The Roborovski hamster is the smallest species of hamsters of all known species, originating from Mongolia, northern Chine and the Gobi Desert. They were discovered by Vsevolod Roborovski in 1894, hence the name. Roborovski hamsters prefer desert areas and are very efficient at conserving water, so they are called the “Desert Rats”.
They can live with less water thanother species of dwarf hamsters and are very sensitive to heat. To survive in the desert, they dig their burrows deep under the burning sand. In their natural habitat these hamsters are active at night and at dawn, and during the year their active period is from September to November.
The Roborovski hamster was first imported to England in 1970 by the Zoological Society of London, but they didn’t breed, so it was a failure. Other European countries have been more successful in mating hamsters brought from Russia; for example all Roborovski hamsters from the UK came from Holland in 1990,
from a single breeder. Only in 1998 the Roborovski hamster was imported to the US, so even today they are quite rare. In recent years there have been many attempts to breed wild rats caught in Russia, but most died or simply did not mate. However domesticated Roborovski hamsters do not have this problem, their mating succeeding on a scale large enough so that now their number as pets is growing.
This hamster is easily recognizable by physical characteristics, namely:
– size from 4 to 4.5 cm
– weight between 22-26 grams
– front paws have four fingers and the back paws have five fingers
– they have 2 colors – Agouthy (root of the hair gray and the top sand colored with white eyebrows) and White Faced or Husky (coat color is the same except that the face is completely white)
The Roborovski hamster can live from 2 to 3 years. They live best in pairs and it is ideal to be kept together since they are small, to get used and to become attached. There is the risk of potential conflicts between hamsters if they are put together when they are already adults and they can harm themselves. The female can have babies after the age of 6 months, normally being pregnant from 3 to 6 times during her life. The gestation period usually lasts between 20 and 22 days. The female will often give birth to 4-5 baby hamsters once, but there are cases when even 10 baby hamsters were born.
Although the Roborovski hamster is so small, it requires a lot of room to move. Whether you choose a cage or an aquarium, you must have dimensions of 50 cm on 30 cm. The aquarium is cheap, easy to clean and you can see hamsters better, but you should not keep it in considering that sun heats the air relatively quickly inside glass and does not release hit just as easily. To fill the tank you can put a wire mesh so air will enter and will run better indoors. Make sure you change sawdust once every two weeks.
The food of the Roborovski hamster is not different from that of other hamsters, but you must be careful not to give too many fruits or vegetables once, because it can cause diarrhea. It is important to feed your hamster every day at about the same time and to clean their sleeping area of any remaining leftovers.
Although hamsters are the only ones that are almost entirely vegetarian, they occasionally eat: cooked chicken, cooked and boneless fish, crickets, boiled eggs, bread, milk, tofu, dog biscuits, etc. It is advisable to give to the Roborovski hamster the following: almonds, apple seeds, chocolate, avocado, grape seeds, citrus, red leaves, cherry kernels, onion, garlic, pickles.
These hamsters are not indicated for younger children, because they are so lively and quick. When you choose your hamsters, make sure of them to be alert, lively and to show of curiosity, it they look bored it can be a sign of disease. Also they must have clear and bright eyes, clean ears and thick and clean fur. Hamsters are nocturnal, so it is best to buy them when they are awake, at night.