Caring For Hamster Pups.
Caring for hamster pups. During the gestation period about 3 to 4 days before the birth it is a good idea to remove the hamster wheel and any toys. This will prevent any accidents with the pups as mum may use the wheel. As you will see from the video below the pups are born blind and without any fur. They are approx: 15cm long and weigh about 3 grams. The average litter should be around 6-10 pups. The babies are highly dependent on their mother for warmth and food.
From the day of the birth the nest should not be disturbed from here on. Make sure mum has plenty of food and water for herself during the lactation period. (Lactation describes the secretion of milk from the mammary glands and the process of providing that milk to the young and the period of time that the female lactates to feed her young.)
During the pregnancy it will be beneficial to feed the female hamster a high protein diet. This can include but not limited to boiled eggs, scrambled egg, cheese, whole meal bread, tofu, and tuna in oil not in brine.
Mum hamster caring for pups
Over the next 5 days as the pups grow the skin pigment will change. At around day 5 fur will start to grow, the ears will start to show. The eyes can be seen starting to darken and develop under the skin.
As the pups reach about 8 days old the mother starts the weaning process. At about 7 to 8 days old the mother starts taking solid food to the nest for the pups to eat. She then gradually starts to reduce the amount of milk she feeds them. At around 10 days old the pups may start to wander around the cage. Although still blind the pups will begin to forage for food. At this stage make sure there is plenty of food scattered around for the pups to find. A high protein and high fibre diet will ensure the pups have a good start in life. Leave a few sticks of carrots, cauliflower, vegetables, and eggs lying around. Baby hamsters are actually born with teeth and keep the same set thought their life. Dried hamster food mix should be left as the babies are capable of eating it at this young age. When the pups are 14 days old the eyes should be open and they should be looking now more like cute baby hamsters.
In the video on the right you can see the babies at 9 days old happily eating solid food. I am lending mum a helping hand to feed them some boiled egg white.
Proud mum with her litter at 4 week old
Once the pups eyes are open this is usually around 14 days. This is the time to clean out the cage for the first time since the birth if you wish to do so. Always handle the mother first, this will put the scent of her on to your hands then handle the pups. This will be the first time you have handled the babies and their bones are still very soft and fragile. So please take a little extra care. Handling should be done very carefully when picking them up. Don't be tempted to pick them up by using finger and thumb. Placing one hand, palm upper most on the cage floor and using the other hand to very gently push the baby onto your palm. Or they may be scuffed by the skin on the back of the neck.
When the cage is cleaned and ready for all to return place the mother back first followed by the pups.
Leave the water bottle close to the bottom of the cage so the pups are able to reach it. Most of the fresh vegetables will provide them with the moisture they need. The pups will still be suckling for another 6-7 days and should be fully weaned by about 21 day's. The baby's will be ready for separating from mum at around 28 days old. They should then be separated and placed into their own single sex cages here they can stay together for another 2 week or more. At 7 - 8 week old they will need to be housed individually into their own cages