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Playful, friendly Chinese dwarf hamsters are a good first pet for children who are old enough to handle them gently. They’re also ideal for pet lovers who live where a dog or cat might not fit in. These entertaining creatures live about two to three years and, unlike some types of hamsters, dwarfs are social and can be kept in pairs. Along with a proper diet and safe housing, Chinese dwarf hamsters need an environment that doesn’t get too hot or too cold to keep them in good shape.
Hamsters do best if kept in a spot with minimal temperature variations. According to the Hilltop Animal Hospital, the ideal temperature range for Chinese dwarf hamsters is between 65 and 80 degrees. If you have babies in the cage, they’ll do best when the temperature stays between 70 and 75 degrees. Your hamster can survive a wider range of temperatures, but he may become overly stressed if he’s forced to live in a cage that is too hot or too cold for him.
Placing your Chinese dwarf hamster’s cage in direct sunlight can lead to overheating. If your pet gets too hot he can quickly die. Sunlight can be even more of a problem if your hamster’s cage is made of glass, such as an aquarium, since it can amplify the effects of the sun. Hamsters are also susceptible to drafts, so put your pet’s cage in a spot that is well away from blasts of cold air, especially windows and doors.
Humidity is also an important factor for your hamsters, especially if they live in a glass cage, since moisture tends to build up in such an environment. If the humidity level is too high, especially when combined with a cage that is too warm, it can make it difficult for your hamsters to breathe and can trigger disease. If the problem is severe or prolonged, your hamster can die. Keep the relative humidity level between 40 and 70 percent for maximum comfort.
Keep temperature changes to a minimum, since abrupt swings between hot and cold can trigger stress and health problems for your pet. A glass aquarium can minimize sudden changes, since the temperature inside the tank does not normally undergo rapid changes, keeping your hamster more comfortable. When housing your Chinese dwarf hamster in an aquarium, make sure to use a screen or wire top to provide adequate ventilation. This helps with the air quality as well as helping to avoid a buildup of heat and humidity in the cage.
- Hilltop Animal Hospital: Care of Pet Hamsters
- The Humane Society of the United States: Hamster Housing
- Dwarf Hamsters (Complete Pet Owner’s Manual); Sharon Vanderlip (pgs 27, 48-49, 92)
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images