The smallest and fastest of any hamster, the Rob or Robo is about the size of a bean when born and when fully grown is no bigger than an adult's thumb, or 2 to 3 inches. These shy little creatures originated in the deserts of Mongolia, China, and Russia.
Dwarf Roborovski hamsters are curious beings that don't like to be held. They are content to socialize with their own kind while you watch from outside their home.
Establishing Your Robos' Home
While wire cages make cleanup easier, it's difficult to find a large enough wire cage that can keep your Roborovskis contained but with enough room to let them run and play. So opt for a large glass or plastic aquarium—24 inches by 12 inches and at least 12 inches high for two— and add 12 by 6 inches for each addition. Cover your hamsters' home with mesh to allow air circulation and to prevent foreign objects from accidentally falling into the cage.
Cover the bottom of the cage with at least 1 1/4 inches of shavings, which allows your pets to burrow. Avoid cedar or pine wood shavings, which can endanger your pet. Roborovski dwarf hamsters love activity and toys, so don't skimp on wheels, toilet-paper tubes, and other toys. It's best to provide each Robo with its own toys, so if you buy for one, buy for them all. That goes for food and water bottles as well. As a rule of thumb, don't put the food or toys where one of your pets can corner another.
Feed a good quality hamster food supplemented with small amounts of fresh foods to maintain good health.
Behavior and Temperament of Roborovski Hamsters
Roborovski hamsters are nocturnal so they usually wake at dusk and are active at night. They are generally gentle and rarely nip but they are very fast and agile which makes handling them difficult.
It is advisable to handle them in an area where they will be easy to catch if they get away (over a large box, for example). While your hamster is happiest if you just drop in the treats with food, it can be trained to take treats from your hand. Gently rest your hand, palm up, with the treat in your fingers. Natural curiosity will do the rest.
Characteristics of Roborovski Hamsters
Roborovski hamsters are social and are ideally kept in same-sex pairs or groupings. It's best to establish the grouping or pairs when the hamsters are young. Never introduce a new Robo to an established group. Newcomers may not live long if you do. If all goes well, your pets should live about three years.
The natural coloration of Roborovski hamsters is sandy brown on their backs, with a white belly. In the wild, this enables them to blend in with their desert surroundings. They also have distinctive white marks over their eyes. There is a white-face variety of Roborovski hamster, but it's not as common.