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Fancy Russian Hamster Facts

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Russian dwarf hamsters are common pet rodents that include two distinct species: Campbell's dwarf hamsters (Phodopus campbelli) and Russian winter white dwarf hamsters (Phodopus sungorus). Pet retailers often add the word "fancy" to the names of these wee creatures as a way of describing fur coloration that differs from the norm.

Geographic Origins

Campbell's dwarf hamsters in nature roam through areas such as China, Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan. Habitat-wise, they live in semi-desert and grassland environments. Russian winter white dwarf hamsters originate both in Russia and Kazakhstan, and reside in similar environments as their Campbell's counterparts. Within Russia, they specifically hail from Siberia.

Physical Appearance

Campbell's dwarf hamsters are slightly bigger than Russian winter white dwarf hamsters. The former hamsters usually grow to between 4 and 4.5 inches in length, while the latter usually grows to between 3 and 4 inches. Campbell's dwarf hamsters are usually brownish in color, with deep gray bellies. Russian winter white dwarf hamsters tend to have pinkish-beige or gray coats with white undersides. During the wintertime, their fur often turns white, hence the name. The "fancy" versions of these species exist in color mutations such as argente and albino. Argente is a type of yellowish-brown, while albino is totally white.


Campbell's dwarf hamsters are frequently thought of as inquisitive, friendly and loving -- as long as they're not protecting their turf. Winter white hamsters tend to have meeker dispositions, and it's not difficult to shock them out of nowhere, so be careful and try to house them in a calm, low-traffic area of your home.

Captive Lifestyle

Dwarf hamsters on the whole are extremely sociable and gregarious, and they appreciate living closely alongside others of their species. Russian hamsters both thrive on company, but only with others of their kind. Campbell's hamsters can live with Campbell's hamsters, but never with winter white hamsters. For living arrangements of between one and three specimens, both kinds of dwarf hamsters require settings that are roughly 2 square feet in size. These nocturnal rodents also need other components, such as exercise wheels and toys. Both kinds of hamsters require diets based around commercial blends exclusively made for hammies. If you have any questions regarding suitable commercial foods for your pet, talk to your veterinarian. In wee amounts, winter white and Campbell's hamsters do well on diced vegetables, as long as you make sure that you only feed them ones that are appropriate and hazard-free for them.


In terms of life expectancy, these hamsters are aren't too different. Campbell's dwarf hamsters generally survive for anywhere between 1 and 2 years, although it is possible for them to outlast the odds. Winter white hamsters generally stay alive anywhere in the ballpark of 1.5 to 2 years.