Feb 092012
 

My advice, before you even read any further, is not to breed hamsters. It will take a lot of your time and attention and can become costly when you need extra cages and food.

Also, you’re going to have to deal with a litter of from 4 to 20. Each of those pups is going to need a good home and you can’t count on the local pet store to take your hamster pups – they usually have more than they can sell.

However, if you are still interested in hamster breeding, the following information will be helpful.

Baby Roborovski

Baby dwarf hamster by Beth L. Alexander, on Flickr

 

When to Breed

Although hamsters may reach sexual maturity as early as four to five weeks of age, females should not be bred for the first time until they are 3 to 4 months old (12 to 16 weeks). They should not be bred for the first time after 6 months of age, however. Males can be bred by 2 to 3 months of age.

The female hamster will be ready for mating (in heat) about every 4 days. This will last about 24 to 28 hours. The best mating time is usually in the evening, when hamsters are most active.

If the female is not in heat, she may attack the male hamster. Remove the male immediately if you see this reaction and try again the next night.

Some people report success with a divided cage, such as an aquarium with a mesh between the two halves. The hamsters can then smell and see each other without getting into a fight. When the female seems ready, you can remove the mesh for mating.

Then be sure to separate the pair again.

Length of Pregnancy

Hamsters are pregnant for only a short time, usually from 16 to 18 days. Roborovskis and Chinese hamsters may take a few days longer.

Litter Size

The size of the pup litter can be from 1 to 16. A typical litter for Syrians and Dwarf Campbell’s will be about 6 to 8. Roborovski litters tend to be a bit smaller, typically about 4 to 6 pups.

Newborns

The pups are born naked and blind but will grow rapidly. Within about 7 to 14 days their fur will usually be all grown in. By then they can see and hear and run around the cage.

Newborn pups should not be handled under any circumstances for at least 2 weeks. If your scent rubs off on a pup, the female may abandon it, pushing it from the nest, or worse, she may cannibalize it or all of the pups.

Female hamsters may also kill their babies if they are deformed or she does not think she can produce enough milk to feed the babies.

Most hamsters can be weaned from their mother somewhere between 3 and 4 weeks after birth. This is when it’s time to separate the litter into males and females and put them in separate cages. If not, you may find brothers and sisters mating and you will soon have more hamsters to deal with.

After giving birth, it’s best to wait about 3 or 4 months before starting another round of breeding. This will give the mother a chance to recover from the last experience.

Final Warning

As I said in the beginning, I don’t recommend breeding hamsters unless you are really prepared to put in the effort.

And let’s face it, hamsters from pet stores tend to be from hamster breeding mills so tend to have bad genes meaning you will get a lot of babies that are deformed or sick. They will die or be eaten by the mother. Are you prepared to deal with that?

If you still want to breed hamsters,

  1. Read a lot about selecting hamster stock and breeding hamsters.
  2. Go to a professional hamster breeder to get your stock.

Good luck!


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