This long and narrow-bodied hamster looks more like a mouse than a typical hamster. Its face is pointy, and it even has a visible tail. (Most hamster species have tails so tiny that you would think that they have no tails at all!) At up to 1 5/16 inches (34 mm) in length, the Chinese dwarf hamster is certainly long by hamster standards.
The tail is attached to a 4 inch (10 cm) long body, including its head. These animals weigh in at between 1 3/8 and 1 5/8 ounces (39-46 g). They can live from one and a half to three years.
Early in their captivity and use in laboratories, they did not reproduce. As a result, scientists went in search of another hamster to use instead of the Chinese dwarf hamster. This resulted in the capture of the Syrian hamster, Mesocricetus auratus, which is the most common hamster to be kept as a pet.
Through selective breeding, other dwarf hamster species have mutated into a multitude of coat colors and patterns. In the case of the Chinese dwarf hamster, however, there are only two patterns.
The first standard coloration is that which is found in the wild hamster. It is called agouti. This animal has a dark stripe that runs from its shoulders to its tail. Its belly is white, and its back and sides are covered with hairs that start out black at the base and then change to brown at the tips.
The second pattern is called the dominant spot. In this case, the animal still has the dark spot down the length of its back. Instead of having agouti coloring on its back and sides, however, this animal is white, although it can have a limited number of dark patches, usually on its flanks.
Chinese dwarf hamsters are unique among the dwarfs in their ability to climb. Their tail is prehensile, meaning that it can be used to grab onto things to help the animal balance. These animals are adept at climbing vertical surfaces, such as cornstalks – or even your finger.
When keeping these hamsters, it is important that you provide it with multiple places it which to hide. It tends to be shy, but can readily be tamed. The female is dominant over the male and she has no hesitation in attacking – especially the sensitive parts. The females will also kill any weak animals or members of their communities that are ill. This ensures that the limited resources are spread among those animals that are healthy and are most likely to breed and produce healthy Chinese Dwarf Hamster offspring.
These animals are native to Southern Mongolia and China. As pets, they are extremely popular in the United Kingdom. They are catching on in the United States, however some states have laws forbidding them because of fears that escaped animals may interfere with the native rodent population. If you live in Australia or New Zealand, you will have to see these animals at a zoo or on television. There are no hamsters of any kind allowed as pets in these two countries.