Choosing your Roborovski(s)

There are a few things you have to know before purchasing a Roborovski dwarf hamster. Because you'll be spending 2-4 years with this buddy, quick decisions are not advisable when choosing him (not with any pet for that matter). Choose your new pet carefully following the advice on this page.

Hamsters are nocturnal creatures so when you choose your hamster, it's best to do so in the evening, when he/she's wide-awake.

It should be noted that Roborovski's are not suitable for young children, as they are very small and quick. Older children are more suited, though patience is required.

General Points to Look Out For:

When choosing your new hamster, please pay attention to these points:

  • Liveliness - The Roborovski should be lively, react fast and be curious. Fear or dullness can be signs of mistreatment or sickness.
  • Clear eyes - The Robo should have clear shiny eyes, dull (cloudy) or watery eyes might be signs of sickness. Discharge or crusts around the eyes can be a sign of an eye infection, a cold or general bad health.
  • Clean ears -  Flaky or red, sweaty ears may be a sign of mites. Torn ears may be a sign of fighting (an aggresive Robo in the pack)
  • Thick, clean fur - Thinning fur or bald patches could be a sign of a parasite infestation. Thin fur all round can mean the hamster is too young to be sold. Since hamsters clean themselves very regularly, dirty fur can mean there's something wrong, regardless of what the shop assistant says. Oily/greasy fur is normally just a sign of poor grooming conditions (when the hamster arrives home, make sure a dust bath is ready).

Pet-Store Specific Points to Look Out For

Since not everyone has a reliable hamster breeder nearby, try to buy your dwarf hamster in a reliable pet store.

A few points to look out for when choosing a pet shop to buy your hamster from:

  • Hamsters should be separated by sex. Otherwise you might end up with a pregnant female. Not all pet stores separate reliably, when purchasing, please ask the assistant to double check the sex.
  • All animals should have have access to fresh water, food and bedding. The surroundings should be clean.
  • The hamster should not have to share a small cage with too many others. One litter size is usually fine (4-6 pups). Too many cage mates can cause stress and fights.
  • The hamster should not be too young. Dwarf hamsters in the pet shop should be at least 5-6 weeks old. Hamsters that are too young can develop health or behavioural problems. Signs of a hamster being too young include thin fur.

Should I keep two Roborovski's Together?

Most dwarf hamsters can be kept alone - it is actually preferred, to avoid any problems. An exception is the Roborovski - they seem to like company and are far more lively with a cage mate. So if you are able to care for two Roborovskis, maybe you should.

It should be noted though that there is by no means a guarantee that they will always get along. Female Roborovski siblings have the best chance of making a good couple. Males are more often than not difficult to keep together and groups larger than the duos or trios mentioned are often unstable.

As a final note, a word of caution on buying a hamster because you feel sorry for them: Sick or battered hamsters usually do not make very good pets and it is possible that they will stay sick or suffer from behavioral disorders.

It is a good idea to bring your own travel container to transport the hamster home as it will probably gnaw itself through the flimsy cardboard box the pet store will give you to transport your new in. To minimise stress for the hamster after your trip home, have your cage ready beforehand. That way your hamster has a place to explore right away.