Information on Raising Hamsters
- Hamsters can reproduce from the time they are six weeks old to about 15 months of age. Females are "in heat" and receptive to males every four days, according to Provet Healthcare Information. Gestation lasts between 15 and 21 days and the mother will usually deliver between four and seven babies, but in some instances it can be as many as 20. A few days prior to delivery, the mother should be given nesting materials to make a nest for her babies. Toilet tissue is suggested by Hamsterific.
- Newborn hamster pups are naked, deaf and blind. The mother will gather the babies, put them in the nest and start nursing them after she rests. She eats the afterbirth and the cauls (a covering on the newborns), according to Hamsterific. Do not disturb the babies for a minimum of 10 days. It is critical to provide plenty of food and water at this point. If the mother thinks there is not enough food and water, she will kill the babies to prevent them from starving.
- Fur appears on the darker colored babies around the third day. The ears will begin to stand up. By day five, the markings of the darker babies and the fur of the lighter babies is visible. Lower the water bottle at this time because the pups will soon begin exploring and should be able to reach it. They will begin eating solid food around the seventh day. Their eyes will open around the 13th day. At this point, clean the cage and clean it again before the pups are weaned. Hamsterific indicates that between 21 and 28 days old, the pups can leave their mother.
- Provet recommends a cage that is metal, glass or plastic to prevent the hamster from chewing its way out. It should be kept clean, dry, warm and free of drafts. Make sure it is dark at night, but allow light in during the day. Hamsters need a private area for nesting and food storage. Shredded paper or hay may be used for nesting material. They also need a separate area for toileting with absorbent material, such as sawdust or paper. The hamster's droppings should be cleaned out every few days. Exercise is important and hamsters usually love exercise wheels to run on.
- Hamsters should be fed commercial foods supplemented with greens and fruits. Occasionally, they may be given milk in small amounts. According to Provet, a hamster can eat 10 to 15 grams of food and drink 20 to 30 ml. of water in one day. Provide wood for them to gnaw on, which helps them wear down their teeth.