You have a female baby hamster and do not know much about her reproductive system, sexual maturity, is she going to get periods, if she does, when will that happen…
Female hamsters don’t get periods, don’t go through the menstrual cycle. When they reach a certain age ( 4-6 weeks of age) hamsters start going through the Estrus cycle periodically ( every 4 days). This is the only period (max 12 hours of duration) during which females tolerate males’ company. You might notice then a stronger smell that comes from a whitish discharge. A similar discharge may appear if a female hamster is pregnant but it can also be a sign of some illness like Pyometra.
If you are eager to find out more about – when will your girl hamster be ready to mate, how would you know that she is in heat, will you notice when she is pregnant? Do female hamsters bleed?… Keep reading our article as I am happy to share all my findings with you related to this topic.
At What Age Do Hamsters Mate?
From a baby to an adult female hamster the journey is not long. As hamsters’ lifespan is around 2-3 years then it is clear that hamsters reach sexual maturity short after birth.
The female hamster reaches sexual maturity when she is 4-6 weeks old. She will experience her first ‘heat’ at the age of 6-8 weeks and will be ready to get pregnant when she is 8 weeks old.
What is Estrus Cycle in Hamsters ?
Women have a menstrual cycle and female hamsters have an estrus cycle.
The Estrus cycle is something that happens to sexually mature female hamsters and means that they are ready to mate. This cycle repeats every 4 days, lasts for 12 hours ( during the night ). Represents the only time when a female hamster tolerates the company of males. In any other period, she will be hostile and aggressive towards boy hamsters.
When female hamsters reach a certain age, the estrus cycle will stop. Just like women in menopause, female hamsters without the estrus cycle will not be able to mate and produce babies.
How to Know My Hamster Girl Is in Heat ? ( Heat Signs)
There are several signs which can tell you if your hammy is in heat.
First, her smell could be a bit stronger. Hamsters usually do not have a strong scent but during these ‘heat’ days you may notice a strong, musky smell. If you hold your hammy that smell can pass on to your hands too so make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling your pet ( it is recommended to do that every time, not only during ‘heat’ days).
You will notice a whitish discharge from her private area. It is a sticky, paste-like substance. The reason for that strong and for most of the people awful smell is that discharge. In the wild, the smell of the secretion is actually a call to males.
While the female is outside of her burrow, she leaves some of that discharge on the ground, as well as at the entrance of her burrow. As hamsters have a very strong sense of smell, males are attracted to her smell even if they are very far from her. Her smell helps them to find her.
Your girl hamster can also behave differently when she is in heat. She could be extra sensitive and jumpier than usual. If you touch her lower back, around the tail area, she will remain in place and you will be able to feel that she is vibrating. Also, she could be nervous and overprotective when it comes to her nest.
Female hamster is in the heat for one day only ( those 12 hours ) and only then will tolerate the presence of males.
Does My Hamster Bleed During its Period?
The hamsters usually do not bleed during the Estrus cycle. Normal discharge is white and sticks like glue. Some drops of blood in it can appear at the end of the estrus cycle ( third day ). This is nothing to worry about.
In case you notice intensive bleeding from your hammy genital area, you should visit the vet as soon as possible. The reason for that kind of bleeding could be injury or internal bleeding.
How To Tell If My Hamster is Pregnant?
Five days after a successful mating, you will notice whitish discharge. An entirely normal thing.
Ten days after you will be able to see her swollen belly
In the period of 16-22 days after mating, pups will come.
Don’t panic if you notice drops of blood just before pups come out, completely normal.
Watch out for other signs as well :
- Your hammy is storing more food than usual
- She building a nest, collecting bedding material and putting in place in the cage
- Her nipples will be enlarged but you might not be able to see them, as they are tiny anyway
- You might notice behavioral changes, she could be nervous, non-stop in hurry ( eating, building a nest, grooming) and she also might hiss at you if you come closer.
If you do not see pups 10 days after you notice swollen belly, take your pet to the vet as a big stomach could be an indicator of some illness.
If you are certain that your hammy is pregnant, provide a high-quality diet for her. You can give her very small portions of cheese and milk drops to ensure a good level of calcium and help with lactation when the time comes. You can also give her extra proteins through nuts, oats, hard-boiled eggs.
Never ever try to feel the babies in her belly by putting your hand on it, as we humans do. This can cause enormous stress and a stressed mother is very dangerous for her pups. She could leave her litter or even worse, eat them!
As a matter of fact, stop any interaction with her 13 days after mating. Pregnant hamsters like to be totally alone a few days before they give birth. Do not clean the cage, don’t change the bedding, don’t disturb her when putting the food and water, do it carefully and quietly and just vanish! Any interaction in this period can cause stress and stress may lead to cannibalism.
Once the babies come, do not try to do anything with them for at least two weeks. Their mother knows their smell and if you touch them and transmit your smell to them, that could be very dangerous as their own mother could attack them. The same thing as before your hammy gave birth, do not touch anything around her and the babies for those two weeks (no cage cleaning, change of bedding, etc)
Why Does My Hamster Have Discharge? (Not As a Sign of Estrus Cycle)
Sometimes discharge can appear from your hamster’s private area and not be a sign of her periods.
If you notice smelly, yellow discharge, visit the vet as that could be an indicator of infection called Pyometra. It is the infection of the uterus and that yellow thing is pus caused by the infection. Besides that discharge other signs could be swollen belly and lack of activity.
You may notice moisture around the tail area and that could be a sign of a disease called Wet tail- very common in young hamsters. One of the first indicators is diarrhea. You need to understand this condition seriously as it can end up fatal.
As we mentioned before heavy bleeding from the private area could be a sign of internal bleeding or injury. If you were giving antibiotics lately to your pet, they can also cause intestinal bleeding. However, any extensive bleeding should be checked by the vet immediately.