The Dwarf Campbells Hamster (usually labelled as the Siberian Hamster in pet shops) is more common than the other species of Dwarf Russian Hamster, the Dwarf Winter White Russian, or Siberian dwarf hamster, and is often seen in pet shops today. The Dwarf Campbells Russian Hamster is approximately 10-12cm in length when full grown, with males being slightly larger than females. The Dwarf Campbells Russian Hamster has a plump rounded body and expandable cheekpouches. You can tell the Siberian from the Russian by furry feet on the Russian, and equidistantly set eyes from the ears to the nose.
The Dwarf Campbells Russian Hamster is sociable and will live with others of its own kind in single or mixed sex groups provided that hamsters are introduced at a young age. The Dwarf Campbells Russian Hamster is nocturnal but can be quite active for short periods during the day. In my opinion, the Dwarf Campbells Russian Hamster makes a better pet for children than do the typical larger Syrian Hamsters, or Teddy Bear Hamsters as they are called in the pet stores. The Dwarfs tend to be less nippy, although are a bit squirmier for tiny hands. They are able to squeeze through bars of some hamster cages I keep mine in 10 gallon aquariums. The average lifespan of the Dwarf Campbells Russian Hamster is about 20 months, years although they can live longer. When compared to the lifespans of other small rodents, that is pretty typical. Mice live about a year, syrian hamsters average 1000 days, rats about 3 years, and guinea pigs up to 8 years.
The Dwarf Campbells Russian Hamster and the Winter White Russian hamster have the ability to interbreed. It may be difficult to distinguish which species a particular hamster is, but the following hints may help you to tell the difference between the breeds.
The head shape is different between the two species with the Winter White having longer head and a more rounded nose. The eyes are usually larger and more dominant on the Winter White than on the Campbells and they are closer to the ears than the nose where on the Campbells the eyes are roughly equal distance from nose and ears. Another difference between the two species is the nose shape. The Campbells has a rounder nose where the profile on the side of the face puffs out around the nose. The profile of the Winter White is smooth with no "puffy" nose.
Heavenly Hamsters! is owned by Ann and Rick Maxted of Southern California. They have fantastic stock for sale, and have some beautiful pictures on their site depicting the many colour mutations available, and the genetics behind the colours. Ann is quite thorough in her research, and her animals show this.