Hamster Reproduction – From Birth To First Litter

If you’ve got a pair of hamsters you’d like to let reproduce, then this guide will help you with knowing how the babies develop, how the mating happens, and how to make sure the babies survive.

We’re going to follow the life of the hamster from the moment he’s born, to the moment the first litter is delivered.

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When the hamster is born

Hamster babies (also known as pups) are born hairless, blind, and with their ears folded. They rely completely on their mother’s help and milk. They will grow up remarkably fast, being able to consume solid food by about 10 days of age.

Hamster pups are born with their front teeth in place, so they will begin chewing fairly young. However for the first 3-4 weeks they will rely on their mother’s milk.

In that time their mother will clean them, and they will learn everything there is to know about being a hamster. How to clean themselves, how to eat, how to walk, what is good food and what is not, and so on.

Hamsters can have litters of any size, as small as 3 and as large as 15 in some cases. Whichever case, there will always be smaller pups, who haven’t developed very well. The runt of the litter, so to speak. They will need a bit more time with their mother, or extra nutrition after they’ve been separated.

Weaning and separating the baby hamsters

Once the hamster pups reach 3-4 weeks of age, their mother will begin weaning them. By this time they are able to eat solid food, but the comfort of their mother’s milk will make them try to nurse still.

However the mother will start physically pushing them away once she decides they’ve been weaned, and in a few days the pups will be alright. They might still try to nurse, but they will fail.

This is also the time when the pups will be able to start reproducing. A very dangerous period, since female pups can become pregnant at 4 weeks of age. This is not advised, since they will not survive the pregnancy, being so young.

So, you must separate the pups. For more exact into on how to do this you can check this article, on finding the hamster’s gender. But in short, here are the difference between male and female hamsters:

  • Male hamsters have their genital and anal opening quite far apart, and there is fur between the two openings. There are also no teats present on their abdomen. The will be a third spot on their abdomen, the one for the scent gland. For Syrians, the scent glands ale located on their hips, not the abdomen
  • Female hamsters have their genital and anal openings very close together, they’ll look like they’re the same opening. The opening will be a bit hairless. You’ll be able to find 2 rows of teas, running down the female hamster’s abdomen.

Separating the hamster pups into male and female enclosures will make sure there are no unwanted pregnancies. Sometimes breeders or pet shop employees mistakenly tag a male as female, and put him in the female cage.

This can lead to baby hamsters in about 2-3 weeks, so you must be very careful when selecting your first hamster to bring home. More on picking out your first hamster here.

Coming of age – when the hamster is an adult

Once the hamsters have been weaned and separated into groups, they can now be given up for adoption. They are alright with being away from their mother. Most hamsters are adopted before they become adults, though some exceptions do exist.

A hamster is a full adult when he’s 12 weeks of age. This means that once the hamster is 3 months old, he will start to show his personality more, be energetic (even more than a baby), and his fur marking will become very clear.

For example my Teddy was about 5 weeks when I go him. He’s a Syrian male, golden pattern. At first he was just creamy/orange, with some white. But as he came close to his 3rd month, he started to show a bit of faint grey markings over his other colors, and the orange became more vibrant.

This will happen to all hamsters, regardless of species. Their final coat color will become apparent only when they’ve become adults. Djungarian Dwarfs will change their color in winter though, but only in the wild.

Djungarians (also known as Siberian or Winter White) are famous for turning nearly white once winter comes, to better blend in. But, pet Djungarians do not need that camouflage, and also do not sense winter from inside their cozy, warm cage.

When it’s best to let the hamsters mate

Now you might wonder when it’s okay to let the hamsters mate, if they’re not allowed to mate as young as 4 weeks. The best time to let the hamsters mate is between the ages of 3 months and 15 months.

This is when the hamsters will be at their peak, and will be able to withstand both the courting ritual, the mating process, and the ensuing pregnancy.

Hamsters bred younger than 12 weeks can still carry a pregnancy, but the survival rates are lower.

You’ll notice with females that they come into heat (estrus) every 4 days. They might start to develop a smell, a musky kind of smell, and will be willing to receive a male. You can test this by trying to pet the female, and she will flatten herself on her belly, and expose her rear-end.

Any attempt at trying to reproduce the hamsters should be observed, since there can be complications. The female, while willing to mate, will become a bit irritable and aggressive.

Starting the reproductive process and introducing the pair

Once you’ve noticed the female is in heat, and is responsive to being stroked, you can begin the reproductive process.

In a separate, clean cage, place both the male and the female. This should be done at dusk, when the natural light is fading, to mimic the natural habitat in which the two would meet.

Once the two have met, the female will decide of the wants to mate with the male, or  simply fight him. Females in heat become very aggressive, especially towards the males. This is why the mating should be observed, so you can intervene and remove the male if the female is just itching for a fight and nothing else.

Trying again, with a more aggressive male who can hold his own against her would be an idea. However the two need to be balanced, the male becoming too aggressive with the female isn’t good either.

Normal signs of tussling and mate-fighting include scruffing (where the male is biting the female’s beck of the neck, holding her in place), rolling, a bit of squealing, occasional biting.

Blood should not be drawn, and the fighting should subside after a while. The female will be fairly aggressive, but mating should indeed happen.

If the pair manages to mate, then it can be safe to leave them alone in the cage overnight. You will need to reintroduce them for the next 3 nights (so 4 in total) to make sure that the female has become pregnant.

However you should make sure that the male has where to hide, if he needs to. This is because one the female decides she is done, she’ll perceive the male’s advances as a threat, and fight him. Even after they’ve just mated.

The gestation period in hamsters

Once the female has become pregnant, she will start the gestation period. Usually this lasts between 16 to 22 days. The Dwarf types have a gestation period on the longer side, while the Syrian has the shortest period.

During this period the female should be kept separate from all the other hamsters. This means she will need a separate, clean cage, where she will start building her nest. She will eat increasingly more food, and will exercise less.

The cage she will live in during the gestation period, as well as the first few weeks after giving birth should be simple, with a hideout, food bowl, water bottle, lots of places to hide, and a generous amount of bedding and nesting material.

As she gets closer to her due date, she will become even more irritable and restless. Her abdomen will be larger, and she will look much bigger and fluffier.

She will move more slowly, and will spend more time building her nest. Give her much more nesting material – like paper towels, toilet paper squares, toilet paper cardboard (the rolls) and she will use all of that to make a very large and warm nest for her and her babies.

(If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.)

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The birth of the baby hamsters

Once the birthing starts, the mother will stand up right, and deliver the babies every few minutes. You won’t know she’s done until a few hours later. This is because between each baby she will clean the nest, or take a short nap, and continue to deliver until every baby is born.

The mother will clean and tend to the babies on her own, with no help from you. This is crucial, because it means that you should not disturb the mother and her pups in any way for the first 2 weeks after the birth.

Once the babies are born, you should keep away from the mother. Don’t try to peek at them or prod the mother. Provide her with lots of food, daily, and make sure her water bottle is full so you don’t have to change it every day.

Hamster mothers, especially the young ones or the ones who have their first litter, are very skittish. If they perceive something as a possibly threat (which could be anything, in their position) they will resort to eating their young or abandoning them.

Even if the stressed mother doesn’t eat the babies, she might still stuff them in her pouches, as a way of hiding them. Unfortunately sometimes she keeps them there for too much, and the pups end up suffocating.

This also means that the cage the mother and her babies are in needs to be in a calm, quiet, warm room, away from the other hamsters.

Be careful, because the mother can become pregnant again immediately after finishing birthing her babies. While this pregnancy can happen, it’s unsafe and is very stressful for the mother to be both gestating and rearing her new babies.

This is one of the reasons the male needs to be kept away from the mother immediately after mating has ended. Another one of the fact that the male will try to get the female’s attention, and will hurt or kill the babies to have no competition.

Caring for the young hamsters and their mother

If the mother has given birth successfully, and the pups survived their first 2 weeks, you will only need to assist here and there. After their first 2 weeks the babies will be able to eat some solid foods, and soon will be weaned (at 1 month old).

You’ll be able to see and hear the babies, but handling them is not recommended just yet.

Once the babies are weaned and need to be separated into gender-specific groups, you can handle them and from there on can be given for adoption.

Any extra caring or steps aren’t necessary, because the mother will take care of all of that. As long as you do not disturb them too much and let the mother rest after she’s done giving birth, everyone should be fine.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hammies can make babies  very fast, and very often. It’s important to know how to handle us if you want to let us have babies, and make sure everyone if fine in the end.

If you want to know more about us hamsters you can read the related articles below, and see how to care for us and keep us happy.

Related blog post
5 Reasons Your Hamster Bites And How To Stop It
5 Reasons Your Hamster Bites And How To Stop ItA biting hamster is never fun. For example my Teddy used to nip at my fingers when I first brought him. I figured out why he wanted to bite and how to stop him as well.  As it turns out, hamsters do a lot of things with their teeth, and half the time they have their teeth on you they’re not really biting. Table of Contents ToggleSo why is your hamster biting in the first place ?Hamsters nibble and chew on everything – including youReasons your hamster is biting – and what to do about themYour hamster is scared or irritatedYour hamster is hungry, or you’ve just handled foodYou might smell unfamiliar, or you’re a new person he just metBut what if you’re a new person, and you don’t know the hamster ?Your hamster might be difficult to handleMy Teddy is a bit difficultYour hamster might be hurtingA few precautions when picking up your hamsterMake sure that when you handle your hamster there are no loud noises, flashing lights, sudden movements.Do not pick up your hamster from above.Make sure your hands and clothes don’t have a strong smellAvoid any sudden movements.Dwarf hamsters are more jitteryIf you’ve got long nails and if you’ve got nail polish on, avoid exposing them to your hamster.If all else fails, you can use a garden gloveA few other options when handling your hamsterA word from Teddy So why is your hamster biting in the first place ? Hamsters bite when annoyed or scared, and they’re very easy to scare. That’s the most common reason, but a list of possible reasons could be: Your hamster is scared/irritated – hamsters get defensive real fast, and that often means biting or scratching The hamster could be hungry or you could be smelling of food He found an unfamiliar scent on you, or you might be a new person – he might bite strangers Your hamster might be a difficult hamster, or one that doesn’t like being handled at all He might be hurting and you’re touching that part of him There are times when you might mistake a nibble for the beginning of a bite, draw your hand fast, thus scaring the hamster, and end up bitten anyway. I’ve found this out with my Teddy when he was young, and I was trying to earn his trust. He still nips from time to time, since he is a hamster after all. Hamsters are very curious things, and will want to explore everything. Since they can’t see very well, they’ll use their paws, nose and teeth to try everything out. Let’s talk about that for a bit, since it can often be mistaken for a bite. Hamsters nibble and chew on everything – including you This doesn’t mean you’re a snack for him, he knows that. It’s just that hamsters have very very poor eye sight. Just enough to see right in front of them, but not enough to tell distances or certain things apart. So, hamsters use their ears, whiskers, paws and nose to figure out the things around them. This, combined with a natural curiosity will make them want to touch and feel everything. That means that your hamster will also try nibbling on things to get a feel for them. Much like baby humans, actually. Except hamsters never grow out of that phase. That, and the fact that a hamster’s front teeth never stop growing. Ever. So they need to always file them down on something, and that’s an instinct as well. So the next time you feed your hammy from your hand, don’t be surprised if he starts inching towards the edge of your palm, or the crease of the palm. He’s naturally drawn there, and will try to chew on any ends and bits, even if they’re your fingers. When this happens, draw your hand away slowly. Try to suppress your reflex since any quick movement will scare your hamster. And once you’ve scared him, he will definitely bite. So take your hand away gently and you hamster will leave it alone. Until you present it to him again, since he is very curious, always. But draw your hand away gently, and he won’t bite. Teddy: Us hamsters are a curious bunch, and we’ll want to try to get a feel of everything. Don’t make any sudden movements, we scare easily ! Reasons your hamster is biting – and what to do about them These are things I’ve tried myself, and things I’ve discovered from talking to other hamster owners. Most of these can be managed easily enough. Your hamster is scared or irritated These are in fact the same thing, at their core. A scared hamster is an angry, jumpy hamster, so we want to avoid this as much as possible, for the hamster and for you as well. For more info on why your hamster can get scared of you – or anything else, really – you should go here. It’s an article on exactly why your hamster might be scared, and what you can do to calm him down. Also, you find out how to avoid most of the reasons your hamster gets scared. Do take note that some hamsters are just too easy to scare, and that’s just their personality. In short, any scared or irritated hamster should not be handled immediately. Give the furball some time to relax and calm down, speak to him softly. Talking to him helps a lot, but keep you voice low since hamsters have very sensitive hearing. Using food and treats works as a way to get the hamster used to you, and he will calm down much faster with a peanut in his paws than not. Unsalted peanut, no peel. Your hamster is hungry, or you’ve just handled food This is very true, and something that is easy to forget. Like dogs, hamsters have very keen senses of smell. So if you’ve handled some food, wiped your hands on a towel, then went to pick up your hamster, he might bite. This is because he can smell the food on your hands, and not figure out that it’s your hand, not a piece of chicken. So wash your hands very well before handling your hamster. Use a soap that doesn’t have a strong smell, and avoid any fruity soaps. Make sure you get under the nails since some food particles might get stuck there, and your hamster might go straight for those. And sometimes, your hamster might be very hungry in that particular moment, and you’ve chosen to handle him when he wanted to eat. So, never handle the hamster when he is eating, same as you would leave alone a dog or cat when they’re eating. You might smell unfamiliar, or you’re a new person he just met Most hamsters are skittish, they don’t trust very easily and get defensive fast. That’s normal when you take into account how many predators they have in the wild. Now, if your hamster that you’ve had since forever and used to pick up easily, suddenly shies away or even bites your hand, there is a reason. What have you handled recently ? Another animal’s scent might have picked up on you, like a stray cat you played with, or the neighbor’s dog. It might be on your clothes, not necessarily on your hand. Or, it could be a strong smell like citrus – winter time with orange and clementine peels, maybe. A strong perfume, or anything new your hamster doesn’t recognize. My Teddy hates citrus oil and scrunches up his face whenever I peel an orange. Coffee grounds is again a scent he doesn’t like. I mean he gets close to the edge of the cage, gets a few whiffs, then makes the most disgusted face. He always does that, even if he’s smelled my coffee every morning. Maybe I make terrible coffee, who knows. As with the food on your hands, make sure you wash your hands before handling your hamster. And if you’ve got any heavily scented clothes on you, consider changing out of them. But what if you’re a new person, and you don’t know the hamster ? That’s a whole other story, and the hamster will not want to be around you at first. Most hamsters are distrustful, so you should not try to touch them right after seeing them for the first time. A very clear example was when a neighbor came with his daughter to see the hamster. The little girl is blind, so she needs to see with her hands. But since Teddy never met her, and I didn’t know better, and she tried to ouch him, Teddy started squeaking and tried to catch one of her fingers. I had him in my hands, and got him away fast enough. No one ended up bitten, but I learned a very important lesson that day. Strangers need to be introduced slowly, and the hamster will take a few encounters to accept someone new. So if you’re meeting a new hamster for the first time, first let him smell your hand through the cage. Then, feed him a bit of food through the cage. After a few tries, or better after a couple of days, you can then try to place your hand inside the cage, with a bit of food on it, to encourage him to touch your hand. Your hamster might be difficult to handle Some hamsters just don’t like being handled, no matter how much time or effort you put in. That’s just their personality, and there’s not much you can do about it. If you do find yourself with a difficult hamster, still try to be nice to him. Try finding his limit, and don’t cross it. If he will eat from your hand, but absolutely will not climb onto your hand or let you pick him up, then stop. That’s where his comfort ends, and there’s no point in pushing him any further. He may be your pet, but there are certain limits you both have. If your hamster is exceptionally difficult, try going to your local vet. He might be able to figure out something that you can’t, like if your hamster has an illness or maybe he’s seen cases like this before. It might take a very very long time to tame a difficult hamster. It might even take months, but you should still try. This is especially true if it’s a hamster you’ve picked up from a shelter or previous owner. There might be some bad things that the hamster can’t forget. Always approach the hamster with a treat or food, and it will be easier. If you want to know what treats or foods are safe for your hamster, you should check out this hamsters food list. It’s got what you can and can not feed hamsters, and what kind of treats hamsters can eat. My Teddy is a bit difficult In that, he will not sit still for more than 2 seconds when you hold him. He is a hamster, most of them don’t sit still anyway. But my Teddy is a very strong and independent hamster, who don’t need no man. Seriously though, there are times when he will stay in my hand, but most of the time I have to do the hand-washing motion when I handle him. You know, putting one hand in front of the other while he keeps trying to climb out. He rarely ever bites anymore, he used to a while back. But this was mostly because it took me a few weeks to tame him. This is when I found out that hamsters can lose trust in their owners sometimes. I had a period when I was too afraid to touch him, so I had to re-tame him. But now Teddy and I are friends again, he only nibbles my hand when I feed him, and he doesn’t shy away like he used to when I reach for him. Whatever I write here is what I’ve tried or found out with my Teddy, and I hope it helps you befriend your hamster faster than I did. Your hamster might be hurting Sometimes hamsters hurt themselves and it’s not obvious. Like maybe he fell from a level in his cage, or bit himself while grooming, or possibly sprained his foot in the wheel. It could be anything. But sometimes it’s not noticeable straight away, like a whole mess of blood and fur. Sometimes it’s a slight limp, or maybe not even that. But when you go to pick up your hamster, he might bite because you’re touching a very sensitive part of his body. If you had a sprained ankle and someone tried to pet it you’d hate it too. If you notice anything like this with your hamster, call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your hamster might be sick or hurt, and need medical attention. Most of the time minor injuries heal by themselves, but with small creatures like hamsters you need to be very careful. A few precautions when picking up your hamster Most of the time the biting happens because the hamster is scared. And a few things need to be done properly before you try to pick up your hamster. Make sure that when you handle your hamster there are no loud noises, flashing lights, sudden movements. So no picking up the hamster under the Christmas tree with the fairy lights on with loud music, for example. Hamsters are easy to scare. A calm, quiet, predictable atmosphere will keep the hamster at ease. Do not pick up your hamster from above. As in, do not use your hand like a claw to close it around your hamster. You’re scaring him, since it feels a lot like when his ancestors were swooped up by birds of prey. Instead, use a scooping motion. Come from the front, with an open palm and let the hamster climb in on his own. You can use a treat in your hand to make the hamster come closer. Then, place your other hand on top of the hamster, like a shield. Hamsters are active and fidgety and they will not sit still in your hand. Make sure your hands and clothes don’t have a strong smell Perfume, fruits, motor oil, coffee, whatever you’ve used recently. When you wash your hands, avoid fruity soaps since your hamster will truly believe that’s an apple or strawberry you have on your hand, and will try to bite into it. Avoid any sudden movements. Hamsters can’t see very well, but they notice your movements. You don’t have to be extra slow, but do not be too quick with your hands. Dwarf hamsters are more jittery The smaller hamster breeds are a bit hyperactive, and will rarely sit still. An adult Syrian hamster like my Teddy might come up to you … normally, I’d say. But a dwarf will scurry and race every where. So, they’re harder to handle and bite easier. If you’ve got long nails and if you’ve got nail polish on, avoid exposing them to your hamster. This is because hamsters will nibble on everything that sticks out, so your nails are a great for that. And if the hamster chews on nails that are done up ? The nail polish is toxic for him, so make sure he doesn’t get his teeth anywhere near your nails. This is something my girlfriend discovered shortly after we got Teddy. Luckily she wasn’t wearing anything on her nails at the time. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) If all else fails, you can use a garden glove In no way is this a good way to handle your hamster on a regular basis. But if you’ve got a very difficult hamster, and you need to pick him up for a short amount of time (like checking his body for injuries or rashes) then you will need protection. A gardening glove is great for this, since it’s made of thick, sturdy material the hamster can bite into without hurting himself or you. There are a few things to be careful about when you handle the hamster like this: be careful to not squeeze him hard be careful to hold him firmly enough, since he will wiggle his way out keep the handling very very short, very close to his cage in case he jumps A hamster is a very light creature, and he’s hard enough to feel in your hand anyway. All that fluffy fur, combined with a light weight, you don’t really know where he starts and where he finishes. But this is so very important with the gardening glove. You will not be able to feel him on your hands, but you will see him. So you must be careful to not squeeze him too hard, or hold him too lightly either. A few other options when handling your hamster Depending on why you need to handle your difficult hamster, you have a few other options aside from the gardening glove. You can place the hamster in a tall, plastic cup if you need to weight him on a kitchen scale. Just place the Cut laid down in his cage, and wait for him to climb in on his own. Of course, you need to account for the cup’s weight. You can use the hamster’s exercise ball if you need to move him from one cage to the other. Place a treat in his exercise ball, and wait for him to climb in. Then, scoop him up and place him in his new cage. You can also use a series of tubes your hamster can climb into to get him from one cage to another. Just tap the place you want him to be, and he will soon try to find where the sound is coming from. Then you can block off the tunnels he went through once he is where he wants to be. A gardening glove is never a good option for constant handling, but it works if you’ve got absolutely no other method of literally picking up your hamster for a good reason. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for. I know us hamsters can be a bit difficult sometimes, but we never mean you any harm. We’re scared more often than not, so there’s that too. If you come to us with a bit of food and a slow steady hand, we probably won’t bite. So if you want to know more about the kind of food we can eat, or what kind of cage suits us best, check the articles below. [...] Read more...
8 Reasons Hamsters Eat Their Babies, And How To Save Them
8 Reasons Hamsters Eat Their Babies, And How To Save ThemIt sounds like a horror story, a mother hamster eating her babies. But it can happen, and it’s never fun to watch. There’s a few ways you can save the babies, but you have to be careful.  You can’t save them every time, but you can still do your best to make sure they don’t end up horribly. There are some reasons though, why the hamster mothers do that. Those are very important to understand, in order to save the babies. Table of Contents ToggleSo why do hamsters eat their babies ?How to save the hamster babies from being eatenDo not stress the motherLeave food/protein for the mother before she gives birthGive the mother plenty of space, in a large cageDo not disturb the mother or cage for at least 2 weeks after giving birthDo not touch the babies at all until the mother weans them (3-4 weeks)Separate the father from the litter at all timesSome things you can’t change or saveHow to tell your hamster is pregnantAbout hamster fertility and breedingA word from Teddy So why do hamsters eat their babies ? Mother hamsters are not as emotional as human mothers.  There are a few reasons a hamster mother might eat her young, and here they are: She feels stressed/threatened like if you constantly check on her and the litter Her personal space in too small, the babies take up too much space in a cage that is too tiny She is very hungry after giving birth Accidentally storing them in her cheeks to carry them Biting them too hard when she carries them She thinks something’s wrong with them (diseased, or something physical they can’t survive) You or someone else have touched them (changed their scent) and she doesn’t think they’re hers Father hamsters are liable to eating their young as well  These are mostly reasons that can be avoided, or can be worked on so the mother is comfortable.  Rodent mothers are not the most careful mothers in the first place, compared to other mothers, for example cats or dogs. All animals can eat or kill their young, if they consider something is wrong with them. But rodent mothers, and hamsters are rodents, are much less attached to their babies. So let’s get into every reason the mother can eat her young, and how you can avoid this from happening, and/or possibly save the babies. How to save the hamster babies from being eaten Many times when the mother decides eating her young is an option, there’s not much you can do. But, you can save the babies 90% of the time by not putting the mother in a position where she thinks she needs to eat them. Here are the most common examples, and how you can save those babies by helping the mother. Do not stress the mother This is the major reason hamster mothers end up eating their young. The stress and effort of giving birth, especially her first litter, combined with you checking up on her constantly will annoy her.  Once you notice the mother is approaching her due date (18-22 days after mating), start giving her much more food than usual, and bedding and nesting material as well. She will find the most hidden corner, or use her hideout, to give birth, and you must leave her alone during this time. Best to even leave the room. Fortunately it will probably happen at night, when you’re sleeping. So if you know your hammy is about to give birth, be careful when approaching her in the morning. Do not poke at her or the cage, talk to her, or try to interact with the babies. Keep her warm and well fed, and make sure she has plenty of quiet and small children or other pets can’t reach her. Leave food/protein for the mother before she gives birth If you notice that your hamster has give birth overnight, bring her some protein. This is the food that will help her regain her strength immediately. Something like cooked egg white, or cooked plain chicken is good for your hamster.  You could leave her pieces of chicken every evening until she gives birth if you want, but it’s best to not give her something that will leave a tasty smell on the bedding right before she gives birth. She might get confused as to which one is chicken and which is her baby.  So only give her chicken or egg after she gave birth, only  while you can see her. Even if you don’t stay more than a few minutes, make sure she finishes the piece and not the babies.  In the mean time, continue feeding her through the bars, without placing your hand inside the cage. You can introduce a teaspoon through the bars to give her dry food, or sprinkle some on her food bowl. She will have a stash of food anyway, but right now would be a good time to give her more. For a list of safe foods you can give your hammy, check out this food list article. Give the mother plenty of space, in a large cage This is again something that will always come up. Space, lots of it, is something that hamsters need. The absolute minimum for a hamster cage is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. That’s the minimum for a Syrian hamster, and it’s what I’d recommend for a dwarf hamster as well. A hamster mother giving birth to 6-12 babies at once is going to fill up a cage fast. In those times, even her large cage might seem a bit cramped for her.  So always get your hamster a large cage, larger than you’d think. Especially if it’s a female you will want to breed later. You can find out more about hamster cages here, since you’ll get a rundown of all cage types and which is best for your hammy. If you’ve got 2 or more hamsters housed in the same cage, remove the mother-to-be and put her in a different, large cage long before she gives birth. She needs to adjust and feel comfortable in her new home as soon as you put her there, so place some of her old bedding and nesting material in her new temporary cage. Do not disturb the mother or cage for at least 2 weeks after giving birth This is because the mother is very tired ans started and jumpy while her babies are still very young. So do not open her cage, or change the bedding, try to put her in an exercise ball or separate her from her babies. Hamster mothers will do their best to raise and wean every one of their young, but they can scare very easily and end up eating their babies. This includes feeding the mother as well, feed her through the bars with a teaspoon or sprinkle some dry food onto her bowl. Do not touch the babies at all until the mother weans them (3-4 weeks) Touching the babies is a big mistake, when they’re so young. A baby hamster can only be removed from his mother after 3-4 weeks, and can be given for adoption immediately after. You will notice the mother has weaned them when she pushes them away after they try to nurse from her. In this period it’s important to provide her cage with even more food, since the babies will now need ‘adult’ food, like a food mix or some safe foods from your fridge or pantry. Touching or handling the babies before they are weaned will make the mother think they’re foreign, and not hers. She will reject or even eat them, so it’s best to wait a few more weeks. Separate the father from the litter at all times If the father was in the same cage as the mother, and you didn’t know she was pregnant, remove the father from the cage. Surprises happen, especially with dwarf pairs, since their sex is difficult to tell sometimes. So you might end up with a male and female pair that will give you a surprise litter one morning. The father will try to get the mother’s attention, and might eat or hurt the babies while trying to get her attention. Hamster fathers are not nurturing, and will not tolerate the babies for long, so it’s best to remove him from the cage. If you don’t want any more litters, keep the male and female separate at all times. Hamsters can mate again, right after the mother gave birth, so keep them apart. Some things you can’t change or save Even if you do you best to keep the mother safe, warm, well fed, not stressed, and on her own in a very large cage, she still might eat at least some of her babies. This is mostly due to accidents, like her biting too hard on the baby when she tries to pick him up. Or maybe she stores the baby in her cheeks to move and forgets that’s her baby. It sounds horrible, but small animals can get clumsy like this too. If this happens, there’s not much you can do. If the baby is not weaned yet, you can not touch it because the mother will reject it and then definitely eat it. Unless you want to raise the litter on your own, since they are just a few days old. But then they will lack the important interaction they need with their mother, to learn how to ‘be’ hamsters. This is a very touchy topic, and one I’m not about to breach here. The same goes for hamster mothers who kill the babies on purpose, because they think there’s something wrong with them. Like they might be sick or have something wrong with their body, that only she can tell. She might kill them if this is the case, because she thinks they will not survive on their own. This is again something that can’t be helped, and it’s sad but it can happen. How to tell your hamster is pregnant Maybe you ended up with a pregnant hamster when you bought her from the pet store. Or maybe you notice that one of your dwarf hammies is looking a bit odd. Whatever the case, here is how the pregnancy happens and how you can tell your hamster is pregnant. First, the pregnancy lasts from 18 to 22 days, time in which the hamster’s midsection will become larger and larger. You will notice she eats much more, and doesn’t exercise as much. She is saving her strength. She will become more and more irritable as her dues date approaches, and will look for hidden, safe corners n her cage. At this time it’s best to remover her from her cage mate, and place her in a large cage on her own, with plenty of familiar old bedding and nesting material, and plenty of places to hide. If you’re not sure if your hamster is pregnant, but she seems to suddenly be a bit larger and is constantly digging and burrowing and building a large nest, best to separate her from her cage mate. If you’re wrong and she’s not pregnant, that’s okay and you can place her back. But wait for at least 3 weeks after you separate her, to see if she does give birth or not. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) About hamster fertility and breeding Hamsters can breed basically every month. In theory, you can have a new litter every month. This is because a hamster can get pregnant within minutes after giving birth. The problem with this that the mother will be dehydrated and malnourished, and won’t be able to care properly for her existing litter. Baby hamsters can mate as soon as their mother weaned them.  That’s around 3-4 weeks of age, so you need to separate the hamsters into male and female cages immediately after this happens. If you don’t, more hamster litters will come in a few weeks. To figure out which is male and which is female, pick the hamster up, and look at his rear end. In females the genitals are right under the anus. In males, there is a more noticeable space left between them. If you tilt a male a bit back while you told him, you might even notice his testicles around his tail. This is more difficult with the smaller breeds, so every breed except for the Syrian. And hamsters do not like to be held this much or in that position, so they will squirm a bit. But you must do this to figure out which is which, in order to separate them. Female hamsters are in heat every few days, during the night, so they can be mated at any point. There is no mating seasons for hamsters, as there is with other animals. A word from Teddy I hope you found out a lot about us hammies here. I know a momma eating her babies is terrible, but it can happen sometimes, and I’m glad you found out how to make sure it doesn’t happen. Us hamsters grow up fast, so make sure you keep us separated by sexes or we’ll make a whole clan in a few weeks. If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check the articles below. You’ll find out things like why we freeze, how much food we need, and even why we eat our poop ! [...] Read more...
Are Your Hamster’s Eyes Closed?
Are Your Hamster’s Eyes Closed?Being a responsible hamster parent means being able to know how to properly take care of your hamster in both good and bad situations. When it comes to bad situations the hamster can easily suffer from several illnesses and health conditions. This includes conditions that their eyes may suffer. So, are your hamster’s eyes closed and, if yes, what is causing their eyes to be closed? Closed hamster eyes are also called sticky eyes, which is a common problem in most hamsters. This happens when the hamster secretes fluids from its eyes whenever it is sleeping so that the eyes stay moist. However, the fluid may end up drying up and hardening around the eyes of the hamster preventing it from opening them.  Sticky eye is a really common problem that hamsters often go through because it is simply one of the inconveniences that come with one of their natural bodily functions. But, even though it might only be an inconvenience, the sticky eye may still make life a lot more difficult for your hamster because it won’t be able to see. That is why you should know more about sticky eye so that you would be able to help your pet the next time it suffers from this condition. Table of Contents ToggleWhat causes a sticky eye in hamsters?How to treat sticky eye in hamsters?1. Hold the hamster gently2. Go get a cotton swab or a Q tip and wet it with lukewarm water3. Gently wipe the crusted substances off of the hamster’s eye4. Open the hamster’s eye in a gentle manner5. Preventing sticky eyeCan sticky eye kill a hamster? What causes a sticky eye in hamsters? At a lot of points in your life, you may have yawned whenever you were so sleepy and your eyes began releasing fluids that will eventually dry up around your eyes and harden. This is also common early in the morning upon waking up when the fluids that your eyes released while you were sleeping had dried up to form some sort of sand-like sediments around your eyes. Hence, that is where the sandman concept comes from. While you may have experienced this as a human, animals also go through a similar experience as well. Yes, this includes your pet hamsters and a lot of other animals as the sandman of the animal world also tends to visit them while they are sleeping. However, the difference here when it comes to you and your hamster is that it can be a bit more serious when it comes to your pocket-sized pet. When a hamster is sleeping, its eyes need to secrete a fluid that is meant to keep their eyes moist because dry eyes can eventually lead to serious health conditions. But the fluids secreted by their eyes will eventually dry up and harden around the eyes. When that happens, the dried-up fluid can actually shut the hamster’s eyes close like glue. Sticky eye is much more common in hamsters that are a bit older because of how they need their eyes to secrete more fluid. However, even younger hamsters may also end up suffering from this condition as well. Sticky eye normally doesn’t discriminate when it comes to age even though it is more common in older hamsters. As such, it is one of the most common problems that hamsters face on a regular basis. Still, if you notice that your hamster is suffering from eyes that have been shut closed, you shouldn’t conclude right away that it is suffering from sticky eye because there are still some other possible causes for its condition. This includes foreign objects such as dust that may have entered the hamster’s eye. Pink eye is also one of the more common reasons for a hamster to shut its eyes closed as those swollen eyes together with the regular discharge coming from its eyes will naturally force the hamster’s eyes to close. How to treat sticky eye in hamsters? The good news for you is that the normal sticky eye that hamsters suffer from on a regular basis don’t require immediate attention from a veterinarian. In fact, most sticky eye cases can be remedied at home even if you are not an expert in handling hamsters. All you have to do is to follow these simple steps: 1. Hold the hamster gently Get your hamster and hold it as gently as possible so that you won’t end up harming it. However, make sure that you are still applying a bit of pressure so that the hamster won’t end up slipping away from your hand and run away. You need to make sure that you are holding it firmly so that the little fella won’t be able to escape from you but, at the same time, won’t feel like you are hurting it. 2. Go get a cotton swab or a Q tip and wet it with lukewarm water Find a cotton swab or a Q tip in your home and wet it with lukewarm water. If you don’t have a Q tip in your household, you may use a washcloth but you should make sure that you are using a clean washcloth and that it should also be wet with lukewarm water. The Q tip or the washcloth will serve as your main cleaning tool for treating your hamster’s sticky eye. 3. Gently wipe the crusted substances off of the hamster’s eye At this point, you may be asking why can’t we just pull the hamster’s eyelids open or try to scratch the crusted substances off the eyes of the hamster. Well, the reason why we aren’t doing that is that the substance has become similar to glue in the sense that forcing the eyelids apart can possibly damage the hamster’s eyes. As such, what we need to do here is to use the Q tip or the washcloth to gently wipe away the crusted substances. The moisture from the wet Q tip or cloth will soften the dried up substance to make it easier for you to wipe it off the eyes of your hamster. Gently break the substance down until it is easier and easier for you to wipe it away. In some cases, holding the Q tip or washcloth on the eyes of your hamster may already be enough for the substance to soften up to the point that the hamster will be able to open its eyes again. However, if the hamster doesn’t open its eyes even after a few minutes, you have to wipe the substance off of its eyes using a gentle brushing stroke that won’t hurt the little fella. 4. Open the hamster’s eye in a gentle manner If the hamster doesn’t open its eye by itself after you have washed away the dried up fluids around its eyelids, you may have to open its eyes yourself. Trust us when we say that some hamsters are too afraid to open their eyes thinking that the dried-up substance is still there. In such a case, what you need to do is to gently pull the eyelids apart using your fingers. However, if you are finding it difficult to do this or if the hamster is resisting, stop right there. Go get another Q tip or washcloth and repeat the same process over and over again because there might be some stubborn dried up fluids that you probably missed the first time around. Repeat the same steps until it becomes easier for you to open the hamster’s eyelids using your fingers or until the hamster itself will be willing enough to open his eyes by itself. 5. Preventing sticky eye After you have treated the hamster’s sticky eye, the best way for you to prevent it from happening again is to make sure that you regularly wash around its eyes. This allows you to prevent the buildup of any dried up fluid.  However, if the problem still persists or if your hamster is quite prone to this condition, you may have to bring it to a vet so that your hamster can get checked for any other possible reason why it is getting sticky eyes more often than most other hamsters. Can sticky eye kill a hamster? Another good news about hamster sticky eye is that it is not fatal or even very harmful to the hamster on a regular basis. In most cases, sticky eye is an inconvenience that will prevent your hamster from being able to see because it can’t even open its eyes. However, this can be a precursor to other more serious problems such as when your hamster can’t eat or drink water because it can’t even see. In some cases, your hamster may even find itself bumping into objects due to their impaired eyesight. That is why you have to make sure that you treat sticky eye as soon as possible even though it generally isn’t very harmful much less fatal. [...] Read more...
5 Creative Ways to Tell Your Hamsters Apart
5 Creative Ways to Tell Your Hamsters ApartIf you have two hamsters from the same species, they can look exactly the same, especially if they are hamsters from the same litter. In that case, it can be quite difficult to distinguish hamsters when you first become their owner. To differentiate them, you need to figure out a way to tell your hamsters apart. On the internet, you can find various tips on how to mark your hamsters to tell them apart. However, you have to be very careful. Tips such as to tie a ribbon around your hamster can be extremely dangerous and can even cause the death of the hamster. To help you safely differentiate your hamsters, here are some creative ways to tell your hamsters apart. Table of Contents Toggle1. Food colors2. Cut a small piece of hair from your hamster3. Put hamsters in different cages4. Study your hamsters’ personality5. Study the smallest differences on your hamsters 1. Food colors Sometimes it will happen that hamsters have absolutely no noticeable physical differences. In such cases, unless you know them very well, you will not be able to distinguish them which can sometimes create problems. Some owners have therefore decided to use the hamster labeling method with food colors. Food colors are edible and non-toxic if used in very small amounts in the hamster diet or when coloring toys in the cave.  This is why some owners have decided that food color could be used to put small dots on your hamsters so they can distinguish them. For example, one hamster will have a blue dot and the other a red one. Another method that some owners use is dyeing the tail of your hamster. Previously, this method was questionable for use because food coloring contains many chemical ingredients that can cause skin irritation and various inflammations. Even today the safety of artificial food dyes is highly controversial. However, in modern times there are many food colors that are made from natural ingredients, and there are simple instructions on the Internet for making your own natural food colors. For example, carrot or paprika is used for orange, spinach for green, strawberries or raspberries for pink or for red color beets. Such natural colors are safe to use on the hamster. If you just put a dot on your hamster with natural food colors, your hamster should have no consequences. Some owners recommend that the same can be done with a permanent marker. However, hamsters are constantly cleaning and licking, so they would surely lick a dot made with a permanent marker at some point, which would certainly be poisonous for them. The hamster might not die, but he could easily experience poisoning and get sick. By no means put permanent markers because, in addition to being intensely fragrant, they contain figures of chemical ingredients that can be poisonous, but also irritate hamsters skin. However, if you have two hamsters and cannot distinguish them, there is no need to label both hamsters with food colors, but only label one. You will know which hamster has a dot and which does not. Also if you opt for food coloring you will have to repeatedly label the hamsters with a dot because the food color will be constantly rinsed off. If you notice that the hamster has any reaction at the place where you put the food coloring, immediately stop using food coloring to distinguish the hamster and turn to one of the safer methods. 2. Cut a small piece of hair from your hamster Although the method with food colors is safe to use today if you use natural food coloring, there are also simpler ways to distinguish hamsters. A safe and easy way to distinguish hamsters is to definitely cut a small piece of hair from one of them. Some owners usually cut hamsters’ hair because their hair grows too much, so it is full of food and dirt. Haircutting a pet is very simple, and all you need are good scissors. To cut your little five, or in this case, cut off a small piece of hair, it is best to use surgical scissors or scissors for children. Surgical scissors are very sharp so you will simply be able to cut off all the hair you want with one stroke. If you use scissors for children, they have a rounded tip that will prevent injuries even if the hamster twitches and is restless during the haircut. It is best to cut a piece of hair on the upper part of the hamster’s body so that the cut is noticeable and so that you can immediately distinguish it from another hamster. It is easiest to cut a hamster if it is done by two people at the same time. One person needs to gently hold the hamster to calm him down. The other person should use both hands to cut a piece of hamster’s hair without injuring it. Use one hand to hold the hamster’s hair while you will use the other hand to cut it. It is best to hold the chunk of hair between your middle and index finger and then to cut it past it so as not to injure the hamster. If the hamster trusts you and is fairly calm in your arms, you don’t have to seek the help of another person. Grab the hamster in one hand and play with it until it calms down. When it calms down, take scissors and carefully cut a piece of hair in a visible place and the job is done. If your hamsters are spirited and you can’t tire them out or you are afraid that you might hurt them if you cut a piece of hair yourself, it is best not to do it. Take one of your hamsters to a vet that will cut off a piece of your hamster’s hair in just a few seconds without hurting him. There is a possibility that they will charge you for it, but it is certainly better to pay for that vet than to hurt your hamster. 3. Put hamsters in different cages To distinguish hamsters, perhaps the easiest way is to put them in different cages. If for some reason, you do not want to use any of the above methods, it may be easiest for you to place the hamsters in separate cages that you will arrange differently or to place a name tag on each. That way you will know at all times which hamster it is and you will not be able to replace them. Unless of course, you let them both out of their cages at the same time. If you put them back in the wrong cages, you will notice that they are behaving confused and that they are not used to being in that cage so you will quickly notice your mistake. This solution in some cases is not only desirable but also necessary. Most hamsters are very territorial animals that love solitude and their space. If you want to keep hamsters in the same cage, the best option is to take a Dwarf hamster that can live in pairs with other members of its species. Moreover, they even enjoy their company. But it can also happen to them that over time they stop getting along and start bullying each other. Syrian hamsters, on the other hand, have to live alone. These hamsters only meet to mate and the rest of their lives must be kept separate. If you put two Syrian hamsters in the same cage, they will start to stress very quickly and they will fight, which can end in the death of one of the hamsters and serious injuries to the other. The golden rule for hamsters is to never, ever mix different hamster species in the same cage. If you want hamsters to live together, if they get along well it is best to keep siblings together to avoid fights. If you are taking hamsters from different nests try to get to know them as soon as possible to get along as well as possible. Once they are older than eight weeks they are very likely to react badly to one another. In addition, make sure you have a large enough cage for each hamster to have space for themselves and that you have more than one feeding area to be able to feed on their own food bowls and water bottles. No matter how hard you try, sometimes hamsters just won’t get along with each other. In these cases, hamsters will often fight or bully one another which can be very dangerous and even deadly to one of them. If you have two of the same hamsters living together in the cage observe well how they behave, whether they get along and whether there are any problems. Living in an environment where hamsters are constantly fighting and harassing each other can be very stressful so rest assured that none of your hamsters will be happy. In this case, it will be necessary to separate the hamsters into different cages. This will ultimately help differentiate hamsters, but it will also make their lives more beautiful and peaceful. 4. Study your hamsters’ personality You constantly observe your hamsters to find the slightest difference. You try and try, but you still can’t find the differences that would help you to know which hamster is which. Physical appearance is simply not a thing that can help you because your hamsters look identical. But if you study them well you will notice that hamsters do not behave identically. As much as they look the same as humans, hamsters have different personalities. One of them, for example, will be shy, will often spend time in the cottage, and will run away every time you give him food. The other will be brave and will like to cuddle, will spend a lot more time outside the house, and will be more open to contact with you. Hamster’s personality depends on the species of hamster, how tame they are, and do they like to have friends in the cave. For example, Syrian hamsters quickly develop a relationship with the owner and are in a very friendly mood. However, they like to be alone and are very aggressive towards other hamsters so you cannot keep them with others. According to the behavior they show towards you, but also, in general, the habits and behavior they show in the cage, you will be able to notice the behaviors according to which hamsters differ. Place in the cave two different feeding bowls and two different water bottles. Since hamsters are fairly territorial animals even when they live together they are very likely to drink from different water bottles and eat from different feeders. If it is easier for you, record their habits and notice if they repeat some behaviors and if they do some things that are specific only to them. For example, it could be carrying food to a certain part of the cage or sleeping in a specific place. It is also very important to observe how your identical hamsters get along. It can happen that hamsters will not get along best and will cause stress. If you hear them fighting or see injuries on one of them, don’t wait for the situation to calm down. The hamsters will just keep fighting more and more until they get completely angry and kill each other. So you can be left without both hamsters because they can easily die from injuries. By studying their personalities and behaviors you will notice in time if something is happening and you can easily prevent such events if you separate them into two different cages. If the hamsters look exactly the same, they will most often be hamsters from the same litter so you should have no problems with fights and bullying, but you never know with their personalities and primitive instincts. Personality can be a great indicator and help you distinguish which hamster you are at any time. For this, you will need a lot of patience, paper and pencil, and the interesting company of your little pets. This way you can get to know your pets very well, and you will feel like a real scientist studying animal behavior. If you have children, be sure to include them in this activity because they will learn everything about hamsters. Besides, it will certainly be interesting to them to notice new things about their pets every day. 5. Study the smallest differences on your hamsters This method may not be completely creative, but it will certainly help you differentiate your hamsters in the long run. Besides that, this method can be very interesting for you and especially for your children if you make it a real detective job. Your main task is to find a difference between hamsters. While your hamsters may seem exactly the same at first, there are small differences that can help you differentiate them. However, to find these differences you need to study the bodies of your hamsters well and look for any spot that deviates from the usual fur color or some irregularity. Even when you spot spots on both hamsters, observe if they are exactly the same shape and if they are in exactly the same place. It can happen that the spot on one is just a little bit higher or lower than on the other hamster. For example, when it comes to White WInter hamsters, it often happens that it is difficult to find differences between two completely identical all-white hamsters. In such situations, pay attention to detail. Does one of the hamsters have a slightly shorter or longer tail than the other? Does the hamster perhaps have some spot or any irregularity on its tail or on the rest of its body that could help you distinguish them? The owners of the looking hamsters themselves state that it was precisely these small details that enabled them to distinguish hamsters at all times. In addition, when you study two hamsters of the same species for a long time, you notice some details that you did not see at first. For example, one of the hamsters has a slightly different head shape, a slightly different ear shape, or a more protruding muzzle. One of the hamsters may be barely noticeably larger than the other or be a shade lighter or darker in color. These are all little things that you will notice over time. To identify which hamster it is, take a good look at the color of their eyes. Hamsters can also have different eye shades and you can differentiate them accordingly. If there are no obvious differences and you can’t find any difference even after a long study, it’s best to turn to study their personalities and behavior to help you differentiate them. If this is not possible then turn to the method of using food coloring or cutting the piece of their hair. One of these methods will surely help you to easily tell your hamsters apart. [...] Read more...
Why Is My Hamster’s Water Bottle Leaking? 4 Main Reasons
Why Is My Hamster’s Water Bottle Leaking? 4 Main ReasonsA hamster water bottle leaking is annoying, but many times is quite easy to solve the problem since there are only a few things you can check. Most water bottles have five elements: the tube where you put the water, the lid, a drinking metal tube with a metal ball, a gasket, and a clip to be attached by the cage. Before getting to the article is important to know that one or two drips from the water bottle when you just filled it are fine. It’s usually what was on the tube since you move it quite a lot. Table of Contents Toggle4 Reasons for a leaky water bottle1. Missing or damaged casket2. Loose lid3. The ball bearing4. Crack in the bottleCan you use a water bowl?Types of water bottlesHow much water does a hamster drink?How often to change the water?How to clean a water bottle?Conclusion 4 Reasons for a leaky water bottle Those are the four main reasons for a leaky water bottle. 1. Missing or damaged casket As with all things that have a gasket, this is the most common reason for a leaking water bottle. The good part is that it can be fixed, the bad part is that it can be quite hard to find a gasket that suits your water bottle. Also, considering the time and money spent to find a gasket might not be worth it since the water bottle itself is quite cheap. You might find one online, and if you have free shipping, it can be a solution, but if you have to pay shipping costs, it will probably cost more than a new water bottle. So make sure you check the bottle to have all the parts when you buy it. 2. Loose lid A loose lid is more common, but it’s usually not the fault of the water bottle itself, but rather you didn’t close it tight enough. So this is not a problem that a water bottle has but rather negligence on your part. As you can imagine, this is quite easy to fix. All you have to do to fix a loose lid is to open it, fill the bottle with water if needed, and close it tightly. I know from my water bottle that sometimes it doesn’t align perfectly, and I have to do it again. Make sure you check if the bottle is leaky before attaching it to the cage. 3. The ball bearing Most water bottles have one or more ball bearings that create a vacuum and stop the water from leaking uncontrollably. They should not drip if they are in the right position, but a few things can displace the small metal balls. If you don’t wash the bottle regularly, it might accumulate debris that can change the ball’s position and make the bottle leak. We will talk about how to clean water bottles later in the article. If the bottle is clean, but the balls are still displaced, all you have to do is to take the lid out and shake it a bit. 4. Crack in the bottle This one is quite obvious, and hard to fix. If you see a crack in your hamster water bottle, your best option is to change it with a new one or to return it to where you bought it if it’s new. There might be a few temporary solutions, but it is not worth the time and effort. You don’t know when it will crack again if you don’t fix it well, and you might not be home for a few days, which can put your small hamster in danger. Here is an article about how much time a hamster can live without food or water. One extra tip, this is not for a water bottle that is leaking, but it’s similar. I noticed that my current hamster, while digging in the bedding, moved it underneath the water bottle and it touched the ball bearing, essentially letting water run constantly and soaking all the bedding. So it wasn’t the bottle’s fault, but it can be quite dangerous for your hamster, especially if you leave the house for a few days. So make sure you don’t add too much bedding in the area where the water bottle is to avoid this situation. This is especially true if your hamster loves to dig and thus move things around.  Can you use a water bowl? You should not use a water bowl for your hamster, despite many people recommending it. It can be quite dangerous for you little furballs since they should never get wet. Hamsters have some natural oils in their fur and getting wet might get rid of those oils, which protects them from sudden temperature shifts. The worst part is that those oils do not regenerate, so once they are washed from the hamster’s fur, they will not have them anymore. Hamsters are very active and don’t have good eyesight, so we can only imagine that they will get into the bowl or spill it over them sooner or later. They are also not very careful walkers, so their bowl would often get filled with debris like seeds, poop, and bedding, making the water essentially undrinkable.  It bothers me when I see people recommending water bowls for hamsters without knowing those facts. A water bowl might be an option only if your hamster doesn’t want to drink from the bottle, but you should be careful with how much water you put into the bowl in this case.  If you do want to use a bowl, make sure you buy a small bowl and don’t fill it up in case your hamster gets into the bowl not to get wet more than the paws. Types of water bottles There are many models/designs for water bottles but as far as types, there are only two. The regular water bottle that you attach to the cage, and only the metal tube gets inside the cage, which is the most popular one and, in my opinion, the most effective since your hamster doesn’t get to chew on the bottle. I always used this type since it’s the easiest to get out and change the water without bothering your hamster too much. Here you can find a good one on amazon: The second type comes with a stand, and you place them inside the cage. Those are the best ones if your cage doesn’t allow you to place the bottle on the bars or if you have a glass tank, which can be a great house for your hamster, but it will not allow you to use a regular water bottle, except this one from amazon which can work but I haven’t tried it.   But if you are looking for a type that stays in the cage, this one might be the best for you:    How much water does a hamster drink? A hamster will drink about 10ml water per 100g body weight. A Syrian hamster weighs between 85 and 150 grams, meaning a maximum of 15ml water per day should be enough. So when you buy a bottle, you should aim for a big enough bottle to make sure your hamster has enough water in case you leave the house for a few days (so something like 100 ml). But make sure the tube is not large, do not get a bottle fit for a guinea pig or rabbit ! To ensure your hamster bottle is working and your hamster is actually drinking water, you should see a bubble that goes up in the tube when the hamster is actively drinking water. How often to change the water? There is no rule that says how often you should change the water of your hamster, usually it should be good until it empties if the bottle is not way too big. It depends more on the water quality than anything else, so if the water is good, you should not worry about how often to change the water in the bottle. When it comes to what temperature the water should be, room temperature or cold but not very cold water is good. How to clean a water bottle? I’ve said that I will come back and talk about how to clean the water bottle, so here we are. Many people recommend using disinfectants or homemade ones with bleach and so on, but there is a huge risk if you don’t rinse the water bottle thoroughly after using bleach or any soap or disinfectant. This is my 6th year of having a hamster pet, and the first two died of old age so they were pretty healthy, I would say, but I never used anything else other than hot water to clean their water bottles. It is safer this way, you can unscrew the tube from the water bottle and rinse it with hot water, then do the same with the bottle itself. Afterward, wrap a paper towel on the end of a spoon and clean the inside of the bottle with that paper towel. Rinse them with hot water one more time, and everything should be clean and ready to use again. Conclusion A leaking hamster bottle is annoying, but now you know where to check and how to fix it, or if the bottle is cracked, at least you know that you should buy a new one without trying to fix it. And again, do not use a water bowl for your hamster only when they don’t want to drink from the water bottle. [...] Read more...
Choosing An Exercise Ball For Your Hamster – Complete Guide
Choosing An Exercise Ball For Your Hamster – Complete GuideWhen I first got my Teddy, I didn’t have an exercise ball for him. I didn’t even think that would be necessary. But a friend helped me out and let me have her hammy’s old exercise ball. After a few weeks I got Teddy his own exercise ball. But that was when I learned most of the things I know about how much exercise a hamster needs, and how to help him get that exercise. That’s what I’m going to help you with here. Table of Contents ToggleSo what is the best exercise ball for hamsters ?Why hamsters need an exercise ballHow to tell if your hamster is comfortable in the exercise ballPrecautions when using the hamster exercise ballDo not leave your hamster in the exercise ball for too long.Keep an eye on your hamster when he’s in the ball.Hamsters can sometimes escape their exercise balls.Be careful what surface you place the ball on.Proof your apartment or house.My recommendation for a good hamster exercise ballHow to use a hamster exercise ballGet your hamster used to the exercise ballPlacing your hamster in the exercise ballPlacing the hamster back in his cageWhen to place the hamster in his exercise ballWhen to not place the hamster in his exercise ballA word on hamster exercise balls with standsHow to clean a hamster exercise ballWhere to keep the hamster exercise ball when not using itA word from Teddy So what is the best exercise ball for hamsters ? A great exercise ball for hamsters is one that will fit the adult hamster properly. This means that an adult Syrian hamster like my Teddy will need at least a 7 inch exercise ball, up to 9 inches. That’s 18 cm to 23 cm, in diameter. Smaller breeds of hamster like a dwarf or Campbell will do well in 5 inch exercise balls, up to 7 inches. So that’s 13 cm to 18 cm for your little hamster types. Another thing about the hamster exercise balls is that you should be careful that your hammy’s feet or tail don’t slip through the air holes. This can happen with the very large exercise balls, that are geared towards guinea pigs or ferrets. So inspect the air holes and vents carefully to see how wide they are. If it looks like your hamster’s entire foot could fit through there, then look for a size smaller. All exercise balls are made of hard plastic, so your hamster will be safe. Why hamsters need an exercise ball If your hamster is anything like my Teddy, then he’s very curious and want to be everywhere, and know everything, right now. He’s a very active hammy and I wouldn’t label him as a ”relaxed” hamster. He’s more like a border collie than anything, he’ll find something to do if I don’t give him something to do. So the exercise ball saved us both, especially in the beginning. He can roam the house as much as he likes. This is the first way an exercise ball helps your hamster. It gives him the opportunity to roam, explore, get into all the nooks and crannies he sees from his cage, and wander under your desk when you’re busy. Second, an exercise ball will help your hamster get more exercise than the running wheel. This is because the hamster has to push the weight of the ball as well, and that’s a great way to give him good exercise. He can’t run as fast as he can in the running wheel, but it’s a different type of workout. To find out more about the kind of exercise wheel your hamster needs, check out my article here. Third, it gives him something to do. He can’t really chew at that ball from the inside, it keeps him moving, and he’s easy to contain. If you’re cleaning his cage and have nowhere to put him, try the exercise ball. This is what I do with my Teddy, and he always gets excited when he sees it. And fourth, they’re just so funny when they’re in that ball. This one is more for you than the hamster, I know. But you need a laugh every now and then too. A hamster in his exercise ball bumping into every bit of furniture, and trying his best to push the ball over that powerstrip cord is the best thing ever. How to tell if your hamster is comfortable in the exercise ball Teddy has a 7 inch exercise ball, and he’s had it since his first few weeks. The first one he had was a smaller, 5 inch one. Since he was a baby, it was alright for a couple of weeks. Back then he was the size of an adult dwarf hamster. But he soon started to grow and get bigger and longer, and once I was that I went to look for a bigger exercise ball. The one I landed on was a 7 inch version, clear plastic, with removable lids on the side. The way I could tell he was much more comfortable in this new ball was that his back was finally straight. When he ran/pushed the ball, his back wasn’t as arched as it was in the smaller ball. So that’s one thing you can look for, how arched the hamster’s back is. His back isn’t meant to arch backwards, it’s built for hunching and standing straight at best. If you notice your hammy having back problems consider getting him a larger exercise ball. Other signs to look for are how easy the hamster can move the ball from the inside, and how much his tail or feet stick out at times. If the hammy can easily move the ball, that’s good. Some resistance is expected, if he’s on a carpet. The ball moves easier on hard surfaces like hardwood or tiles. But if the hammy can’t move the ball easily, it might be just too big for him, even if it looks like he has enough space. Large exercise balls equal more plastic, so more weight. You hamster can only push so much, especially if he’s a smaller breed. As for the tail and feet sticking out, they will stick out a bit anyway. His claws and tail are so small and thin it’s hard for them not to stick through the air vents. Especially when he stops to clean himself, check something and sits down. But if the hammy’s entire leg can fit through an air hole, then the ball is not good for him. He can get hurt or catch his tail and that’s never good. Precautions when using the hamster exercise ball While the ball is made to protect your hammy, and it does that quite well, there are a few things you should be careful about. Do not leave your hamster in the exercise ball for too long. Best to put him in the ball several times a day, for set amounts of time. I usually leave Teddy in the ball for about 30 minutes, but not more. This is because the air inside is not very much, even with the air holes. Also, he has no access to water or food. If you see droppings in your hammy’s exercise ball, then you can be sure he needs a break. If you can’t see them, you’ll definitely hear them jingling. Keep an eye on your hamster when he’s in the ball. If he gets stick on some carpet, or corner, or charger cord, help him out. Otherwise he will panic. If your house is on at least two levels, keep him away from the stairs. The ball will protect him, but only so much. Hamsters can sometimes escape their exercise balls. Maybe it’s not closed properly, or maybe he’s a genius, no matter. Make sure you close the exercise ball very tightly, and keep an eye on him. Be careful what surface you place the ball on. Hardwood and short haired carpet are okay. But a shaggy carpet, with long frills is not okay, since it can stick into his exercise ball. The hamster, being curious, will shove the carpet pieces in his cheeks to use as nesting later. That’s not good, ever. Watch out for dusty or unclean surfaces. Dirt and dust will find their way into your house anyway, but it’s important that you let the hamster run on a clean surface. Otherwise the dirt and dust will end up on him, and that can affect his health. Proof your apartment or house. The area your hamster will run around in needs to be safe, for him and for your furniture. So any corners the ball can fit into and actually get stuck in, should be blocked by a slipper or something like that. If there is anything fragile like a mirror, either place it somewhere else when the hamster is in the ball, or put some slippers or rolled towel in front of it. The ball bumping into furniture is incredibly noisy, so make sure you put him in a room where there is not much hard furniture, or try not to mind the noise. Teddy: In general, if you can’t hear the ball moving for more than a few seconds, you should check on your hamster friend. He’s either stuck, or up to something. My recommendation for a good hamster exercise ball I looked around and found a good exercise ball on Amazon. It’s the same size as the one I have, and it has a lot of air vents for your hamster to breathe. You can choose whichever color you like, but in the end all exercise balls end up with scratches on them after a few uses. Think of it as the polished armor on a knight. This particular ball is 7 inches/18 cm, so that’s the minimum diameter for a Syrian hamster, and the maximum for a dwarf type. So both hamster types can use this kind of ball freely. This kind of ball is easy enough to assemble, so there should be no problems there. You can check out the listing on Amazon here. Once you get your hamster an exercise ball, whether it’s the one above or a different one, you’ll need to know how to help your hammy use it. So let’s get into that, so you can watch your little friend run around. How to use a hamster exercise ball This will be very intuitive for your hamster, but he might need some time to adjust at first. I’ll give your Teddy’s example. When he first found himself in a hamster ball, he was a bit confused. I made the mistake of putting him in the ball too soon after bringing him home. Teddy got used to the ball very quickly, and learned how to steer it properly in about a week. Get your hamster used to the exercise ball Leave the ball in his cage for about half an hour, maybe a full hour. Make sure one end is open, and the hamster has easy access to the opening. Place a treat inside the ball, so your hammy has more reason to climb into the ball. Let him explore, smell, try to chew on it. He will get used to it, and will probably climb into it fairly fast. After your hammy is used to the exercise ball, it will be much easier to get him into the ball. If he starts moving his nest into the ball, remove the ball, and leave the nest parts in the cage. It’s clear he’s comfortable in it. Placing your hamster in the exercise ball Once your hammy is used tot he exercise ball, this will be easy. You can do this 3 ways, depending on your hamster’s personality, current mood, and the type of cage you have. First, you can place the ball in the cage with a treat inside. Once the hamster climbs in, scoop the ball up and close it. This works best for cages that have a top-side opening, and a large one at that. It’s also great if you’re hammy is in a very feisty or irritated mood and can not be held at the moment, but you need to clean the cage. Second, you can  place the exercise ball (with a treat inside) with the opening on the side of the cage. It only works for cages that have side clasps. Then unhook one side, and slowly raise that part until your hamster can get through. Most hamsters will be so curious about the new opening they will climb right into the ball. By keeping the opening flat against the side of the cage, you’ll make it easier to keep him in place until you put the lid on. Third, if your hammy is very tame and is easy to hold, pick him up. Place him by hand in the exercise ball, which of course has a treat inside. This way you’re sure the hamster gets into the exercise ball, which makes cleaning the cage much easier. Placing a treat inside the exercise ball will teach your hamster to always be excited when he sees the exercise ball. After a while he will climb into it even without the treat. Placing the hamster back in his cage This is a lot like the way you got him into the cage in the first place. Place a bit of food in the cage and place the open exercise ball near that food. The hamster will climb out, and will enjoy his treat. If your have a cage that can lift the sides, place the food close to the side you will use to place the hamster back. So that when you lift the side of the cage to place your hamster back, he will see the food right away and go straight to it. Never force or shake your hamster out of his exercise ball. Try coaxing him out with a treat, or just wiggling a finger where you want him to get. He’s very curious and will go to check it out. When to place the hamster in his exercise ball First off, let’s talk about how soon to place the hamster in the ball after bringing him home from the pet store. You should allow him about a week to get used to his new home, in which time he will build his nest and get a sense of  normality. After that week, make sure you get the hamster slowly used to the ball by placing it in the cage like I explained above. Aside from that, you can place the hamster in his ball at almost any point when he is awake, but there is a best time. If you see your hamster very agitated, or climbing all over the cage, that would be a good time. He has a lot of extra energy which he needs to release. When to not place the hamster in his exercise ball shortly after he woke up when he is sitting on his hideout, scoping the area and being watchful when he is eating when he has low energy, and would be sleepy when he is sick and needs a lot of rest and water A word on hamster exercise balls with stands I had one of these, actually I still do. The one I have used to have a stand for the ball, and a second set of lids so the hamster could climb into and out of the ball when he wants. It sounds like a great idea, but there are a couple of problems here. First, the stand is meant as an actual stand. Not as a support for a spinning exercise ball. This is the mistake I made with Teddy, and after a couple of weeks, I heard the noise. Plastic on plastic eventually chewed down on the stand bits, and it started making the most awful screeches when Teddy ran in it. It’s not like a metal wheel, which you can just oil and it will be fine for a couple of weeks. No, the plastic one actually gets ground down to nothing, both the stand handles and the holes they plug into. Second, the hamster can somehow, some way, move its nest in that ball. This happened with Teddy, and I’m sure there are a few other people out there who had this happen too. The little furball moved food, nesting material, and a few droppings into his exercise ball, and used that as a nest. Which wasn’t so terrible, except when he started running. The contents Teddy brought into that exercise ball flew everywhere in the ball, and a bit outside. It actually woke me up a couple of nights. So do yourself and your hammy a favor, and only use that stand outside the cage. Use it as a stand to actually keep the ball on, without the hamster inside. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) How to clean a hamster exercise ball The exercise ball will get a bit dirty, there’s no way around that. It will grind on whatever is on the floor, it will get all kinds of scratch marks on the outside from rolling around. Aside from all that, it will pick up a bit of dust or other small debris that need to be cleaned off. Make sure you use only hot (as hot as you can handle it) water, and the smallest amount of soap to clean the ball. Take it apart, and thoroughly scrub it down with hot water and a tiny amount of soap, inside and out. You can use the rough side of a dishwashing sponge, or a cloth, whichever you prefer. Be extra careful in the inside of the ball to not use much soap. The soap has a strong scent for your hammy, and he might not want to get into the exercise ball if he can’t stand the smell. The wash will also remove most of the hammy’s scent from inside the ball, so make sure you place a treat inside the exercise ball when you reintroduce it to the hamster. As for how often to clean it, it depends on how often the hamster uses it, and how much it’s been through. If you place your hamster in the ball every day, and let him roam for a half hour, then the ball should be cleaned often. Best to do that daily, since there a lot on the floor usually. If he only ever uses the exercise ball a few times a month, and for a short amount of time, you can even clean it every week. Where to keep the hamster exercise ball when not using it Wherever you keep it, it must be a clean, dust-free place. In a cupboard, or a drawer would be alright. Place it on its stand if it has one, and keep it somewhere the dust will not settle on or in it. Do not leave it on the floor, especially if you have other pets or children. Someone might kick it by accident, or a dog might chew on it, or maybe one of your toddlers will confuse it with a bouncy ball. A word from Teddy This was all I could tell you about our exercise balls. How to pick one, how to keep it clean, and how to put one of us hamsters in an exercise ball. We love to run around and play, us hamsters are very active creatures and we get anxious when we’re cooped up too much. So let us roam free-ish, in the exercise ball, so we can explore your home ! If you’d like to know more about us hamsters, and what kind of food we can eat, or how much water we need, you can check out the articles below.   [...] Read more...