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About Roborovskis | Appearance
• History and habitat • Behavior • Appearance• Genetics
Characteristics and color variations
Roborovski hamsters are very easy to recognize due to their distinctive features. They are among the smallest of dwarf hamsters.
Size: 4 to 5 cm (2 inches).
Weight: 22-28 g.
Feet: 4 toes front and 5 hind paws
Lifespan: about 2 to 3 years (may live up to age 4)
Color variations: Normal Agouti Roborovski and White Face
Also known as normal or wild color.
The agouti coat is sand colored and the roots of the hairs are grey. Unlike the other Dwarf Hamsters, Roborovskis do not have a dorsal stripe. Roboroskis have distinctive white eyebrows above their eyes, which gives them their adorable look and a patch of lighter fur behind their ears. Their belly is off-white, the eyes black and the ears are often covered with pale grey hairs. Their noses are set with a puff of white fur and very distinctive whiskers.

White Face
Also known als White Mask or Husky
The white face coat is same as the agouti except for the usual white eyebrow feature which is not present in this variation. Instead the whole face is white. The rest of the body shows the normal agouti color, though lighter versions show up too.
The white face pattern first appeared in Sweden around 2002 before making its way into Europe.

Recessive gene?
The white face pattern probably inherits recessively.
Monique, a breeder form the Netherlands, provided me with these pictures of 2 Agouti parents (offspring of WF roborovski) producing a white face and a normal colored pup. Interestingly the WF produced by the two agouti parents is much lighter than a regular WF.
See below. Click the thumbnails to zoom in.
The Platinum Debate
Sometimes a white face is born with a diluted color. There is an ongoing debate about whether it is a seperate color/pattern gene that causes this variation. For instance it may very well be the normal white face gene expressing itself differently (different fenotype). There is no concensus on whether this is a flaw or a desirable trait or if there are any hidden illnesses or weaknesses that accompany this "diluted" white face appearance. The dilution in the white face coat color apparently is caused by the mixing of normal colored Roborovski with WF roborovski, or, as in the case of Monique described above, two normal colored of WF descent.
One breeder advised to exclude these animals from your breeding line, as it might eventually "pollute" the normal colored white face lines.
Other breeders however attribute the faded color to a "double dose" of the WF gene, generating a lighter white face. Others still remain convinced that the lighter white face is a separate mutation after all. Unfortunately I can give you no definite answer here until a breeder undertakes some thorough breeding experiments, following the Roborovsksi and their offspring for several years.

So the debate continues...
So I'm just not sure about using the Isabella/Platinum denominations, as there is too little known about the true causes of this white face variation. Also it bothers me that some suggest that this variation might be some sort of undesireable trait which might or might not have implications for its health or coat condition.

I have written two breeders on this subject. One in the Netherlands (where I'm from) and one in Great Britain. So I hope to have some more news for you soon. (08-09-2010)
White face and "diluted" WF side by side
  Years ago, in 2004, Kaidouya, a breeder from Japan sent me pictures of her breeding results. She noticed that interbreeding white face produced lighter offspring that faded to white with age. (See below) Unfortunately I think she stopped breeding and all of her sites are offline. She was the only one I knew who really tried to determine the cause of the dilution observed in some white faces.

If any one takes up breeding experiments with white face again be sure to contact me, I'm always very interested in the results!
Kaidouya's offspring. Normal and diluted WF.
White Faces that fade to white, photo gallery
I have met with a great deal of scepticism on this subject. There are however white face Roborovskis out there that do fade to white with time. Some quicker than others and not all fade to white entirely.

Of course this could be written off as hearsay or myth, but I have taken on the task of collecting photographic evidence of this from friends and acquaintances. Below you can see the process in actual white face Roborovski. I have included a movie where you can see the faded 21 month old Roborovskis in action.
See below. Click the thumbnails to zoom in.
  Faded White Face Movie  
  Another fading coat color example with al three types in one photograph can be seen on the photo sent in by Henriëtte (click to zoom in):  
  3 robos  
Henriëttes robos. On the right a normal wild color. At the bottom left the WF mother (1 year old, with fading coat color) and at the top left the WF daughter.
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