Dwarf Hamster Care – How to Take Care of a Dwarf Hamster

This is primer to dwarf hamster care. We’ll be adding on to it from time to time as we learn new things about how to take care of dwarf hamsters. You may skip directly to any section or read the whole thing if you’re just getting started.

  1. Getting the right supplies
  2. Feeding your dwarf hamster
  3. Keeping your dwarf hamster clean
  4. Playing with your dwarf hamster

Getting the right supplies

dwarf hamster care - cute robo dwarf hamster face

Getting the right equipment for your dwarf hamster is an important first step if you want to care for your dwarf hamster properly. I’ve described in detail the items that the new dwarf hamster owner needs to get on the front page of this site. This is a brief recap of the items you’ll need:

Feeding your Dwarf Hamster

dwarf hamster food mixGiving your pet the right food is an important part of dwarf hamster care. It’s a good idea to give your dwarf hamster a hamster mix that has a wide variety of food in it or specially formulated food for hamsters such as the Oxbow Healthy Handfuls Hamster and Gerbils Complete Stabilized Food. Don’t use food mixes made for other animals as the nutrients in them are different from what your dwarf hamster requires.

A tablespoon of food should be sufficient per dwarf hamster per day. Your hamster should also always have access to fresh water in a water bottle.

Besides hamster mix, you can also supplement your dwarf hamster’s diet with fresh food.  These should be given in moderation (once or twice a week) and variety. There are many fresh foods that you can give to your hamster but you should always give new food in small amounts to see if your hamster is able to accept it.

Also, as dwarf hamsters originate from a desert environment, too much fresh food that’s high in water content can cause diarrhea. You also do not want to give your dwarf hamster food that’s high in sugar (most fruit). This is especially so for Russian dwarf hamsters (i.e. Campbell’s, Winter White and their hybrids) as they are prone to diabetes.

Some fresh food that are safe for dwarf hamsters:

Asparagus, acorn, alfalfa sprouts, basil, bean sprouts, buckwheat, bran, chestnuts, chickweed, chicory, clover, dandelion flowers and leaves, dill, endive, flaxseed, green beans, kale, oatmeal, pumpkin seed, parsnips, sesame seed, squash seed, sunflower seed, spinach, turnip.

One way to give fresh food without worrying about the water content is to dehydrate/dry them first.

You can also feed your pet insects such as crickets, mealworms and grasshoppers from pet shops.

Food that you should not feed your dwarf hamster:

  • Anything with pesticides/insecticides on it
  • Anything sticky (will get stuck in their cheek pouches)
  • Anything sharp (will pierce their cheek pouches)
  • Processed food (canned food, candy, chocolate, snacks, etc)
  • Salted seeds and nuts
  • Citrus fruit (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, etc)
  • Onion and garlicdo not feed your dwarf hamster tomatoes
  • Kidney beans
  • Almond
  • Avocado
  • Potato
  • Tomato
  • Eggplant
  • Fruit seeds
  • Watermelon

When in doubt, just play safe and don’t give anything you are unsure of to your hamster. A more complete and super well-organized food chart can be found here. We also have a list of food that we give our hamsters on a regular basis.

Keeping your dwarf hamster clean

Your dwarf hamster should never be bathed in water. However, you will need to keep its cage clean. The frequency of cage cleaning and bedding changes will depend on how large the cage is and how many hamsters are in it. It is advisable to clean a small cage at least once a week. Larger cages can get away with fewer cleanings in between.

Tips for keeping a cage clean and odor-free:

  • Use a highly absorbent bedding such as Carefresh Ultra Pet Bedding
  • Spot-clean every day by picking out soiled bedding
  • Remove any uneaten food (especially fresh food) daily and replace with new ones
  • Hang charcoal near your hamster’s cage to absorb the smell. Keep out of hamster’s reach.
  • Once a week, change the bedding and clean the cage with hot water
  • Use vinegar to remove any bad smell and rinse well
  • Be sure to clean the accessories too (wheel, potty, hamster house, etc)

I’ve found that most of the smell comes from the accessories especially if your hamster likes to pee on them. In that case, I clean the accessories more frequently and make fewer bedding changes. Check your accessories to see if they’re the culprit before throwing out your bedding — I made the mistake of cleaning the cage every three days when I first had my hamsters because I didn’t realize all the smell was from the wheel!

You can also buy special sand and a hamster bath house (or make one) for your pet. Most hamsters will happily roll around in sand to get their coats clean.

Playing with your dwarf hamster

Try to play with your dwarf hamster (especially robos) daily so that it remains tame. Hamsters are nocturnal and most active in the early morning and during evenings. When possible, play with your hamster when it’s awake and active.

Tips for playing with your dwarf hamster:

  • Alert your hamster to your presence by allowing it to sniff your hand/finger
  • Don’t startle your hamster by grabbing it from behind
  • Use a toilet roll or cup to hold your hamster if you’re not sure how to pick it up
  • Hamsters have sensitive ears. Avoid making loud noises
  • Set up a play area with “walls” so your hamster won’t escape
  • Don’t hold your hamster at a height. It may jump off your hand and injure itself.

That’s all about it for dwarf hamster care. Check out the rest of our site for more tips and tricks on how to take care of your hamster!

If you enjoyed this post, help us out by sharing it:
  • casey

    this was very helpful! im planning on getting my first dwarf hamster in 2 weeks i had a teddy bear hamster who i loved! but his fur was tough to deal with! but the dwarfs seem very nice! thanks!

    • Sarah Yee

      I’m glad you found this helpful and thanks for commenting!! Yeah, dwarf hamsters are awesome and definitely easier to take care of, no problems with hair since it’s much shorter.

  • kyle

    Thank you for posting this! I found this very helpful because i just got a dwarf hamster. i had a Fancy (long hair) hamster but it wasn’t working out so i gave him back to Pet Co.Thanks

    • Sarah Yee

      I’m glad you found this helpful and thank you for leaving a comment! :D

  • http://dwarfhamsterblog.com xxHammyMakeupxx

    Omg I am preparing to get a dwarf hamster so thanks for the advice on everything! With the charcoal where should I hang it and how? Also, do you know if petco sells satin dwarf hamsters? Thanks so much again!♡♥

    • Sarah Yee

      Hi! You can put the charcoal in an old sock or a pouch and hang it in the same room where the cage is. Preferably near the cage but not within reach of the hamster. Or you could just place it beside the cage if there’s enough space ^_^ I’m not sure about Petco’s hamsters

      • http://dwarfhamsterblog.com xxHammyMakeupxx

        Thank you so much for responding so quickly. ^_^
        And okay will do. I should be back with more comments and questions…..see you around. ♡♥

  • Tammy

    thanks for this, we just got my daughter a chinese dwarf and this is very helpful. We used the carefresh bedding, but i also saw a carefresh litter. Do you use both?

    • Sarah Yee

      Hi, that’s great! Carefresh is probably the best bedding around (although pricey).

      Nope, I don’t use both. I use Carefresh Ultra (white) and Carefresh Colors (blue). I’m also trying out a few other bedding types but so far Carefresh Ultra/Colors has worked the best for me :) I wrote an article about hamster bedding and will be updating it as I test new ones: http://dwarfhamsterblog.com/best-hamster-bedding/

  • Jordan Watson

    i just got a dwarf hamster and he just hides under his wheel that we have for him, we only got him 3 days ago, is this normal? And my brother always puts his hand in the cage and try’s to pet him, is this good for the hamster? My next door neighbor has a Teddy bear hamster and said to try not to touch him and I was wondering if this was true?

    • Sarah Yee

      Hi! You should typically leave the hamster alone for a few days so that it can get used to its surroundings. He’s probably really scared every time anyone tries to pet him so instead of doing that, offer the hamster treats (like sunflower seeds) and let him come to you. It’s not true that you should try not to touch him (although for the first few days it is), you can try to pet him gently (and no fast movements) when he’s eating the treat. This has worked for all of my dwarf hamsters. They might snatch the treat and run away the first few times but over time, they’ll learn that you’re not a threat and not be so scared. Let me know if it works for you :)

    • Rachel

      Yes this is normal it will take about a well for him to get use to its nee investment so wait a week and then start socializing him

  • Sydney

    I just have a simple question. Where do you have your dwarf hamster while you clean out its cage?

    • dwarfhamster

      Hi! I usually put mine in a play area where i set up for them. If you have a hamster ball, carrier, or spare cage, you could use that. A cardboard box would be fine as a temporary holding area too. What i do is to take out and clean the accessories first and then put them in another area, then transfer the hamster and clean the cage. That way, the hamster still gets to use his wheel/bottle/whatever while I clean up the cage.

    • Nep

      Back home, we usually put them in the bathtub which they enjoy exploring. Needless to say, always make sure it’s dry and clean before you do so!

  • dwarfhamster

    Thank you, glad to have you here! :D

  • songbobbin

    What do you do with your hamster when you go on vacation for a few days?

    • http://dwarfhamsterblog.com/ Sarah

      Find a pet sitter and ask them to refill food as well as check on the water bottles (to make sure it didn’t leak, and there’s enough water in them).

      There are also people who will board your hamsters for a small fee. Usually you’d have to bring the entire cage to the boarder or they’ll transport it for a fee. Some of them provide food but others ask that you bring your hamster’s.

      If there is no one you can ask and it’s just for a few days, I would put in a few day’s worth of food and make sure the bottle’s filled to the brim, doesn’t leak and is usable. This should be the last resort though…it’s always better to ask someone to take care of them while you’re away.

  • hope

    i have a female dawrf
    hamster and she bites when i pet her in her cage help how do i get her to stop

    • Cece

      try picking her up with a small box and letting her get used to your hands. after a while she’ll stop.

  • bob

    hey guys I’m hoping to get a female dwarf hamster

  • Cece

    My dwarf hamster just died of old age (she was 3) and i’m grieving very much. It hurts me to see another hamster except for my dead one’s sister and i hate that because all my friends have hamsters. What can I do to help myself and my hamster’s sister stop grieving? That hamster was my first and she was also my best friend.

    • Boris

      Sorry to hear your little buddy passed away, but it looked like she lived a good life thanks to your care and love :)

  • Tammie

    i have a dwarf hamster (A male), but when i try to hold him he starts to bite me but i dont know what to do about it. Can someone tell me what i should do.
    Please&ThankYou(:

    • http://dwarfhamsterblog.com/ Sarah

      Hi, have you checked this out yet? It might help :) http://dwarfhamsterblog.com/do-dwarf-hamsters-bite/

    • Cass

      I give Rosie a nug of her food (a sunflower seed or a corn kernel) every time I open her cage door. Now she jumps out and expects a treat. This has made her super friendly and she gets trips out of her cage to play.

  • Nickey Stuebben

    Would a hamster be a good pet for a college dorm? We’re allowed to have them but I’m worried about it smelling too bad. As long as I get good quality bedding and clean the cage weekly, will it smell ok?

    • http://dwarfhamsterblog.com/ Sarah

      I don’t think there’s much of a smell and good quality bedding plus weekly cleaning should do the trick if there’s any. But it also depends on the hamster. Some hamsters smell worse than others, even when they’re the same species. I’m not sure why.

      Maybe you could go to a pet store, ask when their last cage cleaning was and see if their hamster cage smells bad to you..?

  • kristen

    Can I use the same play area for my new dwarf hampster and my gerbilsbif its at different times. Concerned they may smell each other and be scared orbuncomfortable

    • http://dwarfhamsterblog.com/ Sarah

      It’s alright but they might try to mark their scents/pee/poop in the play area more to mark territory

  • Alyse

    I just bought two 6 week old dwarf hamsters who are brothers. There were 6 of them in one cage at the pet store and I randomly picked two of them to take home and the pet store people said it would be okay to put them in the same cage so I did and less than a week of having them they got in a fight and now one of their legs is hurt pretty bad and the others face is all scratched up. I don’t know what to do right now because I can’t call the vet at the moment. I have separated them for the time being and kept one in a cage and the other with the hurt leg in a plastic box type thing so it wouldn’t play with its wheel and toys or climb anywhere. What should I do? Will they like each other again or do I have to keep them separated forever? Will the leg heal over time or should I take him into the vet?

    • http://dwarfhamsterblog.com/ Sarah

      Hi, I’m sorry your hamsters got into a fight. As a rule, you’ll have to keep them separated permanently once they get into a fight/draw blood. Otherwise it could eventually end up with one or both of them dead.

      As for the leg, the safest and best thing to do is to take your hamster to the vet!

  • Elsaclub

    I’m going to get a hamster

  • Serena

    I’m So happy! My Mom said that if me and my sister learn about them, her friend will let us have two of theres!!!!! This blog helped me learn so know Me and my sister can get ours!!! So thank you guys so much for making this!!!!Were getting getting our babys tomorrow!!!!! :)

    • http://dwarfhamsterblog.com/ Sarah

      That’s great! I’m really happy for you too :D

  • Mary

    Can I use my rats wheel for my hamster? The rats don’t use it at all, although it’s been in their cage for a long time… So can I use it? Should I wash it? Or what?

  • bilbo bag

    my dwarf hamster was very active when I left this morning and now he wont even move all he does now is breath what should I do

    • http://dwarfhamsterblog.com/ Dwarf Hamster Blog

      You should bring your hamster to the vet if this is an emergency and it sounds like one if he isn’t responding in any way but breathing

  • Summer

    My hamster does not like sand bathing and it seems afraid of the sand. How should I clean her?

  • Jade Godfrey

    I’m getting a dwarf hamster for my birthday and I was wondering what kind is best? Robo, Chinese, etc.

    • http://dwarfhamsterblog.com/ Dwarf Hamster Blog

      If you want a dwarf hamster that’s easy to tame, try getting a winter white. I personally think they’re smarter too!