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The Reckless Breeder

‘This post is dedicated to all the ‘little dudes’ of the world who ain’t got a choice and gotta depend on humans to make that choice for them hopefully the right choice.’

Hey comrades. The dictionary definition of the word ‘reckless’ is a lack of thought about the danger or other possible consequences of an action. Let me break down that definition in simpler terms and relate it to breeding. It means that if a person sets out to mate two hamsters and if that same person ain’t educated in the basic facts of hamsters and their care and all the details involved in breeding and if that same person buys hamsters from a ‘pet store’ without knowing the ‘genetic backgrounds’ and ‘bloodlines’ of both the male and female then that same person is in my mind a ‘reckless’ breeder.

I started using the word ‘reckless’ because I think it works better than ‘amateur/beginner’. All breeders begin as ‘amateur/beginner’ breeders and in time go on to become ‘reputable’ pro breeders but ‘reckless’ breeders ain’t the same as ‘amateur/beginner’ breeders. A ‘reckless’ breeder flies blind into unexplored territory where he/she ain’t got no business being there in the first place. When it comes to the serious responsibility of breeding hamsters and yeah even breeding hamsters is a serious responsibility the fact is all the knowledge that a brain can hold concerning the little dudes ain’t enough. It’s a start but it still ain’t enough. To breed ‘responsibly’ and not ‘recklessly’ the breeding pair should be of good breeding stock and the ‘genetic backgrounds’ and ‘bloodlines’ of both the male and female is important info to know and that’s why the breeding pair needs to be obtained from a ‘reputable’ breeder who can supply that vital info and not from the average ‘pet store’ because typically the average ‘pet store’ ain’t got a clue concerning the ‘genetic histories’ in fact half the time the average ‘pet store’ can’t even determine the genders of the hamsters let alone the ‘genetic histories’. A good example of why the ‘genetic backgrounds’ and ‘bloodlines’ are extremely important to know is in the case of the ‘Campbells’ dwarf hamster.

A ‘Campbells’ is at a high risk to develop diabetes and the diabetic tendency is passed from one generation into the next. A good way to stop the widespread occurrence of diabetic Campbells is to stop breeding ‘Campbells’ with ‘unknown’ genetic histories. It don’t make sense to risk breeding ‘Campbells’ with ‘unknown’ genetic histories and to take the chance that as the pups develop and grow that at some point they will be subjected to a life full of complications from the devastating affects of diabetes that will also in the end more than likely result in a shortened life span. Bottom line. Before an attempt to breed is made equip yourself with knowledge and learn from the knowledge of those who got experience and then go buy a breeding pair from a ‘reputable’ breeder emphasis on the word ‘reputable’ and be prepared emotionally and financially to deal with all the potential problems that can happen when things go wrong with the litter of pups because even hamsters of good breeding stock and even hamsters with ‘known’ genetic histories can still produce unhealthy litters.

Breeding ain’t a game. Breeding is a serious responsiblity. Don’t fly blind. Enter the breeding world at your own risk and then proceed with extreme caution. The Rebel is over and out.

Return to Hamsterama.

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Lettuce

(Yeah it’s true that lettuce seems like a healthy choice to a feed a hamster and in fact many people give the little dudes lettuce on a regular basis as a supplement to their diet. There are three things to keep in mind concerning lettuce.

  1. Lettuce actually ain’t got too much nutritional value
  2. Excessive lettuce can cause diarrhea
  3. Studies show that excessive lettuce can lead to liver disease

Adding it up in my mind lettuce ain’t a good idea to feed a hamster. At the same time if you still feel the need to feed your little dude lettuce after reading this post first off ‘limit’ the amount and second don’t choose ‘Iceberg’ lettuce choose ‘Romaine’ lettuce. Even though both types of lettuce got a high water content ‘Romaine’ is the better choice because in the world of lettuce the fact is the ‘darker’ the leaf the more nutritional value there is so it makes more sense to use ‘Romaine’. In fact ‘humans’ can also benefit by eating ‘Romaine’ lettuce as opposed to ‘Iceberg’ lettuce. Personally my choice for my little dudes is no lettuce but hey do what you gotta do. The Rebel is over and out.)

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Fact or Fiction

Fact or Fiction?
With so many sources offering conflicting advice about hamsters, it’s difficult to know what’s right and wrong. Here Hamsterama aims to settle any disputes into facts and fiction.

The Facts

-Dwarves can be kept in groups
This is true. Dwarf hamsters are very sociable animals, and thrive in pairs and colonies. It is however recommended that a colony/pair is made up of littermates, as dwarves that have known each other from birth are more likely to get along.

-At 28 days of age hamsters can become sexually mature
Just when you thought they were still babies themselves, they go and have their own babies. Hamsters mature at a remarkably young age, so hamsters should be separated into different sexes before this age. If you are breeding, you should wait until the female is at least 3 months old before any mating happens. An immature and inexperienced mother is likely to eat her litter and die younger due to the strains of giving birth at such a young age.

-Hamsters can be neutered
It is possible to neuter a hamster. But since they are so small, the operation can be tricky, and there’s always the risk that the anesthetic will kill them so neutering is not really recommended. It’s far better to get two same sex hamsters than getting a male and a female and neutering one of them.

-Syrian hamsters have the shortest gestation period of any mammal
Absolutely. Syrian hamsters are pregnant for only 16 days. The babies are born naked with their eyes shut, but are weaned at around only 28 days old. Dwarf hamsters are pregnant for a little longer than Syrians, with pregnancies lasting between 19-21 days. The exceptions of the dwarves are the Roborovskis, who have a gestation period of 30 days.

-All hamsters can suffer from ‘Wet tail’
‘Wet tail’ is characterized by watery diarrhea from the anus. (See the health pages for more information.) It is commonly thought that only Syrians can suffer from ‘Wet tail’, but actually dwarves are at risk too. If you suspect your hamster has ‘Wet tail’ take it to the vet immediately as an untreated hamster will usually die within 48 hours.
The Fiction

Wire wheels are perfectly safe
They are absolutely not safe. When running on a wheel with gaps between the spokes, your hamster’s feet could become trapped, causing it serious injury. If you have a wire wheel, weave cardboard between the spokes until you can buy a solid wheel.
Absolutely not safe.
Hamsters love having a bath
Splashing around in the water may sound like fun to you, but to a hamster, it’s a nightmare. They are aqua phobic, (scared of water) and if given a bath, they would become very cold quickly. They may also develop pneumonia as a result of the cold. If your hamster smells, it is because you are not cleaning the cage often enough. As an alternative ‘bath’ you can provide a bowl of chinchilla sand (not chinchilla dust as it causes respiratory problems) for them to roll around in.

Lettuce is good for hamsters
Lettuce may seem like a perfectly healthy and nutritional treat. However, lettuce does not have that much nutritional value. Also, it has been shown that excessive feeding of lettuce can lead to diarrhea and liver problems, For further details on lettuce, see ‘Romaine vs. Iceberg‘ by Alex a.k.a Rebel 226

A hamster chewing on the cage bars is perfectly normal and is totally safe
Although many hamsters chew on the cage bars, it is not safe. Chewing on hard metal bars can cause brain damage and misaligned teeth. Excessive bar chewing can cause the brain to become misaligned, in turn causing brain damage. Likewise, chewing the bars can cause a hamsters teeth to break, which will make them misaligned. Misaligned teeth will need regular trimming to keep them the right length. If a hamsters teeth break off, they will be different lengths. Left untreated, they will grow up into the brain, eventually killing the hamster.
Bar chewing is sometimes caused by boredom, so take plenty of time to play with your hamster, and provide plenty of toys. Swap the toys around regularly to stop your hamsters’ environment from becoming monotonous. As an alternative to chewing the bars, provide fruit tree branches (make sure they have not been treated with pesticides) or wooden chews. However, many hamsters will not want to chew on the wood. As an alternative to wooden chews, many hamsters prefer to chew on unflavoured dog biscuits. However, even after all this; if your hamster still continues to chew on the cage bars, it is in your hamsters’ best interests to move it to a barless or aquarium type cage.

All dwarves bite
If I had a penny for every time someone said ‘all dwarf hamsters bite’ I’d be a rich person. Biting varies from hamster to hamsters. Many dwarves do not bite at all, and some are even tamer than Syrians. Dwarves make just as good pets as Syrians, and with regular handling they can become very sweet little animals. (See the taming page for tips on taming your hamster)

Syrians can be kept together, so long as they are littermates
This is not true at all. Syrians, regardless of gender or whether they are littermates cannot be kept together after they reach maturity (6 weeks.) After this age, they will not tolerate the presence of any other hamster and will fight until one of the hamsters is dead. Syrians are one of the few animals who are totally solitary.

Hamsters do not need a wheel if they have a large cage and plenty of toys
All hamsters should be given a wheel, regardless of the size of the cage. It is absolutely essential to prevent them becoming obese. Make sure the hamster does not have to arch its back on the wheel. (If the hamster has to arch its back when it runs, the wheel is too small and should be replaced with a larger one.)

If a hamster gets wet, put it in a microwave or dry it with a hairdryer
A hamster should never get wet anyway, since they are aqua phobic and should never be given a bath. However, if the water bottle has leaked etc, dry the hamster with a towel and keep it warm. Hamsters can get pneumonia very easily.

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About

Hamstarama was run by two hamster lovers called Trixy and Harriet. They both adore hamsters, and it is this adoration that has driven them to make this website. Both Trixy and Harriet are very experienced with hamsters.
Harriet has had 5 hamsters, and Trixy has had more than 20. Trixy currently has 11 hamsters: blue, pinky, mingle, joshua, jay jay, tiny jaffa, gracie, little mo, barry, robyn. . Harriet currently has no hamsters since Justin (who is one of Blue’s babies from her first litter.) passed away

Note: This is an archived page. The current Hamsterama can be found here.

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FAQ

I’m getting a hamster. What kind should I get?
Thats entirely up to you. Read the hamster page on this site to find out a bit more about the different species. Hamsterama’s personal favourites are the dwarves.

One or two?
If you’re getting a Syrian, remember that they are solitary animals and should never be housed with another hamster. They will always fight, and sooner or later one of them will be killed by the other. If you get dwarves its best to keep them in pairs or small groups, as they are sociable animals who like company. Remember to make sure they are the same sex, or you’ll end up with a litter of unexpected babies.

Can I keep two dwarf hamsters of different species together?
This rarely works, even if the two are both young when introduced. Keep the same species together. This works best if the pair are litter mates or are introduced at a very young age.

I think my hamster might be pregnant! How can I tell?
It is very difficult to tell. She will only look more fat than usual about 2 days before giving birth. She may be building a nest and will usually be more active than usual. Dwarves are pregnant for around 19-21 days (Syrians only 16 days) so the best thing to do is to wait and see! See the breeding page for more information.

How many babies do hamsters have in a litter?
Dwarves generally have between 4 and 6 in a liter, although 7 and 8 are not uncommon. Syrians also tend to have between 4 and 7 babies, but can have as many as 17 in a litter.

My hamster’s nails are looking quite long. How do I go about trimming them?
Hamster’s nails generally start to look quite long and overgrown once they reach an advanced age and they should not need them clipping regularly like many other animals. Hamsters (and humans for that matter) have what is known as a ‘quick’ in their nail. The end of the nail will be white, whilst nearer the foot, the nail will be a pinkish colour. Take a pair of baby nail clippers and cut just below the pink line. If you cut above the quick, the nail will bleed. If you’re not confident, you may want to ask the vet to clip your hamster’s nails for the first time. That way you can observe how to do it should they ever need doing again.

My hamster has escaped and I’ve no idea where he is! Help!

Hamsters can be regular little escape artists, but don’t fret, hamsterama has the perfect solution. The first thing you should do is close all the doors, and get any other animals such as cats or dogs out of the house if possible. Put piles of your hamsters usual food mix in the corner of each room. Observe which pile of food gets eaten to determine which room your hamster is in. Once you know which room he is in, you can trap him. Take a bucket and put some bedding and some strong smelling food (such as cheese or cabbage) inside. Then, using books, build steps up to the top of the bucket. The hamster should clamber up to the top, smell the delicious food and fall in, but not be able to get out!

Help! I think my hamster might have something stuck in her cheek pouch! How can I get it out?

This is a problem one of my hamsters experienced in the past. (He had managed to fill his pouch with bedding and sunflower seeds. This would have been easily removed by himself if he had not ‘corked’ this in with a rather large peanut!)

First make sure that whatever is in the cheek pouch is actually stuck. (Sometimes dwarves have their pouches full constantly, emptying and refilling in between.) This will be characterised by a large lump in one cheek pouch. The hamster may constantly be trying to remove things from his pouch, but to no avail. The hamster may also appear lethargic, due to difficulties eating and drinking.

Getting the stuck object out is a 4 handed job! Get somebody to hold your hamster upside down, then take a wet cotton bud and use it to gently push out the object. You may find it easy to push the object forward, then remove it using a pair of tweezers. Be careful not to scrape the insides of the hamsters mouth. The cheek pouches have a delicate lining which is easily lacerated. Leaving objects stuck in your hamster’s pouch may cause it difficulties when it tries to eat and drink. Stuck objects may also cause the hamster problems with its eyes. However, do not attempt to remove any object unless you are sure it has become lodged, as removing it may be quite stressful for the hamster.

I’ve got 2 dwarves in the same cage who are always fighting. Should I separate them?
When two or more dwarves are kept together, fighting is usually a fairly common occurance. This is part of their normal play and should not be interfered with. In my opinion, fighting hamsters should only be separated if the fight results in any blood being shed by either hamster. This is defined as serious fighting.

If your hamsters do seem to fight, keep in mind that many fights occur through lack of space and food. Fights can also occur where hamsters are establishing the dominant hamster in a pairing or colony.
Remember, if your hamsters are Syrians, they should NEVER be kept together. They will always fight, whatever the circumstances. They should be separated immediately, as the fighting will always eventually lead to death.

What is the maximum number of dwarves I can keep together?
Virtually limitless. Dwarves are generally very happy to live in colonies as they are very sociable animals. The only limits on numbers is the amount of space available. Remember to keep the same sexes together. Pet shop staff should be able to help you with this. If you are having difficulty sexing your hamsters, take a look at the ‘Male or Female‘ page.

I heard that dwarves do better when they have company. I’ve got a dwarf but he lives on his own. Should I get him a friend?
A hamster that has become used to living on its own will not usually tolerate the addition of a new cage mate. The hamster will have established itself in its new home, and will recognise this as its own territory. Adding a new hamster to your existing hamster will be stressful for both. If you have bought your hamster very recently, it may be a good idea to see if you would be able to pair it up with one of its littermates. Remember to get the same sex though.

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Taming

Hamster keep nipping you? Can’t pick it up? Dwarf hamsters can become untamed if they are not handled regularly. This can often be the case with dwarves that have come from a pet shop, as most of the staff simply do not have the time to play with the hamsters.
The first thing you should know about taming your hamster is that you should always allow them a few days to settle in before you try to handle them. New hamsters are generally very nervous when you try to hold them for the first time. Think about it, your hand reaching into the cage is massive compared to the size of the hamster! You would be pretty scared too! Just follow the guide below and you and your hamster will be best friends in no time! But remember to persist in taming your hamster, it may bite you several times before it will allow you to pick it up.

  1. Always wash your hands before handling your hamster. If your hands smell of food the hamster may mistake you for a tasty snack and try to bite you!
  2. The first step is to actually pick up your hamster. In most cases, this is easier said than done! Try scooping it up in a cup or tube. Once on your hand, hamsters will not usually bite.
  3. When your hamster is on your hand, slowly lift it out of the cage. Sit on the floor and let your hamster familiarise itself with you. Offer it treats and talk to it reassuringly. Try to avoid making loud noises and sudden movements, the hamster is nervous enough!
  4. Offer your hamster a treat, such as a small piece of apple or grape. This will build up trust between you and the hamster, and it will learn to associate you with food.
  5. Continue to pick up your hamster playing with it and offering it treats for about 2 weeks. Do this every day for about 20 minutes.
  6. Now comes the real test of your hamster training abilities. Try laying your hand flat on the floor of the cage. Your hamster will probably sniff you and make several attempts to eat you. Be patient. Let your hamster explore your hand, and if it sits on your hand, lift it out of the cage, then put it back down again. Continue to do this, and the hamster will learn to associate your hand with coming out of the cage for a run around and a treat. If your hamster sits on your hand as soon as you put it in the cage, this is a good sign- you are a master hamster trainer!

Always remember not to wake your hamster up to play with it. Hamsters are nocturnal creatures, and they will not like it if you wake them up whilst they are in a deep sleep! Wait for your hamster to wake up in it’s own time, and give it a chance to go to the toilet, eat and drink before you play with it.

Once Syrians become tame, they are typically tame for life and will remain that way even if they are not handled regularly. However, dwarves need regular handling to prevent them from going ‘wild.’

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Health

Hamsters are generally very healthy little animals who will live a long and happy life if properly cared for. Below are a list of some health issues which a hamster may suffer from. However, hamsterama are not vets, so if you are seriously concerned, you should consult a vet.

teeth
If a hamster is not given suitable gnawing material, its teeth will become long and overgrown. Since hamsters’ teeth are constantly growing, it is necessary to provide them with wooden toys and chews to help wear the teeth down. Hamsters will also appreciate unflavoured dog biscuits. If a hamster’s teeth become very overgrown, ir may affect them to the point that they cannot eat. In these cases, it is necessary to get a vet to clip the teeth down. Also, a hamster may occasionally break a tooth off. In these cases, a vets help will be required to trim its opposite number so it does not become too long. The teeth should then eventually even out.

cheek pouches
Hamsters are able to divide the mouth into two by drawing a fold of skin into the gap between the front and back teeth. The cheek pouches are separate from the mouth, and are used by the hamster to carry and transport food. The cheek pouches have a very delicate lining which is easily lacerated by sharp objects like straw and sharp seeds which should be avoided. If an object does become lodged in your hamsters cheek pouch, it is easily removed at home. See the FAQ page for more info.

claws
Hamster’s nails generally start to look quite long and overgrown once they reach an advanced age and they should not need them clipping regularly like many other animals.
Hamsters (and humans for that matter) have what is known as a ‘quick’ in their nail. The end of the nail will be white, whilst nearer the foot, the nail will be a pinkish colour. Take a pair of baby nail clippers and cut just below the pink line. If you cut above the quick, the nail will bleed. If you’re not confident, you may want to ask the vet to clip your hamster’s nails for the first time. That way you can observe how to do it should they ever need doing again.

wet tail
Wet tail is a disease suffered by hamsters which is dreaded by those that own a large hamstery. It is a highly infectious disease believed to be associated with stress. The obvious characteristic of Wet tail is watery diarrhoea from the anus. This makes the fur around the tail and lower back constantly wet. A hamster with Wet tail will typically be lethargic, and may also sit hunched. Should you suspect your hamster of having Wet tail, isolate them from any other hamsters, and keep the cage clean. Vetinary attention should be sought immediately as the hamster will usually die within 48 hours of contracting the disease. It is important to make sure the cage is well ventilated. If you want to use the hamsters cage again, it is important to throughly clean it with diluted bleach. Although dwarves very rarely get Wet tail, it is fairly common in Syrians.

wounds
Occasionally hamsters will get wounded, may it be by another hamster or by some kind of accident. Bathe any wound with a suitable antiseptic solution, and make sure the cage remains clean at all times. If the wounds are deep or slow to heal, consult a vet. If the wound was caused by another hamster, it is usually in the hamsters’ best interest to be separated. If a fight results in any blood, the hamsters’ next fight could result in death. For more information on fighting, see the FAQ page.

abcesses
Abscesses usually happen as the result of an infected wound. The abcess should be bathed with a suitable mild antiseptic solution, especially if there is a discharge. A vet should be consulted in the case of serious abcesses, especially those that take a long time to heal.

eyes
Inflammation of the eyes may be caused by an irritant, especially if you are using sawdust (switch to wood shavings). Other irritants could be sand, grit and dust. Irritants may lead to Conjunctivitis so a vet should be consulted in the early stages. Sometimes hamsters fail to remove an encrustation around the eyes. This is generally a sign of ageing. Should this happen, take a cotton wool ball, run it in warm water, wring it out and bathe the area around the eye.

fur loss
Fur loss is a sign of ageing in older hamsters. The ears go bald first, followed by the hamster’s underside and bottom. Hair loss can also be caused by parasites.

parasites
A hamster suffering from parasites is generally recognisable as it usually shows symptoms such as fur loss, scaly skin, and may scratch constantly. As hamsters should NEVER be bathed in water, the only thing to do is contact a vet, who will prescribe drugs or administer an injection.

colds/pneumonia
Always keep your hamster’s cage in a draught proof spot. If your hamster is exposed to draughts, it may catch a cold, which could turn into the more serious pneumonia. A hamster with a cold will be lethargic, have an unkempt coat, and will have a discharge from the eyes and nose. Put the hamster’s cage close to a radiator, and take the hamster to the vet as soon as possible.

broken limbs
Hamsters may occasionally break a leg after a fall from a great height. Keep the hamster in a cage without its wheel or any toys that it may climb on until the leg has healed (2-3 weeks).

diarrhoea
The obvious sign of diarrhoea is wet and watery droppings. A healthy hamster will have firm black faeces. Overfeeding with wet vegetables is usually to blame. Leave the hamster without food like lettuce, cucumber or tomatoes until its stomach settles down.

tumours
A tumour on a hamster will appear as a hard lump, which may grow rapidly in size. They can usually be removed by a vet under an anaesthetic. Tumours on internal organs may be difficult to remove, but external tumours are much simpler. Like any small animal, there is a risk that the anaesthetic could kill the hamster, but many hamsters recover well, even elderly ones.
The vet will have a better chance of recovering a tumour if it is caught in the early stages, so as soon as you notice a lump, get your hamster to the vet as soon as possible.

diabetes
Diabetes is quite common in Campbells Russian hamsters but can affect any breed. The symptoms generally start to show between 6 and 9 months and the disease is thought to be inherited. Things that set off diabetes can be: Stress, diets, or even a dirty cage. The symptoms are; excessive drinking, urinating and sometimes eating, Abnormal body temperature (can be warmer or colder than usual) and sometimes shaking and trembling. If you think your hamster has these symptoms then it would be wise to seek the help of your vet. Some vets don’t deal well with small animals such as hamsters so it may be an idea to go to your local small animal vet, which will specialise in the field of hamsters. However even if you do find a vet who knows what they’re talking about where hamsters are concerned there is no cure as such for diabetes. The length and happiness of the life of your hamster can be improved however.

As the hamster becomes dehydrated more easily your vet can prescribe a solution of unflavoured pedialyte, which you give the hamster via their water bottle.
If they recommend a sugar free diet for your hamster the things to avoid feeding them are: grapes, high sugar treats, and anything you thing would have high sugar content.
The things that should be fed to your hamster are: A good seed mix, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, and things along those lines. If there is any further information required please log onto our message board and talk to us there. Please remember though Hamsterama aren’t vets.

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Male or Female

If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be very difficult to sex hamsters, especially if they’re babies. Male hamsters have 2 vents (holes) underneath them. These will be approx 1cm apart. On adult male hamsters the testicles will also be obvious. Female hamsters also have 2 vents underneath, however, these vents will be very close together, in fact sometimes so close together that they look like one.

You may find it easy to observe what sex your hamster is by putting it in a clear glass bowl. That way you can look at the underneath of your hamster.

Return to Hamsterama.

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Breeding

This page is not about how to mate your hamsters, rather what to do should your two females turn out to be one of each or you bring home a pregnant female. If you are considering breeding, read ‘The Reckless Breeder‘ by Alex aka Rebel 226

The information on this page is the information I gathered when my two Campbell’s ‘females’ had babies. I had in fact got one of each. At the time I had no idea how to sex hamsters. I didn’t need to know! Then about 2 months after I bought the hamsters I ended up with a litter of 4 babies. And since I could not take either adult hamster out of the cage(this would have left my scent on the hamsters) I could not determine which was the male and which was the female, and they ended up having a second litter. Thankfully, after the first litter of babies had been weaned, I successfully sexed and separated the male and the female, just before seven new babies came along.

All too often, people are sold 2 ‘males’ or 2 ‘females’ which turn out to be one of each. This is usually because pet shop staff do not know how to sex hamsters, or are too afraid of receiving a bite that they will select any two hamsters regardless of sex.

The following information should help if you ever end up with a litter of surprise hamsters. It may also be helpful to check your hamsters sex. See the ‘male or female‘ page.

One of the first things you should know on discovering babies, is that you should not touch them. If you touch them, the mother will smell your scent, which will make her insecure. Insecure hamsters are likely to cannibalise their babies if they feel they are under threat. Try to avoid making any loud noises (such as hoovering) near the cage for at least 2 weeks as this will also make the mother feel insecure.

If at all possible, the father should be removed from the cage. I know now that the mother will be the one doing most of the caring for the babies, and the father will generally not help. Howvever, some sources do say that the father should be left with the mother, as he will help by babysitting. However, I have found that he is more likely to cannibalise the litter than babysit them. It is also worth knowing that the father will mate the mother again less than 24 hours after she has given birth. This leads to many litters in quick succession. If at all possible, hamsters should be given at least 3 months resting time between litters, and should generally not have more than 3 litters in a lifetime. However, if the male is left in the cage with the female, it is likely that she may have up to 10 litters during her fertile year, which could mean more than 80 babies, since the average litter is about 7/8.

Do not clean the cage out until the babies are at least 14 days old, and have opened their eyes. However, if some disaster should occur, such as a leaking water bottle, try to scoop out as much of the wet shavings as possible, without disturbing mother and babies too much.

The following is a guide on what you should do with baby hamsters:

DAY 1-7 Leave the cage well alone. Do not touch mother, father, babies or the nest. (Babies and nest cannot be touched until at least day 14.) Only go in the cage to change food and water.
DAY 8 Give mother and babies some fruit or vegetable high in moisture such as cucumber, carrot or apple. This will prevent them from becoming dehydrated. The babies will now be trying to wander around outside the nest, put their mother will return them to the nest.
DAY 9 Let the female have a break from motherhood. Take her out of the cage for 5 minutes. Play with her and offer her some treats.
DAY 10 The babies should now be trying to eat the basic hamster mix. Continue to provide them with cucumber/carrot/apple.
DAY 11 The babies should now be starting to use the water bottle and still trying to wander around on their own, although still blind. By this age, the babies markings and coulourings will be apparent.
DAY 12 The babies eyes should be beginning to open by day 12-14
DAY 13 Continue to offer fruit/vegetable and check that all the babies have found the water bottle and can use it.
DAY 14 The babies should now have their eyes open. Wait until all the babies have their eyes open, then you can touch them for the first time and clean the cage out. The babies may be a bit nervous about being handled at first and may be a bit jumpy. Make sure you handle them over the cage in case they decide to jump!
DAY 15-21 You can continue to play with the babies and offer them fruit and vegetables. By day 21 they are fully weaned, although it is advisable to leave them with the mother until 28 days old. However, if mum is expecting or has had a new litter, remove the older litter or the mother is likely to attack them.

After taking babies away from their mother at 21/28 days, it is advisable to keep them for at least another week before they go to their new home. This is so you can check that they are healthy. It is also a good idea to separate the sexes at around 28 days old since they can become sexually mature at this time.