Roborovski hamsters are the smallest of all hamster species. They are distinguished by eyebrow-like white spots and by the lack of any dorsal stripe. Their fur is soft and has a sandy color. Currently, 10 variations of Roborovski hamsters are confirmed. Among them are: agouti, "white face", "husky", "mottled" or "pied", "platinum", "head spot", "white-from-white-faced" or "dark-eared white", "white-from-pied" or "pure white" and "red-eyed".
Roborovski hamsters are found in the basin of the lake Zaysan in Kazakhstan and regions of Tuva, Mongolia, and Xinjiang in China. They inhabit sandy deserts and areas of loose sand and sparse vegetation and are rarely found in areas of dense vegetation and solid clay substrates. Their efficient use of water makes them particularly suited to the steppe and desert regions they inhabit.
Roborovski hamsters are generally solitary animals. However, they may live in pairs while not rearing young. They dig and live in burrows with steep tunnels as deep as six feet underground. Roborovski hamsters don't hibernate during the winter months, even during extremely low temperatures. They remain underground in winter and survive in that season by stockpiling some food in warmer weather and storing it in special food chambers within their burrow system. In the wild, Roborovski hamsters are crepuscular, being most active at dawn and dusk. These hamsters are known for their speed and have been said to run an equivalent of four human marathons each night on average.
Little is known about the mating system and reproductive habits of Roborovski hamsters. The breeding season lasts between April and September. Females produce three to four litters. The litter size is between three and nine, with an average of six. The gestation period lasts 20-22 days. Young weigh 1-2 grams (0.035-0.074 oz) at birth and open their eyes by day 14. Females stop nursing their pups after 18 days from birth and they become independent at 20 days of age. Females become reproductively mature at 2 months of age and males at 2.5 months of age.
There are no major threats to Roborovski hamsters. However, they suffer from the degradation of their habitat due to increasing numbers of livestock. These animals are also threatened by increased mortality and by different chemical pollution.
The IUCN Red List and other sources do not provide the Robovski hamster total population size. This animal is common and widespread throughout its known range. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.