Hamsters have short lifespans, which results in a faster life cycle. You may be surprised to discover what age hamsters can get pregnant, so keep males and females separate at an early stage.
Female hamsters can get pregnant at 6 weeks of age, with male hamsters becoming fertile after just 4 weeks. Wait until a female is at least 10 weeks old before breeding her. Females can get pregnant for 12–16 months, while male hamsters remain fertile their entire lives.
Hamsters can get pregnant again 24 hours after giving birth, although they’ll rarely be inclined to do so. A hamster needs assistance after birthing her pups, and you’ll need to help care for the newborns.
Will Two Pet Hamsters Breed?
Hamsters know their position on the food chain and status as prey animals.
As a result, hamsters, especially males, are driven by a strong desire to procreate. Add the ability to get pregnant when young, and there’s a high probability of breeding.
Both male and female hamsters can become aggressive during mating. If a female hamster is prepared to breed, she’ll assume a traditional mating position, pointing her tail toward the sky.
This will only happen if she’s in heat. Officially, this happens every 4 days. As per Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, dim lighting enables females to remain in estrus for longer.
If a hamster isn’t interested in the male, separate them. The male will likely still attempt to initiate breeding, and the female will respond aggressively.
If the two hamsters mate, separate them anyway. If breeding is successful, the female will immediately fall pregnant, which means she’ll need space from other hamsters.
Signs That A Hamster Is Pregnant
A swollen and protruding stomach is the most obvious sign of pregnancy. The gestation period of hamsters is short, so you’ll notice it quickly. Also, check for bright pink nipples.
A pregnant hamster will be tetchy. Be careful when attempting to handle a hamster if she’s carrying pups. She’ll likely bite if you pick her up and won’t want to interact with other hamsters.
Pregnant hamsters eat more than usual and spend more time drinking. Add more protein-rich foods to her diet alongside a second water bottle. If these changes are welcomed, she’s likely pregnant.
Check for signs of nesting. This is a strong instinctual desire to create a larger, warmer bed than usual, typically in a different cage corner from where she usually sleeps.
Nesting activity becomes increasingly apparent toward the latter stages of pregnancy.
How Long are Hamsters Pregnant?
All breeds of hamsters have different gestation periods. This table explains how long you should expect a hamster to remain pregnant. These timeframes cover the period from initial mating to birth:
|Chinese:||18 – 23 days|
|Roborovski:||22 – 30 days|
|Russian:||18 – 21 days|
|Syrian:||16 – 18 days|
|Winter White:||18 – 21 days|
It doesn’t take long for a hamster to go from initial interaction to mating with a male to giving birth.
How To Help a Hamster Give Birth
Start by preparing the birthing area using a solid hamster tank rather than a cage. Remove any toys, peripherals, and platforms from the tank before cleaning it thoroughly.
Once the tank is empty and clean, add a thick layer of bedding. Keep everything at ground level, as it can be dangerous for a hamster to nest at an elevated height due to the risk of falls.
Place the birthing tank in a quiet room, and rehome her when you feel your hamster is ready to give birth. Ensure she has drinking water and protein-rich food available. Examples include:
- Small chunks of chicken.
- Porridge oats.
- Small pieces of bread soaked in milk.
- Cooked egg whites, ideally scrambled.
Once the mother-to-be is in the tank, give her space. Don’t handle her, as such attempts will be unwelcome. Listen out for a series of squeaks, which suggests the birthing process is happening.
You can watch the birth from a safe distance, but don’t get involved. The process could take up to 30 minutes per pup. Once complete, let her rest and focus on caring for the pups.
How Many Pups Will My Hamster Have?
The hamster’s breed influences the number of pups in a litter. She may give birth to a small or large litter, but the average is 6-8 pups. On average, you should expect this many pups:
|Hamster Species||Number of Pups|
|Chinese||Between 2 and 12|
|Roborovski||Between 6 and 7|
|Russian||Between 4 and 6|
|Syrian||Between 5 and 9|
|Winter White||Between 4 and 6|
Age will likely impact the number of pups your hamster gives birth to.
The Journal of Gerontology explains that older Syrian hamsters, in particular, tend to birth smaller litters. With age, the risk of stillborn pups increases.
What To Do After a Hamster Gives Birth
Separate the pups from their mother for 7-10 days.
Hamster pups are born without fur and are completely blind and deaf. Like most baby animals, they depend on their mother for food and warmth.
Not all hamsters are maternal. Younger hamsters may grow confused and eat their young. This will usually only happen to one litter as hamsters mature and learn from their mistakes.
Once the pups are around 10 days old, they should be separated from their mothers.
At this stage, you should consider sexing the pups. As explained by Developmental Psychobiology, sex assignment in a litter of pups is random but often equal.
Hamsters reach sexual maturity quickly and have no qualms about breeding with siblings.
The pregnancy cycle will begin anew if you house the hamsters together for too long. They can live in groups for a few weeks but aim for same-sex habitats.
How Soon Can a Hamster Get Pregnant After Giving Birth?
A female hamster can fall pregnant again within 24 hours of giving birth. However, she needs at least a week to care for her pups, so the new mother must immediately be kept separate from male hamsters.
Keeping the hamster in her birthing tank with her pups will protect the young. Males may consider pups to be rivals and kill them.
As the female will be fertile again immediately, males will likely realize. If the female previously mated willingly, a male could expect her to reciprocate his advances again.
Female hamsters become irritable after giving birth and are likely to reject any advances from a male, resulting in the male being bitten or scratched.
How Many Times Can A Hamster Get Pregnant?
Hamsters can birth pups from 10 weeks to 12-16 months. Each pregnancy will take a month to conclude, and another 1-2 weeks to care for the pups will be needed.
This means a female hamster could birth 10-13 litters in her lifetime. However, this high frequency should be avoided because hamsters need time to recover between pregnancies and birthing pups.