Roborovski Hamster Facts
Roborovskis (Phodopus roborovskii), if looked after well, make ideal pets for adults and children – and they are the smallest of all the hamster families commonly kept as pets – here are some more Roborovski Hamster Facts –
The Roborovski Hamster originates from the wilds of the Mongolia desert and Northern China where their natural habitat is burrows beneath the sand – these burrows will be some 2 – 6 feet deep in semi-arid areas that have very little vegetation.
The name itself comes from Lt. Roborovski who first reported on these hamsters whilst on expedition near Nan Shan back in July 1894 – however, the first studies were made by the zoologist, Saturin at the turn of the century around 1903.
These hamsters were not introduced into the United Kingdom until the 1970’s where breeding was unsuccessful and it was not until the 1990’s, when they were imported from Europe, that successful breeding was achieved.
The Roborovski Hamster was not introduced to the United States until 1998, when a group of hamster breeders imported the first breeding pairs, so they are still quite a rare pet there.
Colouring & Variations
They are two main colours that make the Roborovski Hamster easily distinguished from all other hamsters.
Definitely the most common colour is the Agouti. (also called ‘normal or ‘wild’). This is where the hamsters have a nice white underbelly, and, even more distinguishable, they have little white marks above each eye which look like little white eyebrows.
The rest of their body can be anything from light to dark brown – this can vary from one hamster to another. The Agouti is also distinguishable from the other dwarf hamsters by a lack of any ‘dorsal stripe’ that you would normally see.
This characteristic is due to a regressive gene amongst the Roborovski and thus creates a fur colour where the face is completely white – the Husky is also a part of that regressive gene but can also have varying shades of brown as well.
However, there are actually 10 variations of Roborovski hamsters have been confirmed:
- agouti – a natural grayish-brown with white underside and “eyebrows”
- white face – a dominant mutation producing an agouti-coloured hamster with a white face
- husky – a recessive mutation producing a white-faced hamster with a paler, more orangey coat than the agouti colour
- mottled or pied – these hamsters have the agouti colouring with irregular patches of white over their heads, bodies and sometimes their faces
- platinum – combination of the dominant white face gene and the husky gene producing a hamster that looks similar to a white-faced when young, but fades with age to nearly white
- head spot – a combination of the dominant and recessive pied genes that creates a pure white animal with one patch of colour on the head
- white-from-white-faced or dark-eared white – dominant white-faced gene and the husky gene that produces a white hamster that retains a greyish undercoat and ears
- white-from-pied or pure white – a combination of the two pied genes that produces a pure white hamster
- red-eyed – a recessive mutation that produces a caramel-coloured hamster with a chocolate undercoat, dark brown (red) eyes, and pale ears
Through living in the arid deserts, these hamsters have become very efficient in their ability to economize their water needs – so much so that they are able to survive on less water than any other dwarf hamster breed.
Interestingly, they are quite sensitive to heat.
Living in burrows, they love to dig – and this is something you must provide for in their living habitat.
Studies have shown these hamsters to cover huge distances each night and it has been documented that they will run the equivalent to 3 human marathons each night – so it goes without saying you must provide a large cage for them.
As well as active and fast, they are also very curious creatures who love a challenge, love sniffing around and discovering new places, especially if it involves a bit of burrowing.
On the down side, they can be quite easily startled and are, at first, quite timed. As a result you will find they don’t ‘squeak’ mush, certainly not as much as the other hamster breeds.
As with most hamster species, they will be predominantly more active during the night, however, a Roborovski Hamster will be out and about a lot more during the daytime than most other breeds – but remember their dislike to heat and do not keep their cage in any form of direct sunlight during the day – they will most certainly not emerge to play during the daytime if theres sunlight anywhere on the cage.
More than one hamster.
There is always a risk that two hamsters in the same cage will start fighting – when this happens it can be very serious and severe injury can occur – however, they will normally enjoy each others company and will play, eat and socialise together for the rest of their lives if introduced properly at a very young age.
That means they can quite easily squeeze themselves through the bars of a standard cage – you must ensure your cage will prevent this from happening.
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