If you want to breed your hamsters – or if you think your female hamster may get pregnant unexpectedly – then you’ll want to know how long you can expect to wait before you have lots of baby hamsters on your hands!
One thing it’s important for us to point out is that the hamster gestation period (the time from when a baby hamster is conceived to when it is born) is different for different breeds of hamster.
The gestation period for a Syrian hamster is 16 days; for dwarf hamsters and Chinese hamsters it is 18 – 21 days, and for Roborovski Hamsters it is 23 – 30 days.
If you deliberately breed your hamsters then it’s a good idea to make a note of the mating period, as this helps you to know when the babies will be born.
How can you tell if a hamster is pregnant?
If you don’t know when mating took place you may not have a lot of warning before the babies arrive. And sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether a hamster is pregnant at all.
Some hamsters do act differently early in their pregnancy. They may become more nervous or jumpy, or they may start to hoard nesting material. But quite often the first sign that your hamster is pregnant is when her tummy starts to grow.
Once you start noticing that your little friend is expanding, there will usually only be a few days to go before the birth takes place. It’s important to give your hamster the right care as soon as you suspect that she is pregnant.
Caring for a pregnant hamster
During a hamster’s gestation period, it’s important that they are looked after, in order to make sure that they stay healthy and that the babies are born safely.
You may not know that your hamster is pregnant right at the start of the gestation period, but there are some important things you need to do as soon as you find out:
- Make sure your hamster has a diet that is high in protein.
- Provide lots of fresh, clean nesting material.
- Stop handling your hamster any more than absolutely necessary.
- Keep your hamster’s living area quiet and undisturbed.
- Make sure you clean your hamster’s cage two or three days before you expect the babies to be born.
As the day of the birth approaches your hamster will make sure that they have a snug and secure nest ready. Sometimes they will even build a separate nest just for the birth.
You don’t need to worry about your hamster. She knows what she’s doing when it comes to becoming a mum. All you need to do is just provide the right food and nesting materials.
What happens when a hamster gives birth?
Eventually the moment will come when the baby hamsters are ready to make their entrance into the world.
Your hamster will quite happily give birth on her own, so you don’t need to intervene. Although Syrian male hamsters are never kept with the female during the hamster gestation period and are only put with the female during the mating period, dwarf male hamsters do still sometimes remain with the female. If this is the case you should separate the male and female as soon as the female has given birth.
The number of babies you can expect to welcome into your home depends on the breed of your hamster, and also on the individual hamster.
Syrian hamsters usually have between six and ten babies, whereas dwarf hamsters normally have five or six. It has been known for hamsters to give birth to more than sixteen babies though; so be prepared!
Baby hamsters are born blind and bald, and their mother keeps them protected in her nest. You should never touch the babies, or disturb the nest. After four weeks, baby Syrian hamsters become mature and should each be housed in a separate cage. At that age, female dwarf hamsters can stay with mum, while their brothers should be housed in a separate cage.