Roborovskis (Phodopus roborovskii) are the smallest of all hamsters commonly kept as pets. Distinguishing characteristics of the Roborovskis are the white spots where the eyebrows would be, and the lack of the dorsal stripe seen in all other dwarf hamsters. They live, on average, to three and a half years of age - the longest of any domestic hamster.
Roborovski hamsters live in the wild around the Gobi Desert, throughout Mongolia's desert steppe and parts of northern China. They are highly efficient in their use of water (as evidenced by how they may pass particularly concentrated urine), so little vegetation is required. They dig and live in burrows. Unlike they Syrian hamsters the Robo's enjoy a large cage that will allow them to bury into the bedding. They will spend a lot of time chewing up papertowels and toilet paper to fill their nests with. Roborovski hamsters are omnivores. They will eat vegetables, fruit, and plants, but they will eat meat and insects.
Roborovski hamsters are very curious, easily startled, and generally timid, as well as very active. They also don't speak or squeak as much as most hamster species. They benefit from an enriched environment they can be active in. Roborovskis can be hand-tamed if acquired young and individually accustomed to handling. This requires some patience and time investment, however, since they bite often when angry. A hamster can easily hurt itself escaping or getting into the wrong places before it is caught. It is important to handle them where they cannot get away as they are hard to catch, being both fast and very small, and will not hesitate to wriggle free or jump from their owner's hand if panicked, no matter the distance to the ground.
Roborovski hamsters can enjoy being together. Two of these hamsters from different litters may get along if introduced properly, although there is always a chance they may not. It is common for this breed to be extremely friendly. They are very kind and often do everything with each other for the rest of the life. Compatible cage mates will generally play, eat, and sleep together in the same spot. Their antics are constantly entertaining and they make excellent pets for those who want animals that are fun to watch and require less personal handling.
Although generally notcturnal, they are more likely to be active during the day than the more commonly-kept hamsters. They do not, however, like direct light or sunlight and will be more confident emerging in the daytime if their home can be kept in relative shade.
They grow to be on average 4.5 cm long—roughly the length of an adult human thumb—Roborovskis can easily squeeze through the bars of a standard hamster cage, so careful consideration needs to be given to housing. The gaps between bars should be approximately 7 mm in width. First-time owners are advised to inquire of pet shop owners or breeders about the suitability of cages. The best cage for a Roborovski hamster is a small, tight-barred open cage, a large plastic cage or a large fish aquarium. Be aware that the cage does not have any holes. Even with a plug covering the hole, hamsters may manage to take the plug out and escape. If the cage happens to have any sort of hole, try to prevent hamsters from escaping by taping the hole (And even the plug over the hole) securely. Also, cotton should never be put in their cage, as there is a high chance they will choke on it. These hamsters prefer to live in a large habitat, where they have room to run. As they are desert animals, they also like to dig and will appreciate sufficient quantities of sawdust or similar materials in their cages.