There are 5 species of Hamsters commonly kept as pets: Syrian, Chinese (below ), Campbells Dwarf (top left ), Winter White Dwarf (top middle), Roborovski Dwarf (top right ). The Chinese are not Dwarf Hamsters but usually get put into the same category because they are less common. All of these species tend to be less trusting of the huge hand then there larger cousin, the Syrian. They have a scent gland on their belly they use to mark their territory by rubbing. The most common of these is the Campbells Dwarf. It has unfortunately been the victim of "customer selected breeding". This is where small stores breed their own hamsters. The customer selects the animals with the best temperament and the worst is left to in-breed at the store. Eventually all the store has left is fur covered pirrhana.
The word "hamster" comes from the German word "hamstern" which means to hoard. Most Hamsters have cheek pouches in which they carry food and bedding to their nest - even pups if they feel threatened. The video below shows a Syrian pouching cookies.
While Chinese, Campbells Dwarfs, Winter White Dwarfs and Roborovski Dwarfs are social in the wild they are happy to be kept singly as well as socially in the home. Chinese usually end up solo since they do not like change and react by attacking their cage-mates. Hamsters are not homosexual or bisexual. Same sex groups often do dominance mounting to establish rank in the group. Also when a female in a group is in heat the other females will react to the smell by mounting.
Problems with this icon are a result of putting the wrong genes together. If you aren't sure of the genes you have then it's best to err on the side of caution and assume the worst.
Problems with this star are genetic and all animals in that breeding line should be retired. This means parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and any offspring and their offspring. You should also contact those who have bought animals from these lines to warn them. If this seems extreme consider this: When diabetes first showed up in a certain Campbells Dwarf hamstery it took years to convince the breeder. In the meantime, this hamstery was mass producing diabetic hamsters then selling and shipping them around the world.
Animals that are aggressive should not be used for breeding. This is how Pet Store Campbells Dwarfs became fur covered piranha. This also includes species aggression in social species.
Cleanings - Only do a ⅔ cleaning as they react poorly to a total change. Very territorial.
Anophthalmic - Homozygous Red Eyed Mottleds MiMi are mini, eyeless, toothless whites that die by weaning age as a result of breeding two Red Eyed Mottleds together. They have severely underdeveloped intestines that can not properly digest food. For this reason the White Patterns shouldn't be mixed with each other or Albinos. BEWs and REWs are Platinums with dilute so are white patterns.
Neurological - This appears to be a type of Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder. It takes one of three forms: Back Flipping, Pacing & Circling. The hamster can not stop the behavior. Extreme cases can't stop to eat or sleep and the constant exercise has an anorexic affect on the unfortunate animal. Any breeding line with genetic problems should be discontinued. I have videos below . They are shown with normal hamsters. Talking with other breeders this seems to be linked with Red Eyed Mottled. I've personally seen 3 and all were Mottled.
Diabetes - Story of Max the diabetic hamster with helpful guidelines by Jane. She does numerous rescues in Southern California involving mainly diabetic animals. She also runs the Yahoo Group HoneyHams.
Glaucoma - Very early onset of Glaucoma causing cataracts and blindness.
It is not recommended to breed Hybrid Dwarfs or to create Hybrid Dwarfs. Campbells Dwarfs and Winter White Dwarfs are the only hamster species kept as pets that can be bred together.
Extinction of Pure Campbells Dwarfs & Winter White Dwarfs - Once a Hybrid Dwarf always a Hybrid Dwarf. No matter how many times it is crossed back with a pure species it is always a Hybrid Dwarf. Read "When is a Campbell Not a Campbell" by Melissa Chamberlain.
Delivery - The head of the Campbells Dwarf is wider then the Winter White Dwarf head and can cause problems to the pups and mom during delivery probably causing death. Go here for an explanation of the difficulty of first generation birth.
Sterile Offspring - There's a high level of sterility in the offspring.
Mortality Rate - There's a high mortality rate in the pups.
Exercise - These little guys are hyperactive and need to vent their energy. One wheel per hamster is best. This will help avoid fights.
This page was last edited on June 28, 2011