Chinese hamsters are the rodents that originate in the deserts of Mongolia and Northern China. They belong to the Subfamily of Cricetinae. Chinese hamsters were first used as laboratory animals in 1919 and after that, they were kept as a pet at home.
Chinese hamsters are not true dwarf hamsters but due to their small size and similarity with other dwarf hamsters, they are also known as Chinese Dwarf Hamsters.
If you will train them, they will easily handle, one of their attractive qualities is that of clinging to a finger with their four paws. Chinese hamsters are quite nervous but, once they are trained, they will be friendly. If you will disturb them, they may bite you. Don’t try to awake them, when they sleep.
Description of Chinese Hamsters
Chinese hamsters are small animals with a grayish-black fur and a black stripe down the spine with a white belly. They have a long tail compare to other types of hamsters. The adult Chinese hamsters weigh nearly 39 to 46 gm, and 9 cm in length. They have a short life span just like all other hamsters and live 2-3 years on average. You can identify a Chinese hamster by the black stripe down the spine and his long tail compare to all other hamsters. They have a thin and long body.
Just like other hamsters, Chinese hamsters are not common in pet stores or markets. In some areas theses are restricted, just like the state of California; you need a permit to adopt, sell or breed them. In some states such as New Jersey, these are known as exotic animals, you also need a permit to sell them.
History of Chinese Hamsters
They were first used as laboratory animals in China, in 1919. In 1948, 10 pairs of Chinese Hamsters were sent to the USA. They were popular for the next two decades in diabetic research due to their heredity diabetes.
These hamsters were used for several experiments, such as biological, bacterial, and parasitic infections. In recent years, they are used in biomedical research because of their features, such as their small size, polyestrous cycle, small pregnancy period, and a low number of chromosomes.
|Common name||Chinese hamster|
|Binomial name||Cricetus griseus|
|Adult hamster size||Up to 4 inches|
|Life span||2-3 years on average.|
|Color||Grayish black with black stripe down the spine|
Three color mutations found in Chinese hamsters
- Normal or wild
- Dominant spot
- Black-eyed white.
Normal or wild and dominant spots are common in the pet store in the UK, but black-eyed white is rare. The only small number owned by hobbyist breeders in the United Kingdom.
Breeding & Gestation
Chinese hamsters start to breed, when they are 60-90 days old, with the pregnancy period of 18-21 days. It is very common in Chinese hamsters that a female becomes aggressive towards a male hamster before they breed. One of the common reasons for their rareness is that they are harder to breed compared to other hamsters.
Characteristics of Chinese Hamsters
- Chinese hamsters are nocturnal but sometimes active in the day time.
- They are sometimes nervous but are usually friendly and rarely bite.
- As compare to other hamsters they can easily squeeze through cage bars, so choose a cage according to their size or aquarium can be suitable for them.
- A female Chinese hamster becomes aggressive towards others when they grow up. So you have to keep them separate. You can keep then in pairs when you introduce them to each other at a very young age.
- They are very active and spend more of the time running, playing and burrowing, so select a cage that is large enough with all their necessities.
- One of the hamsters habit is chewing habit, so provide chewing material to your Chinese hamsters to maintain incisor teeth, because their teeth continuously grow.
Habitat for Chinese Hamsters
Choose the best habitat for your hamster that is safe for him. Chinese hamsters are small, so they can easily escape from the cage bars. Select the cage with narrow bars or aquarium for them. Place all their necessities in the cage such as fresh food, water, exercise wheel, hideout, wood shavings, timothy hay, toys, and bedding material. Paper towel rolls are the best bedding material for them. They love to play, so provide them the hamster toys.
Clean your hamster’s habitat regularly. Change their bedding once in a week and replace fresh water daily. Wash their cage and put hamster back after dry it.
What to feed Chinese Hamsters?
Feed your hamster a quality hamster food supplement with a small number of fresh fruits and fruits. You can also feed them small treats such as fruits, nuts, and cereals.
Different types of hamsters have different diets, so avoid feeding them generic mix. These may not healthy feed for them. Sugary diet is also not healthy for them, because diabetes is very common in Chinese hamsters.
Same like other types of hamsters, Chinese hamster also has a wet tail health problem. This is very common in all rodents and caused by bacteria called Campylobacter jejuni. A hamster may have diarrhea, appetite loss, and lethargic in the condition of a wet tail. If you notice such a condition, take your hamster to the vet for treatment. It can be dangerous, if not treated on time.
They can also be affected by respiratory problems. If you see that your pet is wheezing, nasal discharge, sneezing, and laziness, so take him to vet for proper treatment.
Diabetes is a common health problem in Chinese hamsters compared with other hamsters. So avoid giving them a sugary diet and a low sugar diet is recommended for them.
Avoid feed chocolate, caffeine or alcohol because these can cause serious health issues. Don’t feed them high fat treats.
All types of hamsters have a shorter life span. Chinese Hamsters also have a short period to live, they just live 2 to 3 years only.
If you want to own a Chinese hamster, so choose an active and attentive hamster. A lazy or aggressive hamster may be sick. A healthy hamster will more active and will run without any discomfort. They will have well-aligned teeth and free of bald fur.