Winter White Hamster: 101
The words “winter white hamster” instantaneously conjures up the image of a cute little ball of furry animal energetically running on wheels. But have you ever wondered why hamsters run on wheels in the first place?
Or why they are called winter white? More so what’s their origin, food habits, behaviors, and other interests that make them so popular a pet right after cats and dogs?
If you haven’t so far, then just grab a little drink and sit comfortably. For I am about to give you the complete fascinating profile of this delightful creature!
Names and Origins
Scientifically known as “Phodopus Sungorus,” the winter white hamsters are more commonly known by these names;
As you can see almost all the diverse names contains the word “dwarf” in it. This is mainly attributed to the size of the animal itself.
Generally, 8-10 cm in stature, a normal Djungarian hamster reaches only half the size of an average Syrian hamster in comparison hence receiving the title “dwarf” to its name.
Why The Hamster Is Called White?
Now here is an interesting fact to know. Native to the Asian continent, winter white hamsters are more precisely found in areas belonging to Manchuria-northwest China, Mongolia, Siberia, Kazakhstan, and Russia.
Every one of these regions is recognized for their harsh snowy winters. So, it goes that during the winter season to hide from being hunted down by predators, the Djungarian hamsters ended up developing a unique survival technique.
That is, they learned to change their fur color from the natural deposition to white in order to camouflage well with the surrounding snow thus escaping eviction.
This factor ultimately contributed to its “winter-white” name legacy.
General Facts About the Winter White Hamster
One of the most beloved pets across Japan, Europe, and North America, the winter white hamster offers a remarkable range of unique characteristics capable of enchanting the mind of any animal lover.
Often compared to Syrian and Campbell's dwarf hamster, this breed of the hamster is seen to differ from the others not only in size but also in terms of appearance, color, fur type, breeding, behaviors/ temperaments, and life expectancy, etc.
What more? Out of all the hamsters, you could domesticate, it is said that the winter white hamsters are the most docile and tamable of all!
Therefore, without any delay let’s take a look at what makes the Djungarian hamster so famous a pet.
Referred to as “pocket pets” for its dwarfish build, the 2-4 inches long winter/Djungarian hamster is a round oval shaped creature of the rodent family.
An adult hamster of the breed usually weighs 30-40 grams and has a soft and smooth fur (although less woolly compared to other hamsters) covering its entire body including the feet. Having round black eyes with whiskers on the Romanesque nose, the furry little animal has a dark dorsal stripe across its body as a distinctive feature.
The hamster generally has three distinct colors ranging from:
1. Normal- that is Greyish black
2. Sapphire - blue-gray texture
3. Pearl– which is mainly various shades of white
Perhaps the most incredible feature of this hamster is their dynamic capability to change fur color depending on seasonality. As mentioned earlier, the hamster can turn their fur to match the color of snow in winter.
However, you must take note that there will be some discrepancy in this regard as conditions found in wilderness vary greatly to that of a caged environment. Hence the frequency and the color tone changes may happen at a slower prominence for pet hamsters.
Either way, it is delightful to watch how the hamster gradually changes its color from mostly white to pearl/ normal/ sapphire, and vice versa spanned across the time it takes the weather to complete the winter-summer rotation.
The lifecycle of a winter hamster is disappointingly short. In fact, it has one of the shortest life expectancy records compared to other breeds of the homogenous hamster family.
In average the winter white hamster is expected to live an approximate of 1.5 to 2 years under good domestic conditions. By a stretch, it can be said that with top-notch attention to factors such as nutrition, diet, exercise pattern and luck you can even raise the hamster for 3 years.
During winter white hamsters even with their innate survival instincts can hardly survive a year in the natural environments on their own.
Thus, when considering to nurture one, this can prove to be a negative hurdle especially if you are a person who gets much attached to their pets.
Djungarian hamster reproduces at a tremendous rate with a pair usually mating at an interval of four days due to the natural index of the estrous cycle in the female.
Having no particular breeding season whatsoever, these hamsters are seen to mate all year long with the females having the capability to conceive the very same day on which they give birth.
The gestation period of a winter white hamster grosses around 18-21 days to complete. End of which time the female gives birth to between 4 and 6 babies on average.
Breeding also brings about some behavioral changes in the female who are seen to turn more aggressive towards their companions. Hormonal fluctuations are largely to blame for this show of aggression that usually pertains to the males getting viciously bitten and attacked on.
Hence it advisable to remove the males from the cage once the female gets pregnant to ensure a safe breeding ground for all involved. In cases of hamsters living in the wild, it is often seen that the males take refuge in caves and holes by themselves to avoid their partner’s hostility.
Apart from the breeding period, the behavior pattern of a winter white hamster (both male and female) can be termed as exceptionally meek. In fact, the Djungarian hamster boasts one of the most tranquil temperaments compared to their cousin species of Syrian and Roborovski hamster.
This special behavioral aspect allows pet lovers of all ages (children-adult) to very easily raise and domesticate one of these hamsters without having to worry about their taming expertise.
Known to be a nocturnal animal this hamster sleeps mostly throughout the day and resumes its activity at night. In terms of pet-master bond formation, this feature can come off as a little bit trying if you are someone accustomed to going to bed early.
Not to be alarmed you will still get plenty of time to form an emotional connection with the pet throughout the evening period.
Initially, an active creature that loves to run about and “chew” things, it is of tantamount importance to provide them with necessities such a hamster wheel, chew toys, food, and maze/tunnel-like space to explore and happily turn around all day long.
While there are multiple species of hamster that are seen to thrive in the pet community, inbreeding has only come to become successful between Campbell's dwarf hamster and winter white hamsters.
Though the hybrid offspring of these two species are living creatures that makes very becoming pets, the fact cannot be avoided that interbreeding is a dangerous liaison to undertake.
Hybrid hamsters are often seen to be born with many health problems affecting both their congenital and neurological side. This, in turn, cuts down the already short life span of the hamster who find it difficult to reach maturity with these irrepressible illnesses.
In addition, inbreeding threatens to disrupt the ecological balance as they challenge the existence fortitude of the two different pure breeds from which they are produced. Thus, in the long run hybrids may turn to influence the species to go extinct altogether.
Care Regime of a Winter White Hamster
It doesn’t take much to raise a winter white hamster as a pet. However, it is important that whatever little you do, you do it with the utmost devotion. The care regime comprises of only two fragments of concern
Providing A Good Habitat for The Hamster to Live In
Usually, when preparing a home for a hamster, it is advisable to buy a cage with a lot of room space. That’s because these furry little friends of ours run a lot.
If you are to measure how a hamster runs each day, you will come to the astonishing realization of a run length equivalent to 4 standard human marathons (i.e., 5 miles a night)! This here then solves the puzzle as to why we see hamster turning wheels all the time.
As running is an inherent trait that comes naturally to hamsters, therefore it is an absolute requirement to provide different exercise apparatus/toys (e.g., wheels, balls, customized explorative playpens) within the hamster cage to ensure that it has the necessary outlets to release of all its energy on a daily basis.
A well-prepared habitat allows hamster to grow up in good health. It also reduces aggression and improves overall temperament and life expectancy.
Offering A Balanced Nutritious Diet
Winter hamster are omnivores by nature. This means a balanced nutritious for them needs to contain the golden trio of equal amounts of plant, seeds, and meat.
However, care should be taken as to how much carbohydrate, protein, fat, and other sustenance you serve each day as much like humans over or under consumption may lead the pet to suffer unwanted consequences.
Among the plant and seed diet, the winter white hamsters are known to favor;
As for fruits, it doesn’t really do much harm to serve your pet with an occasional treat of apple or banana. However, you should never give them citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines, or grapefruits as they have high acidic contents harmful for the small animal.
For the meat and protein part, you can occasionally feed your hamster with small bites of chicken and fish (not spicy) or boiled egg. A small amount of rice and pasta can be a source of good carbohydrate intake.
Apart from this normal diet, you can also opt to go for the pellet-food diet. Pelleted hamster food looks like small cookies/ cereal and contains the right nutritional mix of grain, seed, vegetable, fruits, and proteins. This makes them an ideal food choice for your pet.
See Also: Syrian Hamsters: Facts and Realities
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you have an overall knowledge of the winter white hamster profile, given below are a constructive list of interpretations to some of the most common questions that you might come to ask around when adopting a hamster.
1. Are winter hamsters a good pet choice for children?
Being a docile pet, with the cheapest care expense and hassle (compared to cat and dogs), the Djungarian hamster can be a child’s introduction to a pleasant pet experience.
Though it is not encouraged to give them to a child below 9 years of age.
2. Does winter hamsters bite?
A well-tamed hamster will rarely bite its owner unless and until it’s feeling uncomfortable or distressed (such as during breeding time). However, their bites are also not very painful or infectious and usually heals in 2-3 days.
3. Is it hard to domesticate a winter white hamster?
Not really. Although it does take some time to gain the trust of the pet.
Hence it is advisable to refrain from touching the animal for the first 2-3 days. This allows them to get used to their new surroundings. After this probation period, all you need to do is to slowly familiarize yourself with the pet.
This can be achieved through slow talking and light settings from time to time within the cage. Remember to never touch the pet from above as they might confuse you with predators. Once you feel that the hamster has gotten used to the touches, you are all set!
Just go on to hold the hamster in your hands from below and play with it regularly to strengthen the new-found trust!
4. Does winter hamster require any special care?
Not really. Raising winter white hamster are a relatively simple task.
All you have to do is give them nutritional food, fresh water, and a spacious exploratory space containing a few chew toys to help them grind their teeth. This is because a hamster’s teeth don’t stop growing throughout their lifetime.
The only other things to remember here is to clean the cage once a week to maintain sanitation, and to always provide food in a ceramic or stainless steel bowl as these materials are non-chewable and hygienic in nature.
5. Can I keep two or more winter white hamsters in one space?
Winter white hamsters are the least territorial when compared to other hamster breeds. As a result, under careful observation, you can house two or more of them in one cage provided that it has adequate space with enough movement freedom.
Usually, pairs of the same and opposite sex can be teamed up together without much trouble. Although you must never put one female with multiple males under one roof as it often time ends with gory outcomes.
6. What is the conservation status of a winter white hamster?
It currently recorded on the “Least Concern” list by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
7. Where can I buy them?
The best place to purchase winter white hamster will be your local pet store. However, you can also look them up in various hamster enthusiast communities online.
Winter white hamster is undoubtedly one of the fascinating creatures. Economically friendly to raise and easy to tame, the winter white hamsters with their unique color changing abilities stands tall among the best endearing pets to entertain for people of all ages.