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Hamster Babies Might Be The Ultimate Surprise
One of the biggest surprises for new pygmy hamster owners in the first week or two after bringing a baby boy home is the sudden and shocking discovery of a brand new litter of baby hamsters in the nest box. This can create an immediate crisis for some new owners who have to deal with raising baby hamsters by hand should anything happen to the mother, leaving a litter of orphaned pups. Although it is unusual, the mother may die during childbirth.
Since he was most likely mated at the pet store, it is not known exactly which male, or for that matter, what species the father is. In some cases, if the male is a larger species, the female may have difficulty delivering the babies and may die in the process. This dire scenario suddenly creates a whole new alternative, which is admittedly difficult, though not impossible, as new dwarf hamster puppies must be fed hourly, day and night, for the first two weeks, and every 2-3 hours, approx. the class in the third week. They then eat and drink on their own, but what a nightmare a fire drill is, assuming it’s even up to the challenge.
Also, the moms working at the pet store are likely to be very young and inexperienced, so if they don’t choose to eat the puppies, they may simply choose to abandon the newborns. And a less scary scenario is when the mother happens to escape the cage before the baby hamsters are weaned. In general, retrieving the mother is not too much of a problem, either by using a special “Live Trap” that is available commercially or simply by luring her with food, so the separation from the babies is likely to be short-lived. However, if you can’t find it and bring it back, the babies must be cared for quickly and continuously until they are three weeks old.
Fortunately, most hamster moms are good parents, so enough talk about bad things and what-if scenarios. Dwarf hamster pups will wean themselves and become completely self-sufficient in about 21 days, so there’s not much to do for the next two weeks except tempt intrusion. In other words, just leave everyone alone for that 10-14 day period. Privacy is the best policy, especially for a brand new mom who happens to have a brand new pet and is probably nervous and unsure to begin with, so whatever you do, don’t scare her into doing anything unimaginable.
If you notice pregnancy, notice an unusual swelling of the stomach before the final delivery, there are a few things you can do to help her and yourself prepare for the upcoming event and the temporary isolation that follows:
- Clean the cage, hamster toys, dishes and anything else that can be removed with mild warm soapy water and allow everything to dry thoroughly before reassembling. This may be your only chance to clean for the next few weeks, so make the most of it.
- Place 2-3 inches of safe substrate material on the bottom hamster cage. Be sure to use a high quality product that is free of toxic oils, fragrances, inks, excessive dust and dyes. Paper and cellulose fiber materials are excellent alternatives, but can be a bit expensive. Cedar and most pine should be avoided when using wood or chips, as both contain substances that can irritate the skin, urinary tract, and respiratory system.
- Make it easy for the new mom to build a super soft nest by adding shredded unscented toilet paper, white gift wrap, or handkerchiefs to the cage. Sterile cotton can also be used as bedding for newborns hamster puppies.
- As a precaution, it is good to have a small bottle of unflavored “Pedialyte”, an eye dropper, a milk replacer such as “KMR”, baby formula or at least a can of evaporated milk. manual feeding becomes necessary.
And now the most important question: “What am I going to do with these babies when they grow up?” Most pet stores don’t need more baby dwarf hamsters, but it never hurts to check. Call your friends, classmates, work colleagues, relatives, etc., and don’t forget the many free ads in the paper, Craigslist, or bulletin boards at churches, schools, or local grocery stores.
If you can’t release the baby hamsters, be prepared to wean them very quickly. Baby dwarf hamsters can be caged in groups of the same sex, unless fighting eventually makes this impossible. This is extremely important as some dwarf hamsters start mating again the day after the pups are born. And another consideration that makes the separation of the sexes more urgent is that some female dwarf hamsters do not become sexually mature until they are one month old. So don’t procrastinate.
Baby Syrian hamsters should be kept in separate cages until they are five or six weeks old, as they are not social animals and are dangerous to each other when kept together.
For even more information and great resources, please visit Care of the Dwarf Hamster.
Copyright 2011 Walter Tekman. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share the entire content of this article with your friends or post it on your website as long as you leave all references intact, including this notice.
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