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Old 06-01-2019, 01:57 PM   #1
sushi_78
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Default Questions about Roborovskis

Hi,

I don't have any hamsters currently, but I have two gerbils.

A relative's Roborovskis have recently had an unexpected litter, and there is a chance I may be taking some of them when they are old enough.

I have done some research, however I know from experience with my gerbils that there is a lot of misinformation on the Internet, and I would prefer to hear from someone with real experience with these hamsters.

-I know that Roborovskis can be kept in pairs or groups. Is it better to have a pair, or a group of 3?

-Do Roborovskis ever declan, like gerbils do? Do they fight?

-How much space do Roborovskis need? I have a terrarium which is 77x47cm and 38 cm high. Is this big enough for 2-3 Roboroskis?

-Do Roborovskis dig tunnels?

-Is there a difference in temperament between males and females?

I am aware that Roborovskis are very small and skittish, and not normally recommended for beginners. While I have no experience with hamsters, I do have a lot of experience with gerbils. I would appreciate any answers to my questions, and any other information or tips.
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Old 06-02-2019, 04:15 AM   #2
GhostsInSnow
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Default Re: Questions about Roborovskis

Personally, I wouldn't go with a trio as there is a risk of 2 ganging up on 1. A pair would be better, however, they can fall out even months down the line so it's important to get their environment right and look out for signs of fighting.
You'll need 2 of everything ideally so 2 wheels, 2 water sources, scatter feeding is best with pairs and groups to prevent becoming territorial over food bowls (and it also provides extra enrichment). Any hides and toys you use should have multiple exits to prevent one being cornered by the other and try to avoid adding levels as, again, they can become territorial over these
My previous Robo's have all enjoyed the opportunity to dig and burrow so deep substrate is a good idea. I've not noticed a huge difference in temperament between the males and females personally.
Like I said, look out for signs of fighting so sleeping out in the open, one looking skinnier than the other, excessive squeaking, wounds and fur loss. If this does happen you'll need to separate so I'd advise having a spare cage on hand in order to separate straight away if you notice them falling out. If they do, you'll need to keep them separate going forward.
Don't stress them too much but it's a good idea to get them used to at least basic handling so that, if you need to, you're able to take them to a vet.
If you do need to take one anywhere, it's best to take them together to minimise the risk of falling out
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Old 06-02-2019, 04:34 AM   #3
mangoandmimi
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Default Re: Questions about Roborovskis

Yes a trio isn’t the best - really they’re best off living alone but you could try a pair if you fully understand the risks. They can and do ‘declan’ and it can be instant and get bad quite quickly. Which is why I do not advise keeping two of any species of hamster as it is not in their best interests, and it is not natural for them to live in same sex pairs.

I personally think that terrarium is on the small side for a pair. 100x50cm minimum for a pair would be my guideline, you might find some people claiming they do better in smaller spaces but you do have to balance ethics and safety. I’ve kept pairs in 80x50cm and once you’ve got two wheels in there half the space has vanished. They do need to be able to burrow - minimum of 6-8 inches and the other thing is they do need a large sand bath so not a small pot of it. If you have owned gerbils you’ll be fine with robos so good luck with them!
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Old 06-03-2019, 07:57 AM   #4
sushi_78
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Default Re: Questions about Roborovskis

Thanks for both your replies. It seems that Robos are much more similar to gerbils behaviour-wise than I realised.

I think I will only be getting one hamster (if I end up getting any at all, nothing is certain yet).

What kind of sand do Robos need? My gerbils have chinchilla sand (not dust), which they have in a bowl about 12cm across. Is this too small?
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Old 06-04-2019, 07:49 AM   #5
mangoandmimi
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Default Re: Questions about Roborovskis

Chinchilla sand is good yes, that or playsand, reptisand or similar. No 12cm across is too small in my opinion as they really enjoy more sand than that. I would give at least a quarter to a third of the cage as sand. Then you have room to place some hides in there too which they often like to use to bathe in an enclosed space. All my robos have shown more interest in the sand areas than burrowing areas but you do have to provide both.
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Old 06-04-2019, 08:14 AM   #6
alpacassei
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Default Re: Questions about Roborovskis

My robo’s sandbath was a third of the cage size with rocks and hides that simulated his natural desert habitat
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Old 06-04-2019, 08:47 AM   #7
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Default Re: Questions about Roborovskis

I went through all this when there was a litter of robos up for adoption. I would have loved to have a pair - although you always have to be prepared to separate them quickly. But got in such a twist trying to work out what cage would work best and the set up with no levels etc, and in the end there was only one boy left so I got him.

It was much easier setting up a suitable cage for a single robo Your tank would be fine for a single robo. Personally I would also go a bit bigger for a pair. I was looking at 90cm by 45cm for a pair.

And yes they love digging tunnels. At least 6" of substrate is good. On the other hand they can hide away too much then so it makes taming and interacting hard. What I had in the end was a labyrinth house which mimics a burrow and rooms etc, and our robo moved into that and stopped bothering to dig tunnels - although he did have another "emergency" burrow near his wheel.

If you want to get a pair then I would get a bigger cage/tank. And plan the set up carefully. It's difficult as I know some breeders feel that robos do better in pairs and groups and need company - despite needing separating sometimes. But our robo has done fine on his own. There are others who say they shouldn't live in pairs and groups.

The only way you can have a pair though is siblings of the same sex. If you were having a group of 4 eg, then a 4 foot tank is a good size (as per robo breeder advice I got).
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Old 06-04-2019, 08:50 AM   #8
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Default Re: Questions about Roborovskis

I'd say the current 77 x 47 is the minimum for one robo. I had ours in a tank that size and found I couldn't fit enough enrichment in well - and found a cage easier too - so he was upgraded to an 80 x 50 cage. Doesn't sound much difference but there is much more usable space with the cage bars and it feels the right size. Ideally I'd have had 90 or 100cm cage for him but already had an 80cm one and have a Syrian in a 100cm one. He has done fine in the 80cm one but they are so fast and active I am sure they would appreciate more space - providing there is enough overhead cover/hidey places and tunnels etc so they don't feel too exposed.
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Old 06-04-2019, 09:49 AM   #9
mangoandmimi
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Default Re: Questions about Roborovskis

I don’t think breeders advising pairs is too helpful because breeder robos and your average pets at home robo are incredibly different temperament wise. They are not handled from a young age and some lines even seem to carry unnatural aggressive behaviour which you won’t see in proper lines. So when you start applying those ideas to pet shop hamsters and see pairs fall out all the time it doesn’t really make the best advice tbh.
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