The Chinese hamster is less common than the other types of hamster. They are similar in size, speed and agility to dwarf hamsters but are easier to handle as they will grip onto your fingers with their paws.
However, unlike dwarf hamsters they are not normally sociable and so in most cases they should not be housed together.
Chinese hamsters, also known as striped hamsters, are a dark brown color with an ivory belly and a black dorsal line along the length of their back. Unlike other hamsters they have a noticeable tail of about one inch in length and so look similar to a mouse. There is also another color variation; the dominant spot Chinese hamster, which similarly have a black dorsal stripe, but are white with patches of the normal brown color.
Adult Chinese hamsters are approximately 4 inches in length. This small size has lead to them being commonly referred to as dwarf hamsters, although this is technically incorrect.
A Chinese hamster can be expected to live for between 2.5 and 3 years.
Chinese hamsters are timid but generally tame and rarely nip, so they are therefore safe to handle. Although they are small and agile they will use their paws to grip onto your fingers and so are easier to handle than dwarf hamsters.
Despite their small size, they are extremely active. They should therefore be housed in as large a cage as possible to give them the space they need to prevent boredom. A solid sided cage or an aquarium would be the most suitable choice of housing as they are small enough to squeeze through the bars of most wire hamster cages.
Chinese hamsters should not normally be housed together as once they reach maturity they will often become aggressive with others. This can be particularly evident with females. It can be possible is some cases to keep them together in pairs or small groups of the same sex (unless breeding) if they are given enough space. But any fighting that does take place will be likely to occur during the night due to the nocturnal nature of hamsters and so could easily go unseen until serious injury occurs. It is therefore recommended that Chinese hamsters are housed separately, while they are a suitable choice if you only want a single pet hamster.
Chinese hamsters are fairly prone to diabetes, so it is best to avoid feeding them fruit and sugary treats.