Some owners want to breed Syrian hamsters because they want more pets or intend to sell them.
To breed Syrian hamsters, you’ll need one male and one female, but more pairings will increase the chances of success. Females enter heat every 4 days and can fall pregnant from 6 weeks old. Introduce a familiar male to a female’s cage while in heat and check if the two hamsters mate.
Ensure you can care for a litter of pups, which is likely to be 6-8. Consider what you’ll do with the babies and ensure you can meet their needs.
Can I Breed Syrian Hamsters at Home?
Breeding Syrian hamsters is a process that takes time, patience, and preparation.
Just because you have two hamsters, one of each sex, doesn’t mean you can put them together and get results. Ensure you’re prepared to meet the needs of the breeding program.
Genetics plays a role in the lives of baby hamsters produced through a union of two Syrians, like fur color. Gold is the dominant color in Syrian hamsters, but the genes of different colorings can be passed on.
Mutations can arise in Syrian hamsters’ fur color, meaning they could have a gray, rust, yellow, or black coat. Ordinarily, two golden hamsters will produce a litter of the same color.
At What Age Can You Breed Syrian Hamsters?
Syrian hamsters have short lifespans, so everything happens faster than you expect.
Males are sexually mature and active from 4 weeks, and females can fall pregnant from 6 weeks onward. Separate Syrians into their cages at this age, or they’ll breed with siblings.
The best age to breed Syrian hamsters is 4-6 months old, which enhances the chances of a healthy litter and gives the hamster time to mature enough to cope with the stresses and strains of motherhood.
Syrian hamsters don’t have menopause, meaning they can breed throughout their lives. The older a hamster gets, the less likely successful births become. Avoid breeding a hamster over 18 months old.
How Often Do Syrian Hamsters Breed?
Syrian hamsters are driven by an instinctive desire to propagate their species. A female Syrian hamster can fall pregnant just 4 days after giving birth, and the estrus cycle will start again.
However, if the hamster has birthed a litter, her pups will still need her at this stage. Equally, the hamster is less likely to welcome male attention so soon after giving birth.
It’s advisable to leave at least 3 months between mating sessions.
How Many Times Can You Breed A Syrian Hamster?
Syrian hamsters should start breeding at 4-6 months, stopping at 18 months.
The female also needs around 3 months between births, which suggests that a female Syrian hamster shouldn’t give birth to more than 3 litters in her lifetime.
How to Know if Your Syrian Hamster is Ready to Mate
Females are less territorial and aggressive than males. A female hamster won’t take kindly to a male attempting to mount her and breed without permission.
Female Syrians enter heat every 4 days after reaching sexual maturity.
Pay attention to her tail while stroking the hamster’s back to test if your female is in estrus. A hamster’s tail has a limited purpose, but it can be invaluable to communication.
If the female is ready to mate, she’ll react to the stroke by lifting her tail straight up in the air. This reflex action is how she’ll respond if a male attempts to mount her.
If the tail remains low, try the next day.
How To Know if A Syrian Hamster is Pregnant
Signs of pregnancy in Syrian hamsters include:
- Increased appetite and thirst.
- Mood changes, especially uncharacteristic aggression.
- A swollen belly with bright pink, distended nipples.
- Nesting – creating a more comfortable bed, usually away from a usual sleeping spot.
The gestation period in Syrian hamsters lasts 16-18 days.
How Many Babies Do Syrian Hamsters Have?
There’s no hard-and-fast rule about how many babies a hamster will birth.
Litter sizes vary based on a range of factors. As per Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, younger hamsters birth more pups, often with a bias toward female babies.
Typically, expect your hamster to birth 6-8 pups, but the quantity could double. In rare cases, hamster litters can contain as many as 20 pups.
The more babies the hamster has, the more exhausted she’ll be, and the more she’ll struggle to care for her young. You’ll need to be ready to take care of the needs of a large litter.
Do Syrian Hamsters Eat Their Babies?
Just because a hamster gives birth to pups doesn’t mean she’s ready to be a mother.
You need to know how to care for Syrian hamster babies if the mother is incapable. If she gets too overwhelmed, the hamster may eat her young.
Avoid touching a hamster’s babies for a few days to minimize the risk of this outcome. If the young hamsters survive for up to a week, they’ll likely escape being eaten by their mother.
Can Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters Breed?
Crossbreeding golden hamsters with other breeds is biologically impossible.
When it comes to mating, hamsters prefer their own kind. The only exception to this is the Winter White Dwarf and Campbells Dwarf.
How To Breed Syrian Hamsters
It’s often difficult to persuade Syrian hamsters to mate in captivity, but this process can work:
1/ Get Two Syrian Hamsters
You’ll need at least two hamsters, one of each sex. Ideally, have more, as there’s no guarantee that any two particular hamsters will be compatible for breeding.
Adopt these hamsters while they’re as young as possible.
Don’t breed the hamsters until they’re a few months old. This extra time allows them to relax and settle into life as pets, enhancing the chances of pregnancy.
Just be aware that the more hamsters you adopt, the more space and equipment you need.
Each hamster will need its own cage, and every habitat needs to be fully equipped.
2/ Wait for the Female To Enter Heat
The Syrian hamster heat cycle tends to rotate every four days, but you can’t just leave two hamsters together for this period.
If you place a male in a female hamster’s cage before she goes into heat, they won’t breed. The male will try, but he’ll be forcefully rejected. This may result in fighting, leaving one or both hamsters hurt.
While the female is in heat, reposition the cages of the hamsters you plan to breed. Allow the male and female to interact through the safety of cage bars.
This will allow them to exchange pheromones, making it more likely that the female will welcome breeding. Repeat this for 2-3 heat cycles.
3/ Introduce The Male To The Female
Once the hamsters have met through bars over a couple of heat cycles, you can get them together.
Keep the room dim. According to Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, low lighting prolongs a female hamster’s time in estrus.
Place the male into the female’s cage and observe them. Her tail will be pointing straight upward if she’s ready to mate. The male will understand this cue and mount the female.
The male will remain behind the female, standing on his hind legs. If the female rejects the approach, separate the hamsters at once. If not, allow nature to take its course.
Once the mating is complete, return the male to his habitat.
Males are ready to mate almost immediately after a breeding program, but a female will be disinterested. She’ll likely become aggressive if the male approaches again, especially if she’s pregnant.
4/ Observe the Female and Prepare for Birth
Once the female is pregnant, she undergoes physical and emotional changes.
A pregnant hamster will be hungrier than usual, so consider increasing her protein intake. Small chunks of chicken are ideal supplementary snacks for a pregnant Syrian hamster.
Your Syrian will start nesting as her due date gets closer. Keep providing more bedding for the hamster, and don’t touch the nest she’s creating. This is where the hamster will give birth to her pups.
It takes a hamster around 30 minutes to give birth to an individual pup, so the length of the entire birth depends on the size of the litter. You’ll know when the hamster is giving birth by the noise, as she’ll be more verbal than usual, making a range of squeaks.
Don’t actively help the hamster give birth because she’ll be defensive and bite if you get too close. Monitor the proceedings to ensure the pups aren’t hurt upon birth.
5/ Caring for the Litter
Female hamsters sometimes eat their young after birthing a litter, which is more common in younger hamsters that have given birth for the first time. The hamster is afraid, confused, and often hungry.
Sometimes, hamsters eat their young for what they consider justifiable reasons. Mother hamsters sometimes eat sick, stillborn, or disabled pups as they believe it’s correcting a mistake.
Avoid touching baby hamsters without gloves for at least 21 days. This makes it less likely their mother will panic and eat the babies, fearful that a predator has found her nest.
Don’t introduce the pups to their father because he’s likely to see them as a threat.
Ensure their cage is clean to reduce the risk of infection, offer solid food after 2 weeks to speed up the weaning process, and provide their mother with nutritious food.
6/ Separate the Babies
Eventually, a hamster’s litter must leave the mother and become independent. Knowing when to separate Syrian hamster babies is a crucial component of husbandry.
As a rule, baby Syrian hamsters should be separated at three weeks of age.
At this point, you can house the entire litter in just two habitats – one for the males and one for the females. Within an additional week, the males should move into independent cages.
As male hamsters become sexually mature at 4 weeks of age, changes in persona arise, including increased aggression and territoriality. Females can co-exist together for longer.
At this point, you need to finalize your plans for your baby hamsters. Do you intend to sell the hamsters or give them away? Your decision must be based on what’s best for the hamsters.