The Campbell’s dwarf hamster is native to Eastern and Central Asia. The species is named after W.C. Campbell, who discovered this animal in Mongolia in 1902. Endemic to Djungaria region of Mongolia, these animals are sometimes called 'Djungarian hamsters', but they differ from this closely related species by the lack of dark fur on their crown as well as smaller ears. These hamsters have been bred as laboratory animals in the UK since 1968. In 1980s, they gain popularity in the pet market. On its dorsum, this animal exhibits a band, very similar to that of the Djungarian hamster. The fur on the stomach is grey.
These animals are distributed throughout central Asia, the Altai Mountains, autonomous region of Tuva as well as the Hebei province in northeastern China. Preferred habitat of the Campbell's dwarf hamster is steppes and semi-deserts. The animal usually lives in burrows, having 4 - 6 horizontal and vertical tunnels.
The Campbell’s hamsters are usually solitary in the wild, whereas individuals in captivity often don't mind the presence of other species in their territory. As nocturnal animals, they forage at night and are able to travel up to one mile when looking for food. Due to expendable pouches on their cheeks that can comprise large amounts of materials, they are able to store food or bedding while foraging at night. Carrying the food in their cheeks, they subsequently store it at their burrows. Their burrows are up to 3 meters deep, underground excavations. Each burrow has several exits and entrances and consists of comfortable chambers. They usually line the walls of these chambers with scavenged sheep wool and dry grass for greater comfort. When threatened, these animals quickly enter one of the entrances to the burrows and thus escaping a predator. When moving quickly, they usually run with short steps. When fleeing from a predator, they move quickly and abruptly.
The Campbell’s hamsters are herbivores (folivores and granivores), they generally feed upon seeds, nuts and vegetation, complementing this diet with small invertebrates and insects. They are also known to consume corn, oats, sunflower, peanuts, dried fruits, dehydrated vegetables, alfalfa, minerals and salts.
Campbell’s hamsters are polygynandrous (promiscuous), which means that both males and females have multiple mates. Various populations of this species breed at different periods of the year, depending on location. Thus, the breeding season starts in April for population in Tuva, and in May - for that in Transbaikalia regions of Mongolia. They usually breed until September - early October. Campbell’s hamsters in the wild usually yield 3 - 4 litters of 7 young on average per year. Meanwhile, those in captivity may produce from a single to 18 litters of 1 - 9 young per year. Gestation period for those in captivity lasts 18 - 20 days. To the date, the shortest recorded gestation period of a Campbell’s hamster in captivity was 13 days. Newborn babies of this species are helpless and lack hair. They young cared by their parents until 17 days old, after which they are weaned. Males become mature at 23 days of age, while females become gain reproductive maturity at 48 days of age.
Although the Campbell’s hamsters are quite common and widespread throughout their range, there are some minor threats to certain populations of this species. Thus, those in arid habitat may suffer from lack of enough water resources. On the other hand, those inhabiting steppes of central Asia are threatened by increasing numbers of livestock that may destruct their burrows.
According to IUCN, the Campbell’s hamster is common and widely distributed but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) and its number remain stable.
On one hand, Campbell’s hamsters serve as seed dispersers, thus helping a number of plants survive. On the other hand, they are a key prey species for Corsac foxes.