There are quite a few different kinds of dwarf hamsters, all of which make excellent little pets! Although they are smaller than their cousins, they still require the same level of care.
Dwarf hamsters care often more hesitant, skittish, and more likely to try to “escape” when frightened. Their small size enables them to fit into tiny cracks and crevices so they need a cage to secure them. Hamsters dig a series of tunnels in the sand and dirt for protection when in a natural setting. In a home environment, they enjoy the plastic tubular habitats that can be found at most pet stores. But, due to their small size, the typical hamster habitat may be too big for them to be able to maneuver in freely.
Luckily, it is easy now to find these enclosures built smaller and specifically for mice. These are more appropriate playgrounds for dwarf hamsters. They can also thrive in a ten to twenty gallon tank or a secure wire cage. Hamsters are very active creatures, so place a wheel inside their cage so they can run on it. Hamsters have been known to run up to five miles on their wheel. You can purchase smaller wheels made especially for dwarf hamsters.
Use a substrate on the bottom of your new friend’s cage to satisfy his natural instinct to burrow. Use a dust free and absorbent material like wood shavings (not cedar or pine as these materials can be unhealthy for your hamster). Empty and replace the substrate in your hamster’s cage every week. You will notice that your hamsters will make nests out of the substrates in their cages. Feel free to offer your hamsters a number of other nesting materials like crumbled or shredded paper, cotton, etc. Often times they will build their nests in an enclosed space like a nesting box. Since they are particularly shy animals, they prefer the privacy that the boxes offer.
Dwarf hamsters have a high metabolism, and actually eat as much as their larger cousins. They will enjoy eating different types of seeds, food pellets, dried fruits and veggies. Hamsters do tend to hoard their food in their nests, but they still should be offered a constant supply of fresh foods and water. It is also important that you are sure to give your dwarf hamsters chewing toys. Their teeth never stop growing so they will constantly gnaw on anything they can find. Provide soft wooden toys to keep them busy so they are less likely to chew on plastic accessories which could easily injure them.
In addition to changing out the substrate of the hamster’s cage every week, the cage and accessories should be thoroughly washed every 10 days or so. You can use a light solution of soapy water, but be sure that you rinse everything well. Allow the cage to dry completely before adding the new substrate. Be sure to avoid harsh chemicals that can irritate your hamsters. Dwarf hamsters do require a moderate amount of care, but the joy of owning one far outweighs the amount of work required to care for these wonderful pets!