Despite the name, mouse-like Hamsters are nether hamsters nor mice and belong to their own family Calomyscidae. They are relatively uncommon in the UK pet trade, although this is increasing. They originate from Central Asian countries and some species are now quite scarce in the wild. Natural habit is quite arid, with nesting areas preferred with rock crevices.
They are quite small, not dissimilar to the size of an adult fancy mouse at roughly 6-10cm in body length and 7-10cm in tail. An average adult may weigh around 25g. Juveniles have a more grey tint to their coat which browns as they age, belly and underside of tails is an offwhite colour. Their coat is noticeably thicker and shinier than a fancy mouse, especially if providing with chinchilla sand to bath in.
Mouse-like hamsters have very large, prominent ears. They do not have cheek pouches, or the short tail that is indicative of true hamsters.
They are one of the longer lived rodents, with them often reaching 4 years and some people recording up to 9 years in captivity.
Handtame Mouse-like hamsters are emerging, although their general speed and jumping ability do not make this easy. handling mouse-like Hamsters does require some confidence in handling rodents due to their speed, although they are unlikely to bite due to their friendly nature.
Young Mouse-like Hamsters must be paired up at an early age to make breeding sets as adult introductions can be very difficult. They are very curious, active rodents and interesting to watch - for examples see our section on Mouse-like Hamster - Behaviour.
Due to their energy and activity levels Mouse-like Hamsters need a large environment with various nesting areas and climbing material. Some keepers have had success using sand as a substrate, although normal commercial substrates such as Megazorb can also be used. Chinchilla sand should be offered to bath in if sand is not used and a layer of hay makes excellent concealment and chewing material.
Their diet is relatively simple, a good gerbil seed mix with various seeds such as finch/wild bird food, linseed, mixed millets, peanuts sesame seeds. This can be supplemented with various fresh fruit and vegetables. Although like Mongolian Gerbils they do not require a great deal of water, a fresh supply should always be available.