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Old 03-27-2019, 05:07 PM   #1
Owner of Titch
Newborn Pup
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 3
Question Russian Hamster actually a roborovski?

Hi! This is my fist post so you'll have to be patient with me, I'm not great with computer stuff.

Almost a month ago I walked into a pet shop for some dog treats and happened to see this adorable dwarf hamster that was for sale. He seemed really cheerful and was the cutest little fluff ball I've ever laid eyes on so I ended up buying him. Looking back now, I wish I had known that there were such things as hamster rescues and done proper research but I think, like most people, I was lead to believe by the pet shop that hamsters are 'easy' pets. Obviously, now I've done proper research I feel really guilty. I like to think that at least he came to me and not someone that wouldn't have bothered to research further.

The main reason I'm here is I was told he was a russian dwarf but I'm now nearly 100% positive he's a roborovski. I've watched loads of videos and I'll take some clear images and upload them here for clarification if needs be. I have been trying to research into care for robos and stuff but I'm finding it a bit overwhelming, I'm kind of searching up questions as they come up rather than having something to read through so I'm prepared for situations before they arise. If anyone has a complete guide with most of the stuff I need to know for robo care in one place or something similar and could send it to me that would be fantastic.

A few questions that I would like answered now as well. Firstly, I'm worried the cage I was sold is way too small. Titch (my hamster) seems happy from what I can gather from information on behaviour and I've decked out the cage with good toys and one of the small silent spinner wheels because I heard they're good quality (I have had to secure it with string though because one lady commented that hers tipped over and trapped her hammy inside so I'm paranoid mine will do the same. I've tied string round it and attached it securely to the bars to make sure that won't happen but now I'm worried the string won't be good for him? From what I can see he doesn't nibble it but I'm still worried?) but I'm still concerned it's not adequate. I don't have that much money but want to make sure he's really happy in his home, should I bother getting a new cage or will moving him stress him out? If I do get a new cage what are the requirements and how's the safest and most affordable way for me to meet these. Secondly, I heard somewhere robos really need a pair but he was alone when I bought him and I'm worried he won't get on with a new hammy if I bought one in? Last question, just to check, what are the behavioural signs a robo is happy and what are the signs it's stressed?

Sorry I know this is a lot for one post but I'm so anxious to make sure my little Titch has the best quality of life possible.

Thank you so much in advance for your help.
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Old 03-30-2019, 07:26 AM   #2
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Default Re: Russian Hamster actually a roborovski?

Hi welcome. Robos do look and act quite different so you are probably right, but if you want confirmation a photo would help.

I don't know about a complete guide but caring for a robo isn't much different from a Russian, the main differences is they benefit from a large sand area, they like lots of hiding places but also need room to be able to run around as they are very active. They're also generally more difficult to tame. If the cage came from the pet shop chances are it is unsuitable unfortunatley. Robos actually do need a lot of room - yes they can be nervous animals but if the cage is kitted out correctly they also do really well in cages over 100x50cm. My robo is in a detolf for example - which is a cheap and good sized enclosure if you wanted to think about that. The other 'requirement' is bedding depth - minimum of 6 inches for a robo and most cages should allow for that amount.

Yes a cage change will be stressful, they always will be but it is important to get them into a proper cage. Maybe wait until he's a bit more settled and move him into a new one when you can. Like I said a detolf is an affordable option but not very portable, I also housed my robo in a zoozone 2 which was around £50 and it worked alright. If you can find a second hand fish tank those can also make good cages. Barred cages can work but only really lower ones like the hamster heaven. Not sure what your budget or DIY capabilities are though!

Not too sure about the wheel situation but if it's attached by string it doesn't sound great. Personally I don't think silent spinners are the best for robos, it's very easy for a robo to flip in the wheel and fly out. They do better in 8 inch wheels really - wooden trixie wheel, silent runner, wodent wheel are all fine.

Robos do best alone contrary to popular belief - they do not need a cage mate and it's uncommon that robo pairs stay together really so don't worry about that. Robo behaviour is a bit of a tricky one, I suppose you need to know your hamster really. Generally speaking any kind of pacing, short bursts on the wheel, jumping at cage sides might be signs of stress and if he's nervous he'll more than likely be hiding somewhere.

Last edited by mangoandmimi; 03-30-2019 at 07:36 AM.
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Old 03-30-2019, 07:40 AM   #3
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Default Re: Russian Hamster actually a roborovski?

It depends how small your cage is It may be fine for a starter cage. Robos are very active though so they do need a good amount of space. However they also feel nervous of open spaces so the set up needs to have lots of toys/hidey places on the substrate to provide overhead cover and a shelf ideally (to sit under).

The main concern with tiny dwarf hamsters is fall risks if the cage is too tall.

String isn't good no. A wheel shouldn't fall over if it is placed on a flat surface - if it's sat on the substrate it might. You mentioned bars though - I think it's possible to attach a silent spinner to bars? Without the stand. Do you find it spins ok? Because there have been issues with them not spinning properly so many people end up getting an 8" wheel.

Our robo has a flying saucer, which he loves - the 7" one. That won't fall over when sat on the substrate. He also has a 9" wheel screwed to the bars And he uses both!

Yes as Cypher says, they are absolutely fine on their own - in fact they should only be kept in pairs or groups if they are siblings and have always lived together - most people end up having to separate them anyway due to fights breaking out and then you need two cages.

Which cage is it? Ideally you would need something with at least 70cm by 40cm floor area and no taller than 36cm. If it is taller than that it may need a full level making (or a lower cage buying if the floor area is too small).

Our robo is in an 80cm by 50cm cage and very happy in there - plenty of space for his two wheels and he also has two houses/burrows and nests and moves between them (ie if I disturb one he moves out and uses the other one!).

Main thing is don't overclean - it causes a lot of stress. Put as much substrate in as you can (they like to dig and burrow under the substrate) . Weekly cleans aren't necessary - just spot clean as and when needed mostly and then you don't need to change all the substrate for about 6 to 8 weeks. Don't clean everything at the same time either. If you do the substrate then clean the wheel another week and the toys another week again. Then something always smells familiar to them.
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Old 03-31-2019, 02:34 PM   #4
Owner of Titch
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Default Re: Russian Hamster actually a roborovski?

Thank you so much for your responses, I can't tell you how helpful they've been.

I am going to try to attach a couple of photos here just for confirmation. Sorry I didn't before, I'm absolutely hopeless at this type of thing and I couldn't get my head round it but I think I figured it out, fingers crossed it works!



I had major concerns about the cage and you've definitely confirmed I need to get a new one. The dimensions of mine are 35cm width x 50cm length x 35 cm height with a 20cm x 35cm level! Can you believe the pet shop said this was suitable for 2 dwarfs! I can't imagine how bad it would have been if I'd had two! I have started saving for a new cage now and should have one within a month which should also give Titch time to settle hopefully. In the mean time I have a really cheap fabric kids 'ball pit' which serves as a little play pen for him which I've kitted out with loads of hides and toys. I put him in every once in a while (I don't like doing it every day just in case it stresses him out to keep being moved) and it gives him a bit more space to run around as well as letting him out every night/every other night to run around on my king size bed because he's actually quite easy to handle once he's out the cage, he does run but not fast enough to get away and he seems to like climbing on me anyway so he never strays far. I think he likes being out but the only thing that makes me worried is that he takes a lot of convincing to get onto my hand in the cage to come out. I make sure I'm coming in from the side, rubbing my hands on his bedding so I smell familiar and offering a flat palm without chasing him round but he still runs up into his tubes that go round the outside of the cage and seems nervous. He will eventually hop on my hand (especially if I have a treat), he's never bitten me and to me he seems quite content when he's out so I don't know why he gets so nervous about me putting my hand in initially?

In terms of the wheel, I have taken out the silent spinner now. He seemed ok with it and I was only keeping it up with string as a precaution because one amazon review said theirs had fallen over and trapped the hamster under and I definitely didn't want that to happen with Titch. But I think it's best I should follow your advice so I replaced it with a saucer (7 inch, my silent spinner was 6 inch) just because I heard there's a risk of splinters with wooden ones but I don't think he likes it as much? He was loosing control in the silent spinner and falling out sometimes but he's doing that in the saucer as well so I think he might just be clumsy? I don't know. I think I might have found a way to secure the silent spinner without string (I attach the stand to the place where the old wheel which I replaced was with a chew thats supposed to screw into the bars? It's hard to explain but it seems like it worked - I thought it best just to get the saucer anyway though. I did try to attach the wheel to the bars but they start too high up because the base is quite large and so he wouldn't be able to reach), if I notice he's not using the saucer as much should I consider putting the wheel back in? Sorry to be bombarding you with questions! I just want to make sure Titch is happiest hamster he can be!

I did ask a pet shop person if I should get him a sand bath but she said he was too young, is this a load of rubbish? Should I give him a sand bath to play in now? Honestly I can't believe how unhelpful pet shop people are sometimes.

Also a big thanks for the tip about cleaning, I will be spot cleaning from now on although I will probably have to be doing it a little more regularly until I get the bigger cage.

Thanks so much again for all your help! You've been wonderful!
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Old 03-31-2019, 02:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: Russian Hamster actually a roborovski?

Yes you have a robo, they are lovely little hams. They can be nervous about hands in cages but I'd just keep taking things slowly at his pace. He sounds really sweet Pet shop staff are not animal experts so you're best doing your research separately really. Robos absolutely need sand at all times, more than other hamsters and preferably in a larger container. Something like a large ceramic roasting dish or something, in fact the Germans recommend that at least one third of the cage is sand. Just make sure the sand you use isn't 'chinchilla dust' and is definitely sand!

The wheel, they need an upright wheel at all times and the saucer is just an extra if there is room in the cage. If you get a wooden wheel you'll want to firstly sand it down or there might well be splinter issues, then you'll probably want to plastikote the cork lining to water proof it. Although you might be better off getting a silent runner or wodent wheel if he does pee in the wheel or if he's using the silent spinner alright then you could stick with that one.
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Old 04-05-2019, 11:15 AM   #6
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Default Re: Russian Hamster actually a roborovski?

Yep! that's a robo! looks just like my little Messi
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Old 04-05-2019, 12:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: Russian Hamster actually a roborovski?

Aww a beautiful roborovski you have there!
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worried, cage, research, hamster, happy, string, stuff, good, make, questions, russian, bought, signs, care, robos, small, quality, heard, titch, hammy, robo, shop, roborovski, post, pet

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