Hamsters can get pregnant at 6 weeks of age. That is why it is not advisable to keep boys and girls hamsters together in the same cage unless you want them to breed and produce litters.
The majority of people who are having hamsters as pets don’t want to see them pregnant. Hamster babies require too much care and additional space as you need to separate them from a mother and from each other. The right time is when they are 21-28 days old.
If you leave them in the mother’s cage, she could act hostile and chase them around. If you move the whole offspring together in another cage, they could breed and make new unwanted babies. The solution is either to provide a lot of space and care or to find proper homes for all of them.
If you discover that your hamster is expecting and it is unwanted pregnancy, you still need to provide proper care for her and to make sure she gives birth safely.
After that, you might want to consider some alternatives such as spaying ( females) or neutering ( males) procedures, their costs and risks in order to prevent future unplanned litters.
Your Hamster is Pregnant, How Did This Happen?
Let’s start from the beginning. Imagine that you have taken all preventive measures. You have kept your girl hamster alone ( if you have Syrian ) or with other girls hamsters ( if you have some other hamster species) but your female pet is pregnant. How did this happen?
First of all, think about the time you bought /adopt your hamster. It might happen that your hammy was already pregnant when you brought her home. Female hamsters go into heat every 4 days. The period when they can mate lasts for 12 hours and then they are fairly receptive to males. If mating occurred, your hammy will become bigger in the belly area about 2 weeks after that. So maybe you brought her home meanwhile.
Another reason for unwanted pregnancy could be that you were informed incorrectly about your pet’s sex. Maybe you were told that you were buying a boy and it appears that it was a girl. So you have bought two hamsters for example ( Dwarf as they are usually kept in same-sex pairs) but it turns out that you have a boy and girl which will become parents soon!
By the way, if you want to learn how to determine your hamster’s gender, do read our article ”How To Tell If Your Hamster is Boy or Girl – Which One You Should Get?”
What Are The Signs That Your Hamster is Pregnant ?
Hamsters can be plump and chubby but in case of excessive weight your hammy will look like a ball ( round shape, like an apple ) but in case of pregnancy, your hammy will more look like a pear than an apple.
Of course, before you make any conclusion, you should see the vet, as maybe her swollen belly is a sign of some illness and not babies. This info may help you – swollen belly will be visible after let’s say 2 weeks after mating. T
his period is about half of the pregnancy or even the last stage of it ( depends on hamster species ) so if swollen belly remains and your hammy doesn’t give birth in another 7-10 days then you can expect that something is wrong.
Along with swollen belly, you can notice enlarged nipples. This might be quite difficult to spot due to their really small size but just in case you are able to notice them, you can be sure that your hammy is pregnant.
You will notice that your hamster female drinks and eats more than usual and that she is really busy. She will be making the nest collecting a great deal of bedding and putting it in one place where the nest will be located.
Your pregnant hammy will change her personality. Before she becomed pregnant she was calm and nice pet which liked to be held and pet. Now you discover that your female hamster is a nervous and grumpy creature. She doesn’t want to be held nor disturb at all.
It is not only about you, but your pregnant hammy also will not be a good company to other hamsters in the cage ( if you have Dwarfs ). You can expect her to fight often with her cagemates in this period.
Proper Care for Your Pregnant Hamster
No matter you wanted your hamster to be pregnant and produce litter or this is completely unwanted pregnancy, it is normal to provide special care for your pet in these days.
As you might already notice, your pregnant pet is acting differently. One of the most important things you can do for her is to leave her alone. Minimize the contact with your pet, don’t try to hold her, keep away from the cage as much as possible.
Of course, your hamster girl is still depending on you, so make sure she has a sufficient amount of fresh water every day( pregnant hamsters require a lot of water and can become sick is they don’t take sufficient amounts).
The same goes for high-quality food, rich in proteins (hard-boiled eggs and nuts or some small piece of unsalted meat – chicken or beef ) and calcium (small pieces of cheese) for stronger bones. I read also that you can give a piece of bread soaked in milk to your hamster in order to increase the level of calcium she gets.
Also, keep the cage clean. Some recommendation from the experts is to clean the cage thoroughly around 3 days before delivery time as you won’t be able to clean the cage when babies come for let’s say 2-3 weeks.
Make sure she has enough nesting material. No matter which kind of material you were putting earlier, now make sure she has something soft, such as tissues or toilet paper.
Ensure that the air temperature is constant in the room where the cage is situated. The adequate temperature is between 65F and 75F
If your pregnant furry ball lives with other hamsters, do separate her if possible so she can have total peace. If the cage is in some noisy room, move it to a more quiet place.
Any stress caused by some loud noises, your interfering in her daily routine, common fights with her cage mates, the presence of other pets in the house-dogs, cats, will not bring any good to her and her babies. I am sure that you have heard that if the pregnant hamster is under the stress in her pregnancy, she can even eat her babies when they come.
I am sure your hammy already has a hamster wheel and she uses it. Don’t worry she should keep using it while pregnant as well.
You should also keep an eye on your pregnant pet general health condition and visit vet for prenatal tests.
The Pups Are Coming, Now What ?
The whole pregnancy of one hamster lasts for 16-30 days depending on the breed. For example Campbell’s, Winter White and Chinese hamsters are carrying babies for 18-21 days, Robo hamster is a bit longer pregnant 22-30 days. On the other hand, Syrian hamsters are pregnant for 16 days only!
The number of babies per litter can be from 3 pups to 20 pups. The average size of a fully grown female is about 7 pups. Small litters ( 3-4 pups ) can happen if the female is very young, barely mature.
You should be aware that giving birth and the period afterward are very stressful for a hamster so you should take some precautions:
- If you still haven’t removed the male hamster from the cage yet, do it immediately as the father could eat his own babies.
- Leave the mother alone as much as possible and don’t touch the babies under any circumstances for the first 2-3 weeks. If you transmit your scent to the baby, the mother could hurt or even eat the baby. Hamster mothers are perfectly capable to take care of the pups, she will bring the baby back if it, accidentally goes from the nest, you don’t have to help her with that. If something happens and you really need to touch the pup, don’t use your hands but some spoon to prevent transmitting your scent to it.
- when the pups are one month old you can bring them to the vet for the very first check-up.
- mother hamster will be nursing her babies for the first 2-3 weeks but you can start providing the solid food for babies 10 days after their birth.
- mother hamsters can abandon or even eat any unhealthy baby. She can also abandon the whole litter and in that case better take all babies to the wet for a check-up.
After you have done the babies first vet check up at the age of 4 weeks, start taming them and separate males from females to prevent producing new litter very soon.
No More Unwanted Hamster Pregnancy, What are The Alternatives?
Ok, at this point you are sure that you have female hamster (in case you thought it was a boy ). If you bought an already pregnant hamster and you did not know that, it’s ok it is not your fault.
So the question now is : What you can do to prevent future unwanted litters?
If you have several hamsters make sure you have 100% same sex in one cage.
If you would like to take one step further you can consider spaying /neutering your hamster.
This procedure is risky, that is true but can be done by some very experienced and knowledgeable vet specialized for small exotic animals. The problem with this surgery is that it must be done under total anesthesia and small animals are pretty sensitive and can die. My advise- if you cannot find a very good vet, forget about it.
The thing is that not only the risk discourage people when it comes to this surgery but also the cost. The price of the spaying or neutering procedure is between 200$ and 400$. The majority of people think that it is a waste of money for the pet which lifespan is about 2 years.
Moreover, the most popular hamster breed is Syrian and these furry pals are solitary creatures so no possibility to produce litter unless you buy already pregnant female or your mate your pet intentionally.
In other words- you have this option but it is not so popular nor common. If you decide to consider this, note that most pet insurance packages don’t cover this surgery. If you still think that is worth of try and you have pet insurance, do contact your insurance company to ask for details and possible surcharge.
If it happens that your hammy is pregnant and that you will get unwanted litter, do think about what you will do with the babies once they grow up enough to be separated from their mother.
You should start looking for new homes for babies from the moment you realize your hammy is pregnant. Note that litter can be large so you will need a lot of new homes. You can ask your family and friends to start.
You can also put them for adoption. There are many sites for this purpose ( for example Adoptapet.com or Petfinder.com ) I have read that you should avoid giving your hamster babies to reptile owners as they can use them as lunch for their own pets.
Another advice, don’t try to make money on this, hamsters are pretty cheap and one can adopt them for 5$ or so. It is more important to find them a good home.
I heard that some owners leave the babies in front of the pet stores but this is not advisable. The pet stores have policies that ban them to accept animals of unknown origin. Pet stores simply don’t need your hamster babies and leaving them there will the same as abandoning them elsewhere.
Don’t forget that maybe one or two babies will steal your heart and you decide to keep them! You never know.