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Hamming Hamsters - Take 2

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Last week we talked about Syrian (a.k.a. Golden) Hamsters as popular pets but did you know that they also have a smaller relative, the Dwarf Hamster? Just like the Syrian Hamster, they're cute, fluffy and oh-so-interesting to watch, but as always, there are indeed a few important things to know if you're considering getting one of them as your next best pal.

  • There are different kinds of Dwarf Hamsters out there and a few of them make pretty great pets. The sizes vary - from tennis ball sized to golf ball sized (no thwacking the hamster!). They're mostly a solitary species, although some experienced hamster guardians manage to keep certain ones in family groups. Caution, with this, though... they do multiply rather quickly. 
  • Some Dwarf Hamsters are available in various colours. One of them, the Russian Dwarf Hamster, changes its colour to white during the cold winter months and it's very cool that this change can be seen even in a home environment (although sadly and predictably, this is unlikely to happen here in the deserts of the UAE).
  • They are fairly active little critters and therefore need sufficient space to roam - the bigger the enclosure, the better. All hamsters also like to "bathe" in sand; this helps them maintain their coat and little claws, and also does some good in relieving stress. So, part of the enclosure or an open container should be filled with soft Chinchilla-sand (NOT bird sand, as it has sharp ingredients that can be harmful to hamsters). Who said hamsters are easy!?  :-)
  • Dwarf Hamsters are not vegetarians. Sorry if you are, but your little one will indeed need animal protein in their diet. Some species are susceptible to diabetes and therefore should not be fed large amounts of fruit, especially not apple. High quality hay should be available to them at all times for feeding but also so they can build themselves a cozy little nest.
  • Although Dwarf Hamsters are usually nocturnal, they tend to adjust to the business and lifestyle around them, which sometimes makes them a bit more interesting as pets compared to the Syrian Hamster. They'll more likely be awake during daytime hours when there is more commotion going on around them. Just don't expect them to lovingly leap up at you like a dog, tail and tongue wagging! 

So, now it's over to you... Syrian or Dwarf Hamster? Or maybe a Guinea Pig? Aha!! A Guinea Pig!! Stay tuned for that! In a few weeks we'll talk a bit about them too!

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