Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster – Helpful breed guide and top care tips

Last Updated : January 28, 2023
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Phodopus campbelli or the Campbell’s Dwarf hamster are endearing little creatures. Highly sociable across its own breed and a popular choice with hamster enthusiasts. If you are thinking about keeping these hamsters, check out the following information on what you need to know to start your Campbell’s Russian dwarf hamster adventure.

Campbell’s hamster Quick Breed Profile

Name: Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster

Scientific Name: Phodopus campbelli

Alternative Names: Russian Dwarf Hamster, Djungarian hamster, Campbell’s Hamster, Siberian Hamster

Average lifespan: 1.5 – 2 Years

Colors: greyish brown hair on the body, with a vertical black stripe over the spine. White belly and feet.

Size: 10 cm Head to the tail base. Tail 0.5 cm

Food: Food Mix, seeds, nuts, fruit

Cage Type / min Size: Aquarium / 24 x 12 Inches (20 Gallons)

Campbells dwarf hamster

Where do Campbell’s Dwarf Hamsters live?

This hamster breed’s natural habitat is the steppe regions across central Asia which encompass Russia, China, and Mongolia, where they thrive in semi-arid environments.

They earned their name from Charles William Campbell, a naturalist who collected the first recorded hamster over a century ago. 

Campbell’s Dwarf Hamsters are Proficient diggers and live in burrows comprising up to 6 intersecting tunnels, both vertical and horizontal.

Other names include the Djungarian, Siberian, or Campbell’s hamster. Or a far cuter name is the striped hairy-footed hamster!

We will cover the different names, and why it is important to distinguish between them later in the article.

How long do Campbell’s Hamsters live?

Campbell dwarf hamsters live in captivity on average between 2 to 2.5 years – lifespans are much briefer in the wild, where there are more natural predators.

Taking good care of your hamster’s health can play a large part in how long they live as a pet. Ensuring clean and hygienic living conditions to avoid any infections or parasites.

Ensure there is a plentiful supply of clean water to keep your little buddy hydrated.

Also, following guidelines on diet and exercise will ensure your Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster lives his best life.

Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamster Appearance

In general, captive hamsters have greyish brown hair on the body, with a vertical black stripe over the spine. Creamier-colored fur often features along the hamster’s flanks, and the abdomen is notably white.

True to their name, these hamsters do indeed have white, hairy feet. Essentially, nature’s boots which help the breed retain heat when living in colder habitats. It’s important to note these hamsters do not turn white during winter months, retaining its greyish hue for life.


Although smaller in the wild, size in captivity averages 10 cm from head to tail base – tails average 0.5 cm. The commercial food these hamsters eat in captivity is probably why this breed is larger in captivity than in the wild.

Dwarf Campbell’s Russian Hamster mating and breeding

Unlike in the wild, captive dwarf Russian hamsters will breed throughout the seasons, and females generally become fertile between 2 and 4 months old.

Female and male hamsters may fight prior to mating and their gestation period is usually between 18 to 20 days.

10-14 is a larger size litter, with 4-8 being the average. so expect a lot of pups!

The young Campbell’s hamster develops very quickly, achieving half the size of the adult hamsters within a month.

Can Campbell’s hamsters live together?

Campbell’s Dwarf hamsters are a solitary species in the wild, but like other dwarf hamster breeds, they can be kept in same-sex groups and most successfully if they have been reared together.

As above, you might want to consider if you want to keep males and females together unless you are intending on breeding.

Be vigilant for changes in behavior, notably aggression and bullying – it’s important to separate these hamsters immediately to avoid the risk of injuries.

Temperament and behaviors

Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamsters make great little pets, and it’s no surprise they’re one of the most popular hamsters to keep. It’s worth noting their agility, being very industrious and quick – with this in mind, the Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster might not be the best pet for younger children.

Although they can be tamed, it’s not unknown for this breed to deliver a few sharp nips if anxious. That said, with regular handling, they prove fairly benign.

In the wild, the Campbell’s hamsters live in burrows, and captive hamsters will keep themselves busy happily digging and tunneling.

Are Campbell’s Dwarf hamsters nocturnal?

A crepuscular breed, they are more active at dawn and dusk but they can be out and about during the day on occasion.

What do Campbell’s Hamsters eat?

Most quality commercial hamster foods meet sufficient nutritional needs to provide optimum health and energy for your Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster.

Ensure there is a supply of fresh water, replenished daily, and the diet can be supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables – wild plants are fine, such as yarrow and dandelions.

For protein, opt for mealworms, locusts, and even very small pieces of cooked chicken. Do a little diet research and you won’t go far wrong.

feeding Campbell's Hamster
Hamsters love seeds

What not to feed your Campbell’s Hamster

Obviously, any kind of candy or chocolate shouldn’t be offered to your Campbell’s hamster, and never feed them onions or garlic as these are highly toxic.

There are a few notable caveats to be aware of for this breed. Avoid milk due to lactose intolerance as well as dark vegetables, with the exception of kale, because of water content.

Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster cages

As small hamsters, standard cages might prove problematic in stopping escapees. An aquarium is a good alternative, as they are roomy and offer the facility for lots of bedding where your hamster can tunnel and burrow.

Cages with solid sides are acceptable, as long as the lid is secure and the unit is airy. These cages need cleaning more regularly due to ammonia build-up from reduced ventilation.

The Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster is a breed that needs warmth so site the enclosure away from draughts and chilly rooms.

Supply a wheel for active little bodies, with tunnels for burrowing and hiding places.

In general, the Best Hamster Cages for hamsters vary from breed to breed due to their size and mobility. The Campbell’s Hamster is fast and agile and loves to dig and burrow, so this should be considered when making your purchase.

Campbell's Hamster bedding
Change the substrate in your hamster living space regularly

Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamster minimum cage size

Albeit small, Russian hamsters are very busy and will need ample room for exploring and exercising.

We always advise getting the largest living space possible for your hamster that fits within your budget and own living arrangements. The absolute minimum is commonly recognized as a 24 x 12-inch aquarium (roughly a 20-gallon tank).

Djungarian Hamster
Cute Russian Hamster

What bedding should a Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster have?

There are many types and materials of bedding for your Russian dwarf hamster, all with different pros and cons for your furry little friend.

Importantly, it is essential that the bedding is absorbent, clean, and hygienic, which means it needs to be changed regularly.

Monitor new material introductions carefully to see how your Campbell’s Dwarf hamster behaves. Materials such as pine and cedar can be harmful, so avoid them.

If wood shavings are your preferred materials, look at Aspen for a relatively low dust option. Other materials such as wood pulps and paper-based substrates are readily available.

Cleaning and Bathing

Hamsters are clean little critters; therefore, it is ideal to give them access to a sand bath. Never be tempted to bathe your Russian dwarf hamster in water, as there is really no need to do so, and it will ultimately stress out your little guy.

Sand baths are also a good way of keeping your hamster entertained and free from boredom. Scurrying around in sand is a natural instinct, and will keep them entertained when they are not the center of attention!

How much does it cost to keep a Campbell’s Dwarf hamster as a pet?

Keeping hamsters as pets is relatively inexpensive, which makes it an ideal place to start with pet ownership.

Aside from the initial outlay, the cost of food and essentials is relatively cheap compared to that of a larger pet such as a cat or a dog.

For the initial set-up of your hamster’s living quarters, you can often find good equipment and accessories on local second-hand reselling websites which can make the initial outlay much more affordable.

Should you be buying all new equipment, then a rough guide to start-up costs :

  • Tank or cage: $40-$50
  • Water bottle: $5-$15
  • Food bowls: $2-$5
  • Exercise wheel: $10-$15
  • Bedding / Substrate: $10-$15
  • Food: $10
  • Toys: $10-$20
  • Last but not least, the Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster: $15-$20 (or try and adopt one!)

Total Approximate start-up costs of owning a Dwarf Hamster: $90 – $130

Ongoing costs per month:

  • Food: $10
  • Bedding / Substrate: $15
  • Additional treats and toys: $15

Total Approximate monthly costs of owning a Russian Dwarf Hamster: $40-$50

The total overall cost of owning a Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamster (based on a 2-year life expectancy): $1000 – 1300

Campbell’s Hamster vs Winter white hamsters

The Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster is often mistaken for what is referred to as a winter white hamster. In truth, they’re distinct species. The winter whites are otherwise accurately known as Siberian or Djungerian hamsters.

Non-captives change to white in winter but domesticated hamsters do not because of exposure to light and heat. Only the Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster crossed with Djungerian hamsters can breed and produce hybrids. Enthusiasts have created several color variations within the hybrid variety.

These hybrids certainly make rewarding pets but there can be health issues – to ensure the survival of both species, it’s important the genetic profile remains as pure as possible. Be sure you are actually purchasing a pure Campbell’s dwarf hamster rather than a hybrid, mindful that you won’t be getting a hamster that turns winter white.

Observing these charming, hyperactive hamsters on their wheels is one of the many joys of keeping this breed. Once tamed, they are very manageable – just apply a few basics such as handling for short periods so they get used to your scent, and do this regularly. Use a container like a cup to initially handle them, taking into account their size and nippy reputation. Finally, owning a Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster or hamsters is something you certainly won’t regret.

Do Campbell’s dwarf hamsters bite?

It’s not uncommon for these active little hamsters to deliver a few little nips if they feel threatened or anxious. To avoid stressing out your pet, move slowly and let her become familiar with your hands and scent.

They should feel comfortable with your presence before you try and scoop them up. That, after all, is a natural defense mechanism from aerial attacks in the wild so should be expected!

Are Campbell’s dwarf hamsters good pets for Kids?

All hamsters can be tamed to some extent, so with careful handling and attention, the Campbell’s dwarf hamster should be fine for your older children.

However, as these little guys are small and fragile in comparison to a larger breed such as the Syrian, they are not recommended for very small children as could be easily injured from some over-enthusiastic playtime!

If you intend on supervising all interaction time, which we definitely recommend for both the children’s and the hamster’s safety, then the breed is a perfectly fine addition to your family.

Campbell's hamster tunnel

Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamster conclusion

After reading through all of the information on the Russian Dwarf hamster, you should have a fairly good idea of what are the important factors to consider before embarking on a hamster ownership journey!

This small, industrious breed will be a great addition to your family, and will provide hours of fun and interaction for kids and adults alike!

Follow the recommended accommodation, handling, and feeding tips, and your hamster will provide an excellent introduction into the world of hamsters, and even greater still, pet care!

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