The Roborovski Hamster

The smallest and most anti-social of the breeds of hamster now found as pets, the Roborovski hamster still retains most of its wild ways and only barely tolerates the existence of humans. Also known as the easier to pronounce names of Robs or Desert hamster, since they originally come from the Gobi Desert in China, Mongolia and Russia. They are indeed named after a guy named Lt. Roborovski, who discovered the tiny, furry speedster in 1894. They were first imported to America in 1998.


Roborovski hamsters are dwarfs among dwarfs, being a mere two inches (five cm) long. Compare that to the more commonly found silvery Russian dwarf hamster, which is three to four inches long (7.6 to 10 com). Because of their small size, compact shape, tiny pink feet and large eyes, Robs are considered by many to be the cutest of the pet hamsters.

They originally were a wild, mouse brown, agouti color (brown with black ticking at the tips of the hairs) with a pale belly. Now, Robs can be found as mostly white or white-faced with some brown on the back. There is also a rare color called platinum, which is a very pale silvery-grey and white.

Not great pets

Please don’t consider Roborovski hamsters for small children or to people inexperienced with hamsters. They are not only the most aggressive of pet hamster species, but they are surprisingly good jumpers and move incredibly fast. They are also the hamster Houdinis of the rodent world, so they need a secure lid and solid- walled cage. You also need to be extra alert whenever you have to handle them, as they will almost always try to make a break for it.

Robs are not cuddly and do not like to be handled, although with a lot of patience and a good sense of humor, they can be somewhat tamed. These hamsters are best observed and not touched. If you enjoy keeping fish, then you know what to expect in your relationship with a Rob. Watching their antics can be reward enough when caring for these cranky critters.


It is best to keep only one Roborovski hamster to a cage, although there has been success with keeping sisters from the same litter together. Males will fight each other sometimes to the death. Males and females only get together for breeding; otherwise, they really don’t care for each other’s company.

Robs are nocturnal, meaning they sleep all day and are most active at night. Try not to disturb them when they sleep; they hate that. “Critters USA Annual 2007” report that Robs are most active in November and least active in February and March.