Separating baby hamsters from their mother increases the likelihood that they’ll stay healthy.
Although male and female hamsters can co-exist together, keeping them apart is widely regarded as good practice. There’s too much risk involved, especially for females.
However, separating baby hamsters too early can also be perilous. Given how fragile baby hamsters are, you shouldn’t remove them from their mother before they’re weaned.
To determine the right time, you need to understand how baby hamsters develop. Learning each stage and what the pups can do enables you to determine when it’s time for separation.
When Should You Separate Baby Hamsters?
The earliest you can separate baby hamsters from their mother is after 3 weeks. However, some experts recommend that you wait 4-6 weeks, but the upper end of the scale is uncommon.
If you’re a first-time owner, separate the hamsters within 3-4 weeks because keeping them together any longer can result in problematic behavior.
You can separate the babies from their mothers after 3 weeks, as this is when they become more independent. For the first 3 weeks, they’re hairless and blind, which creates obvious limitations.
They barely move and have no way of getting food or water. They can’t maintain an adequate body temperature due to their lack of fur, so they must remain close to their mother to stay warm.
By weeks 3-4, they have fur and can walk. Their ears and eyes are open so that they can navigate their environment. Their chances of survival increase every day after they’re born, and self-sufficiency is one of the best indicators they’ll survive.
When Should You Leave a Baby Hamster with Its Mother?
Sometimes, leaving the pups with their mother for another week is better. You should do this if the pup is smaller and needs more assistance than the others to reach a healthy weight.
You can determine the runt of the litter by its size, as it’ll have developed far slower than the others. Check size development charts to understand how big pups should be at each point.
If the pup is having trouble catching up with the others, leave it with the mother for another week.
One more week should be enough for the pup to be strong and independent. If it still seems weak after 7 days of extra nursing, discuss the matter with a veterinarian.
The pup could have health problems that inhibit its growth and may need medical attention to survive.
Do You Have to Separate Baby Hamsters from Their Mother?
Once the babies are old enough, separate them from their mother because they’re solitary creatures. Problems can arise from housing several hamsters together.
Hamsters are territorial animals, especially Chinese hamsters and Syrians. It doesn’t matter if a mother and her babies share the cage.
Once the pups are old enough, the mother’s maternal instincts wear off, so she could attack or kill her babies for resources and space.
Aside from that, consider the likelihood of pregnancy. Female hamsters can become pregnant only 24 hours after giving birth, so separate them from male hamsters in the litter.
Besides the birth defects resulting from mating siblings, a mother becoming pregnant with her offspring’s litter is risky. According to the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, female hamsters become aggressive when pregnant.
Leaving a male hamster in the cage with a pregnant female is dangerous due to the size difference. Just because they’ve reached sexual maturity doesn’t mean they’ve finished growing.
Hamsters usually reach their full size after 3 months, so if the mother becomes pregnant before then, she may kill her son out of aggression.
Do Hamsters Get Sad if You Separate Them?
It may seem unfair to separate a mother from her young, but hamsters live fulfilling lives without others. Hamsters fair better alone because they’re territorial creatures that want space, food, and water.
If you separate a litter from the mother and she seems upset, it’s likely due to stress, not sadness. The nursing phase is stressful for a mother hamster, and the slightest change can frighten her.
Removing the pups may confuse her, but she’ll soon recover from the ordeal.
Do You Have to Separate Baby Hamsters by Gender?
When you separate the litter from the mother, you should also separate them by gender because hamsters will mate with their siblings.
Hamsters have no qualms about this behavior, which can start as soon as they reach maturity.
This is harmful since breeding among family members introduces many health complications for the mother and litter. According to Biology of Reproduction, it’s also perilous for the mother because pregnancy shortens her lifespan,
Pregnancy is hard on the female hamster’s body, especially when she’s still young. The younger she is, the more likely the mother and her litter will die.
For the health and longevity of female hamsters, ensure they get pregnant infrequently. If you’re looking to breed hamsters, a female should only be pregnant twice in her lifetime.
When Should You Separate Hamsters by Gender?
Separate the hamsters by gender once they’re 4-6 weeks old, which is how long it takes them to reach sexual maturity.
That said, you may witness some hamsters living together regardless of gender. While male and female hamsters can get along, you must monitor how they interact closely.
Territory agreements change, pregnancy makes the female hamsters aggressive, and a change in environment can introduce stress. Many factors can make a hamster cage a hostile environment.