Winter white hamsters (Phodopus sungorus sungorus) might be more social than the common Syrians, but they are not entire peaceful. In a small cage, scuffles and occasionally quite serious fights are likely to occur. This especially applies among winter whites who don’t know each other. You wouldn’t lock two strange cats in the same room, and the same applies here. Conduct the introductions carefully and bear in mind that two winter white hamsters may never become friends.
Prepare a separate cage for each hamster. Definitely don't place a winter white into another's cage. If both cages are small, this is a good time to get a larger third cage. Cages intended for bigger animals such as rats or chinchillas are perfect for multiple hamsters, provided the bars are close enough together. Note that if a hamster can get his skull through a gap, the rest of him can follow.
Place the cages in the same room but not right next to each other to begin with. Gradually move them closer together over the course of a few days until they are touching. Observe how the winter whites interact. At this stage, you should allow each hamster out for exercise separately.
Take your winter whites to your vet, not in the same carrier, to confirm they are the same gender. All varieties of hamsters are tricky to sex, especially for people not familiar with small rodents. The animal sanctuary or previous owner of the hamsters might be 100 percent certain that yours are both males only for them to turn out to be a boy, a girl and a whole bunch of babies.
Introduce your winter whites in a neutral space, such as a playpen. Provide at least two small cardboard boxes with holes cut in sides so they can retreat from each other if they want. Placing treats and toys around might smooth things, but make each hamster has access to plenty. Observe them closely during their time together. If they exhibit curiosity toward each other, allow them to play together for a while. If they scuffle, terminate the encounter and make the next one shorter. Repeat these encounters daily for about a week.
Move both winter whites into the large cage once they seem to be getting on very well. Provide one nest box for each hamster, and a spare.
Observe them closely for the next couple of weeks. A little minor play-fighting is not a problem, especially if they have begun sleeping together. If they fight regularly and sleep separately, put one back in his original cage.
- The Southern Hamster Club suggests males might get on better than females. Also, the younger the hamsters are when you introduce them, the greater the chances of them becoming best friends. If, however, they fight to the point of injury, transfer one back to his original cage. The occasional minor scuffle is OK but if they are fighting furiously regularly, let the cohabitation notion go.
hamster image by claudiameyer from Fotolia.com
Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.