Mistakes when caring for baby hamsters
Only their even cuter babies are cuter than our little pets. Because they are growing and developing, these miniatures require extra-special care. Even if you’re an experienced hamster parent, you may find yourself a novice pet parent again when your rodent becomes a parent herself. Knowing what to do is important, but knowing what not to do is even more important. Don’t do these five things when learning how to care for baby hamsters.
- Don’t assume your hamster is expecting
We can all recognize the signs of impending babies in humans, and pregnant hamsters exhibit similar behavior. Of course, she’ll gain weight and begin nesting, but don’t jump to conclusions. Some medical conditions will mimic pregnancy and, if left untreated, can be fatal. Check for other signs, such as behavioral changes, and, most importantly, confirm with her veterinarian. Her pregnancy will last two to three weeks (depending on breed), and she will need to be alone, safe, and happy for the majority of this time in order to prepare.
- Try not to peek
Your pet will want to be left alone while she prepares to give birth to your baby hamsters. Even if you have a lot of experience or a close bond with her, interfering too much can cause stress. Of course, you should answer any questions from your veterinarian, but the best thing to do is butt out.
Make sure there’s plenty of material for her nest and extra food to keep her satisfied – she’s eating for eight, after all. Despite the fact that the babies will be born blind, they will all prefer darkness during their birth and the first week or so of their lives. Purchase a small house or a dark tunnel for her and remove all of her other toys.
- Make no noise
The babies require more than just a dark place; they also require silence as they adjust to their new surroundings. If at all possible, place the cage in a separate area leading up to the birth so that Mom and her offspring can relax and recover. Give their home a thorough cleaning before the move (a week or so before the b-day if possible), as you won’t be able to clean for several weeks afterwards. For two weeks after the birth, leave the area dirty and in its new location. You don’t want your odor to be present in the area.
- Don’t get too close
To avoid passing on your scent, avoid touching Mom or the babies for the first week or two. When the time is right for a baby’s first cuddle, the little guy will start moving around on his own and becoming fuzzy. This works well for you because they will become irresistibly cute around the time you can start interacting with them. Keep everyone else at bay as well. Worse than you entering the cage, another animal, even a hamster, could make the mother territorial. Early in the pregnancy, place the father in a separate room of the house.
- Don’t leave them alone for too long
When you can no longer contain your excitement (after about two weeks), start playing with them. While hamsters grow quickly, they will still be small, so be gentle with them. To get your little animals used to humans, you should start slowly and gradually get them comfortable with you. If they don’t spend enough time with other people, they may grow up fearful of you or their new owners.
If you don’t have room for all the babies, find pet parents ahead of time and adopt them out when they’re about 4 weeks old. If they reach sexual maturity at 4 to 6 weeks, move them to a cage with no opposite-sex friends, or you’ll end up with more hamsters than you can handle.
It appears to be a lot of work (and it is), but when you see those sweet bundles of joy, you will instantly fall in love. While they are sure to steal your heart right away, hamster moms will unfortunately freak out over even the smallest things. When mothers are upset, they may eat their babies, so keep an eye out for any stressors and remove them as soon as possible. Your entire new hamster family will thrive as long as you avoid these five don’ts.
If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on food, toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!
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