Russian hamsters usually live about 2 years but can live up to 4 years. They include three varieties: the Campbell's dwarf hamster, the winter white dwarf hamster and the Roborovski dwarf hamster. The Campbell's dwarf hamster is the one most commonly sold as a "Russian" hamster.

Russian hamsters are social and friendly once they are familiar with human handlers, but will bite when handled roughly. While they are good starter pets for older children, they are not suitable for children under 8. They need food made specifically for hamsters and the cage must be cleaned frequently. The bedding must be of a type and amount that allows burrowing. The cage should be kept away from direct sunlight, drafts and other pets.