How To Keep A Roborovski Dwarf Hamster
Roborovski dwarf hamsters are amazing little animals that are full of personality. Robos have become increasingly popular in the pet trade, with more and more families bringing these shy creatures home to look after.
The guide below will cover everything you need to know about Roborovski hamster care, as well as key Robo hamster facts. This is your one-stop resource for everything about Roborovskis!
The Roborovski Dwarf Hamster – Appearance, Colors and Information
Roborovski hamsters are the smallest species of hamster and originate from hot deserts in Asia. They are extremely cute little animals but are somewhat shy and timid in nature. They’ll grow no bigger than your thumb!
Robos don’t usually like to be held but they do enjoy interacting with their own kind. They can also be curious animals that love to play with new toys and explore their environment. Despite being a lot less cuddly than the more common Syrian hamster, Roborovski hamsters can be very entertaining to watch and very fun to care for.
- Scientific name: Phodopus roborovskii
- Other names: Desert hamster, Robos, Robo dwarf, Russian dwarf hamster
- Lifespan: 3-4 years
- Size: 2-3 inches (5 cm)
Roborovski Hamster Appearance And Colors
Being the smallest dwarf hamster in the world, Robos are very cute little creatures. With their size also comes agility and speed. Roborovskis are also the quickest of the hamster family so if you do get an escape artist Roborovski – good luck catching it!
Selective breeding has led to a wider variety of Roborovski hamsters becoming available in the pet trade. Traditionally a Roborovski will have a sandy coloration with no dorsal stripe (Winter Whites and Campbell’s hamsters do have a dorsal stripe). Some Robo hamsters have the same color across their whole body while others will have a sandy body with a lighter face.
Roborovski color variants:
- Sandy (light brown)
- White face, dark body (aka ‘husky’ Robos)
- Pure white
Not sure how to tell if you have a Roborovski hamster? Here are some ways to distinguish a Roborovski from other dwarf hamsters:
- Sandy color
- No dorsal stripe
- Very small size
- Often kept in larger groups than other dwarfs
How Long Does A Roborovski Hamster Live For?
Roborovski hamsters have a relatively long lifespan compared to other hamsters, living for 3-4 years in captivity. Three years isn’t exactly a huge amount of time but this can be ideal for new pet owners who want to avoid a longer commitments; such as taking care of a dog for 10 or more years.
Genetics, diet, environment, stress and many more factors can influence the lifespan of a hamster. The numbers above should be treated only as a guide. In the wild a Roborovski will only usually live for two years, mainly due to predators!
Where Does The Robo Hamster Come From?
Roborovski hamsters were originally found in the deserts of Asia, including parts of Russia. They have since been domesticated and are available in pet stores across the world! The Roborovski was named after the person who first started collecting them from the wild.
In the wild a robo hamster would run all night and is believed to cover a distance of around 4 marathons every night! This is a true desert hamster.
Despite this camouflage, Winter Whites rarely live past 12 months of age in the wild and are lucky to get past their 6-month birthday. Your pet will certainly be grateful for a warm, safe and loving home!
Winter Whites will often dig burrows in the wild for a safe place to sleep. This is also where they choose to breed and hide from predators. These burrows will often have lots of connecting tunnels and the hamster will use any material it can find to build a comfortable nesting area. This is why Winter Whites enjoy having tunnels in their cage at home.
Are Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters Good Pets?
We think all dwarf hamsters make great pets and Roborovskis are no exception! Robos tend to be quite shy but there’s no doubt these hamsters are curious little animals who love to play. They are usually friendly and won’t inflict a bite unless threatened.
The only thing to bare in mind is that these hamsters can be hard to handle and are usually kept as a pet to watch and observe rather than handle due to their agility and speed. If you have a child that wants to be able to handle their pet then a Roborovski probably isn’t for you. Most children under 8 won’t have the control needed to handle this animal.
But if you’re happy to be patient when it comes to petting and bonding with your hamster then a Roborovski will make an amazing addition to the family!
Robo Hamsters vs. Winter Whites vs. Campbell’s
So which type of dwarf hamster is best for you? We have comprehensive guides for all dwarf hamster species on our ‘care guides’ section. All dwarf hamsters can make fun little pets but each have their own distinct differences.
Winter Whites and Campbell’s are great of you’d like more opportunity to handle your pet. They are usually easier to tame and can be great to care for! Roborovskis are smaller, faster and some would say cuter than their hamster cousins.
Robos tend to be more interactive with each other which makes them more interesting to watch when kept in a group and this species is usually more active than the average hamster. It all comes down to personal preference as any of these animals are perfect first time pets.
Roborovski Dwarf Hamster Minimum Cage Size
Robo hamsters will be happy to live alone or in pairs which gives them an advantage over Syrian hamsters. It’s definitely more fun to watch 2 or more Robos interact in your cage so keep that in mind when it comes to cage size.
The minimum cage size for a single Roborovski is 24 inches long x 12 inches wide. If you want to keep more than one hamster, times these measurements by 0.5 for each extra Robo. (The cage size for two Robos would be 36 inches long x 18 inches wide).
What’s The Best Hamster Cage For A Robo?
It is essential to choose a hamster cage with very narrow bar spacing. These animals are escape-artists! ¼ inch bar spacing should do the job and a cage with a plastic bottom + metal top is perfect for these pets.
The Savic Hamster Heaven – Our Favourite Hamster Cage
This is by far the best hamster cage you can buy today. It provides plenty of room for your hamster to explore and is capable of holding a small group of Robos. Lots of accessories are included with the set while being easy to assemble and clean.
20 Gallon Glass Aquarium – A Blank Canvas
A cheaper option is the classic 20 gallon aquarium. This is a blank canvas and allows you to create any enclosure design you wish. No metal bars mean your hamster isn’t going to find a way out of this anytime soon!
Setting Up Your Hamster Cage
Once you’ve chosen your favourite hamster cage, it’s time to set everything up! Once the cage is assembled do double check that there are no small gaps a Robo could squeeze out of and that any tunnels are fixed together correctly.
It’s also good to decide on a dedicated area for your hamster to eat. This is where you should place a food bowl. You can also purchase multiple food bowls to help avoid aggression between hamsters at food time. As well as food, your Robo also needs water! Purchase a good water dispenser and fix this to the side of your cage.
A good bedding/substrate material is paramount. Don’t go for sawdust as this is a dusty material that can have an adverse affect on your pet’s lungs. Quality aspen shavings or a bedding such as CareFresh is a much better option. Layer this an inch or so deep in your cage.
You also need an area where your hamster can hide and sleep. There are so many types of hamster houses on the market it can be hard to choose! Pickup one that fits your cage well and is easy to clean. After that, all you need is toys and a hamster wheel for your new pet.
How To Take Care Of A Roborovski Dwarf Hamster
Taking care of a Roborovski hamster is pretty simple and follows the same steps as usual hamster care. You’ll need to provide a suitable cage with enough room for exploration as well as a good diet, toys, safe bedding and plenty of things to do.
Enrichment is an important part of hamster keeping and it’s all about how you keep your pet entertained in captivity. Various toys should be provided to avoid boredom and opportunities for exercise are essential. Climbing frames, chewing toys and climbing frames are all good examples of this.
Robos are delicate animals so be careful when picking them up and putting them back down. Remember these hamsters are incredibly small so don’t purchase a cage with any big holes or large spacing between metal bars. They can squeeze out of the smallest of gaps!
You’ll need to provide a safe bedding/substrate material for your hamster.
You need to clean a Roborovski hamster’s cage once per week. Purchase an animal-safe disinfectant spray and give all cage surfaces and toys a wipe down. This will remove any bacteria and maintain a clean living environment for your pet. Feed your hamster and provide fresh water daily.
How much does it cost to look after a Robo dwarf hamster?
Roborovski hamsters tend to sell for between $15-30 and around £6 in the UK. The main cost really comes with caring for the animal, not purchasing it. Here is a breakdown of how much it costs to keep a Roborovski:
- Hamster cage – $30
- Hamster wheel – $10
- Toys – $15
- Hamster house (hiding area) – $5
- Substrate/bedding – $10
- Food bowl and water dispenser – $10
- Food mix – $10
- Roborovski dwarf hamster – $20
Approx. cost = $110
Roborovski Hamster Behaviour and Temperament
Roborovski hamsters are nocturnal animals which means they sleep during the day and come out during the evening and night. This is good for people who aren’t in the house during the day. There is plenty time for bonding during the evening, when the haster is naturally active.
In the wild Robos burrow deep into the ground to escape the heat of the desert sun. This is also where they sleep, store food and interact. These burrows can be quite complex with multiple openings and exists. This is why Robos enjoy tunnels in their cages.
Robos are friendly and good-natured. That’s why they’re so popular! It is true that some males may fight and hamsters are territorial by nature so monitor your cage closely after bringing home multiple Robos, just incase.
Are Roborovski Hamsters Safe For Children?
Robos are definitely safe for children but they shouldn’t be handled by children under 8 years of age. They are simply too fast and require lots of patience when starting the taming process. That’s not to say they aren’t incredibly fun to watch and interact with! Robos can make awesome pets for children if handling isn’t a major concern.
Do Roborovski Hamsters Bite?
All hamsters can bite but it’s very unlikely a Robo will bite a human. The only time this would happen is if the animal feels threatened. Be patient with your pet and never attempt to pick it up from above as this is the behaviour of a predator.
Best Toys For A Roborovski Hamster (Enrichment Guide)
Playing and interacting with your Roborovski is important but it’s also essential that your pet has enough toys and activities to stay entertained when you’re not around. This allows the hamster to remain curious and satisfy its need to explore. It also provides much needed exercise for your Robo, these are active little animals!
You can use any type of cardboard box to create a DIY hamster toy or simply purchase some of the great toys available online and at pet stores. You will also need wood-based toys for your Roborovski to grind down its teeth on. A hamster’s teeth never stop growing!
Tip: Robos love to dig in the wild so provide a deep bedding material or a toy that allows them to fulfil this natural behaviour.
Best Hamster Wheel For A Robo
A good hamster wheel is an absolute must for your cage. Roborovskis are incredibly active and you’ll probably notice that they’re always on their wheel in the pet store!
That’s why Kaytee silent spinner is the perfect option. At the time of writing, it’s available for only $12.99 and has the added bonus of being silent. You don’t want to be waking up every night to an annoying squeaking sound coming from your hamster cage – trust me!
Always go for a silent hamster wheel, it will be very beneficial for the long run. Most cages come equipped with a standard wheel that squeaks non-stop when in use.
Climbing Frame Hamster Toy
A good climbing frame for your hamster can improve quality of life and provide a new challenge for your pet. The natural living tunnel toy encourages natural behaviours in your pet while, providing an all-new activity for your pet. It’s really fun watching a dwarf hamster navigate the toy, exploring all the different areas.
Sturdy Hamster Exercise Ball
The Kaytee Run-About hamster ball is another must-buy for your pet. This allows you to keep a Winter White occupied while you carry out weekly cage cleaning duties. Some hamster balls easily break open when in use, resulting in an escaped hamster to look for! That’s why it’s better to go for quality in this department.
Hamster balls are also perfect for kids. You can allow children to enjoy and interact with their dwarf hamster without the need for handling.
How To Handle And Tame A Roborovski Dwarf Hamster
Roborovskis may be hard to handle and considered as pets to watch and observe but that doesn’t mean you can’t train your hamster to become tame. You probably won’t get as comfortable handling a Roborovski as you would with other dwarf hamster breeds so bare that in mind.
With some patience and regular taming sessions, you will eventually be able to stroke your Roborovski hamster and pick it up for short periods of time. Never hold a Robo high above the ground and always supervise children who are handling your pet. They can be tricky little hamsters to control.
To tame your dwarf hamster, here’s the best strategy:
- Give your hamster some space for a few days after purchasing
- Softly talk to your hamster and offer it treats, this will get it used to your scent and voice
- Carefully stroke your hamster whenever possible and offer treats as a reward
- After some time, start putting your hand flat on the bottom of the cage and allow your hamster to climb on and explore
- Gently scoop your hamster from underneath and start handling your pet
- Slowly increase height over the next few days to build trust
Try to handle your pet during the evening, when a Roborovski is naturally active. Waking your hamster during sleeping hours will only make the taming process harder. Robos may shy away from human contact even if handled daily from birth – so don’t take it personally!
Roborovski Hamster Feeding Guide
It’s essential to provide your Robo hamster with a healthy and balanced diet. This will provide much needed energy for your pet to expand and support its immune system to help avoid illness.
Roborovski hamsters eat fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains and insects. Hamsters absolutely love mealworms so this is a good food to offer as a reward for good behaviour. Fresh fruits are always healthy additions for meal time and you can find a list of approved hamster foods on the guide below.
It’s important to choose a high quality hamster food mix as the backbone of feeding time. Choose a food mix that offers plenty of protein, energy and low fat/sugars. Dwarf hamsters are prone to diabetes so always feed sugar sparingly.
Tip: Don’t feed too many juicy fruits at once, Robos can contract diarrhea easily because of their desert origins.
Seed based hamster mixes are the most popular option and they certainly work well for Robos. The only problem with this hamster food is that some Robos can be fussy and will pick and choose their favourite foods which isn’t good for their health. Always make sure the bowl is empty before refeeding.
Another option is pelleted hamster food which provides all the nutrients your hamster needs. This is another good option but some hamsters don’t enjoy this food as much as seed mixes and it can make meal time a little less fun.
Tiny Friends Farm Hazel Hamster Mix
The Tiny Friends food mix is perfect for a picky dwarf hamster. It’s a great tasting mix of seeds, mealworms and other healthy treats. This food mix can also be used for Syrians, making it a much more versatile option for pet keepers. Click here to see the latest price of this food mix.
- A great tasting food mix
- The best food mix for fussy hamsters
- Nutritionally balanced
- Suitable for all hamster breeds
- Added vitamins and includes mealworms
- Promotes natural foraging
How Much Should You Feed A Roborovski Hamster?
You should feed your Roborovski one spoonful of hamster mix per hamster per day. This will provide your hamster with the energy and nutrients it needs to stay healthy. You should also provide fresh fruit and regular treats for your pet. You can even feed insects, if you wish!
Can Roborovski Hamsters Hamsters Live Together?
Absolutely! Roborovski hamsters are often kept in small groups or pairs but they can also live alone happily. If you do decide to keep more than one Roborovski it is important you follow some simple guidelines:
- Ideally purchase hamsters from the same litter or Robos who have grown up together
- Never house a Roborovski with any other type of hamster
- Keep a same sex group unless breeding (females are less likely to fight)
- Remove a hamster immediately if any fighting takes place
Robos are creatures of habit. Suddenly being introduced to a new hamster after months or years of living alone won’t go down very well.
Sometimes Robos will playfight which isn’t anything to be worried about and is sometimes used to establish a natural hierarchy. That being said, if you do notice any kind of injury on one of your pets be sure to rehome them asap.
There are some steps you can take to avoid aggression such as providing multiple toys, food bowls and water dispensers. This will stop any one hamster becoming territorial over a specific part of their enclosure.
How To Breed A Roborovski
Always make an informed decision before choosing to breed animals and plan ahead for what you’ll do with the babies. The health and temperament of a parent hamster should also be considered so that you can breed healthy and friendly pups.
Robos reach sexual maturity and just 5 weeks of age! It’s best to breed females when they are closer to 4 months but males can be bred younger. Please note that Robos are harder to breed than other dwarf hamsters and will sometimes only mate during the summer months.
Every 4 days a female hamster becomes receptive to males (this is called the heat cycle). A Roborovski will be pregnant for 20-30 days, producing around 4-6 pups per litter. Some hamster owners have reported litters of close to 30!
Once pregnant, be sure to provide extra food for the mother hamster and start planning a new home for your pups. Robo pups should be removed from their mother after around 20 days and rehomed.
Do Roborovski Hamsters Hibernate?
In extremely cold temperatures a Roborovski may go into hibernation. Temperatures below 10 degrees celsius are capable of triggering this instinct. Robos go into hibernation because cold temperatures usually means a lack of food – sleeping is better than starving!
In the past pet owners have mistaken dwarf hamsters for being dead when they are in fact in hibernation. This is because a Robo will be motionless and non-responsive while in this state. If you slowly warm your hamster and gently handle/stroke it, you will eventually wake it up.
That’s everything you need to know to keep a Roborovski hamster! Hopefully you now feel more prepared to take on one of these pets and care for them yourselves. We hope you enjoy keeping a healthy, happy and active Roborovski at your home.
If you’re interested in other elements of hamster care, let us know in the comments!
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