Your female hamster has developed an oval bulge, is bad-tempered and is hiding in her nest. You have had her for about two weeks. One morning, you notice what looks like blood on the nest, and hear tiny high-pitched squeaking. Your hamster has given birth.
Not all hamsters are obviously pregnant. Some babies appear overnight and there are only a few in the litter. Others can have litters up to sixteen babies although six or seven is usual. Gestation is sixteen days.
Hamsters are Good Mothers
The new hamster mother is naturally nervous at first. She will keep the babies safe deep in the nesting material. Others may scatter babies about the cage as they come out of the nest. The mother hamster should hear her babies’ protests and gather them up, but if she does not, remove her from the cage for a moment with a small amount of food and transfer the babies back to the nest with a metal spoon.
A new hamster mother must be disturbed as little as possible. When you put food in her cage, do not touch the nest as your smell may cause her to abandon the babies. Leaving well alone is the safest thing to do and this includes not cleaning the cage.
You might like to feed her with a little porridge oats mixed with cold milk which will help to keep her healthy.
The Hamster Babies Grow Quickly
By two weeks old, they will be starting to escape the nest. Once the babies are freely running round the cage, it is safe to handle them and you can clean the cage. They are quick, but they do not bite and if well-handled, they will be friendly little hamsters. Be careful not to drop them and always keep them safe above a surface.
By three weeks they are miniature adults. At 28 days, all male babies must be in a separate cage to avoid any more unwanted pregnancies.
The Hamster Babies are Ready for Their New Homes
Separate out the males and females in two groups in their own cages by the time they are 28 days old. By five weeks, they will be ready for their own homes or to go to a pet shop. If they are still together at eight weeks old, they will be starting to fight and each will need its own cage. Start planning what to do with the babies as soon as you know how many there are.
There are occasional tragedies, and your hamster mother may die or ignore her babies. Hamster babies can occasionally be fostered onto another mum who has babies of a similar age, but it is risky. It is also almost impossible to meet the needs of a newborn hamster baby yourself. If you wish to try, kitten milk is best, but keeping them warm is the most difficult thing to do.
Enjoy your hamster babies. If you have helped your hamster mother to raise her litter successfully and found good homes for them then you will have done the best for your pet hamster.