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.

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This hideout, for example, is very much like the one I have for my Teddy. It’s going to be stuffed to the brim with paper towels and toiler paper when you hamster’s done building his nest, but you’ll know he’s a happy little guy. Hamsters will love the wood and will chew on it whenever they need to file down their teeth. All in all the best kind of hideout to keep a hamster happy. You can find the listing on Amazon here. Your hamster will hide in everything he can. This means that aside from his hideout, he will use cardboard tubes to crawl into and spend some time thinking about cheese. Or maybe bury himself in the bedding, to look for hidden treasures, hamsters are hamsters, and they love to hide. If you don’t immediately spot him, don’t freak out. He’s in there somewhere. A sparse cage is no fun for a hamster, he’ll feel like he’s exposed. So he will look for places to hide or crawl under. 4. Food bowl and water bottle for the hamster Usually food bowls and water bottles come with the cage you buy. Not always, but sometimes they do. If your cage came with a food bowl, it’s most likely alright. You see, hamsters are foragers, and you can even scatter their food all over the cage to encourage them to look for it. They will appreciate the comfort of finding all their food in one place. Still, the main thing to look for in a food bowl is for the hamster to not easily tip it over. This means that the sides should not be up, like a regular human bowl, but rather pointing down (much like a doggy bowl). If your cage came with a food bowl like that, great. If not, you can look at options like this one for example. It’s got a fairly cute design with a watermelon motif too. It’s ceramic, to your hamster’s gonna have a hard time tipping this one over or moving it around. It’s pretty much going to stay where you put it. Just be advised that ceramic, like glass, can be fragile during shipping. You can check the listing on Amazon here. As for the water bottle, the ones that come with the cage are usually alright too. They’re big enough and are fairly well made. But if you’re unhappy with the one you got, you can look a other options too. For example this one on Amazon can hold 12 ounces of water for your hamster. That’s 325 ml of water ! As for how much water your hamster needs, usually 10 ml/100 gr of hamster is enough, daily. That’s 0.33 fl oz/3.52 oz of hamster, daily. Most water bottles go way bigger than that, so your hamster should be safe for 7-10 days. 5. Food mix and treats the hamster will love Food is something the hamster will need, and you will have to repurchase every few months. For example my Teddy eats 2 teaspoons of dry commercial food mix per day. A dwarf hamster on the other hand will need just one teaspoon per day. Keep in mind that hamsters will hide their food. So if you’ve just fed your hamster, and half an hour later there is no more food in his bowl, don’t worry. That’s okay. Hamsters put all the food in their cheeks, and then hide it all away in their nest. This isn’t something you can stop, and giving him more food will only result in him hiding more food. That’s just the way hamsters are. That being said, hamsters eat mostly grains, with a few veg and fruit here and there. They love nuts, and if you give them plain cooked chicken they will go crazy over it. However they need those hard dry grains to keep their teeth in check. This means that their main source of food needs to be their food mix. A good one like this one will bring all the nutrients your hamster needs, in a controlled, safe diet. It’s got a fair amount of seeds mixed in with the pellets, and will last your hamster for a couple of months or more, depending on how much you give him. You can find the listing on Amazon here. Aside from the hamster’s food mix, you’ll want to look into a few treats for him as well. Those can be sunflower seeds, a peanut, a slice or carrot for example. You can also find pre-made hamster treats, for example yogurt based drops. These are Teddy’s favorite drops, and he loves cheese as well. They’re fairly colored, but that’s okay since the coloring is safe for humans and hamsters as well. You can find the listing on Amazon here. Remember that hamsters will eat anything you give them, not matter how much you give them. So be responsible and do not overfeed your hamster, else it can lead to obesity and possible joint and diabetes problems. You can always supplement your hamster’s food with some safe foods you have around the house. But only keep those as occasional treats. 6. Toys and tubes, so the hamster has plenty of fun Hamsters love to play and explore things, so they need toys. And tubes. Some toys you can make at home, with cardboard. For example something like an empty egg carton with a few holes cut in it can be a great hide-and-seek toy, and safe for hamsters. Or the cardboard rolls that are left from toilet paper rolls or paper towels, those are great toys too. Fold them shut at both ends, with a bit of food inside the roll, and you’ve got yourself a hamster puzzle toy. For more DYI toy ideas, you can check out this article right here. As for the store-bought toys, the best ones are, yes, made of wood. The hamster will chew on them all day, every day. For example this set of chew toys will not only help your hamster file down his teeth, but also keep him interested in what’s inside them. They’re all wood based, so safe to chew, and fairly durable. You can hide something like a peanut in one of them, or just leave the bell inside to keep your hamster guessing what’s inside. You can check the listing on Amazon here. Another little thing hamsters love is tubes. Getting your hamster a set of tubes for exploring outside his cage is going to mimic his normal nest. Think of tubes/tunnels like the world’s most amazing view-sites… for hamsters. You can find lots of versions online and in pet shops, and most of them will be like this one. You can build any kind of tube maze for your hamster with these items, and your hamster will love spending time outside his cage in these things. You should check if your cage allows for tube entrances though, not all cages to. In the photo there’s just one shape of tube, but you’ll find the rest of the shapes (like tees, corners, towers, etc) in the link. You can find the listing on Amazon here. 7. Exercise/running wheel for the restless hamster One of the most important things hamsters ever do is run. Hamsters run and run and run as much as their little feet will allow them. This means that they can run up to 9 km/5.5 miles in a single night ! Imagine all that energy spent on not running in his cage. He’d be all over the cage, climbing it, chewing on the bars moving his toys around. An exercise wheel is as much for the hamster as it is for your own good. A bored and irritated hamster is not only grumpy but also hard to tame, and will try to escape. So a good exercise wheel like this one will help your hamster burn off all his energy and run as far as his little feet will take him. Wheel are notorious for being loud, so this one is made especially to be silent. It’s got a guard for your hamster’s feet and tail, and will stay in place (heavy bottom). You can check the listing on Amazon here. Your hamster will end up on his wheel most of the night. So this is one of those things that your hamster definitely needs, all his life. You can find out more about hamsters and running wheels here. 8. Exercise ball for time outside the cage An exercise ball is not mandatory, but it’s a welcome toy. It will allow you to take the hamster out of his cage, and let him roam the house as he pleases – as long as he’s safe. Now, even if you don’t let him stray too far, he still needs a secondary place to be when you clean out his cage. He can’t be inside the cage, otherwise he would have a panic attack and try to bite everything. Best to keep him out of your hair while you clean the cage. A good exercise ball should be big enough so that the hamster’s back should not be arched. He will arch it a bit when he pushes into the ball to move forward, but that’s about it. He should fit comfortably. Most balls are clear plastic, and have air holes for your hamster to get some fresh air. Even so, they don’t provide as much air as a wire cage, for example. This means that the amount of time you let the hamster inside the ball should not be more than 30 minutes at a time. You can find a good example of an exercise ball here, since it’s big enough to fit a Syrian hamster inside easily. A dwarf hammy will be able to enjoy himself too in such a ball. It’s got enough air holes so the hamster can breathe easily, and you can pick whichever color you like. You can find the listing on Amazon here. 9. Travel/transport cage for vet visits Another cage for the hamster ? Well, yes, because carrying the hamster’s big cage with you to the vet isn’t very easy or comfortable. So a travel cage will be needed. Luckily the hamster isn’t a very sickly animal, so vet visits aren’t on the agenda often. They do have their own health problems, but for the most part they’re healthy. The travel cage can also be used to keep the hamster safe while you clean his cage (in place of the exercise ball). Some travel cages can be attached to the permanent cage, as a sort of extended home. The travel cage doesn’t need to be large or fancy, but it does need to keep the hamster inside. Since these cages are so small, this means the hamster will become restless after a few hours. So limit his time in the travel cage to under 2 hours to avoid any stress on your hamster. A good example of a travel cage could be this one, and it would fit a Syrian hamster well enough. It’s got a lid that closes shut and a handle for easy carrying. As all travel cages, this one is large enough to keep the hamster comfortable for a couple of hours but do not keep him inside for more than that. You can check the listing on Amazon here. 10. The hamster himself Finally, you’ll need the hamster himself. He is the last on this list because everything else needs to be in place before you get your furry friend. This is because hamsters are bad at handling stress, and as such when you first bring a hamster home you’ll need to leave him alone for the next 2-3 days. Feed him and talk to him, but do not open the cage or poke at him. Hamsters brought home for the first time are in danger of developing wet-tail, so be careful to keep him in a safe and calm room. As for how to pick out your hamster, I recommend you check this article. It’s got every nook and cranny covered, and the story of how i got my Teddy too. He’s a Syrian male hamster, and he’s the funniest, grumpiest little cheese ball I’ve ever met. (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.) Keeping a hamster as a pet – know what you’re getting yourself into Alright, we’ve got one last thing to cover. Well, maybe it should’ve been the first thing we covered. But you need to know what life with a hamster is like. Hamsters aren’t expensive to keep, actually they’re fairly cheap. But keeping a hamster as a pet changes you. You learn that not everything is about you, and sometimes there are some things that won’t go your way. Maybe your hammy won’t like being petted, maybe he’s crazy about peanuts. Still, you need to learn his personality and adjust yourself to it. Your hamster will learn yours too and be accommodating … kinda. Hamsters need a calm, quiet home with not many unforeseen things going on. They react poorly to stress and loud noises, being picked up wrong, being handled too much, and they get scared easily. If you’ve got a rowdy home with a few pets and small children, a hamster is definitely a bad idea. The children will need constant supervision with the hamster and the hamster won’t be very happy. In that respect, a puppy would be better since he can match the energy of a small child. But, if staying up late is your thing, and you like quiet nights with only your hamster’s feet padding on the wheel, while you read a book and sip some tea, hamsters could be okay for you. They’re more observational pets, and they’re funny to watch when they make every face ever. If you need a few more thoughts on whether you should get a hamster or not, you can read this article to settle it once and for all. A word from Teddy I hope you found everything you were looking for in this article. Us hammies have a fairly long supply list, but we’re grateful for anything you can manage to get. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life. [...] Read more...
5 Reasons Hamsters Chew On Cage Bars – And How To Stop Them
5 Reasons Hamsters Chew On Cage Bars – And How To Stop ThemIs your hamster chewing on his cage bars ? So does mine from time to time, and I know it’s awful to hear, and bad for his teeth. I’ll tel you what I know about how to stop your hammy from chewing the cage bars, and how to prevent it. Keep in mind that some hamsters simply have this habit, and will have their teeth on the bars (or anything else) often, just because. I’ll tell you what to do in those cases too. Table of Contents ToggleSo why do hamsters chew on the cage bars ?About rodents and chewing in generalGet your hamster a larger cageA hamster’s teeth are always growingAnxiety/stress is a common issue with hamstersYour hamster needs your attention, or is curious about somethingSome hamsters develop a habit of chewing on the cage barsWhat you can do about the hamster chewingChew toys for the hammyDistract the hamsterExercise the hamsterPlay with the hamsterWhat to do if your hamster just can’t stop chewing on the barsMove the hamster to a glass tankMove the hamster’s cage to a different roomIs a hamster a good choice for a pet ?A word from Teddy So why do hamsters chew on the cage bars ? Hamsters are rodents, so they will chew on everything by default. Still here’s a short, clear list of the main reasons your hamster is chewing on his cage bars: Small cage – this is often a big problem, since many hamsters are kept in tiny cages. Teeth growing – rodent teeth never stop growing, they must always chew and nibble on something . Anxiety/stress – hamsters can develop this habit as a way to cope with something. Need attention/curiosity – hamsters need to see and know everything, and will ask for attention. Habit – they’ve gotten this habit, and it’s going to be hard to unlearn it. Hammies are known to be quiet pets, but having them chew on the bars is incredibly annoying. Aside from being a possible sign of something wrong, it’s also bad for their teeth. Only because the metal is too harsh for their teeth, and they’ll need something softer like wood to chew on. We’ll cover that list in this article, so you know in more detail why hamsters end up chewing on the cage bars. But let’s first talk a bit about rodents and chewing in general, so we understand why this happens from their point of view. About rodents and chewing in general All rodents – hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, squirrels, and so on – have an innate need to chew. Their teeth never stop growing. If they don’t keep an eye on the growth, it can be deadly. So, rodents need to constantly chew and nibble on something. This is normal for them, and is a very good habit to have in order to file down their teeth. But what about pet rodents ? Well, your hamster doesn’t know the sound of his chewing is awful to you. And still, his teeth are always growing and always need to be filed down. Another thing about rodents, they like to try everything out with their teeth as well. Just like baby humans will put random objects in their mouth to ‘learn’ them, rodents will try out things too. It’s just that they’ll never grow out of that phase. So be prepared for this happening again and again. However you can do a few things to lower the chances of your hamster chewing on the bars. Let’s get to those right now. Get your hamster a larger cage One of the reasons, maybe half the time, is that hamsters are kept in way too small cages. The hamsters end up feeling cramped and grumpy. It varies from hamster to hamster type, but the absolute minimum is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. That is for an adult Syrian hamster, but I’d recommend it to be the minimum for a Dwarf type as well. Hamsters need a lot of space, they run around a lot, they sprint at the drop of a feather, and will burrow often. That requires more space than you’d think at first. The small, square cages you can pick up at the pet shop – the ones that are most commonly sold when you get your hammy – are way too small. You can find a good guide on hamster cages here. Always go for a bigger cage, with lots of floor space. Hamsters need that space and will become jittery and irritable if they don’t have where and how to run around. Especially if you’re keeping two hamsters in a cage, this is crucial. They need to be able to hide from each other, run away, and have large spaces for themselves if they need to. Otherwise they’ll end up chewing the bars, in an attempt to get away, or escape, or just let out that anxiety and stress. A hamster’s teeth are always growing This is what the problem is most of the time. Hamsters are rodents, so their teeth will always grow. So, they will always need to file them down. There is not much you can do about this, other than giving the hamster chew toys. You’ll find a lot more info on that in the rest of the article. Your hammy will always try to put its teeth on everything. Sometimes to chew, sometimes to try them out. But there are moments when they chewing will happen often. This is when their teeth get sort of growth spurts, and the hammies will feel the instinctive need to chew on something. The best thing to do for a rodent, especially one that you’ve noticed is a big chewer, is to keep it in a large glass tank. There’s nothing to chew there, except for the toys. Anxiety/stress is a common issue with hamsters A hamster is used to hiding and being on alert all day, every day. That means that it’s prone to stress, an stress related illnesses. That also means that they will often need a way to release their stress. Most of the time, the hamster will end up chewing on the hardest surface he can find – the cage bars. He will still use his chew toys, but the hard surface of the cage bars will still be interesting. A few reasons hamsters can develop anxiety and stress can be: being scared too often – they’re very easy to startle being bullied by their cage mate – common problem new home – baby hamsters can sometimes adapt very slowly to their new homes poor housing  – small cage, improper bedding, not enough food, no exercise, could be many things What you can do is to try and make life easier for your hamster. So if your hammy is scared often – by a sudden noise, or the dog looking at them, you need to read this article. Do keep in mind that hamsters scare easily, so some things just can’t be helped. If your hammy is bullied by his cage mate, then you need to separate the two. This is a problem that can come up seemingly out of nowhere, even for hamsters that looked like they were getting along. Always keep an eye on them if you’ve got a pair, Your hamster needs your attention, or is curious about something Hamsters are incredibly curious, and will want to check out everything. Even if they’re scared, they will still try to investigate that sound. Most of the time they investigate or hear things out because they’re listening for predators. But a pet hamster will have the bravery to walk up to the cage bars and try to see and hear and smell why that bag is making those sounds. He will sometimes ask for your attention, even if you’re doing something else and didn’t notice he woke up. In these cases it’s best to give the hamster a bit of attention, but be careful. If you hear chattering teeth, and you see him very aggitated and jumpy, do not touch him directly. A hamster with chattering teeth is not a playful one. He is curious, but has a burst of energy that makes him hard to handle, and prone to biting. Best to play indirectly with him. Like a bit of paper towel through the bars, and a piece of cardboard in his cage, like you would play with a cat. Some hamsters develop a habit of chewing on the cage bars Unfortunately this is a habit very hard to kick. Mostly because it’s sort of addictive for hammies. They love the sound and feel of their teeth on the bars, as much as it might make your cringe. So getting your hamster to let go of something he loves will be incredibly difficult. The best option for this is to remove the bars completely. That means again, putting the hammy in a glass tank. For hamsters that developed a habit of chewing the bars, no matter how large their cage will be, they will find the corners and chew on them. A few things other people have tried – blowing on the hamster, using a paper towel on his nose, or even citrus oil on the bars – do not work. They’re only temporary reliefs, only for a few minutes. The hamster will start chewing again, this time with a vengeance. And in some cases, if you’ve got two hamsters in the same cage, they can copy each other. If one of them starts to chew on the bars, then the other will probably follow suit. If that’s the case, you will probably need to separate them. or move them both in a glass tank. Sometimes, there’s not much you can do. But you need to try everything else before moving him to a glass tank. What you can do about the hamster chewing Here’s a few things you can actually do about your hammy chewing on the cage bars. They will work, some temporary, some permanently, depending on your hamster, and the reason he is chewing. My Teddy still chews the bars every now and then, for a couple of minutes. I usually distract him, and move him to a different room at night anyway, so I do no hear him when I sleep. Chew toys for the hammy You can help your hamster by getting or making him some chew toys, and leaving them randomly around his cage. This means that your hamster will have plenty more opportunities to chew on solid things inside his cage. Often, your hammy will need something wood-based to chew on. The cage bars are too hard for your hamster’s teeth, even if he likes chewing on them. So you’ll need to provide him with some chew toys. You can find a whole article dedicated to hamster toys here, and you’ll get store-bought and DYI ideas as well. Mineral chews are actually not that useful for your hamster. They’re marketed as a chewing aid, and are supposed to bring more mineral content to your hamster’s diet. But the truth is, hamsters don’t need more minerals if they’ve got a good diet already. A pre-made food mix will take care of that. Distract the hamster You can distract the hamster, and this will work most of the time. As in, after you stop paying attention to the hamster it will probably not chew the bars for a few hours, or at least enough time for you to fall asleep. Exercise the hamster Exercising your hammy is probably the best way to get him to distract him. You can do this two ways. First, you can use his exercise wheel. If it’s a wheel he can see through, like a wire mesh one, you can use a bit of paper towel to guide your hamster through his cage, into the wheel. Then, your hamster will try to get to the paper towel or your hand. But if you place it directly in front of him while he is in the wheel, the hamster will end up running trying to get to you. You can do this several times a day, or whenever your hammy seems restless. Do let him get to the paper towel every now and then, to keep things interesting. Second, you can exercise the hamster by putting him in his exercise ball – you can find out more about that here. Once he’s in the exercise ball, let him roam the house as much as he likes, but make sure you don’t go over 30 minutes per session. Your hammy will need some water, and some food, and he can’t find those in the exercise ball. Also make sure that your hammy can’t fall down any stairs, or your other pets will not reach it. A barking, curious dog, or a playful cat will scare the hamster, and will only distress him more. Be warned though, exercise balls can be loud on their own. The hamster will bang it against the furniture, walls, the corner of your coffee table, the door, anything. So you can either proof an area to let your hamster run around, or make peace with the noise. To proof the area, you will just need to cover the surfaces the ball can hit with some textile, like a blanket or towel, to absorb noise. Or, in the case of odd corners, you can just put a slipper in the way and the hammy will not be able to reach that corner. Play with the hamster You can also play with your hamster to distract it. But again, if his teeth are chattering and he has a sort of odd look about him, best to not touch him directly. Give him a puzzle toy – you can find an example here – or use a bit of cardboard to guide him through an obstacle course in his cage. Or, you can pick him up if he seems fairly calm. Let the hamster run over your hands, talk to him, pet him, as you would normally. But if he seems like he’s about to jump out of your hands, make sure you’re every close to his cage. (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.) What to do if your hamster just can’t stop chewing on the bars Sometimes, there’s not much you can do. If you’ve tried every little thing you can think of, and every other alternative you’ve found in this article so far, and your hamster is still chewing, then it’s time to do something else. Move the hamster to a glass tank Your hamster will not have anything to chew, if he’s in a glass tank. The glass gives him nothing to hold onto, just plain, smooth, straight glass he can’t do anything with. In this case you will need to give your hamster ample wood-based toys to play with. He will chew on every little thing he can get his paws on. The hideout, the toys, the food bowl, in some cases even the water bottle. So, make sure the glass tank is large enough to fit your hamster, or your hamsters if you’ve got more than one. And you can check out this article for bedding and hideout ideas made of wood. You’ll find lots of toys ideas here, and depending on the kind of wheel you had before, it might need changing. You can find more info on the exercise wheel on here. As for where to find an actual glass tank, you can check this Amazon link for an example. It’s the minimum space requirement for a single hamster, and you can look at the reviews as well. Honestly, I recommend getting a glass tank from a pet shop, or somewhere you can actually go and see the tank for yourself. That way the transport can be arranged by you, and you’re in control of whether the glass breaks on the trip home or not. As you know, glass is difficult to safely transport, so it’s best if you’re involved as well. Still, you can check the link above to at least see what glass tanks have to offer, and the price range they’d be about. Move the hamster’s cage to a different room This is a last resort. If you do not want, or can’t afford or fit a large enough glass tank for your hamster, then this is your other option. Glass tanks can’t be moved about as easily as a cage. But a cage can be moved temporarily or permanently to a separate room. If your hamster keeps chewing the bars and he just won’t stop, no matter what, moving him to a different room will at least let you have your peace. There are a few things to keep in mind though, before you move the hamster.The temperature of the room you move the hamster to needs to be constant. Hamsters need a range between 20-23 C/68-75 F to feel comfortable, and anything below or above that range can make them uneasy. In some cases, if your hamster is exposed to sudden, very cold temperatures, it can hibernate. But since it’s sudden, it can be actually deadly for him, depending how long it lasts. You can find more info on hamster hibernation here, and how to save your hammy. So be sure to check up on your hammy every day, to make sure he feels alright in his room. Make sure he is safe from other pets, or overly curious small children. Is a hamster a good choice for a pet ? In this case, after talking about all the ruckus a hamster can make while chewing the bars, you’d think no, they’re not good pets. But the truth is, at least in my opinion, hamsters are actually good pets. They’re quiet most of the time, and will not bother you often. It’s just that they have some very specific necessities – like the chewing and temperature – that can make then a bit iffy. A hamster isn’t as easy to tame – and keep tame – as a dog or cat, and does not respond well to being held wrong or annoyed. So for this reason I’d advise against getting your child a pet hamster, of any kind. Children would need a more mellow, loving pet, like for example a dog that can take on the full force of a kid tackling him, or pulling his tail. You can read more whether hamsters make good pets or not here – and get a more detailed insight on why you need to know yourself and your limits before you get a hamster as a pet. A word from Teddy I hope you got some good ideas here on how to stop one of us hammies from chewing the cage bars. Sometimes we just love to chew the bars, and sometimes we can stop if you give us an alternative. It depends from hammy to hammy. If you want to know more about hamsters, and why we sometimes do odd things, like eat our poop or suddenly freeze, you should check out the articles below. [...] Read more...
Why Does Your Hamster Have Diarrhea? Here Are the Facts
Why Does Your Hamster Have Diarrhea? Here Are the FactsCaring for your hamster requires you to know the different aspects of its health such as the possible illnesses and conditions it might end up suffering. Diarrhea is merely one of the several health conditions that hamsters may end up suffering. But why does your hamster have diarrhea and what are the possible causes of its diarrhea? Your hamster could have diarrhea due to a different number of factors namely wet tail, influenza, salmonella, and dietary changes. Among all of the reasons for hamster diarrhea, the wet tail is one of the most dangerous causes of a hamster’s diarrhea as it requires immediate treatment and attention from a veterinarian.  Hamsters are just like any other animal in the sense that they can be quite prone to a lot of different illnesses such as diarrhea. And in most cases, the causes of their diarrhea tends to be similar to the cause of diarrhea in most other animals. That is why you have to know how to properly care for your hamster so that you can prevent any kind of potentially dangerous disease or health condition stemming from diarrhea from developing. Table of Contents ToggleHow do you know if your hamster has diarrhea?Why does your hamster have diarrhea?Can hamsters die from diarrhea?How to treat hamster diarrhea? How do you know if your hamster has diarrhea? Diarrhea has always been one of the most common health conditions suffered by humans and different animals. This is when the stool becomes wet due to a lot of different conditions but diarrhea is often caused by problems in the bowel movement as a result of viral infections or any other similar causes. Of course, hamsters also suffer from diarrhea just like most other animals do. When we are talking about hamster diarrhea, one of the most common ways for you to know that your hamster has diarrhea is when its tail is wet. The reason for its wet tail is, of course, due to the fact that its stool is also wet. Hence, that’s why diarrhea in hamsters is often called the wet tail, which isn’t always the generic term of hamster diarrhea but is actually an operative term for a more serious kind of hamster diarrhea. You can also inspect the hamster’s stool to detect whether or not it is suffering from diarrhea. Hamsters with diarrhea will have stools that are light in color, can be soft, and does not necessarily have to be watery and wet. It is usually in the more severe cases when the feces of a hamster will become very watery and wet. Loss of appetite can also be a good indication of hamster diarrhea but not all hamsters suffering from diarrhea will appear sick. It is only when the cause of diarrhea is a virus that you will notice your hamster looking sick, lethargic, and very tired. Hamsters that are suffering from diarrhea will eventually lose a lot of weight and may even become anorexic.  Why does your hamster have diarrhea? Now that you noticed that your hamster is showing some of the more common signs and symptoms of diarrhea, it is now time for you to know what could have possibly caused your hamster’s diarrhea. So, why does your hamster have diarrhea? Well, there are plenty of different reasons why your hamster has diarrhea, and those different reasons can vary from simple causes to more serious illnesses that can possibly become too dangerous for your hamster. There will be cases where the hamster’s diarrhea is caused by changes in its diet because of how it is not used to eating a different type of food after spending most of its life eating the same meals over and over again. In most cases, when you feed your hamster with fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of water, it’s stool will naturally become watery as well. This includes fruits and veggies such as tomato, cucumber, and orange. Even though fruits and vegetables are generally healthy for your hamster, it is best to control the amount you feed to your little pocket friend. Two other possible causes of diarrhea in your hamster are diseases and infections. The common flu and salmonella are quite common diseases and infections that your hamster can possibly suffer from. It is quite easy for hamsters to contract the flu from humans, which can possibly lead to not only diarrhea but also to sneezing and a runny and watery nose. Weight loss, lethargy, and loss of appetite may also become possible symptoms of flu other than diarrhea. Meanwhile, salmonella might not be very common in hamsters as they rarely infect them. However, if ever they do indeed get infected by salmonella, expect the hamster to suffer from diarrhea on top of lethargy, loss of appetite, and even vomiting. The most serious cause of diarrhea in hamsters is the common condition called the wet tail. Stress is the biggest culprit for wet tail in hamsters due to how some of the younger hamsters may end up suffering from a lot of stress as a result of the constant movement and adjustments they have to undergo on a regular basis especially when they move from pet store to pet store and eventually to your home. Due to the stress, the gut flora or the Campylobacter bacteria tends to overpopulate and will eventually develop into diarrhea. Wet tail is extremely contagious in hamsters and can easily spread from one hamster to another. That’s why, when you are choosing a pet hamster that’s also kept with other hamsters in a large cage, always choose the one that is most active so that the chances of it suffering from wet tail are slim. Can hamsters die from diarrhea? Normally, diarrhea caused by simple reasons such as dietary changes or the flu probably isn’t fatal unless the hamster is left untreated or uncared for during the time when it is suffering from diarrhea.  However, a wet tail is actually a very serious condition that requires immediate attention and treatment from a veterinarian. The reason is that hamsters can easily decline in health when they are suffering from wet tail due to a combination of a lot of different factors but mainly because it won’t be eating a lot and it’s going to end up suffering from dehydration due to diarrhea.  So yes, diarrhea in hamsters can be fatal especially when you don’t treat your hamster right away. While some forms of diarrhea are not as serious as the others and may end up subsiding over time, other causes of diarrhea such as wet tail should always be taken seriously enough that you need to get your little pal to the vet as quickly as possible. How to treat hamster diarrhea? Treatment for common diarrhea can vary depending on the cause of diarrhea. When your hamster is suffering from diarrhea as a result of a change in its diet, simply reverting back to its old diet while managing the symptoms such as providing enough water for your hamster may be able to help treat diarrhea. For diarrhea caused by flu, managing the symptoms of flu while making sure that your hamster is drinking enough water may be able to help alleviate the illness. But if the symptoms get worse, that should prompt you to take the hamster to a vet. In the case of the wet tail, immediate veterinary attention, and treatment is the only way for you to treat the hamster’s diarrhea. The vet will know what to do to help treat your hamster’s wet tail but the usual treatment involves using antibiotics that will kill and eliminate the bacteria that is causing diarrhea. Vets will also use a syringe or a dropper to feed your hamster, especially whenever it isn’t eating its food or drinking water at all. Wet tail is extremely serious to the point that it can even kill your hamster in a matter of hours when the signs of this illness become apparent. That’s why it is important that you take your hamster straight to the vet when it is showing symptoms of wet tail. Do not try to delay the illness on your own at home because the only way for you to get your hamster treated and cared for is through the professional expertise of a vet. Always keep it in your head that there are no natural home remedies that you can use to treat wet tail, and such an illness will not go away on its own when you allow the hamster to recover naturally. Even a special diet will not help treat wet tail. Again, the only way for you to have your hamster’s wet tail treated is to take it to the vet. [...] Read more...
The Real Reason Hamsters Like Wheels
The Real Reason Hamsters Like WheelsIf you have owned a hamster or if you are currently a hamster owner, one of the things you would instantly notice is how your hamster loves playing with its wheel. The hamster wheel instantly becomes the little animal’s favorite thing in the world, and it will play with it non-stop to the point that an average hamster can go for up to five miles in a single night on a hamster wheel. But what is the real reason why hamsters like wheels? The real reason why hamsters like using their hamster wheels are the fact that they are naturally born to run. Generation of domestication as well as a proper introduction to the hamster wheel has allowed the hamster to associate it with running. As such, your hamster will easily love the hamster wheel once it becomes used to it. Hamsters do love to run but they are usually kept in enclosed cages that really limit their movements and activities. As such, the only way for them to be truly themselves is to run on the hamster wheel, which is basically the only exercise they can get whenever they are kept in their cages. In that sense, the hamster wheel becomes a necessity. But don’t stop there because there are more things you need to know about hamsters and their hamster wheels. Why hamsters like wheels If you are a hamster owner or if you are planning on getting one, one of the first purchases you need to make is a hamster wheel. Every pet store will always tell you to buy a hamster wheel together with the hamster’s cage or habitat because it is a necessity for your tiny pet rodent. And the moment you bring your hamster home and set its cage up with its hamster wheel, it won’t take a long time for it to start running on the wheel. And whenever you try to observe what your hamster is doing while it is awake, it will most likely be on the wheel running. But why exactly do hamsters like wheels? For us to understand why hamsters love their hamster wheels, let us go back to the basic nature of a hamster before they were even domesticated and treated as pets. After all, everything an animal does can be traced back to its natural state in the wild. As rodents, hamsters are usually somewhere near the bottom of the food chain in the wild because they have plenty of natural predators that will not waste time trying to make dinner out of them. That is why hamsters have developed a lot of different habits that allowed them to survive in the wild. After all, if they were so easy for predators to catch, they would have been extinct by now. Hamsters, due to how a lot of predators are more likely to be active during the day, have developed the ability to stay awake and active at night as nocturnal animals. They are usually hiding in their burrows during the day before they try to go out at night whenever it is usually safe for them to forage for food. But, even if hamsters are indeed nocturnal, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have predators at night. A lot of cats and reptiles are nocturnal predators as well and are not hesitant to hunt hamsters whenever they are available for them in the wild. Because hamsters still have predators no matter what time of the day it is, they have developed one of their best basic instincts—to run. Yes, because of the very fact that hamsters need to run a lot in the wild due to how they are nearly at the bottom of the food chain, they have developed the basic instinct to run and run and run whenever they can. Running has become second nature to hamsters regardless of whether or not they are wild or domesticated. That is why hamsters are always running and running even when they are kept in their cages as pets. As such, because running is a part of a hamster’s basic instincts for it to survive, it has carried that nature even after the animal has become a domesticated pet. Hamsters as pets will always find a way to run regardless of whether they are in their cages or are let out of their habitats for a short while. And if they are kept in their cages, they will always find a way to run by making use of their hamster wheels. So, a hamster wheel basically plays into the hamster’s instincts of running. That means that your hamster doesn’t technically love its hamster wheel but it actually loves running. It is only that its hamster wheel is what allows it to be its natural self, which is a tiny rodent that basically spends an entire day running. In fact, hamsters run so much in a single day that they can reach up to five miles on their hamster wheel alone. There was even a time when a single hamster was able to run 26.2 miles on its hamster wheel in a span of five days. If you think about it, most people nowadays can’t even run five miles in a single week. That goes to show how truly active hamsters really are especially when they are given hamster wheels. On top of all that, hamsters are also naturally curious animals that love to explore their surroundings by running around. That is why a lot of hamsters can’t help but run around the house when they are let loose from their cages. So, by giving a hamster a wheel, it is able to satisfy its natural sense of curiosity by allowing it to run around to make it feel like it is exploring. Why hamsters need wheels While we have discussed why hamsters like their wheels, let us go to the discussion of whether they need their wheels and why they need their wheels. First things first, your pet hamster can survive without a wheel because a wheel is not one of its basic necessities. As long as you have found other ways for the hamster to run around and be active, then it can do without a wheel.  However, know for a fact that it still needs a wheel if you are going to keep it in a cage without anything for it to do. As such, this is when a hamster wheel becomes a necessity for a hamster. So, why do hamsters need wheels? Well, the first reason why they need wheels goes back to the hamster’s basic instinct of running. Hamsters are natural runners that need to run a lot every single day because that is what they are used to in the wild for them to survive. So, by giving them hamster wheels and letting them run on those wheels, the hamster can be its natural self again. Moreover, hamster wheels are the best ways for your hamster to stay healthy. As mentioned, hamsters are natural runners that require a lot of constant movement. It is their natural habit as runners that allow them to stay healthy in the wild. So, by giving your hamster a hamster wheel to run on, you are allowing it to stay active so that it can not only burn off those extra calories but also keep itself away from diseases caused by obesity and inactivity. Finally, hamsters have nothing to do in their cages. But by giving them hamster wheels, they can stay mentally and physically stimulated as they are running tirelessly on those wheels. It is a way for them to have a hobby and a pastime so that they won’t end up developing bad habits. Do all hamsters like wheels? It’s not like hamsters like the wheels themselves but it is the act of running on the wheels that they actually love. So, do all hamsters like wheels? Yes, they do but only because the wheels allow them to run around and not because they like the wheels themselves. In that sense, if you were to give your hamster another way for it to run around and stay active, then it might have no need for its hamster wheel. A lot of owners, in this case, would much rather give their pet hamsters a hamster ball where the hamster is kept inside an inflatable ball that it can use to run around the house freely without getting exposed to the outside elements. The hamster ball allows the little animal to stay safe and have a sense of freedom while it is running around outside the confines of its cage. But because there are some dangers in using a hamster ball (such as when your hamster bumps into things and falls down the stairs while using the ball), it is still better for you to use the hamster wheel as its main source of exercise and activity. [...] Read more...