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Discover the Chinese Dwarf Hamster – A Hard to Find Pet That Is Well Worth the Hunt
If you’ve been researching dwarf hamsters for any length of time, then you’ve probably noticed the Chinese dwarf hamster. And you may have mistaken this little fellow as a pet when you read the “rat-like” or “mouse-like” description. If that’s the case, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice because, of the four species collectively referred to as “dwarf hamsters”, this cute pocket pet is the most compatible with its human companions and, by far , you love the most.
Not Really a Dwarf
Even though the Kannada hamster is often grouped with dwarf hamsters because of its similar size, scientifically, it is not really a dwarf. Siberian, Campbell’s and Roborovski dwarf hamsters all belong to the genus, Phodopus, while the Kannada hamster belongs to the genus, Cricetulus. And the misunderstanding doesn’t stop there.
This amusing little person is actually known by several names; hamster left, hamster left Kannada and, sometimes, hamster left dwarf. Two of these names add even more to the degree of confusion.
Originally, the name, Dwarf striped hamster, was also used to refer to the Siberian or Winter White Russian hamster (Phodopus sungorus). Secondly, there is a debate as to whether the Chinese striped hamster is the same species as the Kannada hamster (Cricetulus griseus). There are some scientists who suggest that it is a different, but closely related species (Cricetulus barabensis), or a species, the Latin name then is, Cricetulus griseus barabensis. Some even suggest that it is the other way around; The Kannada hamster is a subspecies of the Chinese hamster. (Look!)
No matter. Let the taxonomists figure it out. Whatever you call it, it’s one of the few people, and it’s just rare…literally. Kannada hamsters are not easily kept in captivity and there are restrictions on ownership in most of the United States. California, for example, requires that you obtain a license.
It’s Too Cute to Be a Rat
The Kannada hamster is one of about six hamsters that make up the group known as “mouse-like hamsters”. This is because their heads are longer and pointier than other hamsters, which resemble those of rats. Their bodies are more slender and their hair is shorter and sleeker. Also, they have a longer tail about an inch in length and semi-prehensile; it can be used to assist in climbing.
Like true dwarf hamsters, Kannada hamsters are small, growing to only 4 inches in length. Their natural color is agouti; Individual hairs are “flowing” with light and dark colors. They have oily bellies and a black stripe that runs the length of their spine.
There are two color variations: the superior point, which has a predominantly white coat with spots of brownish color spread along the back, and the black-eyed white, a white hamster. who is distinguished from albino because his eyes are black. Both of these variations are rare because double breeding as animals of either of these species rarely produce viable offspring. In addition, white men with dark eyes are said to be unattractive.
Kannada hamsters have comparatively long lives. A few have been known to live as long as four years, although the average life expectancy is two and a half to three years.
The Lonely Dwarf Hamster Set
While true dwarf hamsters tend to be gregarious with others of the same species, that is not the case with the Kannada hamster. In fact, although experienced breeders have some success keeping these animals in pairs or groups, it is not advisable for a novice keeper. Females are extremely aggressive and are known to attack, and sometimes kill, other hamsters that invade their territory.
On the other hand, they tend to be very friendly to their human handlers and are not very fussy. They can be a little difficult to tame, however, because they are very shy as youngsters and fly a little.
These diminutive creatures are fast, agile, and the pinnacle of experts. They have an interesting habit of clinging to their human companion’s toes with all four legs and, sometimes, their tail (like an opossum will cling to a branch). They will not hesitate to jump from great heights, which can cause serious injury or worse. When handling them, it’s best to make sure they have a “safe landing” by minimizing the distance they’ll fall if they suddenly jump out of your hand. These characteristics make the Kannada hamster a very poor choice as a pet for anyone under the age of 12 or so. Teens and young adults will find them engaging as well
Keeping Your Hamster
The requirements of caring for a Kannada hamster are very similar to those of any other hamster. They need a good quality commercial hamster seed mix, supplemented with occasional fresh greens, fruits and vegetables (avoid onions and their relatives). A special treat of mealworms, crickets or a small amount of cooked egg can also be given. Hay can be used to provide additional forage and has the added benefit of providing nesting material for your pet. A constant supply of fresh water is absolutely necessary for promoting good health and a friendly mood.
Because of their streamlined bodies, little people can easily squeeze through the bars of just about any cage. So wire cages are definitely not a good option. A 10-20 gallon aquarium with a fitted screen cover is generally the best choice. As with all hamsters, pine or cedar wood should not be used as litter. Aspen shavings or pelleted newspaper work well. Be sure to provide material with which your hamster can build a nest. Acceptable materials include straw and clean paper or tissue that does not contain chemicals or dyes.
Make sure you have a nesting box of some kind and lots of hamster toys. Hamsters are very active creatures and they also need to be groomed to have their teeth cut. An exercise bike and lots of soft wooden toys are a must.
Find the Classic
If you feel that a Kannada hamster is the right fit for your family, your best bet for finding one is to find a professional breeder in your area. He or she will also be able to tell you of any laws governing the keeping of these wonderful little critters in your area. Although difficult to find, Chinese hamsters are, without a doubt, a rare and entertaining pet.
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