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8 Steps to Take Care of Baby Hamsters the RIGHT Way (Guide)

As you grow fond of your hamster, having hamster babies probably seems like a good idea.

After all, they are cute, cuddly and watching something grow is amazing.

However, breeding hamsters [1] to get cute hamster babies is strongly discouraged.

Read on to find out why.

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Get Your Own Hamster Owner’s Handbook!

Why Shouldn’t You Breed Hamsters?

The top reasons to avoid breeding includes:

  • Hamster may eat their babies which can be quite distressing
  • It is hard to sex hamsters. As they can reproduce from a young age, this can easily get out of control
  • It is hard to find a new home for the baby hamsters, and major pet supplies like Petsmart and Petco do not purchase or acquire small animals from private owners

We recommend not breeding hamsters.

Our recommendation is also to not breed hamsters, but if you decide to do so, we have put together an 8-step guide so you know exactly what to expect and what to do.

Check: Hamster Stress Behavior

Step 1. How to Tell You Have a Pregnant Hamster

Like dogs, cats, and all other animals, a hamster will gain weight during pregnancy [2].

However, hamsters are by nature quite fluffy and are prone to gain weight so weight gain alone doesn’t necessarily indicate it is pregnant – it could simply be gaining weight which is a far less happy matter.

So, if your hamster is gaining weight, you should also look for these other signs of pregnancy.

  • It has started building a nest
  • It has likely started to store food
  • It might become more aggressive during its gestation period

Secondly, you should understand the hamster’s life span. Hamsters can get pregnant as early as four weeks old, but it is recommended not to try for hamster babies before the female is 5-6 months old.

The second thing to note is that the gestation period [3] (the period of pregnancy) differs from hamster to hamster.

  • Syrian Hamster: Pregnant for 16 days
  • Winter White Hamster: Pregnant for 18-21 days
  • Chinese Hamster: Pregnant for 18-21 days
  • Russian Dwarf Hamster: Pregnant for 18-21 days
  • Roborovski Hamster: Pregnant for up to 30 days

Warning!

During the last couple of pregnancy days, your hamster will gain a significant amount of weight and swell to a large size.

However, it could also be a sign of something worse so if your hamster looks bloated it is a good idea to see a vet.

Step 2. Get Your Hamster Cage Ready for the Hamster Babies

a cage for baby hamsters

When you have confirmed that your hamster is having babies, it’s important to prepare the hamster cage correctly for it.

There are three easy things you should do and one that takes a little more caution.

The three easy things are the following:

  • Remove hamster wheel and other toys: This is done to prevent injuries to your baby hamster. Further, keeping the hamster wheel in the cage risks the mother over-exercising herself and lead her to drop on and kill her babies
  • Remove the father: Female hamsters can become aggressive around other hamsters, particularly males when they are pregnant
  • Provide soft building material: This enables the mother to start building a soft, cosy nest for her baby hamsters. Toilet paper or clean facial tissue works the best as the hamster can tear and arrange it easily. Avoid any hard-to-shred materials.

The fourth and final cage preparation is cleaning it. (and make sure you have some good hamster bedding).

Read: Is Pine Bedding Good for Hamsters?

And now comes the tricky part.

  • You want the cage to be as clean as possible for the big birth day
  • However, under no circumstances should your hands be inside the cage in the last 3 days of pregnancy. This can unsettle the hamster and possibly lead to her rejecting the babies because they have your scent.
  • That is why, if you are in any doubt about the due date of the hamster babies, we recommend cleaning the cage immediately and leave it at that

Yes, it might be sub-optimal but at least you don’t run the risk of your baby hamsters not being taken care of.

After birth, you should not clean the cage for the next 2 weeks, so there is potentially a long period where you should not clean the hamster cage.

Step 3. Beef Up Your Hamster’s Diet

During pregnancy, you should increase the diet and give more hamster food. There are two reasons for this:

  • The mother eats more during pregnancy
  • It starts storing food for the babies

But you shouldn’t just give it any food. Instead, you should aim to give your hamster more protein and more fat. As she will be storing it, try to give it dry food. We have listed some common food items below.

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Editor's Choice
Preview
Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Hazel Hamster Tasty Mix 2lbs
Good for
Both Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters
Key Features
Made from soya, whole peanuts and sunflower seeds
Top Benefit
High protein content of 16%, even picky eaters love it
Check Latest Price
Preview
Oxbow Animal Health Garden Select Hamster And Gerbil Food, Garden-Inspired Recipe for Hamsters And Gerbils, Non-GMO, Made In The USA, 1.5 Pound Bag
Good for
Both Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters
Key Features
Non-GMO food made from three varieties of grass hay to support variety
Top Benefit
High protein content of 16%, good value for money. Crunchy pieces good for teeth health
Check Latest Price
Preview
Kaytee Forti-Diet Pro Health Pet Hamster & Gerbil Food, 3 Pound
Good for
Both Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters
Key Features
Pelletted food made from a variety of corns and seeds
Top Benefit
Crunchy pieces that are good for teeth health
Check Latest Price

Add these to a Pregnant Hamster’s Diet

  • Carrots
  • Nuts
  • Hard boilet eggs
  • Cheese
  • Lettuce

If she is indeed pregnant, she will automatically start storing these things for her babies to eat once they are born.

Check out more safe hamster food here.

Related: Can Hamsters Eat Cardboard?

Step 4. Hamster Birth and What to Expect

Once your hamster goes into labor [4] things happen pretty fast. It usually takes 1-2 hours with 15-30 minute intervals between the small pups coming into our world.

a hamster new born babies

A hamster regardless of the breed will usually have 4-8 pups.

The babies will be born deaf, blind, and naked/hairless and they need very good hamster care to survive…

… however, under no circumstances should that care come from you.

Step 5. Do Not Disturb or Enter the Nest for At least Two Weeks

Time period: Birth to 2 weeks old

As mentioned, you should not be in the cage for three days before birth.

This cycle is repeated for the next two weeks.

Do Not Go Inside The Cage!

Having given birth, the mother will likely be aggressive to any intruders and may act aggressively towards you.

Although not stressing the mother is a good enough reason not to go inside the cage, there is a far more important reason.

If you go inside the cage, your scent may catch on to a baby hamster.

Should that happen, the mother is likely to abandon her babies, or even worse, outright kill them.

Naturally, you should not clean the cage during this time, and of course, neither should you try to handle the babies.

Not touching the hamster babies can be hard. After all, they look so small, blind, and helpless.

However, we really can’t stress how important it is that you do not try to do anything.

If you see a baby hamster outside the nest, mama hamster will go and retrieve it once she realizes it has gone on to its own adventures.

With that said: You can move it back to the nest with a spoon but we think the risk outweighs the gains and we do not recommend it unless in extreme circumstances.

Step 6. Make Sure There is Enough Food and Water

Time period: Birth to 2 weeks old

During the first two hands-off weeks, you should not just leave the cage be.

The hamsters still need food and water and as there are more hamsters now, they will need more.

You should thus check food and water at least twice a day to support the hamster growth.

How to Give Baby Hamsters Water

Giving the pups water is actually not as easy as it sounds.

For instance, a baby hamster can drown in a bowl of water.

Instead, you should use a shallow dish for water for the first 10 days. After that, you can use a sipper bottle. Make sure that it is sufficiently low for the hamster to reach it.

After a week, you should start scattering food along the edges of the cage. This will allow the more adventurous pups to go out and scavenge themselves, while the mother will ensure she still brings it home for the shyer pups.

Step 7. Start Handling the Baby Hamsters

Time period: 2-4 weeks old

When the babies are two weeks old, you can start your normal routine again, by cleaning the cage (but still leave some soft tissue).

At this point, the mother will be less protective and the babies will be less dependent on her. After two weeks, their eyes will open and they are now no longer blind.

This is also a big point in time for human to hamster relations.

baby hamsters in a girl hand

Yes, you can now start taming and handling the baby hamsters.

Handling them at this early stage will make them get comfortable with you and other humans.

Just remember that the young ones are very quick so be careful when handling them.

During this stage, the pups will continue feeding on their mothers, so don’t be alarmed that they continue to do so.

Step 8. Separate the Hamsters

When the hamsters are weaned off their mother, you should start splitting them up. At the latest, this should happen when the hamster is 4 weeks old.

Here are a few things to remember when doing so:

  • Should not be in the same cage as their mother
  • ​Boys and girls should not be in the same cage (otherwise inbreeding might happen)
  • ​Syrian Hamsters should be in their own cage
  • Dwarf hamsters can live longer together, but might start fighting at the age of 12 weeks. If that happens you should separate them

So, to sum up…

Check these funny names for hamsters!

What to Do When You Have Hamster Babies

1. Check to see if your hamster is actually pregnant

2. Get your hamster cage ready for the hamster babies

3. Beef up your hamster’s diet

4. Know what to expect during hamster birth

5. Do not disturb or enter the nest for at least two weeks

6. Make sure there is enough food and water

7. Start handling the baby hamsters

8. Separate the hamsters

Now you’re ready to have Hamster Babies!

There are definitely some big precautions to take when having hamster pups.

Luckily, while the precautions are very important, they are easy to adhere to.

And we hope this guide has equipped you well and inspired you to start breeding hamsters yourself.

Resources

  • 1. Breeding and Reproduction of Hamsters – All Other Pets [Internet]. Merck Veterinary Manual. Available from: https://www.merckvetmanual.com/all-other-pets/hamsters/breeding-and-reproduction-of-hamsters
  • 2. Davis FC. Daily variation in maternal and fetal weight gain in mice and hamsters. Journal of Experimental Zoology. 1989;250:273–82.
  • 3. Getting a Pet Hamster [Internet]. WebMD. Available from: https://pets.webmd.com/getting-a-pet-hamster
  • 4. Viswanathan N, Davis FC. Timing of Birth in Syrian Hamsters1. Biology of Reproduction. 1992;47:6–10.
cute baby hamsters in hand

How do you care for baby hamsters? Please share your experiences below!

Alina Hartley
Alina Hartley

Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
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