Hamster - Chinese Breed Profile
On average the Chinese hamster can live 1.5 to 2 years, there are exceptions to this with some living longer and others shorter lives.
The ideal age for the female Chinese hamster to start breeding is between 3 and 4 months of age. The male stays with the female during the pregnancy and after the young have been born. The male is involved in the upbringing of the young. A separate bedding area should be provided for the male, as the female will probably banish him from the nest during late pregnancy and for a few days after the birth.
Average Litter Size
The Chinese hamster can produce, on average, 4-6 young. Litters of up to 8 or more have been recorded.
The gestation period is between 18-21 days.
General Physical Description
The Chinese hamster is mouse like in appearance.
On average the Chinese hamster is 10-12cms long and the male is larger than the female.
A well-balanced dry hamster mix will contain all the necessary nutritional requirements that a hamster needs. They do enjoy the occasional treat in the form of fruit and vegetables. Do make sure these are limited as too much can cause diarrhoea. Avoid giving too much lettuce as this can lead to liver problems. An earthenware bowl is the best type of feeding dish to use, as they are harder to knock over than the plastic ones, also they not chewable. A water bottle fixed to the outside of the cage, with the water tube going into the cage, ensures a fresh water supply is available.
A glass or plastic aquarium also make suitable cages for this hamster. A basic standard hamster cage is not ideal for the Chinese hamster as the bars are usually too far apart and they can squeeze through easily, a cage designed for housing mice is better. Wood shavings should be used for the floor of the cage. Fine sawdust can cause eye irritations and cedar shavings can cause allergic reactions and irritations to the hamster due to the oil it contains. Bedding material should be provided and the best thing to use is shredded paper or hay. Do not use straw as it can cause eye injuries. Other bedding that is not suitable is any man made fibres and materials that can, and will, become stuck in the cheek pouches and cause stomach blockages. The hamster can also get its limbs stuck in the bedding. The cage should be cleaned out weekly and any old food removed. If it is necessary to wash the cage then only use a cleaner specifically designed for cleaning small rodents cages. An earthenware food bowl and a drinking bottle will also be required to feed and water the hamster.
Suitability For Children
The Chinese hamster is suitable for both children and adults. They are probably not the best size of hamster for small children as they can be quick off the mark. They are generally good natured and quiet to handle.<
Character & Temperament
The Chinese hamster is quite a sociable individual by nature, living in pairs or groups. They must be socialised at a young age, before they have been on their own for a time, and before they are 3 months old. The females can be aggressive to the males; therefore it is necessary to provide places in the cage where the male can retreat. Any arguments that do occur do not usually end in any serious injuries. If they continue to fight and injuries are being caused then they will need to be separated.
The Chinese hamster is nocturnal, but can be active for short periods during the day. They are more active at night, so this is the ideal time for them to be fed.
Toys & Exercise
The cage itself could be furnished with items, such as a wheel, to provide exercise for the hamster. Some hamsters do not like wheels or the hamster balls that they can run around the house in. The ball is better suited to the larger hamsters, like the Syrian, the smaller hamsters have some trouble trying to push the ball around. As hamsters love to burrow a box filled three quarters full with shavings is ideal so they can burrow and tunnel as much as they like. They also like to climb. It is possible to provide plenty to entertain this hamster with using household items, such as toilet roll tubes and boxes.
Types of Coat
They have a short smooth coat.
The Chinese hamster is commonly chestnut brown in colour with a black dorsal stripe. The other colours being black eyed white and the dominant spot pattern.
Hamsters can become accustomed to the sound of your voice, and will show various degrees of response. It may even be possible, using treats as rewards, to train the hamster to carry out some of its natural activities.
Country of Origin
Northern China and Mongolia.