Before you decide to breed your own Hamsters, you should consider that Hamster breeding is not to be entered into lightly. You will have to find homes for all your babies or keep them yourself.
Local pet shops may take your unwanted Hamsters but don’t bank on this. Check with them as they may already have a surplus to requirement. There may be others in your area breeding Hamsters.
We think that owning and caring for Pet Hamsters can be one of the most rewarding experience that anyone, child or adult, can have.
A pet Hamster does not cost a fortune to buy, house or keep. Best of all they are great little characters.
Hamster Breeding and Mating:
Initiate Hamster breeding by placing a mature female into the male’s cage nightly during estrus. Estrus is the period of time when a female Hamster will mate with a male and lasts roughly 12 hours.
You will know the female is receptive if she stretches and splays her legs when you stroke her back. Estrus typically takes place at night and the pair may be lightly combative at the onset.
If fighting continues for more than a few minutes or seems particularly rough remove the female and wait a day or two before trying again. Keeping an eye on the pair from a distance or remotely via camera is recommended.
If mating occurs you can safely leave the pair together until morning, if not it’s best to separate them and try another day.
Hamster Pregnancy and Gestation:
The female Hamster will appear pregnant 2 weeks after mating. Placing the mating cage in a quiet, isolated location is recommended because Hamsters easily become stressed. Her interests may shift from running on her wheel to eating and resting during pregnancy.
Nesting and grooming behavior increases before giving birth and the female may seem restless or startle easily. Gestational duration varies slightly by Hamster type but expect a litter 18 to 22 days after mating.
Baby Hamster Birth and Litter Size:
Baby Hamsters are called pups. A typical Hamster litter will be 6 to 8 pups in size but can be as small as 3 and as many as 12 pups in size depending on breed. Pups are typically born a few minutes apart but may be up to 30 minutes apart as the female cleans the nest between births.
Allow mother to take care of her babies umbilical cord and adopt a hands off approach as much as possible. Do not open the cage or handle the babies until they are 2 weeks of age, unless necessary.
If mother feels threatened in any way there is a chance she cannibalizes one or more of her pups. This can happen anyway so reduce the chance by leaving the litter alone.
Caring for Hamster Babies:
Baby Hamsters are born toothless and without hair until they reach 11 to 14 days in age. Mother will feed her litter at first until the babies begin drinking water (14 days) and eating food between (16-21 days) on their own.
Pups will behave as a group and eat, sleep and play at the same time. Successful Hamster weaned occurs after 3 weeks and sexual maturity is reached between 6-7 weeks of age.
To determine a Hamster’s sex hold them gently but firmly on their back in the palm of your hand with their back feet slightly higher than the front. They may struggle as you examine their genital area so hold them just above a table or hard surface to minimize the chance of being hurt by a fall.
The genital opening of a female Hamster is next to her anus while a male’s genital opening will be a small distance away, roughly the width of your finger. Male Hamster testes become visible as two hairless pink lumps on each side of the anus after roughly 5 weeks of age.
Signs of Hamster Trouble:
The female Hamster will instinctively know what to do during and after pregnancy so the less you involve yourself the better. It may be tempting to watch closely or bring the kids around but if you do this you need to be extra careful not to do anything which might make the mother feel threatened in any way. The simple act of opening her cage or touching her pups may cause mother to eat one or more of her young as a result.
This happens by instinct and is done to give the remaining pups a better chance at survival. Your best intentions may backfire so a hands off approach for at least two weeks before and after birth is recommended. Before breeding ask your vet what type of complications are common with your specific breed.
Tips for a Positive Outcome:
Bring mom to the vet for a prenatal checkup before mating. Avoid stressing mom as much as possible from mating until two weeks after delivery. Don’t change the bedding during this time. Have a second water bottle available to quickly swap with the first so that you don’t have to return twice.
Practice adding food to the Hamster’s bowl through the side of the cage, without opening the door. Use a cage big enough to allow a private area that is largely out of sight. Don’t move or otherwise disturb the litter unless absolutely necessary.
A small camera outside the cage is better than a big human next to it if you’d like to monitor the process. Trust that mother Hamster knows what she is doing. When in doubt call a vet, otherwise enjoy your Hamster miracle!
How to Care for a Baby Hamster
Caring for a mother and baby Hamster is fairly easy. Firstly, you should not touch the baby Hamsters until they have emerged from the nest.
It is best not to clean the cage out or make sudden loud noises near the hamster cage for a week or so after the babies are born, as this may stress the new mother. It is not unknown for stressed new mothers to kill or even eat their new babies.
While there is not much difference in caring for Hamster babies versus adults, you will find some differences. If you raise Hamsters, it is important to know the proper care so you will have a cute, healthy, and loving pet. Most people do not think of Hamsters as being cuddly pets but in actuality, they are and in fact, when raising Hamster babies, the way you treat them will help determine their personality and behavior as adults.
For starters, the official name of Hamster babies is pups. When born, the babies are extremely tiny, pink, they have no hair, and their eyes are closed. Obviously, when first born, Hamsters are not much to look at and until they are a few weeks old, they will stick very closely to the mother.
Mother Hamsters Eat Their Babies
The most important thing to remember is that you should never handle Hamster babies for a minimum of two weeks, which could cause the mother to turn against them. When the mother smells human scent, she might think that the babies are foreign and not her little ones so avoid picking them up or even touching them at all cost.
Sadly, some mothers will eat the Hamster babies, which might be just one, or all of them. As humans, we find this difficult to handle but we need to remember that they are acting as nature made them so if a mother does not accept her pups, you cannot do anything about it. After all, when they are so tiny, caring for them would be impossible in that they need very special care of the mom.
The Hamster babies will remain huddled in a close group after being born and to keep them safe, the mother will often pick them up and move them to a new location within the cage from time to time. For this reason, once you know your mother Hamster is getting close to giving birth, you want to provide her with a clean cage, extra bedding, and even a private box where she can take them to reduce stress, if needed.
When Can You Hold Baby Hamsters
Once the Hamster babies are about two weeks old and if the mother does not seem overly protective or stressed, you could at that time start to hold them but only for a minute in that their skin is still very sensitive. You would also want to clean the cage again to make sure mother and pups have clean, soft bedding and fresh food and water.
Baby Hamsters Nutrition
Just as with humans, Hamster babies will nurse off the mother so providing her with a nutritional diet, special snacks, and clean water daily is essential. Then around two weeks old, most of the pups will begin to learn how to drink from the water bottle in the cage so make sure the nozzle is lowered enough so they can reach it.
To ensure the babies have adequate hydration, place a few slices of fresh cucumber in a bowl daily but never set a bowl of water in the cage, which could accidentally drown the babies if they were to fall in.
They will venture out of the nest when quite small and start exploring and looking for (soft) solid food. At this time leave a couple of little pieces of cooked (unsalted) pasta or raw (washed) broccoli florets. The babies will need their mother’s milk less and less and at four weeks they are fully weaned.
Safe Area for Baby Hamster
Keep an eye on the baby Hamsters, especially early explorers to make sure they do not get stranded in the equipment. If your cage has a wheel or other single entry accessories, it is worth keeping an eye on the early explorers to make sure they do not get stranded in the equipment.
If the pregnant Hamster and father Hamster have been living together as a couple before and during the pregnancy without fighting, it should fine to leave the new father in with the mother and new litter.
The male baby Hamsters should be removed from their mother before they are six weeks old. Female babies can be left with a solitary mother indefinitely so long as she will tolerate them but must be removed before they are six weeks old as well if the father is cohabiting with the mother hamster. Unless of course you want a pregnant Hamster again!
Finally, around three weeks of age, you would begin to move the hamster babies from the mother, putting them in a different cage. It is important to watch for fighting and if you see any, you may need to separate the babies from one another too. Additionally, if you find that one or more of the Hamster babies becomes stressed from being taken from the mother, allow those to stay with her for a few more days or another week.