You don't have to wait too long before weaning baby hamsters. Hamster pregnancies only last 16 days, with babies weaned about three weeks later. Three weeks after that, the female babies from the litter can breed, while males are able to sire litters just after reaching the three-month mark. Sexing hamsters is easy -- males boast very big testicles.
A hamster litter generally consists of five to ten babies, but larger litters aren't uncommon. Hamster "pups," as they're called, are born blind, deaf and hairless. Within a week, the hair starts coming in and their teeth emerge. At the age of 2 weeks, they gain the ability to see and hear.
Leave Them Alone
It's very important to leave mother and babies alone for at least a week after birth. If the mother gets upset, she's likely to eat her young. She might also panic and stick the babies in her mouth to move them, which often results in their suffocation. If you've thoroughly bedded the cage before the birth, you don't need to clean it and cause a possible massacre during this crucial first week.
By the time you can start safely interacting with baby hamsters, they're ready to eat solid food. That's at about the 7- to 10-day mark. Soften pelleted hamster food by wetting it and placing it on the floor of the cage, so the babies can easily access it. You should also add another water bottle for the babies, positioning the tube at the bottom of the cage so the pups can drink from it. Wean standard, or Syrian, hamsters completely between their 21st and 25th days, separating them from their mother. You can wait a few more days with the dwarf breeds. It's not hard to tell when weaning should occur, as the mother hamsters makes it clear she doesn't want the babies nursing or around her any more.
When separating the pups, place females in one cage and males in another. By the age of 5 weeks, if you haven't already placed your hamsters in new homes, you must give each one a separate cage. That's because Syrian hamsters are loners, fighting with each once they reach sexual maturity. If you have a dwarf variety, you might be able to keep the same-sex hamsters together, but have separate cages ready in case they start battling.
Recently weaned hamsters often suffer from "wet tail," an intestinal ailment. Symptoms include loss of appetite, diarrhea, depression, hunching over and irritability. Seriously ill hamsters experience might bleed from the rectum. Take your pet to the vet immediately for treatment, which includes medication for diarrhea and fluid replenishment.
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