Baby hamsters are very helpless and delicate creatures at birth and require a lot of care and attention from their caregivers or owners. These cute beings are born helpless without seeing or hearing and as such, depend entirely on their caregivers.
At birth, a baby hamster is born hairless, thin-skinned, deaf, and blind. Hence, they could quickly get hurt or, worst still, die! as they can’t rely yet on their senses or instincts for survival. But you can do a lot to better protect these adorable creatures during their infant and helpless stages.
Baby Hamsters become fully active and independent at about 4-5 weeks, but before this, here are ways to care for your incoming or already born pups fully.
Also, see article on the silkie guinea pig.
Knowing when your hamster is pregnant
If you genuinely adore these charming creatures, then you would understand the excitement that comes with knowing that your hamster has taken in and will soon be due for birth. Understanding the hamster’s pregnancy stage will do you a lot of good in planning, as well as preparing for your incoming pups. Here are things you should look out for-
Aggressiveness toward intruders or human caregivers
As a female hamster gets close to her period of gestation, she starts showing visible signs of aggressiveness toward her caregivers or anyone who tries to intrude or disturb her. You have absolutely nothing to worry about, as this could be a sign of pregnancy.
It’s no surprise that female hamsters seem to gain more weight when pregnant; this is due to the pups she has in her stomach, although this could also be a sign of a possible tumor, cysts, imminent heart failure, even feared disease like the Cushing’s disease. You can never be too sure. It would be best if you had your pregnant hamster thoroughly examined by a trained and certified veterinarian to be on the safe side.
During the pregnancy stage, hamsters are likely to start hoarding food. This is as a result of the nourishment they require for the birthing stage. Endeavor to provide fresh and protein/fat rich foods regularly for pregnant hamsters.
Hamster mums are very caring animals; they tend to start preparing a safe environment for their incoming pups, and as such, will naturally utilize lay around items in the cage to build-nests. When you notice this, it is a sign of a pregnant hamster. Ensure to provide soft tissues that can be easily shredded by the pregnant hamsters and put together to build a nest.
Survival tips for baby hamsters
Clean the hamster’s cage as soon as you spot the early pregnancy
It is advisable to have your incoming pups home properly cleaned to provide safe and healthy surroundings for your just arriving baby hamsters.
Note, this should be done when the pregnancy is still at its infant stage and not near the gestation or birthing period. This could lead to aggressiveness from the pregnant hamster or worst still the hamster having to abandon the pups after birth due to scents left behind by their caregivers. It is advised to do this 2-3 days to gestation period and two weeks after the pregnant hamster has given birth.
Rid the cage of hamster toys or any object that poses a threat to the pups.
Before the arrival of your new pups, ensure to take out hamster toys, hamster wheels, ropes, pretty much anything that’s not soft bedding or food! Failure to do this could result in injuries on the pups or even death, as you won’t want your pups getting entangled in a leftover thread or rope item when you’re not around.
Provide fresh water and food regularly.
You can’t stress the need for this enough, as it is essential to provide protein and fat-rich foods to your new pups and their mum. A regular supply of fresh water and food to baby hamsters helps in development during the hamster’s lifecycle. Moreover, these pups are born thin-skinned and would require every protein and fat-rich food they can find. For this, you could make use of bread soaked in milk, Boiled eggs, greens, and cheese, etc. Ideally, stick to foods with 18-20 percent of protein, and 7-10 percent of fat should you consider purchasing hamster foods from a pet store; or better still, consult your veterinarian for a healthier feeding plan.
Avoid carrying, touching, or holding your baby hamster within the first two weeks of birth
If possible, totally refrain from the hamster’s cage to avoid leaving scents on them. Mother hamsters are totally irritated by this and could abandon or even kill the baby hamsters. If you ever have to offer a helping hand to a displaced pup, use a spoon to move them to their bedding ground or better still, let them be, as the mum will naturally go and get displaced pups. From 2 weeks, the pup can be handled as the mother hamster is less aggressive towards this time and will be okay with you handling its pups.
Separate the males pups from the females
It is safe to separate hamster pups when they come of age, ideally four weeks after birth, to prevent inbreeding, as hamsters start breeding when they are 40 days old. You can know the females from the males by looking at their genitals; this shoots out at about 3-4weeks. It is also advisable to separate hamster pups when you notice signs of fighting or bullying by stronger and healthier pups.
Additionally, a few hamster breeds tend to be territorial at about 3-4 weeks and, as such, would easily or immediately fight off siblings or other hamster pups who try to intrude. Breeds like the Syrian hamster are known for this.
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- Make sure room temperature where the baby hamsters are kept is 70°F which is also 21.1°C
- Provide extra bedding after two weeks of birth
- Use a large cage, ideally one larger than 360 sq. in
- Provide extra bedding after 2 weeks of birth. You can utilize soft tissues or face cleaning tissues for this purpose.
- Avoid water bowls as pups could easily drown. Instead, use a water bottle, and make sure to lower it so the pups can reach it.
- If the pups don’t seem to utilize the water bottles, provide them with foods like cucumber to keep them hydrated.
- Shower your pups with good love and attention, they need it!
Hamster babies are fragile creatures and will need all the help they can get from their caregivers. Ensure to provide a safe and clean environment before the arrival of these charming creatures. Freshwater, and food are a must for growth and development; they’ll need to beef up during these stages and require your help to get through. Always remember to take out any object that could pose a threat to your new hamster babies.
Finally, devote your time and undying love to these creatures as they will surely need it to make it through their infant stages.
See also Everything you need to know about the winter white hamster‘.