As you grow fond of your hamster, having hamster babies probably seems like a good idea.
After all, they are cute, cuddly and watching something grow is amazing.
However, the American Humane Society stance is to prevent hamsters being born.
The main reasons are the following:
- Hamster may eat their babies which can be quite distressing
- It is hard to sex hamsters. As they can reproduce from a young age, this can easily get out of control
- It is hard to find a new home for the baby hamsters, and major pet supplies like Petsmart and Petco do not purchase or acquire small animals from private owners
We recommend not breeding hamsters
Our recommendation is also to not breed hamsters, but if you decide to do so, we have put together an 8-step guide so you know exactly what to expect and what to do.
How to tell you have a pregnant hamster
Like dogs, cats and all other animals, a hamster will gain weight during pregnancy.
However, hamsters are by nature quite fluffy and are prone to gain weight so weight gain alone doesn’t necessarily indicate it is pregnant – it could simply be gaining weight which is a far less happy matter.
So, if your hamster is gaining weight, you should also look for these other signs of pregnancy:
SIGNS OF HAMSTER PREGNANCY
- It has started building a nest
- It has likely started to store food
- It might become more aggressive during its gestation period
Secondly, you should understand the hamster life span. Hamsters can get pregnant as early as four weeks old, but it is recommended not to try for hamster babies before the female is 5-6 months old.
The second thing to note is that the gestation period (the period of pregnancy) differs from hamster to hamster:
- Syrian hamster: Pregnant for 16 days
- Most dwarf breeds: Pregnant for 18-21 days
- Roborovski Hamster: Pregnant for up to 30 days
During the last couple of pregnancy days, your hamster will gain a significant amount of weight and swell to a large size.
However, it could also be a sign of something worse so if your hamster looks bloated it is a good idea to see a vet.
Get your hamster cage ready for the hamster babies
When you have confirmed that your hamster is having babies, it’s important to prepare the hamster cage correctly for it.
There are three easy things you should do and one that takes a little more caution.
The three easy things are the following:
- Remove hamster wheel and other toys: This is done to prevent injuries to your baby hamster. Further, keeping the hamster wheel in the cage risks the mother over-exercising herself and lead her to drop on and kill her babies
- Remove the father: Female hamsters can become aggressive around other hamsters, particularly males when they are pregnant
- Provide soft building material: This enables the mother to start building a soft, cosy nest for her baby hamsters. Toilet paper or clean facial tissue works the best as the hamster can tear and arrange it easily. Avoid any hard-to-shred materials.
The fourth and final cage preparation is cleaning it.
And now comes the tricky part.
- You want the cage to be as clean as possible for the big birth day
- However, under no circumstances should your hands be inside the cage in the last 3 days of pregnancy. This can unsettle the hamster and possibly lead to her rejecting the babies because they have your scent.
- That is why, if you are in any doubt about the due date of the hamster babies, we recommend cleaning the cage immediately and leave it at that
Yes, it might be sub-optimal but at least you don’t run the risk of your baby hamsters not being taken care of.
After birth, you should not clean the cage for the next 2 weeks, so there is potentially a long period where you should not clean the hamster cage.
Beef up your hamster’s diet
- The mother eats more during pregnancy
- It starts storing food for the babies
But you shouldn’t just give it any food. Instead you should aim to give your hamster more protein and more fat. As she will be storing it try to give it dry food. We have listed some common food items below.
Add these to a Pregnant Hamster's Diet
If she is indeed pregnant, she will automatically start storing these things for her babies to eat once they are born.
Hamster birth and what to expect
Once your hamster goes into labour things happen pretty fast. It usually takes 1-2 hours with 15-30 minute intervals between the small pups coming into our world.
A hamster, regardless of breed will usually have 4-8 pups.
The babies will be born deaf, blind and naked / hairless and they need very good hamster care to survive…
… however, under no circumstances should that care come from you.
Do not disturb or enter the nest for at least two weeks
Time period: Birth to 2 weeks old
As mentioned, you should not be in the cage for three days before birth.
This cycle is repeated for the next two weeks.
Do Not Go Inside The Cage
Having given birth, the mother will likely be aggressive to any intruders and may act aggressive towards you.
Although not stressing the mother is a good enough reason not to go inside the cage, there is a far more important reason.
If you go inside the cage, your scent may catch on to a baby hamster.
Should that happen, the mother is likely to abandon her babies, or even worse, outright kill them.
Naturally, you should not clean the cage during this time and of course, neither should you try to handle the babies.
Not touching the hamster babies can be hard. After all, they look so small, blind and helpless.
However, we really can’t stress how important it is that you do not try to do anything. If you see a baby hamster outside the nest, mama hamster will go and retrieve it once she realizes it has gone onto its own adventures.
With that said: You can move it back to the nest with a spoon but we think the risk outweigh the gains and we do not recommend it unless in extreme circumstances.
Make sure there is enough food and water
Time period: Birth to 2 weeks old
During the first two hands-off weeks, you should not just leave the cage be.
The hamsters still need food and water and as there are more hamsters now, they will need more.
You should thus check food and water at least twice a day to support the hamster growth.
HOW TO GIVE BABY HAMSTERS WATER
Giving the pups water is actually not as easy as it sounds.
For instance, a baby hamster can drown in a bowl of water.
Instead you should use a shallow dish for water for the first 10 days. After that you can use a sipper bottle. Make sure that it is sufficiently low for the hamster to reach it.
After a week, you should start scattering food along the edges of the cage. This will allow the more adventurous pups to go out and scavenge themselves, while the mother will ensure she still brings it home for the shyer pups.
Start handling the baby hamsters
Time period: 2-4 weeks old
When the babies are two weeks old, you can start your normal routine again, by cleaning the cage (but still leave some soft tissue).
At this point, the mother will be less protective and the babies will be less dependent on her. After two weeks, their eyes will open and they are now no longer blind.
This is also a big point in time for the human to hamster relations.
Yes, you can now start taming and handling the baby hamsters.
Handling them at this early stage will make them get comfortable with you and other humans. Just remember that the young ones are very quick so be careful when handling them.
During this stage, the pups will continue feeding from their mothers, so don’t be alarmed that they continue to do so.
Separate the hamsters
When the hamsters are weaned off their mother, you should start splitting them up. At the latest, this should happen when the hamster are 4 weeks old.
Here are a few things to remember when doing so:
- Should not be in the same cage as their mother
- Boys and girls should not be in the same cage (otherwise inbreeding might happen)
- Syrian Hamsters should be in their own cage
- Dwarf hamsters can live longer together, but might start fighting at the age of 12 weeks. If that happens you should separate them
So, to sum up…
What to do when you have Baby Hamsters
1. Check to see if your hamster is actually pregnant
2. Get your hamster cage ready for the hamster babies
3. Beef up your hamster’s diet
4. Know what to expect during hamster birth
5. Do not disturb or enter the nest for at least two weeks
6. Make sure there is enough food and water
7. Start handling the baby hamsters
8. Separate the hamsters
Now you’re ready to have Hamster Babies!
There are definitely some big precautions to take when having hamster pups.
Luckily, while the precautions are very important, they are easy to adhere to.
And we hope this guide have equipped you well and inspired you to start breeding hamster yourself.
If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. We’ll be around to answer them!