Chinese hamster not technically dwarf hamsters, but they received that name due to their small size in comparison to other common pet hamsters, such as the Syrian hamster.
Chinese Hamster Behavior and Temperament
Chinese hamsters are nocturnal, meaning they sleep by day and are awake at night. But they sometimes might wake up during the day to eat and move around for a short time. Still, it’s best not to wake a sleeping hamster to handle it. That likely will make it grouchy, and it might try to bite you.
As pets, these hamsters are generally good-natured and comfortable being held if you’ve consistently handled them from a young age. Moreover, because they are very small and quick, they can be difficult to handle. It’s best to sit on the floor when holding your hamster, as accidentally dropping it from even a few feet high can cause serious injury.
Housing Your Chinese Hamster
While these hamsters are tiny, they still need as large of an enclosure as you can fit and afford. This is typically their primary space for play and exercise, so having enough space is crucial for their health. At minimum, the cage should be 2 feet long, 1 foot wide, and 1 foot high.
Cage options are generally either one with a plastic base and wire top or a glass or plastic aquarium. The wire cage will allow for better airflow, but you have to make sure the bar spacing is narrow enough that your hamster can’t squeeze through them.
Place 1 to 2 inches of bedding, such as aspen shavings or paper-based products, in the bottom of the enclosure. Plus, include a nest or small animal hideout in the enclosure, which can be found at most pet stores. Add a hamster wheel with a solid surface for exercise. There also are all sorts of tubes, burrowing tunnels, and bridges that you can add to your hamster's habitat for enrichment. Moreover, make sure to include some wooden chew sticks or other chew toys made for hamsters, as this will help to wear down their continuously growing teeth.
Clean the enclosure at least once a week, replacing all the bedding and washing the surfaces with disinfectant. Hamsters tend to pick a corner of their enclosure as their bathroom. So it’s a good idea to scoop out and change the bedding in that corner every day to keep it sanitary.
Food and Water
Feed your Chinese hamster a diet of nuts, grains, seeds, and timothy hay, and supplement their diets with fruits and vegetables, such as apples, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and pears. Commercial food blends offer all of the vitamins and minerals they need. Therefore, the supplemental foods generally shouldn’t make up more than 10% of the hamster’s overall diet.
It’s best to feed fresh foods only when your hamster is awake (often in the evening), so it can eat them before they start to spoil. Remove any fresh food from the enclosure within 24 hours, making sure to look for pieces of food that your hamster might have stashed in the bedding.
Finally, hamsters always need access to clean water. It’s best to use a small animal water bottle attached to the side of the enclosure, which stays more sanitary than a water dish. But make sure your hamster is consistently drinking from the bottle before removing its water dish.