**Guest post from Felicia M.**
The Roborovski dwarf hamster is the smallest hamster in the world, maxing out at just under 3 inches long. This isn’t the only thing that makes “Robos” unique. They have the longest lifespan of any other pet hamster, up to 3-1/2 years. I also find their white eyebrows to be extremely endearing.
I started my own Robo family in 2007 with a pair named Reepicheep and Ratatouille. I read that Robos enjoy each other’s company and do well in groups, so I decided to breed them. When they were old enough, they had 2 litters of 4 babies each. They got along well, with a noisy little scuffle every now and then, until the first litter of babies was almost a year old.
They started fighting constantly, even causing some serious wounds. Before I knew it, I had hamsters in seven different Crittertrails and an aquarium. I was baffled by my hamster family’s fighting, so I decided to talk to other Robo owners and found that many were having similar aggression issues. Luckily, all my co-workers love animals; it wasn’t hard to find homes for my Robos. I tried in vain for months to discover who was compatible by using cage dividers, trial, and error. Ratatouille even started chasing Reepicheep and had to be separated. The females all had to be re-homed individually, because apparently, they don’t like company at all. The males were less aggressive; some paired up easily. I kept two of the brothers, Felix and Mookie, who have proven to be peaceful friends.
My Robos are very energetic and playful, running almost constantly when awake or not eating. Robos are the fastest of the pet hamsters and need a lot of room to exercise. (Notice in the photo, he’s running so fast his feet aren’t even touching!) I keep my two males in a 55 gallon aquarium with two wheels, and this seems to be enough for them. They are awake during the day more often than other hamsters, but are still mostly nocturnal. I am an extremely light sleeper, but don’t worry - the Silent Spinner wheels they have are absolutely noiseless.
I’ve never been bitten by one of my Robos, but they are super squirmy and don’t hesitate to jump out of my hand every chance they get. I am very careful and try to only handle them in their cage. They don’t seem to mind being touched and petted on the rare occasion they’re not running at full speed.
Their fur is thick and soft, and like other hamsters, they groom obsessively. If their fur starts to look oily, I let them roll around in some Critter Bath Powder. They appear to really enjoy these dust-baths, and it’s an interesting natural behavior to observe.
Robos are really different from all the other hamster species I’ve kept. Their high activity level makes them fun to watch, but difficult to handle and play with. I don’t think they’d make good pets for younger children for that reason. An older, more mature child (or adult) who would rather watch them than pick them up might be a better Robo keeper.
Roborovski hamsters have only been available to pet owners in the U.S. for a few years, so not a lot is known about them yet. If you have a Roborovski hamster, please leave a comment. I would love to hear about your experiences.
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