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.

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