Home » When Can You Touch Baby Hamsters? (Safe Pup Handling)
when can you start touching baby hamsters?
Questions And Answers

When Can You Touch Baby Hamsters? (Safe Pup Handling)

If your hamster gives birth to a litter of pups, you’ll be keen to handle and pet the new arrivals. However, resist this urge for the sake of the babies.

Avoid handling hamsters that are less than 3 weeks old. If you touch newborn hamsters and leave your scent behind, their mother will become distressed.

Concerned that a predator has found her nest of pups, a mother hamster (doe) may eat her babies to destroy the evidence of her presence.

You’ll still need to care for baby hamsters and their mother before they gain a measure of independence at around 3 weeks old.

You must be careful not to be intrusive, leaving no trace of yourself behind while you clean the cage and provide them with food.

What Happens If You Touch A Newborn Hamster?

There’s a risk that a hamster will eat her babies if they’re touched within the specified timeframe. This may happen anyway, even if you avoid contact with the litter.

However, touching newborn hamster pups makes this negative outcome likelier.

Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Babies?

Hamsters sometimes eat their young for these reasons:

  • After giving birth, the mother is exhausted and confused, eating the babies by mistake or due to hunger. This is most following her first litter.
  • The babies were diseased and unlikely to survive. Hamsters will eradicate a weak link before spreading sickness and disease.
  • Stress reaction to being watched constantly.
  • Struggling for personal space in the habitat.
  • Eating her young post handling.

Experts argue that handling leaves a new scent on hamster pups, provoking anxiety in their mothers. She worries that a predator has found her home.

The mother hamster is tired and hungry, with many pups latching onto her to feed at every opportunity. So, she’ll quickly grow tired and confused.

Amidst this overwhelming time in the hamster’s life, she may instinctively eat her young.

In the hamster’s mind, a returning predator will find nothing to sate its hunger and look elsewhere for prey, securing the mother’s safety.

Also, male hamsters are prone to eating their young. Males have no paternal instincts and believe any new arrival threatens their dominance and resources.

So, eating pups while defenseless is advised to remove this concern.

what age can you handle baby hamsters?

How To Prevent Hamsters from Eating Their Babies

It’s advisable to avoid giving a hamster any reason to eat her young.

Stand well back and avoid stressing the mother after she’s given birth. Looking too closely into the cage after birthing a litter can spark anxiety in hamsters.

As you watch from afar, you’ll see the baby hamsters growing. Like the young of all animals, hamster pups are born blind, deaf, and vulnerable.

They’ll attach to their mother for warmth and feed on milk while your hamster lactates.

A hamster will tolerate this rather than enjoy it, as hamsters aren’t renowned for their maternal instincts. While hamsters breed regularly, this ensures survival and not familial bonds.

When the baby hamsters reach 2 weeks old, they’ll show signs of independence and self-reliance.

At this point, the pups will start to explore their cage independently. This is also the point their mother will begin weaning her pups off her milk.

An adult hamster may start showing more signs of her former self at this point. Give her some toys to play with. This will give her something to do beyond feeding her young.

A hamster may still attack, kill, and eat her young when they’re 2 weeks old. Keep your distance for at least another week. However, as the pups explore, you may need to care for them without touch.

Caring for Baby Hamsters Without Touching

Once hamsters start to grow and explore, they’ll leave a mess behind. Two-week-old pups will begin to eat solids and wander around their cage. So, they’ll be leaving urine and feces in their wake.

As hamsters are vulnerable to infection, you must clean up after them. Limit this to spot cleaning, and wear gloves to avoid leaving your scent behind. You may need to clean a cage thoroughly, though.

Keep your gloves on and prepare two separate cages. Separate the babies from their mother, allowing your adult hamster some welcome respite by housing her alone while you clean.

The babies can stay together – they’re not yet at an age where they’ll fight or mate.

Clean up the familiar cage, leaving no trace of your scent behind, and return the family of hamsters. It’s best to leave the babies with their mothers for at least another week, but after this, you can start separating the pups from their mothers.

what age can you handle baby hamsters?

When Can You Start Touching Baby Hamsters?

You should wait around 3 weeks before you start handling the new hamsters.

The adult hamster will likely have weaned her babies by this stage, and they’ll be eating solid food. Perhaps more importantly, they’ll be approaching sexual maturity and may breed with siblings.

Once the hamsters are 3 weeks old and their mother is willing to let them go, start planning the next steps. If you let the hamsters continue living together, they’ll likely fight, reproduce, or both.

Start considering what you’re going to do with these new arrivals. You could sell the hamsters to a pet store, although most large chains already have preferred suppliers and breeders. You’ll probably enjoy more success seeking private sales, giving them away to friends, or online donations.

You’re welcome to keep the hamster babies as pets, caring for them as they reach adulthood. 3-4 weeks after their birth, their mother will no longer pose any threat or show maternal instincts.

Remember that each hamster will need a separate cage, as most hamster species (especially Syrians and Chinese hamsters) dislike living together because they’re so territorial.

Regardless of how defenseless baby hamsters look, don’t interfere with their upbringing in the first 3 weeks of life. You may think a hamster isn’t showing sufficient maternal instinct, but she’s doing her utmost. No matter how well-meaning, interference is likely to negatively affect baby hamsters.