Small and extremely quick on their feet, Roborovski dwarf hamsters can be a challenge, but extremely worthwhile. Read on for all you need to know to start your Robo hamster journey.
Roborovski dwarf hamsters: The basics
Often known as The Robo hamster or desert hamsters, they are one of the smallest dwarf hamsters to keep.
They’ll average up to 5 cm as adults and weigh in around 25 gm, with babies measuring a minuscule 2 cm. Roborovski hamster lifespan varies between 2-3 years and influenced by environment – Robo Dwarf Hamsters have been recorded living up to 4 years in captivity.
Roborovski hamsters make great pets and can prove particularly suitable if non-contact animals are a preference, based on speed and size. They’re extremely active and can move at considerable speed – thus, handling can cause stress for them in comparison to other breeds.
However, older children and adults who enjoy studying animal behaviors will find Roborovski hamsters very rewarding to keep.
Essentially, they are sweet-natured little creatures and are not noted for biting.
Where are Robo dwarf hamsters found?
Known as desert hamsters, they originate and thrive in steppe regions (A semi-arid climate with little rainfall, but not as dry as a desert) such as parts of Mongolia and China.
Roborovskis hamsters ideal habitat is scrubby flora and sand, at altitudes of about 1200 meters – consequently, Robo’s are very efficient in their use of water, which can be hard to find in their natural habitat.
Active at dawn and dusk, they are adept at digging tunnel-like burrows, which can reach depths of almost 2 meters.
Roborovski Hamster Breed variation
Roborovski dwarf hamsters are differentiated from breeds like Campbell’s or Winter Whites, based on:
- Smaller size.
- No dorsal striping.
- Fur has a sandy tone.
Most common is what’s known as the Agouti variation of Roborovski Hamster – whos fur is made up of grey roots with a light brown to beige topcoat.
These types have adorable white eyebrows, the classic Agouti trait.
White-face Robo hamsters share similarities with Agoutis but, as the name suggests, have predominantly white faces! These types are often described as a ‘husky’. Currently, 8 further variations exist, including Mottled, Platinum and Red-eyed.
Sexing Robo dwarf hamsters can usually be done visually. Female apertures are close together – so much so, they can appear as one opening – whereas openings are noticeably apart in the males. In addition, males will have a scent gland close to their navel which can appear as a yellowish pigment. From April to September, gestation is up to 3 weeks and average 6-9 babies per litter.
Robo dwarf hamsters diet
Like us, hamsters are omnivores.
In other words, they can eat small amounts of meat for protein, as well as plant-based diets plus grains.
Mealworms are a particular favorite with this breed (but be careful to feed sparingly due to the fat content). They can also enjoy insects such as grasshoppers.
It’s important to avoid certain foods due to acidity and irritation of the stomach lining. These include onions and peppers, as well as any citrus fruits – there are other foods that should be avoided because of potential toxicity, such as apple seeds and aubergines.
Roborovski dwarf hamsters are natural foragers so it’s a good idea to hide food in their enclosures, scattered at varying points including a little way under the substrate.
Supply fresh water daily, preferably in bowls rather than bottles to encourage natural behavior.
Enclosures and bedding for your Robo dwarf hamster
Robo dwarf hamsters can be kept in same-sex pairs, or even groups if they have been reared together, which is uncommon with other hamster breeds.
Robo Dwarf hamster bedding
There should be sufficient space for burrowing – use at least 20 cm of a substrate.
Good substrate materials should include moss and hay, and even unscented loo paper is acceptable – any substrate should be readily digestible and easy to shred. Therefore, make sure to avoid fluffy type materials. Read our guide here on the best bedding for Robo dwarf hamsters.
Robo Dwarf Hamster Cage Size
Cage sizes should start from a minimum of 50 x 100 cm for a single hamster or paired grouping. The bottom line, as with all hamster enclosures, is the more space and bedding the better. DIY enclosures are the thing with hamster enthusiasts, and aquariums are also attractive options because of the scope to provide plenty of substrates.
Can Robo Dwarf hamsters live together?
Robo Dwarf hamsters are able to live in groups as they commonly do in the wild. They do become territorial with age, therefore it is important that your Robo hamsters have lived in the same enclosure together from young, and have plenty of space to roam. Don’t wait and see if your Robo hamsters’ start to fight. They should be separated immediately to reduce injury risks, therefore it’s a good idea to monitor daily whenever Robo hamsters are kept in groups.
Robo dwarf Hamster and exercise
a good exercise Wheel is a must, due to the busyness of the breed – minimum size should be no less than 16.5 cm, although many opt for up to 20 cm.
Robo Dwarf hamster cage features
Finally, ensure they have lots of hiding places, positioning tunnels and branches closely together.
Check out our Guide to hamster cages for more information and inspiration.
Taming Roborovski dwarf hamsters
These are super-fast hamsters and, combined with their small size and nervy energy, are challenging to handle. Here are several tips to overcome any issues.
- If the Robo is new, leave it to settle into its surroundings.
- Timing is important for handling – be in sync with their natural rhythms of early morning/evenings.
- Expect timidity to start with – after exploring your hand, the Robo will likely retreat, which is usual.
- Never grab the hamster – let it come to you by crawling into a small cup.
- Use an empty box for taming sessions – low for your hand, not too high for escapes.
- Place your hand flat in the box – don’t grab, let the Robo explore and investigate your scent.
- Treats are good – only if the hamster chooses.
- Make taming sessions short and frequent.
- Daily contact is important.
- Be patient! The hamster will be tamed in its own time.
Roborovski dwarf hamster rewards
The breed is one of the most active amongst dwarf hamsters – it’s thought they can run anything up to 100 miles every single night!
Observing them is fun, and when not on their wheels they’re busy burrowing and foraging for hidden food and treats. Cute and beautiful in equal measure, Robo hamsters are engaging little creatures who can be tamed with patience. They’re very engaging as pets, with friendly temperaments that are well worth any effort put into taming them.
Here is a wonderful short video from the BBC, showing the Roborovski hamster in the wild.