All domestic pets display behaviors that are intrinsic in nature and are necessary to keep them alive in the wild. Dwarf hamsters are no exception, and can often be seen digging and burrowing under the litter in their cage because they live in underground burrows in the wild and need to forage for food.
According to the Campbell's Russian Dwarf Hamsters website, this species can be found in the wild in central Asia, northern China, southern Siberia and Mongolia in habitats of underground burrows that can reach a depth of 3 feet below the ground's surface. The other varieties of dwarf hamster, which include Winter White, Chinese and Roborovski hamsters, also originate from Mongolia, Russia and China, respectively.
Wild dwarf hamsters keep the burrows that they use for living quarters comfortable by lining their walls with scavenged sheep wool and dry grass, according to the Hamsterific website. The temperature inside these burrow habitats remains around 62 degrees Fahrenheit, regardless of the weather outdoors. The comfort of the burrow combined with their natural inclination to dig and tunnel keeps the hamsters very active in their natural habitat.
Like most rodents, dwarf hamsters are considered to be prey animals and need to be on high alert in the wild for some of their natural predators, which include the fox, falcon, weasel and owl. Their natural habitat typically includes several entrance and exit holes in order for them to be able to make a quick escape from a feared predator when necessary.
Domesticated dwarf hamsters should be housed in a cage that resembles their natural habitat as closely as possible. Doing so will ensure the hamster's health and happiness and will provide it with adequate daily exercise. In addition to an abundance of litter to burrow under, the cage should include an exercise wheel, a hideaway house to sleep under and plenty of wooden toys to satisfy its need to chew.
Wild dwarf hamsters typically eat foods found close to its natural desert habitat, which mostly includes grains from nearby fields, vegetables from local farmers' gardens and insects, according to the Hamsterific website. Domesticated hamsters basically have the same nutritional requirements and should be fed a blend that includes seeds, oats, corn, wheat, barley and dehydrated vegetables, to name a few items.
- Photo Credit roborowski zwerghamster image by Linda Brotkorb from Fotolia.com
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