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Hamster Care
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Pregnancy and birth

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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 wild).

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 moisture food.

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.

Related Articles:
Sexing hamsters
Breeding hamsters


Thanks and acknowledgements:
The photograph featured on this page is used with permission from
AAA Hamsters

References:


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