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Why Is My Hamster Not Feeding Her Babies?

Last Updated on: 27th November 2023, 11:23 pm

Females usually care for their pups, but we may get a mother hamster who abandons or eats her young.

If the baby hamsters are less than 3 weeks old, they’ll have difficulty surviving without their mother. Young pups need their mother for warmth, food, and protection.

Once the mother has abandoned her pups, she’s unlikely to return. When raised by humans, the risk of death is elevated, especially if that person is caring for a litter of pups for the first time.

Why Do Mother Hamsters Abandon Her Babies?

A mother hamster abandoning her babies happens regularly.

Despite how common it is, you should do what you can to prevent this from happening. Without their mother, the pups are less likely to reach adulthood.

Here are the reasons why a mother hamster would stop feeding her babies:

Stressed

A female hamster will become even more fearful and distrustful during and after pregnancy.

Her hormones are elevated, and she’s recovering from a challenging process. Above all else, you need to make her feel comfortable.

To avoid stressing out the hamster, you need to give her space. Don’t play with her, touch her pups, clean the cage, uncover the nest she’s made, or move things around.

Although it may be tempting, refrain from taking pictures of the pups, at least from up close.

Scared

Mother hamsters will stop feeding their babies if they feel scared. Her self-preservation will be greater than her desire to nurture her babies.

She may even stop feeding the pups after a single scary event because she associates the pups with a negative experience. Once that happens, she’ll lose her nurturing instincts.

A common way that humans scare mother hamsters is by handling the pups too early. Hamsters have a good sense of smell, so the mother will notice if the pups smell wrong.

She’ll get scared because her babies smell different, making her think there’s a predator nearby.

Malnourished

Nursing pups takes a lot out of the mother hamster. The body needs a lot of nutrients to produce milk, so if her diet isn’t adequate, she won’t lactate.

Sometimes, a mother hamster will lactate but will decide to stop. This happens when she feels like the nursing process is taking too much out of her.

Be sure you’re feeding the hamster the right foods while she’s nursing. She should be eating ample, protein-rich foods even before she gives birth.

First-Time Mother

Not all female animals know how to care for their offspring once they give birth. Sometimes, the maternal instinct takes 1-2 litters to work.

If the hamster is a first-time mother, she may abandon her babies because she’s inexperienced. If so, you can’t force her to care for her offspring, so you’ll have to care for them yourself.

how to feed baby hamsters without mother

Something Wrong with A Baby

Mother hamsters can tell when there’s something wrong with one of the pups. If something’s amiss, it could discourage her from feeding them.

When baby hamsters are weak or have a birth defect, mother hamsters will refuse to care for them.

That’s because they don’t want to invest time and resources into a pup less likely to survive than the others. Instead, she’ll focus on the healthy pups more likely to reach adulthood.

How to Feed Baby Hamsters Without The Mother

Before the mother hamster gives birth, prepare to feed the babies yourself – just in case. Feeding a litter isn’t difficult if you have the right tools. You’ll need the following:

  • A small syringe or eye dropper.
  • Baby hamster formula.
  • Water.
  • Baby hamster milk.

Week 1

Give them milk with a syringe when the pups are just 1 week old.

How much milk you provide depends on the breed. The bigger the hamster, the more milk it’ll need. Ask a certified breeder or vet how much and how often the litter needs to drink milk.

Hamsters can’t drink cow’s milk because they can’t digest lactase.

According to the International Journal of Toxicology, you can use Lactol or KMR powder for milk. These are used for kittens and puppies, but they also work for hamsters.

Mix the ingredients with water and warm it to a comfortable temperature.

Week 2

When the babies are 2 weeks old, you can alternate between milk and baby formula.

To make baby formula for hamsters, use actual baby formula by mixing 50% baby formula and 50% water.

Week 3

When the babies are 3 weeks old, begin weaning them off the milk. Start introducing them to solid foods and feed them soft fruits and vegetables, like:

  • Bananas.
  • Grapes.
  • Broccoli.

Week 4-5

When the pups are 4-5 weeks old, they should be independent enough to eat alone.

If one of the pups has trouble eating and seems smaller, you may need to hand-feed it for a week longer than the others. According to In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology, runts of the litter develop slower and need extra attention.

Caring for Baby Hamsters Without the Mother

Besides food, baby hamsters need their mother for much more. If you end up hand-feeding the litter yourself, you’ll need to fill the role of the mother and help the pups survive.

You can help a litter grow to adulthood by following these tips:

Temperature

Before the pups are 3 weeks old, they don’t have fur. They can’t maintain adequate body heat without fur, so they rely on their mother to keep them warm.

Set the temperature to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in their enclosure.

Nest

Make a nest with a substrate so that the pups have somewhere to sleep comfortably. You can use the cage’s standard substrate with torn-up toilet paper.

Surrogate Mother

If you have several hamsters, find another female hamster who can act as their mother. Just be vigilant when placing them in a cage together.

If the female hamster doesn’t like the pups, she could hurt or kill them. She should show signs of nursing behavior within the first few hours after meeting the pups.