Small and extremely quick on their feet, Keeping the Dwarf Roborovski Hamster can be a challenge, but extremely worthwhile.
Read on and enter the world of the Dwarf Robo Hamster, a true desert hamster.
Roborovski Hamsters: The basics
Often known as The Robo Hamster or desert hamsters, they are the smallest dwarf hamster. Their Latin genus name is Phodopus Roborovskii.
As adults, they’ll average up to 5 cm in length (2 inches long) and weigh in around 25 gm, with the young hamsters a minuscule 2 cm, or the size of a bean!
There isn’t a lot of size difference between the male or females.
Robo hamster lifespan varies between 2-3 years as pets, although this dwarf hamster has 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, due to their speed and small 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 these hamsters a very rewarding breed to keep.
Essentially, they are sweet-natured little creatures and are not noted for biting.
It’s worth considering, hamsters are nocturnal. If you have ever owned a hamster, especially in your bedroom, you’ll know they’ll spend part of the night rooting around in their cage, playing with their toys, or having a workout on their exercise wheel.
Where are Robo Dwarf hamsters found?
The Roborovski hamster’s 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.
More active at night, dawn and dusk, they are adept at digging tunnel-like burrows, which can reach depths of almost 2 meters.
Roborovski Hamster Breed variation
- Smaller size.
- No dorsal stripe.
- Fur has a sandy tone.
Most common is what’s known as the Agouti variation – whose fur is made up of grey roots with a light brown to beige topcoat. This sandy coloration, with a white belly, gives them good camouflage when in their natural desert surroundings.
These adorable animals have 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.
Are Robo Hamsters Friendly, and do they make good pets?
Roborovski Hamsters a generally good-natured and rarely nip or bite. Like most small animals, if you handle these hamsters with care they’ll get used to people and become tame.
With an active lifestyle and inquisitive nature, these hamsters make a great pet, especially with small children who are happy to sit and watch them play in their cage.
Being quick and a little skittish, they can be difficult to handle, so if you’re after a pet that will want lots of cuddles, then maybe a larger breed of hamster would be more suited, like a Syrian or Black Bear Hamster.
Robo Hamster 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.
Pelleted hamster food is a good choice for their staple diet and available from all good pet stores. Make sure you get food mixes specifically for hamsters.
Mealworms are a particular favorite with the roborovski (but be careful to feed in small amounts as treats, due to the fat content). They can also enjoy insects such as grasshoppers. Both of these treats are available in most good pet stores.
It’s important to avoid feeding your pet 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. Like most other hamsters, they are known to hide food in their bedding, so make sure this is cleared when cleaning your hamsters enclosure.
Fresh water should be readily available. This water should be changed every day to keep your pet hamster in good health. Water Bottles are usually the best option as they prevent mess. Whilst bowls do provide a more natural way to drink, they can get tipped over and make a mess of the hamster’s cage. However, a food bowl is good option for their dry hamster food.
Like all hamsters, a Roborovski’s teeth grow continuously. To help keep their teeth in good condition, they chew. Anything! Providing the correct diet, and wooden toys to chew on will prevent their teeth from growing too long.
Enclosures and bedding
The Roborovski Dwarf Hamster can be kept in same-sex pairs, or even groups if they have been reared together, which is uncommon with other hamster breeds.
There should be sufficient space for burrowing – use at least 20 cm of 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 helpful guide on the best bedding for Robo dwarf hamsters.
Robo Dwarf Hamster Cage Size
Cages 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. As well as an exercise wheel, ensure they have lots of hiding places, positioning tunnels and branches closely together.
Aquariums are also attractive options because of the scope to provide plenty of substrates. Wire cages are not always the best option for dwarf hamsters as their tiny feet can get damaged or caught in the wire.
And, they must be escape proof – One thing hamster owners will tell you, they are escape experts.
Can Roborovski hamsters live together?
Yes, the Robo hamster is able to live in groups as they commonly do in the wild. They do become territorial with age, therefore it is recommended that your pet Robo hamsters have lived in the same enclosure together from young, and have plenty of space to roam.
If you plan on keeping a small group of Roborovski Hamsters, then we’d recommend you go for a same-sex pair from the start.
It’s best they grow up together in the same cage. Ideally, you bring them home together, otherwise small groups should be matched before their 12 week birthday, to avoid any issues with fighting
Don’t wait and see if your Robo hamsters start to fight. They should be separated immediately to reduce injury risks. It’s a good idea to monitor daily whenever Robo hamsters are kept in groups.
Can Roborovski Hamsters live alone?
These hamsters can live alone but would need more attention to stop them from getting lonely.
Robo dwarf Hamsters and exercise
A good exercise wheel is a must, due to the busyness of the breed. Its common to get a wheel supplied with a hamster cage, but these arent always the best choice. The minimum size should be no less than 16.5 cm, although many opt for up to 20 cm. As they are active at night, opt for a silent hamster wheel if you plan to keep your hamster in a bedroom.
And as in the wild, they love tunnels, so try to provide one or two tunnels for your pet to run around. A hamster ball suitable for a dwarf hamster is a great idea, providing your hamster is tame enough to allow you to pick them up and put them into the ball. Hamster balls provide an excellent form of exercise for you hamster, and allow them to roam freely and safely outside of their enclosure.
There are plenty of great tunnels available at your local pet store. However, they’ll be just are happy with an old toilet roll tube or cereal box to play with. Dont expect these to last too long through – they are also perfect for chewing.
Taming Robo 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.
They don’t mind being held, but care should be taken as they are small animals and very quick, especially when trying to handle one for the first time.
- 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.
- Your Robo hamster may be timid 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. Let them get used to people.
- Be patient! The hamster will be tamed in its own time.
Roborovski 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, Roborovski 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.
We hope you are now ready and confident to begin your Robo Hamster journey. If you have any questions please do comment and we’ll try our best to answer.
Here is a wonderful short video from the BBC, showing the Roborovski hamster in the wild.