Monday, March 28, 2011
Species of the Day: Chinese Hamster
Scientific Name: Cricetus griseus
Size: 4 to 4 1/2 inches
Origin: Mongolia, Northern China
Average Life-Span: 1 1/2 to 3 years
Temperament: Sweet and generally easy to get along with, the Chinese hamster is willing to interact with people throughout the day, although it is primarily nocturnal. It rarely bites unless handled improperly. Although it is good-natured with people, they can be aggressive to other hamsters as they age, and should be kept solitary.
Varieties: the naturally-colored variety is agouti with a black stripe running down their backs, while some Chinese hamsters can be found in white with small patches of color.
Also known as striped hamsters or Chinese dwarf hamsters, Chinese hamsters are not a true dwarf hamster, but are of a similar size to dwarf hamsters. They are slender, mouse-like hamsters, which makes them all the more able to escape from wire cages, making aquariums a safer choice for housing. Because they are so small and also quick they can be quite a challenge to handle, especially for kids. There is some disagreement among experts as to weather they can be kept communally. As they mature, Chinese hamsters (especially females), may become quite aggressive with other hamsters. However, other hobbyists have had some success in keeping pairs or small groups together by choosing young animals from the same litter and providing plenty of space and retreats. To be on the safe side novices should plan on housing Chinese hamsters separately. Although Chinese hamsters are not commonly bred in captivity and so are a little hard to find, basic care is like that of other hamsters.