Caring for a pregnant hamster (in depth)
Philippine Hamster Keepers does NOT support unethical breeding. Breeding requires deep understanding and knowledge about proper hamster care, genetics and their behavior. This guide is designed to fully understand what we can do with a pregnant hamster.
- Pups – Hamster babies.
- Pinkies / Pinkish – Babies that are pink in color. They are usually 1-4 days old. Sometimes called jelly beans or gummy bears
- Litter – Term used to call the set of babies
- Gestation – How long a hamster is pregnant
- Culling – Mother hamsters will kill and eat their offspring if they feel threatened. This is normal, and you should not intervene.
Signs of a pregnant hamster:
- Nest building – Mother hamster starts building their nest in preparation for her babies. The nest helps the babies to keep warm and grouped together.
- Pear shaped body – You will notice that the shape of their body looks like a pear. They will also have significant weight gain.
- Nipples – Their nipples will show more and will be more obvious.
- Aggressive – They can start to become more aggressive. This is a maternal instinct behavior, common to pregnant hamsters. (but not always).
- Food Hoarding – They hoard more food than usual.
Syrian hamsters have a gestation period of 16 days, while Dwarf hamsters have 18-21 days.
Preparation for labor
Pregnant hamsters must be physically ready to give birth. They need higher protein to support their babies. (But not too much because this may cause the hamster to have a hard time giving birth.) AFTER giving birth, provide protein-rich food to help mother hamsters regain strength.
Suggested food that are rich in protein:
- Malunggay Leaves (fresh)
- Chicken Breast (White lean meat, unseasoned)
- Boiled egg (unseasoned)
BEORE giving birth, please make sure of the following:
- Cage is cleaned at least 5 days before they give birth. (retain a small portion of the old beddings so that they won’t get stressed out).
- Add additional nesting materials such as shredded tissue and more beddings.
- Remove any toys, sand pit, litter box, accessories, and wheels that may endanger the babies.
- Separate the male hamster from the pregnant hamster.
When they are born
Hamsters commonly cull their babies. Here are the common reasons behind it:
- If the mother feels threatened and stressed out.
- Mother abandons their babies. (common in first time mothers, not matured enough)
- If they smell new scent on their babies, they think that it is not theirs.
- If the baby is weak or has physical problems. (usually if the mother is not prepared or too young for breeding)
- Lack of nutrients and protein. They eat the weakest babies to give more nutrients for the others.
When they cull their babies, never interfere. They are in the best position to know what to do with their babies. Mother knows best.
What we should NOT do when they are born:
- Never touch the babies or the mother.
- Do not peek often.
- Never disturb the mother.
About 5-6 days, pups will start showing patches on their skin. After 8 days, they will start eating food from the nest and sometimes poop– this is normal. We can start giving the babies some cucumber for hydration. After 10 days, you will notice them exploring the cage, escaping their nest. After 14-18 days, their eyes will start to open. Once their eyes open, you can start touching and handling them. Also during this time, you can start cleaning your cage.
Syrian pups are weaned at 3 weeks of age. (meaning they will stop drinking milk from their mother) At this age, they will start to play rough with their siblings. (this is normal and okay). Separate baby Syrians from their mother or siblings when they are 6 weeks old. Syrians must be separated by gender as early as 4 weeks old to prevent them from breeding at an early age. Same gender Syrians can be housed together till 2 months of age. (Syrian hamsters are solitary.)
For Roborovski hamsters, they are also weaned at 3 weeks of age. However, they should not be separated from their mother. Robos should spend an additional 1-2 weeks with their mum to ensure that they learn how to “hamster,” ie. nesting, hoarding, burrowing, etc. Different gender robos cannot be housed together when they are 5 weeks up (to avoid the risk of inbreeding and early pregnancy). While same gender robos can be housed together (they are social species but always have an extra cage and be ready if a fight breaks out).
If you think you need to rehome your hamsters, we have an adoption arm that can foster them and find them new homes when they are ready for rehoming. Please message Hamdoption Ph on Facebook if you wish to rehome them. Hamdoption Ph will ensure that the hamsters will be rehomed to responsible owners.