How to Look After a Winter White Dwarf Hamster as a Pet

winter white dwarf hamster in grass

A tiny hamster species with a gregarious demeanor is the winter white dwarf hamster, sometimes referred to as the Russian dwarf hamster. Although they might be challenging to hold because to their small size and agility, they are often gentle as pets and respond well to handling. They are around half as big as the Syrian hamster, another common pet.

Winter white dwarf hamsters' coats are really grayish-brown for the majority of the year. However, it turns white in the winter to blend in with the snow. If the hamster is not exposed to the reduced winter light patterns while in captivity, the coat may not change colors. These hamsters are often simple to take care of as pets since they only need a simple food and housing arrangement.

Species Overview

Common Names: Winter white dwarf hamster, Russian dwarf hamster, striped dwarf hamster, Siberian hamster

Scientific Name: Phodopus sungorus

Adult Size: 3 to 4 inches long, weighing around 1 to 2 ounces

Lifespan: 1 to 3 years

Winter White Dwarf Hamster Behavior and Temperament

Even for people who are unfamiliar with hamster care, winter white dwarf hamsters may make wonderful and comparatively low-maintenance pets. They are often friendly and less prone to bite than some other hamster species since they are more tolerant of handling. They may still bite, though, if startled or pressured. Additionally, some people, especially young children, could find them to be too little and rapid to handle in a safe and kind manner.

Although these hamsters are nocturnal, they may occasionally be active during the day. Although they are mostly peaceful pets, if you put their enclosure close to your bed, their midnight activity may keep some people awake.

Additionally, they are a rather sociable species that, when introduced at a young age, may be kept in same-sex couples or small groups. Adult hamsters that are unfamiliar with one another, however, might become aggressive and start fighting. Even young hamsters kept in groups may develop fighting as they get older and need to be separated. Additionally, avoid exposing winter white dwarfs to other household pets, such as other hamster species, since this might result in extra stress and possible harm.

Size Information

Winter white dwarf hamsters stretch around 3 to 4 inches long on average, and they weigh approximately 1 to 2 ounces. They mature at around 2 months old.


Generally speaking, provide your hamster an environment that is as big as you can accommodate and afford. Your hamster's main area for physical activity and cerebral stimulation will be here. Choose a cage that is a minimum of 2 feet long, 1 feet wide, and 1 feet high. The two primary enclosure choices are a wire cage with a plastic base or a glass/plastic aquarium with a safe top and ventilation. Ensure that the wire spacing is too narrow for the hamster to pass through.

Include chew toys, a wheel for exercise with a solid surface (not wires), and a nest for your hamster to sleep and hide in the cage. Additionally, you may add tubes and other climbing devices. Just be careful not to build anything from which your hamster could suffer a serious fall.

Specific Substrate Needs

Add 2 to 3 inches of soft bedding to the bottom of the enclosure, such as or shredded paper that is chemical and dye free. Avoid using cedar and pine wood shavings since hamsters might be poisoned by them. Weekly when you clean the entire cage with light soap and water, replace the bedding completely and remove any damp areas.

What Do Winter White Dwarf Hamsters Eat & Drink?

Choose a commercial hamster meal made especially for dwarf hamsters as your pet's main diet. Follow the feeding recommendations on the label and those of your veterinarian. Given that they prefer to graze, hamsters should always have some of this food on hand. A tiny porcelain bowl is frequently placed in the enclosure with a full day's worth of food in it. After 24 hours, any food that hasn't been consumed is thrown out and the bowl is then refilled.

Additionally, you can provide certain additional meals. To determine the right kinds and dosages, see your veterinarian. Greens, carrots, blueberries, and oats are a few alternatives. To avoid spoiling, keep fresh food in a dish apart from the main diet and throw it out after a few hours. It is ideal to feed your hamster in the evening when they are just waking up and hungry.

Additionally, always give your hamster access to clean, fresh water. The ideal water bottle is one that hangs on the enclosure's side since it is simple to maintain. Nevertheless, until you're certain that your hamster is drinking from the bottle, add a little dish of water as well. Make sure the water nozzle is working properly on a regular basis, and replace the water every day.

Common Health Problems

Some common can include:

  • Injuries from falling, fights with cage mates, or run-ins with sharp objects
  • Respiratory infections
  • (diarrhea)
  • Abscesses
  • Skin issues (e.g., mites)

Loss of appetite, fatigue, a desire to hide from others, excessive scratching or hair loss, sneezing, coughing, discharge from the nose or eyes, and unusual excretions are a few possible indications and symptoms of disease. Keep your hamster in a warm, quiet place if it seems unwell or hurt, and call your veterinarian.


Not every vet treats hamsters. Make sure there is an nearby who will treat it before even considering getting one as a pet.


The majority of owners primarily teach their pet hamsters by hand-taming them. It's also crucial to keep in mind that certain hamsters may never feel at ease being handled. It is recommended to begin handling hamsters as young animals. When doing so, take a seat on the ground in a safe location because a drop of even a few feet might harm such a small animal. Hamsters should never be shaken or squeezed. To get the hamster to sit in your hands, try holding a favorite goodie in your palms.


Your hamster should be able to get enough exercise to keep it healthy and avoid problems like obesity as long as you offer a spacious enough enclosure with an exercise wheel. Your hamster may exercise outside of its cage by rolling around on an exercise ball while being contained on your floor. Make sure you pick a ball that is the right size for a dwarf hamster and keep an eye on the hamster whenever it is in the ball.


Hamsters are typically tidy creatures who do a fantastic job of grooming themselves. They do not need to be bathed or brushed. If anything does become trapped in their fur, you may assist them remove it by giving the area a gentle rubdown with a moist cloth, if they'll let it.

Upkeep Costs

The main monthly expenses for a winter white dwarf hamster are its food and bedding. Expect to spend between $20 and $40 on average, depending on the kinds you select, the size of your cage, and the number of hamsters you own. Chew sticks, nests, and other toys will also eventually require replacement, costing around $10. Additionally, be sure to include emergency and routine veterinarian care in your budget.

Pros & Cons of Keeping a Winter White Dwarf Hamster as a Pet

White dwarf hamsters in the winter may be intriguing and lovable pets. In general, they're an excellent option for those who have never had hamsters before. However, some individuals may find it challenging to handle them due to their small size and agility. It's also possible that you won't be able to connect with them while they're most active because they are nocturnal.

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Purchasing or Adopting Your Winter White Dwarf Hamster

Winter white dwarf hamsters are available at pet stores, however these establishments frequently mistake them for Campbell's dwarf hamsters (which are more typical). You should get your hamster from a trustworthy breeder or knowledgeable rescue organization to ensure that it is a winter white dwarf. Expect to spend between $15 and $25, however this might change depending on the animal's age, for example.


Local exotic animal doctors may frequently direct you to a reliable breeder or rescue organization. In addition, a lot of breeders are members of organizations that go to pet expos where you may learn about and even buy hamsters. Breeders frequently have more young animals available than rescue organizations.

Make sure the hamster is alert and in good physical shape before taking it home. Its surroundings must be spotless, and any cage mates must seem to be in excellent health. Mixed-sex couples or groups should not be brought home since they can transform your environment into a that may birth a litter every three weeks. Any hamster you're interested in will have its sex confirmed by a reputable breeder or rescue.

  • Does a winter white dwarf hamster make a good pet for kids?

    Winter white dwarf hamsters can be good pets for older children who are able to handle this small, quick, fragile animal with care.

  • Are winter white dwarf hamsters hard to take care of?

    Winter whites are fairly low-maintenance pets, with their primary care needs revolving around regular feedings and cleanings.

  • Does the winter white dwarf hamster like to be held?

    Many winter white dwarf hamsters can learn to tolerate gentle handling quite well, though they never will be fully tame animals.


"Providing a Home for a Hamster. Merck Veterinary Manual.", "Disorders and Diseases of Hamsters. Merck Veterinary Manual." ;