Hamsters are some of the most favorite pets in the world. And if you got several of them, you could almost expect the females to get pregnant. Now, this is the part when many first-time hamster owners find themselves wondering if baby hamsters feed milk from their mothers. Do hamsters produce milk, too?
The simple answer is yes, hamsters produce milk. In fact, the mother’s milk nourishes the baby hamsters until they are weaned.
Continue reading below to learn more about pregnant and nursing hamsters.
Symptoms of Pregnancy in Hamsters
A hamster’s gestation period mainly depends on its breed. However, it may also vary depending on the organism of every female. These pregnancies are usually very short, lasting for only 15 to 25 days.
It means that to give your hamster adequate and proper care throughout her pregnancy, it is important that you recognize the symptoms of pregnancy early on.
The number of offspring for every gestation also depends on the specific type of hamster you own. Golden hamsters can give birth to up to 20 offspring, while Russian hamsters give birth to only 4 to 8 offspring.
Sadly, you cannot notice any abdominal dilation in your hamster until she reaches the final 5 days of gestations. It means that for you to determine that you have a pregnant hamster, you have to watch out for some signs, which include the following.
Once your hamster starts drinking more water or if she has an increased appetite all of a sudden, it may be a sign that your female hamster is pregnant.
Aside from being a potential symptom of pregnancy, changes in appetite may also imply some common hamster diseases or even reveal that your female hamster is nervous, anxious, or exposed to high-stress levels.
Different or Strange Behavior
If you have a pregnant female, she will start building a nest inside her cage and even store some food in the nest for her day of delivery.
Female hamsters also exhibit more aggression during the first few days of pregnancy, particularly towards females. However, after she gives birth and days pass, she will have a calmer temperament and your hamster might rest and sleep for longer hours.
Sudden Weight Gain
When your female hamster is eating more food than usual, it is only logical for her to gain weight fast. Aside from this, weight gain is also a normal part of any pregnancy because the young grow fast inside the womb.
If the nipples of your female hamster are swollen, it is already a sign that the body of your hamster is getting ready for lactation.
Hamster Pregnancy and Birth
Hamsters have a very short period of gestation after mating, which is only 16 days, one of the shortest periods ever known in mammals.
Throughout the first 7 days of the gestation period, you have to be careful when you handle your pregnant hamster. During the later parts of the pregnancy, it is also a good idea to provide milk to your pregnant female.
You can let your pregnant hamster enjoy some milk in different forms like a runny porridge or milk-soaked bread. It will help maintain the bone strength, not only of the pregnant mother but even that of her pups.
Giving sunflower seeds to a pregnant hamster one or two days before birth can help with her milk production as well.
Two days before the date of birth of the baby hamsters, the mother will start nesting. This is the time for you to clean your hamster’s cage and prepare lots of fresh bedding that the hamster can use for making a nest.
After your female hamster gives birth, you might want to avoid cleaning the cage for a minimum of 2 weeks. However, you still need to remove uneaten old food and switch it with new fresh food regularly. You also need to provide fresh and clean water every day.
Hamster babies also called pups, are delivered between midday of day 16 and the night of day 17 of the period of gestation. However, most pups are born during the evening of day 16.
You must call a vet right away if you don’t see any signs of pups when it is already the morning of day 18.
When pups are born, there are usually around 4 to 12 in one litter. However, this number can also go as high as 20. Pups are born naked and blind with their ears flat against their heads.
After the pups are delivered, the mother will then lick them clean and let them suckle. It is also the time when the mother also cleans herself properly.
During the first several days, it is very seldom for the mother hamster to leave the nest, spending more time licking her pups fluff up and constructing the nest, and nursing her newborn pups instead.
If the mother decides to leave the nest, though, it will only be to have a drink, collect food, or go to the toilet. The mother will do it so very slowly, using the bedding material to scrape off the hamster pups from her teats.
Don’t be surprised if you hear some squeaks as the mother goes back to the nest and until she gets settled down all over again.
If the mother is startled at any point for whatever reason and ends up running away from the nest, the pups might get dispersed outside the nest. At this point, it is a must that you avoid putting the pups back to the nest on your own, no matter how tempting it is. The mother can do it on her own, usually very fast, especially if the pups are already squeaking loudly.
Yes, hamsters produce milk, and you should give nursing mothers lots of milky foods daily so they can produce more to feed their pups. By doing so, you can be sure that both the mother and her little ones will be healthy and strong so you can watch them run around in the cage soon.