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Chinese hamsters make great pets. This article is going to tell you all that you need to know about this breed, but first let’s introduce the hammys.


Chinese hamsters are also known as Chinese striped hamsters or Chinese dwarf hamsters. They get their name due to their coming from China, although they are also native to Mongolia. The ‘Chinese Dwarf hamster’ name comes from their small size in comparison to other popular hamster breeds, such as the Syrian hamster. Although, technically they are not dwarf hamsters. They were first domesticated around 1919, originally being used as a laboratory animal. In the 21st century Chinese hamsters have become a popular pet, although they are still not as popular as other hamster breeds available such as the Syrian hamster. Like most hamsters, the Chinese hamster is nocturnal, sleeping during the day and spending the night awake, but they do sometimes wake up during the day for a little while. 

What Do They Look Like?

Chinese hamsters are often said to look mouse-like or rat-like, perhaps this is due to their long-short tail. They are long and thin with big eyes. They tend to grow to around 4 inches in length, weighing around 50g. They commonly are seen in two different colours – normal and dominant spot. Occasionally however, you will see Chinese hamsters who are black-eyed white. The normal colour is brown with a black stripe running down their back, their belly appears lighter. The dominant spot has normal colour spots dotted around its white fur, there is a black stripe running along its back. The black-eyed white Chinese hamster is white with a black stripe running down its back. 

Why Do They Make Good Pets?

Chinese hamsters are known for being good-natured and they can be easily trained so that they can be handled without a fuss. Once they are tamed they will sit in your hand happily. In order to get them tame, you should start handling them from a young age. They are pretty quick and energetic compared to other popular breeds, due to this, they can be difficult to handle, but they are one of the most lovable and good-natured of the breeds. They’re lovable creatures who may even become attached enough to come to the side of their cage in order to greet you. 

You can keep more than one Chinese hamster of the same sex, although it is advised that if you plan on getting more than one, that you get littermates, that way they will not feel as territorial and they will be used to each other’s presence. 

Life Expectancy

All hamsters have a pretty short lifespan unfortunately, Chinese hamsters live for around 2-3years. However, the short life span means that you can spoil your furry friend while you can. The short life span may also be good for new pet owners who may not be ready to commit to a bigger pet such as a dog. However, life expectancy can also be affected by health issues.

Health Issues

They are quite tough little fur balls, but they can be prone to some health issues. One of which is wet tail, a contagious disease that causes diarrhoea and sometimes a loss of appetite. This can be caused from stress or unsanitary living conditions, causing an infection that leads to wet tail. If wet tail is not treated it can be fatal, you can tell your hamster has wet tail by their behind smelling and their tail being wet. All hamsters are also prone to respiratory infections such as wheezing and nasal discharge. Another thing to prevent problems is by giving your hamster the necessary chew toys. If hamsters don’t have the necessary chew toys, they can get overgrown front teeth, this can make it difficult for them to chew and can cause them to stop eating. 

Natural Habitat

Chinese hamsters originate from the deserts in the north of China and Mongolia. 

How to Care for a Chinese Hamster

First of all, you need to buy your Chinese hamster as big a cage as possible. Your hamster’s cage is its whole life, they need plenty of room to exercise and play in order to remain healthy. If you go for a wire cage, you have to make sure that the bars are not wide enough for them to escape, hamsters are pesky escape artists. You should fill the bottom of the cage with 1-2inches of aspen shaving (not cedar as cedar can splinter and cause your hamster injuries, pine can cause respiratory problems so you should avoid this as well). You have to include a hideout in the enclosure because your hamster needs a place where they can feel safe and secure during the day while they rest. A hamster wheel that doesn’t have gaps in it will help to keep your furry friend fit and healthy. As well as health being at the forefront, your hamster also requires fun for their mental health, you can give your hamster enjoyment by providing them with tunnels and bridges where they are free to explore. Hamsters do a lot of exploring in the wild and therefore it is important to replicate that in its new home. As mentioned before, you should also include chew toys to keep your hamster busy and healthy. 

You should clean your hamster’s enclosure at least once a week by changing the bedding and washing the cage with mild soap and water. However, a hamster’s bedding corner needs to be removed and replaced everyday as that is where they spend most of their time and it can become quite smelly and unsanitary. 

You will have to feed your hamster roughly once a day with a day’s worth of food. As well as their hamster food, Timothy hay, grains, and fresh fruit and vegetables are good for providing your hamster with a varied diet. If the hamster hasn’t eaten the fresh fruit and vegetables within 24 hours, you will need to scoop them out to avoid the food from spoiling. You also have to provide your hamster with clean water, you can use a water dish, or a bottle that attaches to the side of the enclosure. A water bottle is more sanitary than a bowl as it keeps the water cleaner. 

Where Can You Buy a Chinese Hamster?

There aren’t many options for buying hamsters, but the go to is normally places such as Pets at Home. Alternatively you can re-home hamsters through adoption by getting them from places such as the Blue Cross and the RSPCA. Pet stores are often criticised for encouraging ‘mill breeding’, the breeding of animals on a large scale. Often animals involved in mill breeding are not treated very well and live in poor standards. Adopting from somewhere such as the Blue Cross is a good way to avoid mill breeding. There is also the option to buy from reputable breeders, these are people who breed animals on a smaller scale and take good care of the animals they breed. They breed hamsters due to their love for them, rather than to make a profit as mill breeding encourages. 

You might also like to consider some of these Hamster Breeds and White Winter Hamster.

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