Chinese hamsters are probably the least known hamster pet out there. However, not many people are the coolest and best pet a person could ever have. Originating between northern China and Mongolia, they were bred to be domesticated pets.
In this article, I will discuss things to know about Chinese hamsters and why they are awesome. I will show you how proper and ethical Chinese hamster care from deciding if they are suitable for you, choosing a cage, setting up the cage, healthy and balanced diet, and toys for them.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT CHINESE HAMSTERS
Let’s first talk about basic things about Chinese hamsters, such as weight, size, lifespan, and their difference from other hamster species. Later, we will get into more care tips for Chinese hamsters.
Size, Weight, and lifespan
Chinese hamsters don’t have a ton of difference to Dwarf when it comes to these things. They weigh about 30-45 g (.066 – .088 lbs) and length at 8-13 cm (22-33 in). Chinese hamsters have a lifespan of 2-3 years.
Gestation and Fertility
Female Chinese hamsters are fertile at the age of 6 weeks and carry the baby for 20 days, they can give birth to 4-6 pups. All of these are super fast. That’s why we highly advise that you separate your hamsters as early as 4-5 weeks of age from their parents and sibling or that you should not house more than one hamster in a single cage.
Not a Dwarf Hamster
Many people thought the Chinese hamster is a Dwarf hamster due to its physical appearance and size. Thye looks like a Campbell dwarf hamster with stripes of black or grey.
But no, Chinese hamsters are their own species of hamster. One of the three types of hamsters.
Tail and Body Shape
The easiest way to tell if the hamster is Chinese is to look for the tail. Only the Chinese hamster has a visible tail. Dwarf and Syrian hamsters have a really short tail, and it looks like just a tiny dot.
CHECKOUT: Ethical hamster breeder list
Personality and Behaviour
Compared to Syrian hamsters, who love to escape and Dwarf hamsters, who can be a challenge to tame, Chinese hamsters are pretty chill. They are usually tame, not crazy chewers, and won’t try to escape too often.
But of course, a chewer, escape artist, and aggressive Chinese hamster are still possible, but they are generally much easier to look after. Trying to tame and connect with your hamster is vital to ensure they trust you and avoid attacking you.
TIPS ON CHINESE HAMSTER CARE
Now that we have discussed all the basic stuff let’s get to the fun and very important parts. Below, I will list how to provide a balanced diet, what bedding to use, how to choose the right cage, and so much more about Chinese hamster care.
Food and Diet
Food is pretty easy when it comes to hamsters. You should always have a food bowl filled with dry mix inside the cage for the basics. You should also scatter food under the bedding.
2-3 times a week, you must give your hamster cooked food like boiled vegetables, cooked meat, and fresh fruit. Learn about what vegetable hamsters can and cannot eat, FAQ about the hamster diet, and which dry mixes are good for hamsters.
Not all bedding being advertised for hamsters are good. You must use bedding that is made of paper, tea bag, or wood shaving. For wood shaving, avoid pinewood and cedarwood. The wood shaving should not be dusty or too shaved. You should also avoid fluffy bedding and pellet-like. We have a list of safe hamster bedding and which ones to avoid.
Make sure to provide bedding with at least 13 cm (5 in) for Chinese hamsters. Change the bedding every 5-6 weeks to avoid bacteria growing out and odour control.
Providing good Chinese hamster care also means choosing the right toys. If you buy a store-bought hamster cage, they usually come with an unsuitable running wheel. Avoid metal running wheels. Because of their design, they are unsafe for hamsters and can cause injury to your pet’s feet.
Instead, use a wood or plastic wheel. You can choose if you want a silent spinner, which is a great choice if the cage will be inside your bedroom. The size is most important. Choose the largest size you can find. You should get 20 cm (8 in) in diameter for a Chinese hamster. We have a list of the best running wheels for hamsters and samples of the ones you should not use.
ALSO READ: Why do hamsters run on the wheel
Chew toys are the hamster’s favourite toy (even more than the wheel). Chew toys do a lot of things for hamsters. They keep your pet’s teeth clean and trimmed. Chew toys also keep your hamster entertained. An entertained hamster is less likely to try to escape or develop behavioural issues.
However, not all chew toys are safe. You must choose a healthy option and offer multiple kinds. Provide at least 2-3 hard chew toys, meaning the one they could be playing with for an entire week or more and some soft chew toys. We have a compilation of the best chew toys for hamsters.
Chinese hamsters don’t need you to clean them, and they prefer cleaning themselves live cats. They are also obsessed with staying clean and smelling nice. Hence, providing a safe sandbath for hamsters is vital. They will roll and pee on this sand to keep their coat clean and their bladder empty.
However, most sand baths for hamsters are actually not very good. They are dusty and too fine, which can cause respiratory issues. When choosing the right sand, make sure the grains are big (like the one on the beach). The sand should not have calcium minerals and not be advertised as “powder sand” or “dust bath”.
Empty the sandbox and replenish it with clean sand at least twice a week to avoid bacteria growth.
Finally, a sandbox for hamsters. The suitable one should be big enough for your Chinese hamster to roll around. It should also have a wall and top cover to keep your hamster from kicking all the sand out of the box. If the cage is extra-large, you can instead choose one corner and fill it with sand while using wooden bridges or division from the bedding or playing area.
BEST CHINESE HAMSTER CAGES
Chinese hamster cages come in different types. You have a ready-to-use (aka store-bought cage), glass tank (reptile/aquarium), bookcase cage (bookcase turned into a DIY cage), and bin cage (aka plastic storage box turned into a DIY cage).
You should also follow the hamster cage size requirement depending on your country. If your country doesn’t have one, you can follow the worldwide hamster cage size recommendation.
Living World Deluxe Habitat (Large or X-Large)
This hamster cage is actually one of my favourite store-bought cages. Although designed for rabbits, it’s easy to modify and customise it. Choose the large or x-large one to meet the right size for hamsters.
To use it for Chinese hamsters, you should add mesh over the wire to avoid a hamster escaping out.
Prevue Pet Products 528
Another great choice for a ready-to-use hamster cage is this one from Prevue. It only comes in one size. While it meets the standard cage size, it might not be big enough for people located in Europe.
You should also add mesh over the wire it keeps the cage escape-free. This wire cage offers great ventilation for your pet hamster.
Niteangel Bigger World
If you want a natural-looking cage, this Aspen wood cage from Niteangel is a great choice. It also has plexiglass, making seeing your hamster much easier. It’s a self-assembled cage and can be heavy once done, so assemble it where you want the cage to be.
The top also has a good ventilation design. It comes in 3 sizes. The smallest one meets the standard size, but the bigger, the better. It’s available in 4 colours: green, pink, burlywood, and white.
Savic Metro Hamster Cage
This other store-bought cage is a great choice. However, the design is a little bit controversial. Hamsters are not great fallers, for the tube tunnel on the top is recommended to be removed, and the top latch must be closed.
Other than that, this is still a good cage for Chinese hamsters. Again, you should add mesh over the wire for safety reasons.
Glass Tank as Hamster Cage
Personally, I think glass tanks are the best hamster cage. They are easy to clean (can be washed vs wood), you can see your hamster easily, and they trap heat and cold (keeping the temperature great).
If you choose this, you have to DIY the top cover into good ventilation to keep the air flowing inside the cage.
Using a glass cage keeps your Chinese hamster from escaping and chewing the cage. For other options on glass tanks, check out the best glass cage for hamster list.
DIY Bin Cage (Storage Box)
If you want to be creative, not spend too much, and provide a good-sized cage for your Chinese hamster, a DIY bin cage is the one for you.
Basically, you buy the biggest storage box, fix the top ventilation, and you have a large cage for your pet hamster.
These are also easy to clean, give you a good view of your hamster, and are very deep, great for bedding. Learn more about DIY bin cages for hamsters.
Last but not least, a bookcase is a hamster cage. IKEA detolf is the best choice for this kind of cage.
All you need to do is lie down the bookcase on its side, customise the top ventilation, and remove the shelves – you have a glass tank-style cage.
This cage option also offers very lengthy spacing, but the depth (top to bottom) is not the best. We also have a list of the best bookcase hamster cage.
FINAL TIPS ON CHINESE HAMSTER CARE
Apart from providing the basic needs of a Chinese hamster, to ensure they live a long, happy, and healthy life, you should let them spend time out of the cage. A hamster playpen is a good investment; let your pet play for at least 10 minutes a day.
For their amusement, you can add toys, tubes and tunnels, ladders, and mazes here.