Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Winter White Russian Hamster
- Phodopus sungorus
- Phodopus sungorus sungorus
(see text) Winter white russian hamsters are a species of hamster in the genus Phodopus .They are typically half the size of the better known Syrian hamster, so they are called dwarf hamster, like all Phodopus species. Their features include a dorsal stripe that is typically dark grey and furry feet. Their tail is so short that it hardly shows if the hamster is sitting. In the winter they will turn pure white with the exception of their dorsal stripe if temperature is low and the period of daylight is short. They will rarely turn white in captivity when kept in heated rooms. They need this color chance because they do not really hibernate and leave their burrows in winter frequently in order to forage or get food from separate store burrows.
It is debated whether they are a subspecies of the Dwarf Campbell's Russian hamster or a species unto themselves. In the first case, they are named Phodopus sungorus and Phodopus campbelli, in the latter case Phodopus sungorus sungorus and Phodopus sungorus campbelli. Campbell's hamsters and Winter White hamsters can mate and produce offspring that is sometimes fertile, sometimes not. These animals are known as hybrids. Crossing them is strongly discouraged by professional breeders.
Whinter white russian hamsters as pets
They are often found on the pet market, in Europe more so than in the US. Care is similar to that of the syrian hamster. See hamster for general hamster care. They generally make excellent pets, but are very small so not good for very young children. They need bigger cages than syrian hamsters because they are more lively and require more small seeds in their food. Care must be taken not to feed food containing sources of simple sugar because they are at risk of developping diabetes mellitus from that.
In general, dwarf hamsters typically have more of a family structure than the Syrian hamster. Dwarf hamsters will happily live in mated pairs, with both male and female caring for the young. But same-sex pairs and larger groups will rarely get along well, as they wouldn't live together like that in nature. Frequent fighting may occur and be a great distress for them, or even lead to deadly incidents.
Winter White hamsters used to be only available in their typical light grey color, but they are now available in a variety of colors, However, these colors may be difficult to find. And the number of available colors is much smaller than in the dwarf Campell's hamster.
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