are Winter white dwarf hamsters good Pets ?

M Samy pet blogger and author at famillypet

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Becoming white in the wild during the Siberian winter hence their name , winter white dwarf hamsters , alias Russian ,Siberian , Djungarian  or Striped dwarf hamsters make excellent pets, they can live up to 3 years, reach more than 4 inches in length and weigh more than 50 grams, are very docile once tamed and come in a variety of colors when crossed with Campbells but are generally ash-grey to dark brown.

Are Winter white dwarf hamsters good pets ?

winter white dwarf hamster as a pet

Generally of a pleasant nature, the Winter white dwarf hamsters are very appreciated for their longevity compared to other dwarf hamsters.

But also, these Russian hamsters, once tamed, become very calm and never bite or refuse to be held and handled.

They are nocturnal like all other species of hamsters, but may make daytime appearances to inspect their cage or satisfy a small hunger which will allow you to see them more often than other species.

They are less aggressive towards their siblings of the same sex, but it is not recommended to have a mixed pair.

They don’t have many health problems when you choose a pure winter white breed but if it’s a hybrid (crossed with Cambells), they become prone to the diseases common to all hamsters.

Winter white hamsters don’t need a special diet, just make sure that his diet is varied and healthy.

Winter white dwarf hamsters lifespan

Regarding the life expectancy of Winter white dwarf hamsters, I find that it is better than that of roborovski, campbell and chinese hamsters. Find here the lifespan of all the hamster breeds.

Even if in their natural environment the winter white rarely live more than one year, as pets 

If you take good care of them, this breed of hamsters can easily live up to 3 years and even a little more if you give them regular health checkups at a vet and learn to detect diseases before they get worse.

Winter white dwarf hamster colors

When the Winter white dwarf hamster is purebred (not hybrid), they usually have a black-brown dorsal stripe and can display these different colors (when they don’t moult into white):

  • Ash-grey 
  • Dark brown
  • Pale Brown
  • Pearl
  • Sapphire
  • Sapphire pearl
  • Marbled
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Winter white hamsters can also have other colors but only when they are crossed with the only breed they can be crossed with, the Cambell dwarf hamsters, and you get winter whites dwarf hamsters hybrids (Djungarians) with colors like :

  • Blue (blueish)
  • Mandarin
  • Silver (argente)
  • Yellow blue fawn
  • Camel
  • Brown
  • Cream
  • Merle

Winter white colors as recognized by the Hamster specialists :

1- The Normal winter white ( Agouti ) :

winter white agouti hamster

– They have 3 prominent arches on the sides
-Dark ticking over top of their body
-Fading into the arches
-A pale gray or blue undercoat and white belly
-Black eyes & dark grey ears

2- Sapphire Winter white dwarf hamsters

winter white sapphire hamster

-Blue Grey Topcoat White belly
-Undercoat blue
-Grey Ears with an off-white patch behind them

3- Pearl winter white dwarf hamsters

Pearl winter white dwarf hamster

-The main color is white
-Grey Silver Tickling
-Silver dorsal stripe

4-Merle or Marbled winter white dwarf hamsters :

Merle winter white dwarf hamster

People are not quite sure about them . They are resembling to normal white hamsters when they are molting , described as Patchy

5-The Imperial winter white hamster

They have a pure white belly , given by a gene named Homozygous lethal .They are rare if inexistent at all !!

Will my Russian hamster turn white during the winter?


Probably not if you live in a house that has light bulbs in the ceiling and a heater in the winter.

In the wild , the winter white dwarf hamster will turn white in October and stay white all winter long.

They then begin to return to their summer color in late January and the molt will end in March until early April.

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But all this is only valid if the hamster is subjected to natural living conditions, sunlight and room temperature!

Winter white dwarf hamsters in captivity ( as pets ) rarely change their fur to white during the winter.

The cause is the artificial light and heat (light bulbs and heating) that make the daytime temperature the same and the temperature never drops below 60°F/16°C in the house.

A winter white hamster that does not know that winter is here, will not turn white!

In addition, winter whites turn their fur white so that predators can’t detect them on the white snow and ice, so it’s a survival behavior that they don’t need when they are in captivity, well settled and safe in a cage as pets.

Do Winter white dwarf hamsters need special cage ?

are winter white dwarf hamsters good pets ?

No, hamsters generally need as much space as you can provide.

Never assume that because the winter white hamster is smaller than the Syrian hamster for example, that you are going to put it in a small cage!

Hamsters including the winter white, have all the same needs, the winter whites will need at least 1000 square inches of continuous floor space (no tunnel or combination of small cages or floors), I’m talking about floor space!

This is the minimum amount of floor space and a lot of hamsters enrichment to prevent your winter white hamster from becoming stressed and starting bare biting and developing other diseases that can drastically reduce its life expectancy as a pet!

So, more severe than the Germans on this point, I do not agree at all with the Humane Society of the United States, which recommends 288 inches square, the RSPCA which recommends 620 inches square and especially the ASPCA which recommends only 200 inches square (unbelievable!!).

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If you are here in the United States, The IKEA Detolf ( 1,024 square inchesis ) is an acceptable solution to house your winter white dwarf hamster.

All this floor space is not enough for your hamster, you need to install a wheel ( not Wire mesh But plastic , silent & secured one like this model ) with special measures for the winter white hamster (at least 5 inches or 12cm) in diameter. , because these little beasts travel several thousand miles (more than 5) every night in the wild.

Don’t forget the hideouts, the bridges, the sandbox with good sand (the one for children’s games), a high litter at least of 12 inches (25 to 35 cm) on one side of his cage so that he can burrow and dig his tunnels.

Do winter white dwarf hamsters need special diet ?

No, not at all, winter white dwarf hamsters have the same nutritional needs as other hamsters.

  • Avoid a pelleted food alone !! 
  • Give him a good mix of grains and cereals as well
  • Dried herbs ( sprinkled in the cage )  and fresh vegetables too 
  • Dried or fresh vegetables
  • A piece of fruit or nut allowed once a week
  • Proteins, mealworm or egg white or yolk, a piece of meat or dried fish, a cricket, a grasshopper, a cricket, a piece of shrimp ….
  • soft hay and stems and chew toys for him to file his teeth, a bowl of water and that’s it 

I recommend that you mix your hamster’s food yourself.

How much will the winter white dwarf hamster cost me?

These hamsters will not cost you more than $25 or $30 for the purchase , even though I strongly recommend that you spend a little more ($50 to $65) and buy your hamsters from ethical breeders, you will surely save money later (no visits to the vet and no treatments, etc.) because breeders sell purebred hamsters that are not predisposed to disease or behavioral problems.

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The installation of the enclosure , hideouts, toys, chew toys, wheel, sandbox for baths, bowls, litter box, climbing structures & frames, hamster swings , tubes first aid kit and cleaning products and food; for all this, you need to budget a few $250 more.

Also put at least $100 for the Vet in case of health problems with your winter white hamster.

The total cost to get your hamster settled for the first month will be between $225 and $300, not including the money for the vet.

How much will my winter white hamster cost me each month?

After you get your hamster settled, you should budget about $40 to $50 each month ($500 to $600 per year) for your hamster.

You will need to change the bedding ( litter )  more often in hot weather, buy new chew toys for your hamster, treats and food, etc.

Also, set aside $100 for a surprise visit to the vet if your hamster suddenly gets sick.

Where to buy my winter white dwarf hamster?

Unfortunately, I am not a fan of stores that sell pets such as hamsters because of the people who supply them (cruel breeding factories), the sinister pet mills…

I recommend you rather the animal rescue or the truly passionate hamsters breeders ( look in facebook) to have a winter white hamster of pure race and not a hybrid which will risk to die in less than one year!

If you buy your hamster in a pet store, expect to have a hybrid between winter white and Campbell …and that will bring a lot of congenital problems with him …etc

What should I look for when choosing my winter white dwarf hamster?

To choose your first hamster , a winter white hamster in excellent health, you must check these conditions even if hamsters are known to hide the symptoms of their diseases:

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Your hamster should be lively and alert

He must be energetic and will go back and forth to inspect his cage and react when you approach him but not run away from you!

His eyes must be clear and bright and especially not runny, same for his nose.

His coat should be smooth and shiny and without any trace of skin diseases or furless coat…

Check that there are dry droppings in his cage and no sign of wet tail, his tail should be dry and not betray any recent diarrhea.

But if you buy your hamster from a hamster lover on a facebook group or directly from him, go with your parents and generally he will give you a healthy hamster and especially you will go back home with a real winter white dwarf hamster that can accompany you for more than 3 years …

Is winter white hamsters easy to time and beginner friendly ?

Yes, winter white dwarf hamsters are very calm compared to Roborovski Hamsters and others.

Rather easy to tame if you follow the steps patiently and after that, they are the slowest of their kind, ideal for children because these hamsters, let themselves be picked up , handled and played with easily and only bite if you really hurt them!

Choosing one/several, male or female winter white dwarf hamsters?

All hamsters are territorial and are solitary pets.

They meet just for mating and just once every four days, if not the female becomes aggressive and chases the male.

The baby hamsters will also be chased from the family burrow by the female hamster as soon as they are weaned (30 days).

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They do not suffer from loneliness like we do, and you should never feel obliged to bring two hamsters in the same cage.

It is recommended that you keep only one hamster per cage, winter white males are calmer than females especially for children who may be clumsy with their hands.

Male winter white hamsters are recommended because they grow larger than females, so their handling will be easier.

If you absolutely want to choose a couple of winter whites, avoid mixed couples, if not you will have a litter in less than 35 days!

Buy two winter whites provided that they are young, just weaned (30 to 40 days), but expect fights from time to time.

If you want my advice, choose one male winter white hamster, only one because females have their rut every 4 days and they also tend to smell a bit and develop cancer more than male hamsters.

Let’s recap:

Winter white dwarf hamsters are the best choice if you don’t want a big hamster like the Syrians.

They have a good life span, they are calm and ideal for small children because they are willing to be picked up.

Plan on at least $250 to set up your cage and $50 each month and $100 in case of sudden illness.

Choose a male hamster, they are calmer and bigger than the females.

Thank you for taking care of these cute pets.