Friday, April 8, 2011
Species of the Day: Roborovski Hamster
Scientific Name: Phodopus roborovskii
Size: 1 1/2 to 2 inches long
Origin: Mongolia and northern China
Average Life-Span: 1 1/2 to 3 years
Temperament: The little Roborovski hamster is crepuscular, preferring to play and forage during the morning and evening times. Lively and quick, it can be difficult to handle, especially for a young child, but it is entertaining to watch as it goes about its business. The Roborovski hamster rarely bites and is known to get along well with other Roborovskis of the same sex if they are brought up together from a young age.
Named after the Roborovsky and Koslov expedition, when in July of 1894 a specimen of this hamster was captured. The Roborovski's natural habitat is the desert dunes of the western and eastern regions of Mongolia and parts of Manchuria and northern China. Roborovskis, or Robos, are the smallest of all the hamster species, with adults reaching approximately 2 inches in length. Unlike other dwarf species, the Robo doesn't have a dorsal stripe and their legs are slightly longer. The top coat is a sandy brown with a slate gray undercoat, and the belly and side arches are white. Their large black eyes are emphasized with a white facial marking which slightly resemble eyebrows. Robos are extremely active, making them somewhat difficult to handle, but certainly entertaining. In addition to an exercise wheel, they like several places to hide and things to climb on. Due to their small size they do much better in glass aquariums rather than wire cages that they can easily escape from. They love to dig and burrow, and in the wild their burrows can reach as deep as 6 feet, so keep them happy with some extra bedding. The Robo is a very clean animal and spends much of its time grooming itself. A Roborovski hamster will be very pleased to be able to have dust baths. The dust baths available for chinchillas is a little too fine for the Robos, but commercial hamster litter is inexpensive and works just as good. Just put some in a bowl and they will happily crawl in and go to work!