Choosing a Cage
Handling and taming
Pregnancy and birth
Pregnancy & Birth
Syrian mama overlooking her babies.
Make a note of the date your hamsters mated because the gestation period
usually takes only 16-21 days. Keep the female hamster well nourished, and add
more proteins (such as carrots, nuts and chopped hard boiled egg) to her
normal diet. High moisture food will also keep her milk supply good. The
female should not be held much during this time, especially in the late stages
of her pregnancy. Her cage should be cleaned 3 or 4 days before the litter is
due, and she should have plenty of bedding to make a large nest.
You should separate the Syrian male hamster to prevent either one or both
parents from killing the babies. The male Campbell Russian dwarf hamster need
not be removed as he can help to raise the litter.
New born babies are born blind and hairless and the mother usually cover her
babies. DO NOT TOUCH THE BABIES (known as pups). This changes the scent on the
babies, and confuses the mother. She may not think they are her babies, and
won't care for them properly — she might even eat the babies.
If your hamster does eat some of its young, don't be alarmed. If your hamster
had a large litter, she may get rid of some of the babies because she can take
better care of a smaller number. Your hamster might also eat its young because
of the different conditions of domestication (as opposed to its life in the
You should minimize photography and leave the cage alone. Make sure that the
water bottle or water tray is near the pups and do not create stressful
situations (e.g. inviting all your friends to see the baby or jumping about
near the cage) that may upset the mother hamster. When the babies are around
10 days old, you can give them some finely chopped greens and other high
The weaning age for the babies are about 3-4 weeks. At about the time a
hamster is weaned, it is sexually mature, but should not be bred until optimum
breeding age and weight are reached. Therefore, hamsters should be sexed and
separated early, before their 35th day at the latest. (Hamsters have been
known to breed as early as 28 dys.) Separation prevents brother-sister matings,
and eliminates the possibility of fighting.
Thanks and acknowledgements:
The photograph featured on this page is used with permission from
The alt.pets.hamsters FAQ
A Step-By-Step Book About Hamsters by Anmarie Barrie (T.F.H Publications,1997)