Campbell's Russian Dwarf Hamsters: Health

Lifespan

Campbell's dwarf hamsters have an average lifespan in captivity of 18-36 months. Becoming sexually mature at only five weeks, their litters often consist of 4-6 pups, although up to 21 has been recorded in a single litter. The gestation period is 18-21 days, and Campbell's hamsters may mate again immediately after birth.

Diabetes

Diabetes is becoming a common problem in Campbell's hamsters and is an inherited medical illness. Unless an individual hamster's ancestry is known to be free of the illness, a Campbell's Russian Dwarf Hamster should not be fed any sugary foods (including fruit, corn, peas, carrots, yogurt drops, and some mass-manufactured "treats.")

Other Health-related Issues

Campbell's hamsters have extremely poor eyesight and even worse depth perception. Cataracts can be common in older hamsters. To compensate for this disability, the hamster has many scent glands, which are located on the face, behind the ears, on the cheek pouches, and on the belly near the rectum and genitals. Many pet owners observe that the hamster may groom itself when in an unfamiliar location. This is done to scent the feet, creating a trail which enables the hamster to find its way back to the burrow. This behavior may also be used to revisit a location with plentiful food. These scent trails may persist for up to eight days.

In addition to diabetes, hamsters can develop tumors (both benign and malignant), as well as glaucoma. It is possible to remove benign and malignant tumors with surgery. Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done about glaucoma, as the eye will eventually prolapse.

The "starter pet" reputation of hamsters may cause some to dismiss the idea of veterinary care. Although many pet hamsters live their entire lives without needing to visit a veterinarian, prospective hamster owners should remember this possible expense when considering the dwarf hamster for a pet.

Old Age

With such short lifespans, you may forget how much time has passed. If you hamster exhibits unusual behavior like staying awake during the day, sleeping in the middle of the cage or in a corner, your hamster may be towards the end of life. Deciding whether to take the hamster to a veterinarian or not should be considered. If the hamster is old, a trip to the vet, along with the stress, might not be the best for your little guy.

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Click on Pictures Above to Zoom In             Last Updated: October 26, 2014