If you have a pregnant hamster, you’ll need to know how to take care of both the mom and her babies (known as pups).
But what do you need to do? Should you touch or feed the babies? We’ve done the research for you and put together a short guide on how to take care of a baby hamster.
When caring for baby hamsters who are still with their mothers, there are two stages:
During the first two weeks after birth, give the mother and babies space, make sure they have plenty to eat and drink and try not to pick up the babies.
2-4 weeks after the babies are born, make sure they grow up healthy and strong and separate the boys from the girls.
Do everything you can to keep the babies with the mother hamster until they are 4 weeks old. Taking care of an orphaned or rejected hamster pup is very hard and rarely ends well.
Taking care of baby hamsters can be hard and take a lot of time and work. In light of this, we’ll tell you more about each step to make sure this process goes smoothly.
So please read on and make sure you know everything you need to help these babies grow up to be healthy adults.
Taking Care of Hamster Babies: The Guide
Take your time and make sure you’re being as careful as you need to be. All we want is for your new hamster babies to grow up healthy, after all.
A word of warning before we start:
Do not try to get your pet hamster pregnant. Only people who are trained to do so should breed hamsters. These breeders are honest and experienced.
They work with specific lines and spend a lot of time and money to make sure their hamster pups are healthy.
Backyard breeding of hamsters is a very bad idea. It can result in –
- Death of your pet hamster and its pups due to pregnancy and birth complications.
- Birth defects and hereditary diseases from breeding the wrong genetic lines.
Also, you’ll have to find good homes for all of the pups, which could be anywhere from 6 to 20 hamsters. Your hamsters deserve that kind of care, and since it’s hard to find, please don’t breed them.
If you bought a pregnant female hamster from a pet store, this guide will tell you how to take care of the baby.
We just wanted to make it clear that we don’t think it’s okay to breed hamsters on purpose when it’s wrong.
Before the Birth
Before the baby is born, both you and the mother hamster may feel a lot of stress.
Really, waiting can be hard on your mind and make you feel all kinds of anxious.
We have a full guide that you should read later, and we’ll link to it again at the end of this post. It’s about how Syrian hamsters get pregnant and give birth.
For now, here’s a quick review.
Depending on the type of hamster, the length of pregnancy can vary:
- Syrians are pregnant for about 16 days
- Dwarfs typically are pregnant from 18-21 days
- Roborovski hamsters can stay pregnant for up to 30 days
Most people have Syrian hamsters, so the average length of pregnancy is just over two weeks.
When the time is getting close, the female hamster will start to save up more food than usual, add more things to the nest, and act more agitated in general.
You should be able to see the bulge just above her hips a few days before she gives birth (easiest to spot when looking from above).
Even though it’s normal for your hamster’s belly to start getting bigger, it could be a sign of a more serious problem like heart failure, liver cysts, or Cushing’s Disease.
If your female hamster hasn’t been with a male hamster in the last 10 days or so, you should take her to the vet if she has gained a lot of weight or is swollen.
Changing the Mother’s Diet
To get ready for giving birth, your hamster’s diet needs to change. Your pregnant hamster should get a little bit more protein and fat from this change.
For example, you should look for hamster food that is between 18 and 20 percent protein and 7 and 10 percent perfect fat.
You can also try giving your hamster treats that are good for it, like carrots, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, greens, etc.
These treats will help make up for the fact that your hamster will now be eating more proteins and fats.
Don’t do too much. If you give her too much rich food, it could not only upset her stomach, but it could also make the fetuses grow too big, making it harder for her to give birth.
How To Tell if Your Hamster is Pregnant?
You can tell that a hamster is pregnant if she appears to have gained weight. A noticeable bulge in her abdomen just over her hips can be seen days before the delivery.
She acts restless and agitated. She hoards more food than usual and begins to add more bedding materials to the nest.
It can be a bit tricky not knowing when the mating took place. Before you know it, the pups are on their way and you are totally unprepared.
Make Your Hamster Feel Comfortable
You can help your hamster take care of its new babies by putting strips of toilet paper or facial tissues in the cage. This will give the nest something soft and clean to sleep on.
You should do this as soon as you find out that your hamster is pregnant, but it’s okay if you don’t know. Most of the time, a pregnant hamster is easy to spot a few days before it gives birth because its stomach is so big. 1
If you just found out that your hamster is pregnant, give it a good cleaning to get ready for the babies. Don’t worry about cleaning the cage for a while after the babies are born.
Leave the mother and babies alone for at least 7 days, especially if the mother has never given birth before. 1 If you have to, you can clean really wet spots, but try not to bother the nest, mother, or babies.
Feeding a Pregnant Hamster
As soon as you realize your hamster is pregnant, make sure she has a good diet with lots of protein.
This diet should be kept up until the babies are old enough to eat solid food on their own.
In addition to a healthy diet, you can give the mom a nutritional boost by giving her small amounts of hard-boiled egg, cooked chicken bits, cheese, and wheat germ.
Also, make sure that it always has clean water.
Separate Your Hamsters
If your pregnant hamster lives with another hamster, you might want to separate them.
This will keep the babies safe and keep the adults from getting into a fight. If you find a male and a female hamster living together, this will also stop them from having more babies.
Give Your Hamster Privacy
Try not to touch the babies at all for at least 7 days. This will be hard.
1 You don’t want to get your scent on the babies or move them for no reason. If you have to move a baby hamster, use a spoon so the baby doesn’t smell like you.
Even if the baby has left the nest, it is rare that you will need to move it. Most of the time, the mother hamster will find any lost babies and bring them back to the nest.
Make feeding and watering time as calm and efficient as you can. Don’t make a lot of noise when you’re in or near the cage so you don’t stress out your hamster.
You can look in the cage every now and then, but you shouldn’t sit and watch the hamsters for long periods of time.
Keep in mind that the mother hamster will be very protective, so it may act more aggressively towards you while you are in the cage.
If you get too close, it might charge at your hand or stand on its back legs.
This is normal and shouldn’t worry you, but you should still avoid getting bitten and putting your hamster through extra stress.
Weaning the Baby Hamsters
About three weeks after they are born, the baby hamsters will be ready to stop eating their mother’s food.
If you have dwarf hamsters, now is the best time to separate the males and females. Syrian hamsters, on the other hand, can stay in groups of males and females for another two to three weeks.
Young Mother Hamsters
Unfortunately, if you purchased a pregnant hamster from the pet store it is probably quite young and may not have the best mothering abilities.
Because of this, it may be more likely to abandon or even cannibalize its babies.
If you notice your hamster isn’t attending to the nest or caring for the babies and they are less than 10 days old, it is unfortunately extremely difficult to save the babies.
Hopefully, your hamster isn’t pregnant – and never will be. If she is – you now have the basics of caring for the mother and pups down.
If you’re attentive, caring, and respectful of the mother hamster, you shouldn’t face any issues.