What are the little creatures of the zerlings……err….. they are the dwarf hamsters…. Not the zerglings from the Starcraft.

Dwarf Hamsters…eh…What are they?
They are the delightful mouse-like (minus the long tail) mammals belonging to the rodents family, with dense fur and little pouches at the cheeks. These creatures are small in size with a length of about 3 inches, but can reach up to 4 inches in our domestic households these days. Being nocturnal, these creatures will be most active in the night. However, if more attentions are being given to them during the day, they will become active and will enjoy their fun-time during these daylights too.

Where should we house these creatures?
Well, just dig a hole at your backyard an put them inside……… oh No!!!! That's not the way. They should be housed in a proper house, just like you and me!

The fact that the dwarf hamsters being able to squeeze themselves out of any tiny holes, we should house them in escape-proof pet containers, but remember, they are rodents and are able to chew anything out, so just make sure that you do not give them this chance. The plastic aquarium tank will make a good home for the dwarf hamsters. The size of the tank will have to depend on the number of hamsters kept. It should be preferably not too big nor not too small for them. These creatures would appreciate an exercise wheel, but no doubt they might chew and destroy it in no time. Water is necessary for their consumption. We need water too, don't we? A small water bottle (with water of course) will be most suitable as a water resource for these tiny creatures. Not forgetting that hamsters love to burrow, beddings such as woodshavings will have to be included. Depending on the size of their homes, you may also like to add in some play-things for these creatures, but try not to squeeze in too many things, if not, the hamsters will have lesser space and what's more, it will be more troublesome to change the soiled beddings later on.

Now, we'll come to an interesting question here…Do Dwarf Hamsters bite?
Well, I shall have to say that most of them do bite, and it can be quite painful, u know! Whether or not these creatures bite will have to depend on each individual, and whether or not they can be tamed applies too. Some of them may be aggressive even when young, so it is therefore necessary to tame them before they become the grown-ups, while on the other hand, some are of superb temperament that one can handle them anytime, anywhere. My experience with these little creatures tells me that the females are more aggressive, especially when they are with babies either born or unborn. Even so, there are various reasons why these creatures bite. Usually it is due to fright, and it is only natural that they bite to be defensive. Therefore it is important that we handle these creatures the correct way so as to make them feel secure in our hands to prevent any unnecessary bites to ourselves. Frequent handling of the dwarf hamsters also helps to tame them down. Let them know you…most important, let them remember you.
The Dwarf Hamsters have a life span of approximately 2 years. They can stay in pairs or in groups, but this is not a 100% guarantee. When you have a dominant hamster within the group, it may start fighting with the rest of them, and this may lead to serious injuries or even deaths. Some may even become 'meals' for the other hamsters, with heads bitten off or bodies torn apart. Disgusting, isn't it? It is therefore important to observe the hamsters carefully if you were to introduce a new member to their group, and if possible try to pair or group them up when they are still young. How young? Ha ha, of course not when they are still nursing lah! The prefered age will be around 3 weeks old. This is the time when these babies are weaned and they should be fed with solid hamsters food then. The hamster food can be easily obtained from the pet shops or even supermarkets. Sometimes vegetables and fruits are essential, but not too much, because some hamsters have weak stomachs and they will get diarrhoea very easily, and may even die of 'wet' tail eventually. Not easy, huh? Not to worry, so long as you feed them with the correct type of food and handle them with care, these creatures will live happily to the end, and if there are opposite sexes, these creatures will even breed tremendously, with earliest mating age as young as 6 weeks. This is not a good sign as the babies are usually weak and may not survive, and even worse, the mother may lose her life too as she herself is still a baby. It is preferred to let them breed only they are after 2 months old and once mated, you can expect the babies arriving in less than 3 weeks, and the litter size is usually 4 to 6 babies. The litter size differs from each mother and sometimes it can even reach up to a litter of 12 babies. For this case, not all the babies will survive because the weaker ones may die due to lack of milk. The mother will have to be given vitamins so as to replenish the loss of her milk and during this stage, mother and babies should not be disturbed as out of fear, the mother may kill the babies. Then… you will be seeing the mother eating up her little babies, and this will not be a good sight….yak. Some mothers are very sociable with humans and they will not bother with your presence, but it is still advisable not to take the risk. Just leave them alone and feed them when necessary. Be patience…… wait for at least 2 weeks, and then…..wow….. you can then play with these young little creatures.
There are various breeds of dwarf hamsters around. The Chinese Hamsters are more mouse-like with their slender looks and longer bodies, and their tail is slightly longer than that of a Syrian Hamster. Next is the Dwarf Campbells Russian Hamster which comes in many colours and varieties. The Winter White Russian Hamster is also another popular breed of the dwarf hamsters. This fascinating little creature is able to change its natural normal colour to a whiter tone, which is almost pure white, during wintertime. Hence, it is given the name, the Winter White Russian Dwarf Hamster. Another species of the dwarf hamster is the Roborovski Hamster . This is a smaller and livelier type, which tends to be very fast and therefore more difficult to handle.
I've been rearing dwarf hamsters at a very early stage when these creatures were first introduced in Singapore. Not much of these little creatures were known then, but there were rumours that these creatures do not breed here as our weather was not suitable for them. However, I started off with my breeding stock of 30 hamsters, of which 12 were the Satins, 10 Normals/Argentes, 4 Banded/Patches, and 4 Pearls/Normal Winter Whites. When breeding was successful, more hamsters were added to my hamstery and till today, I am still fascinated with these small but amazing little creatures…………!!

Still around? I hope so…….! Please take a tour into my photo pages to view the various varieties of the dwarf hamsters in my hamstery. If there's any comments which you would like to include, please feel free to sign my guestbook or e-mail me at this address zerlings@yahoo.com

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