Campbell's Russian Dwarf Hamsters: Social Behavior
Unlike other hamster species, especially the Syrian hamsters, the male may play an active role in birth and rearing. He may assist the female in pulling pups from the birth canal, cleaning them, and ensuring the new mother has enough to eat. He may also guard them while the female is away from the nest. Since the pair is likely to mate again quickly, the male should be separated from the female before birth unless more pups are desired and the female is fit enough for a repeat pregnancy.
Like other hamsters, the Campbell's Russian Dwarf Hamsters will eat its young in certain emergency (or perceived emergency) situations, such as a protein deficiency in the mother or a threat toward the young. "Threat" may include anything from a predator (including a re-introduced father) to a habitat that the parent hamster does not believe will provide adequate size, covering, food, or water for its new inhabitants.
Unlike Syrian hamsters, Campbell's Russian Dwarf Hamsters are sociable and may be kept in colonies. If the hamsters are introduced at a young age, generally younger than eight weeks, they will often happily coexist in same- or mixed-sex groups. (Note that mixed-sex groups should be avoided as hamsters are lively breeders.) Contrary to some claims, the hamsters do not have to be related to live together peacefully. Some Campbell's dwarfs live together for long periods of time, such as over a year, only to eventually and unexpectedly end up fighting to the point of requiring separation. Pet owners should plan for the possibility of providing additional accommodations should this occur.
Campbell's dwarfs are crepuscular, meaning that they are most active at dawn and at dusk.
Fighting or Mating?
Campbell's Russian Dwarf Hamsters can be temperamental and often may have minor squabbles. If you see one hamster on top of another, one hamster may be trying to establish dominance. If you know the hamsters are different sexes, mating is likely what you are observing, unless you notice injuries on either hamster. If you know they are the same sex, a dominance issue is likely what is occurring. Watch their behavior to see if they do anything together besides squabbling. If they sleep together or play together, but still get into occasional squabbles they likely will not need separating. However, check for any injuries on your hamsters, which would be a sign that separating them permanently is necessary. If the hamster being dominated appears to withdraw, not eat as much or not at all, then he/she is the victim of a bullying hamster. Separation is a must to prevent the hamster from becoming sick and eventually dying.
The best way to prevent hamster wars is to introduce them at the youngest age possible. While this may not always be possible, the best success is seen when they grown up together. If you introduce a hamster later to a habitat with one or more hamsters, first clean out the cage and rearrange everything so old territories are gone. Then create a separate area with wire mesh for the new hamster that allows everyone to smell each other for a few days without the risk of serious fights. During their most active time, remove the wire mesh and see how they interact. It may take a couple of tries or they may get along the first time they commingle.
Click on Pictures Above to Zoom In Last Updated: 3 March 2009