Pet owners are discouraged from breeding hamsters on their own, but there are chances of bringing home an already pregnant female.
Once you realize that your pet is pregnant, you will need to adjust the kind of care you give them. Female hamsters are irritable before and after birth, and you should leave them alone for the most part.
How to Tell if a Hamster is Pregnant?
You need to determine the kind of hamster you have to estimate their gestation period. Syrian hamsters, for example, have a gestation period of 16 days.
Other varieties like the Roborovski hamster can be pregnant for up to 30 days. The gestation period is useful if you have just gotten your pet, and they may have been in contact with males.
It is challenging to recognize abdominal dilation in these animals, and you will have to look out for other signs like:
- Increased appetite– A pregnant hamster will start getting ready to wean her young ones by eating more food and drinking more water. She will also hoard a lot more for her babies.
- Weight gain– A pregnant hamster will get rounder, and her body will resemble a pear.
- Swollen nipples– The hamster’s nipple will start turning out in preparation to wean her young ones.
- Behavioral change– A pregnant hamster will become reclusive, irritable, and shy. She will resist your touch and will seem nervous or jumpy. She will also become lethargic and inactive and even frantic as she gets close to giving birth.
- Nest Building– Female hamsters set up a nest for their babies using the bedding in the cage.
How Often Can Hamsters Get Pregnant?
Hamsters attain sexual maturity at 4 or 5 weeks old, but it is recommended to breed the females after they reach three or four months old.
The females are ready to mate every four days or so, and they will release pheromones to attract males. A female hamster can become pregnant a day after giving birth.
How to Care for a Pregnant Female Hamster?
The most important thing you can do for a female hamster is to provide high-quality meals. Increase the quantities of pellets and seeds, but not too much as to result in obesity. Do not give her foods with too much fat like sunflower seeds.
Offer her protein treats like nuts and hard-boiled eggs several times a week. You can give her bits of cooked chicken, mealworms, and whole grains like oats. Your hammie will require a lot of water throughout the gestation period, and you should present fresh water every day.
She will also need nesting material to create a home for her young. You can provide toilet paper, tissue paper, unprinted paper, or paper towels. Her cage should be clean, but do not wash it when she is close to giving birth.
The enclosure should be cleaned at least five days before delivery. Layer the cage with deep bedding as it will not be washed for at least two weeks.
The cage should also be warm, and you can maintain a temperature range of 20-22 °C. Some pet owners will drape a thick blanket over the cage to make her warm and secure.
A pregnant hamster should be placed in a cage alone. Position the habitat in a room with minimal traffic, since she will panic if there are loud noises around her.
You can also dim the light and pick a room that is not too bright. Empty the cage of all accessories and toys since hamsters are born blind, and they can easily injure themselves.
Do not handle a pregnant hamster unless you have to. She can even attack your hand, which is an instinct of protecting her babies.
What to do When Your Hamster Has Babies?
You can look out for a distended stomach to know that your hammie is ready to give birth. Hamsters like to give birth in isolation, and she will curl herself up in a corner during labor.
Provide maximum privacy during this time to let her feel safe and secure. Female hamsters are known to abandon their babies if they are stressed, and you don’t want any activity near her cage.
Leave your hammie and her babies alone for the first two weeks. The only time you can interfere is if she rejects her children since there is a possibility that she will eat them. If she appears to nurture her young, leave her undisturbed.
Female hamsters can also abandon their children if they smell foreign scents on them. You should, therefore, not handle the baby hamsters for the first week or so.
The mother can also eat pups with poor health, and it helps to anticipate such outcomes. If she gives birth to many hamsters, she can eat some so that she gives her attention to a few of them.
Keep the mother on a high-quality diet and provide enough water. She will wean them for about three weeks, although you can scatter some food on the floor of the enclosure after the first week. The pups will soon begin exploring, and they will learn how to gather their food.
Young hammies open their eyes when they reach two weeks old, which is when you can clean the cage and separate them.
The mother will start getting impatient with them at this point, and it is safer to remove them. The males will be ready to mate after four weeks, and you should not encourage breeding between the siblings.
Can You Keep Two Pregnant Hamsters Together?
It is advisable to keep a pregnant hamster alone since they are irritable and aggressive before and after birth.
You cannot predict the behavior of a pregnant hamster, and you should not keep two of them in the same cage. Provide a solitary cage for each hamster to ensure the survival of the babies.
You could end up with a pregnant hamster if males and females were kept together in the pet store. Hamsters have a short gestation period, and their stomach only swells when they are ready to give birth.
You should watch out for behavioral changes, increased appetite, and weight gain to determine if your hammie is pregnant.