Actually there's not that much
involved in raising hamster pups.
No hammie diapers to change,
No 2am feedings, no hammie
burping. Just sit back and let
Mama hamster do her thing!
Well, maybe not quite THAT
easy there is still the matter of
clean cages, food, water, etc.
And, baby hamsters eat an
astonishing amount of food - it is
imperative that an ample supply
of food is available at all times.
Plus, pregnant and nursing
mothers require a lot of water.
Perhaps the most important
aspect of raising good healthy
pups is prior to the conception with the selection of a good healthy male and
female, who are carrying good bloodlines.
Three or four days prior to delivery, it is important that Mom have a nice clean
cage with plenty of nesting material to make a nice soft bed for the little ones. (A
big piece of plain toilet paper makes excellent nesting material. She will tear it up
and build a nest fit for a prince. When some are done it almost appears as though
the toilet tissue has been weaved into the bedding. Commercial "Fluff" or nesting
materials are not recommended. One of the primary concerns with it is the fact
that babies can easily get tangled in it, causing the loss of limbs; or even death if it
gets wrapped around their necks.)
When the new pups are born they are blind, deaf, naked and totally dependent on
Mom. Litter sizes will vary from one to 20. It's not necessary to remove any of the
pups, mama knows how many she is capable of raising and will reduce the
number herself if she considers it necessary - she will cull out the weakest first.
Pups are born singly and covered with a caul (skin-like membrane). Occasionally
the pups are scattered around the cage during delivery. Don't disturb them, after
mom has had an opportunity to rest, she will gather them up, put them in the nest
and begin nursing. The cauls, afterbirth, etc. are eaten by the mother, which
replaces some of the hormones and other nutrients that were used for the maturity
of the pups prior to birth. This is an important part of the birthing process for mom
(you should not interfere druing this process and certainly don't stop her from
eating the afterbirth).
As a rule of thumb, the nest should not be
disturbed for at least ten days. If a newborn
goes astray, leave it, the mother will retrieve
it. Or, the pup will find its own way back to
the warmth of its bed and Mama. If the nest
is disturbed, especially a first-time Mom,
she may "defend" her litter the only way she
knows, by killing and eating them. (Like
everything else, the female's acceptance of
initial disturbances varies with individuals.)
It is extremely important to insure that there
is an abundant supply of food and fresh
water. If Mama Hamster feels threatened
that there is not sufficient nourishment and water available to sustain her new
family, by instinct, she will mercifully kill the pups rather than let them die the
agonizing death of starvation or dehydration.
By the third day a dark covering of fur will appear on the darker varieties and the
ears, which have been laying flat against the head will start to become erect.
Markings on the dark varieties will start to show on the fifth day and a thin coat of
light fur will be apparent on the lighter varieties.
This is a good point to lower the water level so the pups can reach it when they
start exploring the cage.
Covered with fur and with more distinct markings, they actually start looking like
tiny hamsters by the seventh or eighth day. Although still blind, they will start
wandering around the cage and are frequently seen holding a piece of food in
their front paws while they nibble.
Their eyes will start to open about the thirteenth day. At this time, the cage should
be cleaned and will probably need to be cleaned again before the little ones are
They will be ready to leave Mom between 21 and 28 days. The sexes should be
separated and placed in separate cages at the time they are weaned.
If more litters are on the agenda, make sure Mama gets at least a full week's rest
in a nice clean cage before breeding her again. (She has worked hard and
deserves a little R & R!!)
Occasionally a water bottle leaks, or some other disaster occurs, which leaves a
cage unhealthy for both Mama hamster and new pups. Although the rule of thumb
is not to disturb the nest for at least the first ten days, there are exceptions to
every rule. Since hamsters, by nature, are clean animals they do appreciate a
clean dry house.
To read the full article on wet cages and pups visit our Homes and Accessories
page or simply .