Thursday, May 12, 2011
Species of the Day: Winter White Hamster
Scientific Name: Phodopus sungorus
Size: 3 to 4 inches long
Origin: Southwest Siberia
Average Life-Span: 1 1/2 to 2 years
Temperament: More social than other hamsters. Willing to live in same-sex pairs if the two are brought up together from a young age. Like other hamsters, it is nocturnal, but may be active for brief periods throughout the day. It is a good natured pet, in general and rarely nips, but its small size makes it a little hard to handle and a frequent escapee.
Often referred to as the Siberian hamster, the Winter White hamster was introduced in the early 1970s. Although currently less common than the Campbell's hamster, they are rapidly increasing in popularity. Because of their unique ability to change colors (from dark grey to white) as winter camouflage in the wild, they have earned the title of Winter White. Around 1988, a mutation appeared in the Winter Whites; a pure white top-coat with black guard hairs, grey ears and black eyes. This variety is now known as the Pearl variety. At about the same time, the Sapphire variety appeared with its smokey grey top coat with a slight blue tinge, with black eyes and soft grey ears. Crossing Sapphires to Pearls will result in Sapphire Pearls. The Winter White hamster is often confused with its very similar cousin, the Campbell's hamster. For many years scientists classed them as the same hamster, then they considered the Winter White a subspecies of the Campbell's hamster, and only recently have they become classified as two distinct separate species. Winter Whites are not often found in pet stores, and if you bought a Winter White it is almost certainly a Campbell's hamster. Winter Whites are best acquired by directly going through a breeder.