How to Tell If A Hamster Is Pregnant?
Is your hamster acting weird lately? Increased weight, aggressive behavior, and swollen belly might not be due to her pregnancy alone. Sometimes a diseased hamster can also show similar signs.
So, how to tell if a hamster is pregnant? If your hamster is 4-6 weeks old and had a chance of mating in the last 30 days, there’s a high possibility it is pregnant. The obvious signs of pregnancy include a swollen body, enlarged nipples, heightened aggression, nesting, increased appetite, and hoarding food during the last stage of pregnancy.
Let’s get into the details and find out the obvious signs of pregnancy in hamsters and how to take care of a pregnant hamster and her offspring. Keep reading!
When to Look for the Signs of Pregnancy in Hamsters?
Pregnant hamsters don’t show any notable signs before they reach their last stage of pregnancy, which is only 10 days before birth. You need to look for the signs of pregnancy if-
Your Hamster Is Old Enough
Typically, a hamster becomes sexually mature when it’s 4 to 6 weeks old. Dwarf and Syrian hamsters start mating when they are 5 weeks old.
In general, all species of hamsters reach sexual maturity by 12 weeks. So, if your hamster is at least 4 weeks old and acting differently, you should look for signs of pregnancy.
It Was Exposed to A Male Hamster
Male and female hamsters reach sexual maturity at nearly the same age. So, if your male and female hamsters have been staying together in a box, they might start mating.
In fact, if your hamsters aren’t caged properly, there is a high chance the female hamster might get exposed to a male even though they aren’t housed in pairs. You need to look for signs of pregnancy if your adult female hamster was exposed to an adult male hamster.
Gestation Periods Of Different Hamster Species and 6 Signs of Pregnancy in Hamsters
Your hamster can take 16 to 22 days to give birth. The time varies depending on its species. Let’s take a quick look at how long the gestation periods of different hamster species in the table below.
|Species Name||Gestation Period|
|Syrian Hamster||16 to 17 days|
|Roborovski Dwarf Hamster||20 to 22 days|
|Golden Hamster||15 to 18 days|
|Winter White Hamster||21 days|
|Russian and Chinese Dwarf hamsters||18 to 21 days|
As mentioned, hamsters start showing pregnancy signs just about 10 days before giving birth. So, a pregnant hamster will develop the following signs after about one or two weeks-
1. Swollen Belly and Increased Weight
As the babies start to grow inside the hamster, they will grow a tiny bump that’s clearly visible most of the time. Besides, the weight of your hamster will also increase if it’s pregnant. In some cases, the weight might be twice as much as its previous weight.
Well, if the swollen belly of your semester has a round shape that makes it look like an apple, the hamster is just chubby. A pregnant hamster will have a pear-shaped body with a swollen belly.
2. Enlarged Nipples
When your hamster’s abdomen starts to swell, her nipples will also protrude and appear more prominent. Besides, the enlarged nipples will darken, making them more visible.
However, dwarf hamsters are too small and you might not notice their enlarged nipples. But don’t try to turn the hamster to check its nipples as this might harm the babies if the hamster is indeed pregnant.
3. Extra Food and Sleep
The baby hamsters growing inside the mom’s belly will require more and more food. Hence, your hamster will start eating and drinking a lot more if it’s pregnant. It will sleep some extra hours as well.
4. Building Nest
Your hamster will start collecting bedding materials and build a nest in the corner of its cage to welcome her newborn child.
5. Aggressive Behavior
When pregnant, a female hamster becomes agitated, restless, and aggressive toward other hamsters. Besides, it might start hissing when you try to touch her or even go close to her.
6. Hoarding Food
Apart from eating and drinking more, a pregnant hamster starts hiding food in its cage, typically inside the nest. Although it’s not the most obvious sign of pregnancy, it gives you a hint that you should start preparation or get your hamster checked by a vet.
Taking Care of A Pregnant Hamster
Now that you know your little pet is expecting, you must learn how to take care of a pregnant hamster properly. So, here are things you should do and should not do for your pregnant hamster-
Avoid Direct Contact
When you find out that your hamster is pregnant, the first thing you need to do is
- Avoid direct contact with it.
- Don’t touch the mother unless it’s mandatory.
- No need to turn it or touch the belly as it might harm the babies.
Keep It Separately
- Always keep your expecting hamster in a separate cage. Otherwise, it might hurt the other hamsters in the cage. Also, after the babies are born, other male hamsters might eat them.
- The separate cage should be large enough to provide sufficient space for the hamster and its babies.
- You should keep some nesting materials like tissues and soft clothing.
Ensure A Healthy Diet
A pregnant hamster needs a lot of food and drinks to maintain its health. Apart from its regular food, it needs more protein for strength.
- Try to add pieces of protein to your pet’s regular diet.
- You can add fresh malunggay leaves, unseasoned chicken breast, and freshly boiled egg, and sprinkle some nuts and oats.
- Don’t add too much protein to the diet days before the hamster gives birth, as it might make the babies grow bigger and the birthing process more complicated.
Clean the Cage
- Thoroughly clean the hamster cage about five days before the hamster gives birth.
- Do not touch the nest as it might stress out the hamster.
- Be very careful while moving your pregnant pet and keep it in a soft and comfortable place while you’re cleaning.
Remember, cleaning is important as you won’t be able to do it again before the babies turn 2 weeks old.
Leave It Alone Before and After Giving Birth
The labor period of a hamster lasts about 1 to 2 hours. It will become more restless when the labor starts.
- As hamsters prefer to give birth in isolation, you must not disturb them in this stage.
- Also, don’t touch the cage or the newborn babies at all. It might scare the hamsters and make them more aggressive.
- Leave alone the mother with her babies for at least 2 weeks.
- Only touch the cage while giving food and drink.
Handling the Newborn Hamsters
Newborn hamsters are called pinkies and they are very sensitive. Any little mistake can be life-threatening. Here are all the details about nurturing your pinkies-
- Don’t ever touch the newborn hamsters. This might leave your scent on the babies. And if the mother smells that foreign scent from her babies, it might abandon them or cull them.
- Always try to stay away from the hamster cage. The mother can take care of the newborn for 2 weeks without your help. Being too close to the babies might stress out the mother and make it cull the babies.
- If you notice the mother culling its babies, don’t interfere. It’s a normal thing among hamsters.
- Serve the newborn hamsters with sufficient drinking water. As they drink milk from the mother, they don’t need any extra food for 2-3 weeks.
- After weaning, you can give them regular food. Before that, serve the babies cucumbers to keep them hydrated.
Q: How many times does a hamster give birth?
Depending on the species, a hamster can give birth once a month. However, to maintain good health, experts recommend that a hamster shouldn’t give birth more than 3 times during their lifespan.
Q: Can hamsters get pregnant without a male?
No, a hamster can’t get pregnant without a male. The estrus period of a female hamster comes every 4 days. If the female hamster mates with a male hamster during this stage, only then it will become pregnant.
Q: How many babies can a pregnant hamster have?
A pregnant hamster can give birth to a litter of 6 to 8 pups at a time.
So, now you know how to tell if a hamster is pregnant. If your 4-week-old male and female hamsters have come in contact, you should start looking for the pregnancy signs. A pear-shaped body with a swollen body and enlarged dark nipples are two main signs of pregnancy in hamsters.
To take care of your pregnant hamster, keep it in a separate cage and provide sufficient food and drink. Leave the hamster alone during labor and after birth as it can care for its babies all on its own.