These are the newest addition to the family of hamsters kept as pets. They originate from Mongolia and are the smallest of the hamster family, being only about 5cm long when fully grown. They are sandy brown on their head and back and pure white underneath, but have endearing white “eyebrows” and whiskers, as seen in the photograph below. Like their relatives, the Russian hamsters, these animals are social, and live in groups. They are by far the fastest moving of the hamster family, and indeed are rarely still, except when they are asleep.
Roborovski hamsters are gentle and naturally docile but extremely fast! They rarely, if ever, bite but do wriggle – and if they escape they are difficult to catch, although repeated, gentle handling will calm them down somewhat. Since they are so wriggly, they are not generally recommended for anyone wanting a pet to “cuddle”. When they are being handled, it is best to do so over a “playbox” or normal cardboard box from the supermarket. (If a Roborovski hamster gets loose on the floor it will be a major challenge to retrieve!) On the plus side, however, their temperament is reliably good; bites or even nips are so rare as to be effectively unheard of. As a pet to watch, busily going about its day-to-day existence, they are without equal.
Their care is basically similar to that of other hamsters, particularly the other “Dwarfs”. As with Russians and Chinese, mouse barred cages are required to safely confine them or, failing that, a tank, (either plastic or glass). They seem to be more fond of tubes, plastic houses and hideaways than other species of hamster, and will enjoy nesting in any cardboard rolls or small boxes that are given to them. In terms of feeding, normal hamster food suits them well, although as a treat they especially relish a small amount of bird seed, particularly millet or foreign finch seed. (They will also take the spray millet sold for budgerigars). Concerning fruit and vegetables, any of the “greens” that other species of hamster will eat are suitable for Roborovskis.
Lifespan for Roborovski’s hamsters is usually about two years, comparable to Syrians and other “Dwarfs”.
The hamster pictured above is a Normal Roborovski. To date there has only been one colour mutation – a hamster with a completely white face, commonly referred to as a ‘Husky’. The Husky gene is dominant and therefore only needs to be inherited from one parent.