structures loose.

The second most important choice for your new hamster’s home is bedding. Aspen shavings and paper-based beddings are ideal. Pine and cedar shavings can irritate a hamster’s sensitive respiratory tract and should never be used. Hamsters like to dig, so bedding should be a minimum of 3 inches deep. If you notice your hamster is particularly fond of burrowing, more is better!

A wheel is an essential addition to your hamster’s cage. Hamsters can run as much as 5 miles in a night, so choosing a safe and appropriate wheel is essential. The wheel should have a solid running surface – bars and mesh can cause serious problems with a hamster’s feet, including a painful condition called Bumble Foot. In addition, to prevent back injury the wheel needs to be large enough that your hamster can run with its back straight.

A wide variety of toys and tubes can be used in your hamster’s cage and many can double as a much-needed chewing surface. Your hamster should also be provided with at least one hideout/house and the occasional sand bath. The cage should also include a water bottle and a food dish.

There are many commercial foods available to provide a well-balanced diet for your hamster. They come in the form of pellets, lab blocks, and seed mixes. While hamsters probably enjoy seed mixes the most, many may be high in fat and low in protein. Choosing a food with a good mix of both pellets and seed, or mixing your own from two different foods, is the best way to ensure your hamster is getting everything it needs. Many hamster owners keep a dish of pellets or lab blocks and then scatter some seed mix throughout the cage to encourage a hamster’s natural foraging behavior.

In addition to the dry food mixes, hamsters should be given small portions of fruits and vegetables. Hamsters like to hoard their food so only as much fresh food as they will eat in a day should be offered to avoid hidden rotting food.

A variety of edible chews are available to help wear down your hamster’s teeth. In addition, hard dog biscuits, a small amount of uncooked pasta, and even edible dog chews are popular. Other treats should be given sparingly, and those high in sugar should probably be avoided.


good beginner pets, distinctive personalities, Friendly little guys, fun hamster, social hamster


annoying noises, nippy, frequent cage cleanings, escape artists, opposite gender, nocturnal creatures


pelleted diet, heat stroke, nocturnal, sand baths, territorial species

Siberian Dwarf Hamster Behavior Tip

Siberian Dwarf Hamster

From ShadeFox Apr 8 2016 12:45AM


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