Everything You Need to Know About the Chinese Dwarf Hamster

Posted by Tori Holmes
All about Chinese dwarf hamster | Wide Open Pets
Southern Hamster Club

Did you know this hamster is not technically a dwarf? Here is everything you need to know about the Chinese dwarf hamster!

Originating in North-Eastern China and Mongolia, the Chinese dwarf hamster was first domesticated in 1919 when they began to be used for laboratory testing. By the end of the 1900s, the Chinese dwarf hamster had moved out of its laboratory origins and was increasing in popularity as a show animal and pet.

Despite their name, Chinese dwarf hamster is not, in fact, a dwarf hamster. They acquired their name and characterization as a dwarf, due to their small size and similarity in appearance to other dwarf hamsters. They are most recognizable by the faint black stripe down their backs and their long tails.

Always on the move, the Chinese dwarf hamster spends its time running, burrowing and climbing anywhere it can. Due to this, it's important that they have large cages with plenty of structures and tunnels to play with. Regardless of the size of the cage, it is recommended that Chinese dwarf hamsters be housed alone as they can be highly territorial, especially same-sex pairs.

Make sure that you have an efficient habitat in your hamster cage that includes an exercise wheelfresh food and fresh water, wood shavings, timothy hay, or another bedding material (avoid cedar). The cage should also be kept out of direct sunlight so they don't overheat. They like to burrow and hide; paper towel rolls are a great, easy toy for them.

If you're looking to purchase a Chinese dwarf hamster of your own, make sure you are familiar with the laws in your specific area. Some states, such as California and New Jersey, require prospective Chinese dwarf hamster owners to have a special permit to own, breed, or sell them.

The average lifespan of the Chinese dwarf hamster is between two and three years, but they are known to live up to four with proper care.

Hover over the image for more information.


When full grown, the Chinese dwarf hamster will have a long, slender body of about 4 inches in length, weighing between 45 – 50 grams.


Compared to other hamsters, the Chinese dwarf hamster has a long tail, with a length of up to 1 inch.


The Chinese dwarf hamster’s head is separated from their body by a distinct neck, a feature no other dwarf hamster has.


The Chinese dwarf hamster’s coat is short, dense and smooth, and comes in two colors: Normal and dominant spot.

The normal coloring is characterized by grayish-brown fur and a black stripe down their spine. The dominant sport coloring is characterized by mainly white fur with patches of gray-brown in it, often concentrated around the back. They also have a black stripe down their spine.

There is a third color, black-eye white, however it is extremely rare. This coloring is only available through a few select Chinese dwarf breeders and is often unavailable to the general public.


The Chinese dwarf hamsters is known for their curious, but timid, personalities. They require slow and consistent handling to become comfortable around humans, but once tamed enjoys climbing on and exploring their owners. 

Chinese dwarf hamsters should be housed alone as they can be highly territorial.


The Chinese dwarf hamster is prone to diabetes, but unlike some other breeds it can be managed proper diet, allowing them to live a full and happy life.

Body image courtesy of Pet Info Club

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Everything You Need to Know About the Chinese Dwarf Hamster