The Chinese striped hamster is often also referred to as the Dwarf Chinese hamster. There is some debate among the scientific community as to whether the two are identical species or if they are just subspecies of each other. Regardless, the Chinese striped hamster is becoming more popular as a hamster to own as a pet.
As their name suggests, these hamsters have a well-defined stripe that runs along their spine. Their coloring is black and brown (mouse-like) and can also be grayish. Their most identifying feature that distinguishes them from other dwarf hamsters is their long, hair-free tail. This adds to their reputation of looking a lot like mice.
Originally, the Chinese striped hamsters were used as laboratory research animals. They are still used to develop drugs by placing genes into the ovary cells where they can then quickly grow the needed proteins. Nonetheless, most people these days think of them as potential pets.
Like other hamster species, these are considered easy to care for and therefore, make great pets for busy people and families. Basic care includes cleaning their cages, providing fresh food and water daily, taking time for interaction, and maintaining their play equipment.
The Chinese striped hamster has been known to be a bit aggressive with other hamsters and should be housed individually. There is the possibility of finding a good breeder who has raised a pair together. If this is the case, there is the potential that the two could share a cage though it would have to be a very large one to allow for plenty of territory for each hamster. The owner would also need to be very diligent in monitoring the hamsters for any signs of aggression or dominance.
Housing for Chinese striped hamsters is very important, as they are quite thin hamsters and can squeeze through traditional wire cages. The best option might be an aquarium tank with a metal wire top to allow for airflow. If this is not possible, you could also use a large clear plastic tote with a with a mesh top.
Whichever cage you choose, you should provide plenty of room and activities so your Chinese striped hamster will not become bored. First there should be a running wheel. Hamsters love to run and the wheel is the only option for giving them the exercise they need. If your hamster tends to arch his back a lot when running, that is a sign that the wheel may be too small. Check the fitting by taking a picture and sending it to your veterinarian. They can recommend the proper size.
Next, there should be plenty of tubes and tunnels to run through. As naturally burrowing animals, hamsters need places to hide to feel secure. You can also provide fun and interesting pieces of materials that are replaced from time to time for a change of scenery. Small plastic balls cut in half, papers to tear and nest in, and natural cardboard containers are all good options. It will be fun to watch them explore their new surroundings.
There is much more to these little creatures than meets the eye! The Chinese striped hamster is a great option for someone who is ready and willing to learn more about this amazing and somewhat rare breed.