Chinese Dwarf Hamster: The Complete Guide [Facts + Checklist]

chinese dwarf hamsterThe Chinese Hamster, also known as the Chinese Dwarf Hamster and striped hamster is one of the five types of hamsters that are common as a pet.

The striking feature of the Chinese Hamster compared to other hamsters is its shape. Quite simply, a Chinese hamster has a longer and thinner body (especially compared to the Syrian Hamster) and also has a longer tail.

And in today’s article, we are going to cover everything there is to know about the Chinese Hamster.

Chinese Dwarf Hamster color and looks

The Chinese Hamster is approximately half the size of a Syrian Hamster and slightly larger than the Roborovski Hamster coming in at around 3 inches (8 cm). At this size, it will usually weigh around 1 to 1.5 ounces (28-42 grams).

The Chinese Dwarf Hamster has a dark brown color and is sometimes confused with a Russian Dwarf Hamster. It is white on the belly and has a black dorsal line along its spine.

The final feature to note in the Chinese Hamster is that it has a longer and more noticeable tail compared to other hamsters.

Chinese Hamster: Behavior and temperament

Chinese hamsterLike the Robo Hamster, the Chinese Dwarf Hamster is extremely active. Thus, if you take it out of the cage, it’s a good idea to put it in a playpen or a hamster ball.

Also, do to its speed it can be quite hard for small children (below the age of 7) to handle a Chinese Hamster.

Besides the ease with which you can handle the hamster, it is also worth considering it is most active at dusk and at night. The Chinese Dwarf Hamster is nocturnal and as such, sleeps during the day and is active at night. It is most active around 6 PM and afterward.

Of course, this fits well with the schedule for most people, and if you have children aged 7+, there’ll be a lot of time for them to play with the hamster in the evening.

Finally, a Chinese Hamster can live alone and it can also co-habituate with other Chinese Hamsters of the same sex. If you haven’t had a hamster before, we recommend having only one Chinese Hamster in a cage to “learn the ropes”.

To sum up, here are the facts to consider before getting a Chinese Hamster:

  • Very nice temperament
  • Very fast (for a dwarf hamster)
  • Harder than most other hamsters to handle
  • Awake in the evening and at night
  • Can live alone, in pairs or in groups

Chinese Hamster lifespan and other facts

Compared to other pets, hamsters have a relatively short lifespan and the Chinese Hamster is no different – it has a life expectancy of 2-3 years. This is quite typical for most hamsters regardless of breed.

While this may sound like a short time (which it is), it does make it more attractive for first-time pet owners who are maybe not ready for the +10 year commitment of a dog.

Because of that, a Chinese hamster will often be the first pet in a family.

Of course, there are many factors influencing the life expectancy of a hamster. These include:

  • Genetics
  • Sickness (make sure not to keep it in a draft)
  • Housing environment
  • Diet & nutrition
  • Level of happiness
  • How much it exercises

Chinese Hamster cages, minimum cage size and huts!

Syrian HamsterUnlike Syrian Hamsters, Chinese dwarf hamsters can be held both alone and in pairs or groups. Here are some guidelines to make sure they don’t fight:

  • Introduce the hamsters at a young age and at the latest before their 12-week birthday
  • Make sure they are the same sex
  • If you see any signs of a fight between your hamsters, separate them immediately

Best Chinese Hamster Cages (bigger is always better)!

First of all: When looking for a dwarf hamster cage, you should be careful when going for a traditional wire cage. Some of these are built for Syrian Hamsters where a Chinese Hamster can squeeze out between the bars.

Below we have listed our three top picks for the best Chinese hamster cages. For the wire cages, we have of course made sure that your little dwarf hamster cannot squeeze out between the bars:

Picture
Best choice
Lixit Animal Care Savic Hamster Heaven Metro Cage
Lixit Animal Care Savic Mickey 2 Mice and Swarf Hamster Cage, X-Large
Best price
Ferplast Hamster Cage, Black
Dimensions
31.5 x 20 x 20 inches
31.5 x 20 x 15 inches
23.6 x 14.4 x 11.8 inches
Room for
Perfect for 1-2 Dwarf Hamsters
1-2 Dwarf Hamsters
Large enough for 1-2 Winter White Hamsters
Key features
Includes water bottle, food bowl, platforms, house, exercise wheel, and tunnels
Comes with platform, drinking bottle, food bowl, house and exercise wheel
Includes water bottle, feeding dish, exercise wheel, hideaway and a ramp
Pros
Despite the built-in tunnels, very easy to assemble, has everything a dwarf hamster needs
Very easy to assemble and a very high cage
Has all the things a dwarf hamster needs, easy to clean and maintain,
Cons
While still easy to clean, it is harder to clean than the Ferplast cage we also recommend
No built-in tunnels, otherwise a great cage
No tunnel space included (you can easily get that), opening in top somewhat small
Best choice
Picture
Lixit Animal Care Savic Hamster Heaven Metro Cage
Dimensions
31.5 x 20 x 20 inches
Room for
Perfect for 1-2 Dwarf Hamsters
Key features
Includes water bottle, food bowl, platforms, house, exercise wheel, and tunnels
Pros
Despite the built-in tunnels, very easy to assemble, has everything a dwarf hamster needs
Cons
While still easy to clean, it is harder to clean than the Ferplast cage we also recommend
Picture
Lixit Animal Care Savic Mickey 2 Mice and Swarf Hamster Cage, X-Large
Dimensions
31.5 x 20 x 15 inches
Room for
1-2 Dwarf Hamsters
Key features
Comes with platform, drinking bottle, food bowl, house and exercise wheel
Pros
Very easy to assemble and a very high cage
Cons
No built-in tunnels, otherwise a great cage
Best price
Picture
Ferplast Hamster Cage, Black
Dimensions
23.6 x 14.4 x 11.8 inches
Room for
Large enough for 1-2 Winter White Hamsters
Key features
Includes water bottle, feeding dish, exercise wheel, hideaway and a ramp
Pros
Has all the things a dwarf hamster needs, easy to clean and maintain,
Cons
No tunnel space included (you can easily get that), opening in top somewhat small

Lixit Savic Hamster Heaven Cage:

Great option for both Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters with lots of ground floor for your hamster to run around. It comes with built-in tubes and a wheel. While the wheel is too small for a Syrian it is perfect for your little Chinese Hamster.

Finally, the bars are very close together so there is no chance your little Chinese Dwarf can escape this cage!

Sale
Lixit Animal Care Savic Hamster Heaven Metro Cage
  • Extra large hamster cage with lots of accessories included
  • Easy to assemble
  • Quality plastic

Lixit Animal Care Savic Dwarf Hamster Cage, X-Large

This hamster cage has a lot of similarities the cage above it. Instead of repeating the features, we’ll mention the difference, which is mainly that there is fewer tubes built-in in this cage. Besides that, it is to a large degree the same as above.

Click here to see the latest price on Amazon.

Ferplast Hamster Cage:

This cage is very different from the other two. It has a large floor with access to bedding and a wheel in the middle and a little, cute staircase in between the two.

It is very easy to clean and the built-in wheel is perfect for a Chinese dwarf hamster.

Sale
Ferplast Hamster Cage, Black
  • Structure on two-floors
  • Made of robust plastic with transparent base
  • Wire net upper part
  • Fully accessorized. Hamster cage with high bottom
  • Product Dimension: 23.6 x 14.4 x 11.8 inches

For more in-depth information about the best hamster cages check out our guide here.

Interior decorating for the perfect hamster home

When you have found the cage you want, it’s important to have a designated place for your hamster to eat.

For that, you should get a food bowl with a size that’s large enough to prevent it from tipping over. We recommend getting one made of stainless steel or ceramic materials as these materials cannot be chewed up and on top of that are hygienic.

Besides food, your hamster will get thirsty (from all that running) so it will also need water. We recommend getting a water bottle. This is again to ensure your hamster doesn’t tip it over and suddenly have to make do without any liquids.

However, spills will happen and you will need to clean the cage. We recommended cleaning your cage once a week.

Finally, you should design an area within your hamster cage where the hamster can sleep and relax. There are some very cute options out there for hamster huts and we especially love this option for Chinese Hamsters.

Here’s a quick checklist for the Chinese hamster cage:

  • Buy an aquarium or one of our recommended hamster cages as Chinese hamsters may squeeze through the bars of other wire cages
  • Get one that’s at least 24 inches long and 12 inches wide
  • Increase the size by 0.5x for every extra hamster in the cage (i.e. for two hamsters the cage should be 36 inches long and 18 inches wide)
  • Designate an enclosed area for sleeping arrangements
  • Get a ceramic or stainless steel food bowl and a water bottle
  • Clean the aquarium once a week

Best wheels, toys and tubes your Chinese Hamster will absolutely love

Besides playing with and entertaining your Chinese Dwarf, you should also make sure they can entertain themselves. This is where toys and tubes enter the picture.

You probably have something in the house you can use and good cheap hamster toys include cardboard boxes, toilet roll tubes, and cereal boxes.

You always need something your hamster can chew on as its teeth are always growing. Having something to chew on helps keep the teeth at a reasonable length.

Also, we recommend having some wood in the cage it can gnaw on at all times.

Mimic your Chinese Hamster’s natural instincts with the hamster wheel

You might know this already but if you don’t here’s the thing: Hamsters run – they run a lot and some hamsters run the equivalent of 4 human marathons per night!

This incredible level of activity means it’s absolutely critical to have a hamster wheel (where they can run their little marathons).

When getting a hamster wheel there are two important things to consider:

1: Get a plastic wheel. Metal wheels are made with rungs (kind of like a ladder). Your hamster can fall through the traps and hurt itself. Further, metal wheels often have sharp edges. To avoid any wheel related injuries we recommend getting a plastic wheel made of one piece molded together.

2: Make sure it’s large enough! Your hamster will hurt itself if it’s running with an arched back. For a Chinese Hamster that means the wheel should be at least 5 inches (12 cm) in diameter.

Below you can see our three recommended options when it comes to dwarf hamster wheels:

Picture
Best choice
Exotic Nutrition Silent Runner 9" - Pet Exercise Wheel + Cage Attachment
Kaytee Hamster Silent Spinner, 6 1/2 inch Exercise Wheel, Colors Vary
Best price
Kaytee Comfort Exercise Wheel, 5.5", Colors Vary
Perfect for
Both Dwarf and Syrian Hamsters
Dwarf Hamsters, too small for Syrian Hamsters
Dwarf hamsters, too small for Syrian Hamsters
Key features
9" wheel with safe and solid running surface with no pinch areas. Textured running tracks for non-slip, excellent grip. Includes Cage Attachment for mounting, but can also stand free
6.5" wheel, that is very quiet, but not silent. Can be free-standing or attached to the cage. Comfortable running surface
5.5" with safe, solid running surface, and relatively quiet. Can be attached to cage or be free-standing
Pros
Truly a silent wheel. Without a doubt, the best hamster wheel out there (by far!)
A very quiet wheel, however, not truly silent. Make sure to get the 6.5" for a dwarf hamster, otherwise they don't have enough power to spin the wheel
Tail-safe design, spins easily and is very receptive to the movements of the hamster
Cons
Expensive
Some reports of varying quality of wheels (we have never had any issues)
Will need some maintenance (oil) to stay quiet over the long term
Best choice
Picture
Exotic Nutrition Silent Runner 9" - Pet Exercise Wheel + Cage Attachment
Perfect for
Both Dwarf and Syrian Hamsters
Key features
9" wheel with safe and solid running surface with no pinch areas. Textured running tracks for non-slip, excellent grip. Includes Cage Attachment for mounting, but can also stand free
Pros
Truly a silent wheel. Without a doubt, the best hamster wheel out there (by far!)
Cons
Expensive
Picture
Kaytee Hamster Silent Spinner, 6 1/2 inch Exercise Wheel, Colors Vary
Perfect for
Dwarf Hamsters, too small for Syrian Hamsters
Key features
6.5" wheel, that is very quiet, but not silent. Can be free-standing or attached to the cage. Comfortable running surface
Pros
A very quiet wheel, however, not truly silent. Make sure to get the 6.5" for a dwarf hamster, otherwise they don't have enough power to spin the wheel
Cons
Some reports of varying quality of wheels (we have never had any issues)
Best price
Picture
Kaytee Comfort Exercise Wheel, 5.5", Colors Vary
Perfect for
Dwarf hamsters, too small for Syrian Hamsters
Key features
5.5" with safe, solid running surface, and relatively quiet. Can be attached to cage or be free-standing
Pros
Tail-safe design, spins easily and is very receptive to the movements of the hamster
Cons
Will need some maintenance (oil) to stay quiet over the long term

You should have one wheel per hamster i.e. if you have two hamsters in the same cage, you should get two wheels.

2 Amazing Chinese Hamster toys

When you have your hamster cage ready with a hut and a wheel you should consider adding some toys.

There are essential to help it peek its curiosity and to prevent boredom, and more importantly, having something to gnaw on will help keep its growing teeth the right size.

You can easily find something in your home including cardboard to chew on. Usually, cereal boxes or toilet paper rolls are some good options for this purpose.

While these are often good and solid options, there is always the risk materials not labeled as pet-friendly can contain residual chemicals that are not good for your hamster.

And that’s why we recommend getting hamster toys produced for pets (unless you are sure about your household items not containing anything that can be unhealthy for your hamster).

Stimulate your hamster’s curiosity with wooden ladder bridges

Our favorite Chinese hamster toy is the wooden ladder bridge. The reason we love these is you can bend them to make any shape which your hamster will love.

Niteangel Wooden Ladder Bridge, Hamster Mouse Rat Rodents Toy, Small Animal Chew Toy, 9" L
  • Bendable, made of wooden sticks.
  • Can be attached in different shapes.
  • Suitable for chewing and climbing.
  • A habitat for hamster, mouse and rat.
  • Increase pet exercise.

Further, as it’s made out of wood, your hamster can chew on it – but don’t worry, it can chew on these for many months before the wood goes bad and spoils! Click here to see our favorite hamster bridge.

We recommend getting a couple of these. This ensures you can always alter the look of the cage which will stimulate the curiosity of your Chinese Dwarf.

Your hamster will love hiding in and explore wooden tunnels

Another great way to explore the cage is by using wooden tunnels. Hamsters love to hide in enclosed areas and we have had awesome experiences with these. One or two of these in the cage will give your hamster a lot of tunnel to play in. Here’s a tunnel we’ve had great experiences with. We also absolutely adore this little tree train / tunnel.

Niteangel Natural Wooden Hamster Mouse Tunnel Tube Toy Forest Hollow Tree Trunk
  • Natural wood.
  • An interesting toy with small animals.
  • It's suitable for hamsters and mice.
  • 9 entrances(exits).
  • Size: 7.9"x2.8"x2.8" (20x7x7cm)

Have your hamster explore your house from the safety of its hamster ball

The final toy we recommend getting is a hamster ball. Hamster balls are great for having your hamsters explore the house.

As an added benefit, it is a great place to keep your pet when cleaning its cage. For that alone, we recommend getting a hamster ball.

When buying a hamster ball, it’s important to buy it in the right size (as with the hamster wheel). This particular hamster ball is great for Chinese Hamsters as it has a good size, ensuring your hamster doesn’t arch and hurt its back.

Lee's Kritter Krawler Mini Exercise Ball, 5-Inch, Clear
  • Ribs inside to provide better gripping power for pets
  • Ideal for dwarf hamsters and pet mice
  • Size: 4-3/4-inch diameter dwarf, clear, made of shatter-resistant plastic

How to handle your Chinese Dwarf Hamster

Let’s get this out-of-the-way first: Basic hamster care is not complicated, and hamsters can become tame if you train it.

There are five basic steps when it comes to taming your hamster:

  1. When bringing your hamster home give it 2-3 days where you don’t handle it and allow it to adjust to its new surroundings
  2. Start speaking with your hamster and put your hand in the cage. Do not put your hand over your hamster
  3. Start touching your hamster and make it comfortable with you touching it
  4. Start picking up your hamster, cupped in the palm of your hand
  5. Become best friends with your hamster and make it tame by playing with it daily (or close to it!)

For a more in-depth guide to taming your hamster you can click here.

A final note on taming your hamster: You should never wake up your hamster when it sleeps!

Never!

This will lead to a negative response and will make the taming process troublesome.

The other thing to note about Chinese Hamsters is while they are clean animals you still need to clean the cage. You should do this once a week where you remove all the bedding, clean the cage and put new bedding in.

While doing so, it can be beneficial to have a hamster ball or a playpen to keep your hamster in check.

Chinese Hamster – Best food, diet and treats

Chinese Hamsters run a lot so like us humans they need a good and balanced diet. Chinese Hamsters are omnivorous which means they eat plants, seeds and meat (insects).

Besides the insects, this is mimicked in the hamster food you can get.

However, there are many types of hamster food out there and it can be a challenge to figure out what is best. Generally, there are two types of food you can buy:

  • Seed Hamster Food
  • Pelleted Hamster Food (our preferred choice!)

Whatever type of food you decide to buy you should ensure it has the right combination of nuts, grains and seeds with a nutritional balance of 3-6% fat and 12-15% protein.

Seed food: The historical option

Historically, seed hamster food has been the main choice of food when getting a hamster. While it can be okay, it does risk your hamster being picky only eating its favorite seeds. This will lead to a diet not balanced and worse, your hamster will not get all the vitamins it needs.

Thus, if you go with seed hamster food, make sure the food bowl is empty before giving it more food.

Pelleted hamster food: Ensures your hammy gets the vitamins it needs

Pelleted hamster food is now considered a better option. In it, everything is mixed so every bite your hamster takes is by definition balanced. Pelleted food usually looks like small biscuits, cookies or cereal.

Due to the balanced diet, we also recommend getting pelleted hamster food. Here are out top three choices for hamster food:

Product
Best choice
Supreme Petfoods Tiny Friends Farm Hazel Hamster Tasty Mix (2 Pounds)
Oxbow Hamster and Gerbil - 1.5 pound bag - Garden Select
Best price
Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Hamster Food, 3-Pound
Good for
Both Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters
Both Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters
Both Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters
Features
Made from soya, whole peanuts and sunflower seeds
Non-GMO food made from three varieties of grass hay to support variety
Pelletted food made from a variety of corns and seeds
Pros
High protein content of 16%, even picky eaters love it
High protein content of 16%, good value for money. Crunchy pieces good for teeth health
Crunchy pieces that are good for teeth health
Cons
Quite expensive
Can get crumbly
Protein content of 13.5% on the lower end
Best choice
Product
Supreme Petfoods Tiny Friends Farm Hazel Hamster Tasty Mix (2 Pounds)
Good for
Both Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters
Features
Made from soya, whole peanuts and sunflower seeds
Pros
High protein content of 16%, even picky eaters love it
Cons
Quite expensive
Product
Oxbow Hamster and Gerbil - 1.5 pound bag - Garden Select
Good for
Both Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters
Features
Non-GMO food made from three varieties of grass hay to support variety
Pros
High protein content of 16%, good value for money. Crunchy pieces good for teeth health
Cons
Can get crumbly
Best price
Product
Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Hamster Food, 3-Pound
Good for
Both Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters
Features
Pelletted food made from a variety of corns and seeds
Pros
Crunchy pieces that are good for teeth health
Cons
Protein content of 13.5% on the lower end

Your hamster will indulge in these treats

Like us humans, “normal” food should be the main part of a hamster’s diet.

With that said, and again, just like us humans, hamsters love treats. Luckily, most common household greens can also be used for hamster treats and hamsters especially love treats such as:

  • Cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Banana
  • Carrots

There are also many other snacks you can give it and we have covered hamster snacks extensively here.

We recommend giving your hamster a treat once or twice a week.

The link above is good for reference, but if you don’t have time for it now, we want you to remember one thing: Do not give your Chinese hamster high acid foods including citrus and oranges.

Also, when giving treats to your Chinese Hamster remember it’s a small animal so what seem like small amounts to us, can be a large amount for a Chinese Hamster.

Helpl! My Chinese Hamster is pregnant – Here’s what to do!

When you grow fond of your Chinese hamster it can seem like a good idea to have hamster babies.

However, while it may seem like a good idea we recommend not attempting to have hamster babies. This is due to the American Humane Society advising against it.

The main reasons for doing so are:

  • Chinese hamsters may eat their babies
  • It is hard to find a new home for the baby hamsters (a Chinese Hamster will typically have 3-7 litters) and major pet suppliers like Petsmart and Petco do not purchase or acquire small animals from private owners

With that said, if you have Chinese hamster babies or your hamster is pregnant, here are the most important pointers:

  1. Beef up your hamster’s diet by adding calories and more protein
  2. Clean the cage and remove the hamster wheel and other toys, so the baby hamsters don’t injure themselves
  3. Leave the cage be for the last couple of days before birth. If a baby hamster gets your scent the mother may reject it
  4. Labor usually takes 1-2 hours with 15-30 minute intervals between the small pups coming into our world
  5. Do not disturb or enter the cage for at least two weeks. This again has to do with the mother potentially rejecting the babies if they get the human scent.
  6. Make sure there is enough food and water
  7. Separate the hamsters at the age of 4-5 weeks

For more information on hamster babies, we recommend reading our extensive guide here.

Chinese Hamsters and their ever-growing teeth

Hamsters are mammals which belong to the rodent family. In short being member of the rodent family means its teeth are always growing.

In other words, hamsters are born with their teeth that keep growing through their entire life.

Where us humans brush our teeth, hamsters take care of their teeth (and keep their size in check) by gnawing on stuff.

If there isn’t anything to gnaw on in the cage, the hamster will simply start gnawing the cage instead – a sure sign that something’s wrong.

Sale
Kaytee Nut Knot Knibbler Wooden Chew Toy
  • Safe wood chew toy satisfies your pets need to chew and gnaw
  • All wood construction colored with safe natural vegetable dyes
  • Encourages healthy playing and chewing
  • 4" long, 4" wide, 3.25" high
  • For rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, pet rats, or other small animals

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