Because of the ethics of self-breeding, we don’t encourage breeding if you are not licensed or not educated enough. This guide is only helpful for those who have hamsters and fell pregnant accidentally. This is not a guide to being “self-breeders”.
However, we understand that not all hamster parents are super knowledgeable about hamsters, especially if you are a first-time owner. Hence, here’s a guide in case your hamster fell pregnant accidentally.
MUST-READ: Common mistakes new hamster owner make
HOW HAMSTERS GET PREGNANT ACCIDENTALLY
Hamsters get pregnant accidentally way too often. If you are an inexperienced hamster owner and don’t have the certificate, knowledge, and education to breed hamsters, please don’t. Here are some situations why your hamster might fall pregnant without your knowledge or expectations.
Housing two or More Hamsters in One Cage
We will never recommend you house more than one hamster in one cage. Not only because of the chance of them getting pregnant accidentally but also because hamsters are solitary and territorial. Housing multiple hamsters in a single cage can lead to fights, and stress, resulting in injury or, worse, death.
It doesn’t matter what their species are or what their sexes are. One hamster should live alone in one cage for their safety and a better life.
Mistakes on Sexing
Sexing or sexed means the hamsters have identified what their gender is and are placed with other hamsters of the same gender. If you get your hamster from a pet shop, you will notice that they place multiple or even dozens of baby hamsters in one cage labelled as female or male. Way too often, pet shops make mistakes when sexing hamsters.
Mistakes in sexing can result in an accidental pregnancy. If you decided to get two hamsters to place in one cage and asked the pet staff for two of the same gender, you wouldn’t worry about pregnancy, right? And this is where the accidental pregnancy on the hamster happens.
The staff didn’t sex the hamsters right, and you ended up with two different genders, which you placed in one cage.
Hamsters in pet shops don’t stay long enough for the staff to realise their mistake (meaning older hamsters are sometimes given away for free, up for adoption, or sent away for euthanasia), and hamsters in pet stores are not old enough to get pregnant.
BASIC QUESTIONS ABOUT HAMSTER PREGNANCY
If you are beginning to care for hamsters and recently bought a new one of different species for you to house in the same cage, a hamster is easily bred because they have a gestation period of not over a month.
Here are some basic questions and things owners should do and shouldn’t do if their pet hamster is pregnant. This guide is excellent for owners who are unsure about hamster pregnancy.
ALSO READ: Why you can’t house hamsters together
Hamster Heat Cycle
Once in four days, hamsters are in heat. They are often irritated, impatient, and much more aggressive at this time. For female Syrian hamsters, you can notice a pungent smell. When in heat, we recommend you let your hamster be alone and add more toys and bedding, plus give extra treats.
At What Age Can a Hamster Get Pregnant
Suppose your hamsters are between 4 to 6 weeks. Your female hamster might be fertile and can now get pregnant.
How Long are Hamsters Pregnant
The first question to ask is, have your hamsters been in contact with a male lately? Hamsters can get pregnant for 20 days after mating. If your hamsters have been in contact with a male lately, but it exceeds the 20 – 30 days gestation period (development period from the time they conceive and give birth), it is more likely that your furry friend is not pregnant.
Take note that the gestation period differs in every species of pet hamster. Syrian hamsters get pregnant 16 days after mating, Chinese Hamsters for 18-23 days, Winter White hamsters for 18-21 days, and Roborovski hamsters for 22-30 days.
Hamster Pregnancy Signs
It is difficult to tell if a hamster is just fat or pregnant at all, so how do you know if your hamster is pregnant? When a hamster is pregnant, you will notice weird behaviours and changes in its body.
A pregnant female has a rapid increase in their girth and abdomen. This happens because of their increased appetite for food rich in protein. Some owners would describe their pregnant hamster’s body shape as a pear. The nipples of pregnant hamsters are evident, too.
If your pregnant hamster is nearing delivery, they tend to become restless and active. Take notice of vaginal bleeding. It is best to provide some nesting materials in their cage if you see these signs of symptoms altogether.
Bring your Hamster to the Vet
If you suspect your hamster is carrying a pup, schedule an appointment and head for a vet check-up. A swollen belly can be a sign of an underlying condition. If the bump is lumpy, it could be a tumour.
In some instances, a balloon-like belly can also be a sign of infection, bowel movement problems, heart issues, or possibly too many bladder stones. So, if you notice a bump in your furry friends’ belly, let the vet tell you how well your critter friend is doing in a bit of diagnosis and medical examinations.
To prevent you from misinterpreting if it is just fats, signs of an underlying condition, or if she’s pregnant. You should take your rodent cutie to a vet once a year. However, once a year is ideal only if your hamster seems healthy and normal. Taking your hamsters to a veterinary clinic is vital if they begin acting restless and unordinary.
Inspect your hamster’s body
One of the early signs of pregnancy in hamsters is their tummy starts to enlarge. However, pregnant hamsters take 3-4 days before you can see their belly expands. Once you notice that it is getting bigger, please take the necessary precautions because it will take less than a week before she starts giving birth to pups.
Enlarged nipples are also a sign of a pregnant hamster. Although it is one of the signs to know if your hamster is pregnant, do not pick her up to check her nipples during this stage of pregnancy because this can upset your hamster.
A hamster near labour is quite frantic. Hissing if you are trying to reach in for her is also a sign of the late stages of pregnancy.
Observe your Hamster’s Behavior
As your hamster goes through with her pregnancy, it is common for her to start nesting more than usual. She will gather lots of bedding in a particular spot to prepare a safe nest for her pups. Besides, your hamster will start to create a food pile near or under the nest. Dehydration is also common for hamsters nearing labour.
A pregnant hamster begets sudden changes in its behaviour. They become more territorial and fight other hamsters to protect their nest. It is also near impossible to hold a pregnant hamster. Your hamster will definitely bite you to let you know she is not in the mood for cuddles and is uncomfortable with some human interaction.
KEEPING YOUR HAMSTER SAFE DURING PREGNANCY
A surprise birth is common for hamsters. Some pet stores cage their adult hamsters without properly separating sex, resulting in pregnancy.
It is most likely the reason why it is possible to take a hamster home from a pet shop and be pregnant without you even knowing it. If this is the case, here are some tips to help you keep your hamster safe during her pregnancy.
Bring your Hamster to the Vet
It is expected if you distrust your judgement whether your hamster is pregnant. So, if you notice some symptoms mentioned above, we recommend consulting a veterinarian. Not only will you know if your hamster is pregnant, but a vet can also verify the health of the female and guide you along with its pregnancy.
A periodic visit is also recommended to diagnose some health issues during your hamster’s pregnancy and lactation period. Taking your hamster to the vet is also an excellent opportunity for you to ask how many pups she likely will conceive.
Making the Cage Comfortable
As mentioned above, pregnant hamsters are more hostile because they feel more vulnerable and defensive. Like any other mother, they feel the need to secure their territory to ensure their newly born are in a safe environment.
One way you can help a pregnant hamster is by creating a safe environment by removing stairs, and sharp objects, adding more bedding, and placing the cage in a more quiet and darker room or space.
Your hamster also needs fresh water and food for her disposal. During her pregnancy, be sure to keep your hamster’s cage clean. Be sure to remove excess foods, spoils, and especially excrement, and remain one (1) week before her due date.
HAMSTER POST-PREGNANCY CARE
After birth, your hamster would love some privacy with their pups to heal and care for them more than anything else. Never touch her babies because once the mother smells other scents on her pups, there is a good chance that your hamster will abandon her babies. This is a good reason you should not attempt cleaning the cage for about three weeks or more.
Twenty days after delivery is the perfect time for you can be finally able to introduce yourself to her pups. Baby hamsters can be dependent enough to fend for themselves three weeks after birth.
One tip to help newborn hamsters eat is to lower the water bottles enough for baby hamsters to drink quickly. Scattering some food inside their cages to help them find food is also a good idea.
Never Disturb the Cage
Avoid disturbing the cage apart from replenishing the food and water. If the mother feels threatened by your presence, you are risking and forcing her to eat her babies because she will feel like she has to protect them from you. It’s best to stay away from the cage for 3-4 weeks after giving birth to her offspring.
Although it could be irresistible to look at their babies every time, you mustn’t disturb them by looking at the pups or moving things around. Chances are the mother hamster is safeguarding her offspring in a concealed corner, a small house, or his nest that she has built over her pregnancy.
Mother hamsters are susceptible and protective of their babies. So, even after you tame your hamster and you have got past the biting stage, expect that the hamster’s mother will attack and bite you if you attempt to get too close to the cage or the babies. Read our guide on why hamsters bite and how to stop this.
Why do Hamsters eat their babies
New hamster mothers are very protective of their babies. If they feel their babies are in danger, they will kill them instead of getting killed by predators.
Another reason is when the baby hamster seems weak in the mother hamster’s eyes, she would prefer to eat the weak ones. One reason hamsters do this is to get more energy for themselves and eliminate feeding more babies and wasting the food for a baby that won’t survive anyway.
One more reason hamsters eat their babies is if the mother gave birth to too many hamsters and doesn’t have enough tit/nipples for all of them, she would decide that it’s best to eliminate the extra pups.
Best Food to Feed the Mother Hamster
Extra protein is suitable for a nursing hamster, but do not overdo it. You can feed her boiled or scrambled eggs or cooked boneless chicken without seasonings.
Milk can also be a good source for growing strong bones. It so happens that drinking milk can also help them treat cough. However, not all milk is right for them.
Cows milk is not suitable for any hamster so avoid this as much as possible. Nutrients from cows’ milk are only beneficial for calves, not for kittens or hamsters.
So, if ever your hamster abandons her pups, you can always buy a can of ready-to-use formula in powdered form. You can mix it exactly how the instructions are indicated at the back of the package.
To help abandoned pups drink enough milk, you can use an eyedropper or feeding wick sold at pet stores.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR HAMSTER FALLS PREGNANT ACCIDENTALLY
Only a vet can certify if a hamster is pregnant. You then have two options: ask the vet to use Galastop or proceed with the pregnancy. Using Galastop is time-sensitive. If you suspect your hamster might be pregnant, bring her to the vet as soon as possible.
If you are not knowledgeable about hamster pregnancy, you can always ask your vet to guide you. In case you cannot house them all, never abandon them.
Start looking for people or rescue places who might want to adopt this rodent cutie.
If your hamster falls pregnant accidentally and her womb starts growing, be sure the mother has a proper diet and plenty of freshwaters beside her nesting spot. Once you have set her up with an excellent place to house her offspring.
Take her to a veterinary clinic and heed the advice of the veterinarian. It is the only way you can know that she and her pups will be safe in your care.
HOW TO AVOID ACCIDENTAL PREGNANCY IN HAMSTER
Pups nearing to reach the age of 5 weeks can get pregnant. To avoid accidental pregnancy, all hamster babies should be split from their mother and must be separated by gender into two cages if they are in the 4th week, one for male and another for female hammies.
The vet advises you to separate the hamster’s father because they can start mating again after the mother’s birth. So, if you failed to separate the sexes in time, expect more hamster pups!
Hamsters are one of those animals that has the shortest gestation period. Hamsters can have babies as soon as 16 days! They can mate and produce litter from the first and second month of birth. Also, they can get pregnant just a day after giving birth to their offspring.
No one wants unwanted pregnancies, so to take care of the well-being of your hamster, be sure you are aware of their reproductive system before you start caring for them. Think ahead and be very careful if you house both sexes together. They reproduce so fast it only takes a matter of months before you find yourself with tons of unhappy hamsters!