Breeding disorders in hamsters
Breeding and reproduction in hamsters, as in other animals, may be a natural, easy process or may undergo serious complications resulting in an inability to reproduce successfully. Breeding females, for example, may have smaller litters or become infertile as a result of old age, malnutrition, a cold environment, not having enough nesting material, and not having a normal estrous cycle. However, infertility problems can occur in both males and females.
Pregnant females have also been known to abandon or eat their offspring. Though the underlying reasons have not been studied thoroughly, there are a few theories. A poor or improperly balanced diet, for example, may cause the female to look for nutrients elsewhere. Also, a crowded or noisy environment or excessive handling of the young may lead to abandoning.
- Infertility (males and females)
- Abortion or miscarriage (females)
- Abandoning of litter after birth (females)
- Eating their young/litter (females)
- Small litter size (females)
- Old age
- Cold living environment, lack of heat
- Lack of sufficient nesting material
- Abnormal estrous cycle in females
- Incompatibility of male and female hamsters trying to mate
- Sensitivity to seasons and cycle of light through the day and night that are improper for the breeding of male and female hamsters
- Ovarian or uterine cysts in females
- Fetus may die in the womb
- Lack of sufficient heat in the living environment
- Stress or sudden fright
Abandoning of litter
- Large litter size may induce the mother hamster to abandon some or all of the newborns
- Overcrowding of the hamsters in a small living environment
- Noisy living environment
- Human handling of the newborns is too frequent
- Male hamster in the cage after birth
- Insufficient nesting material
- Milk production is not sufficient
- Inflammation of the milk glands, mastitis
- Sick and/or deformed offspring is often abandoned by the mother hamster
Eating of litter
- Sick or deformed offspring
Small litter size
- Lack of heat in the living environment
- Female hamster is old
- Female hamsters does not have normal estrous cycle
- Lack of proper nutrition
- Nesting material is not enough for the female hamster
There is no specific treatment for general breeding disorders. However, when a breeding disorder is due to abnormal estrous cycle, the veterinarian will provide hormone therapy.
Living and management
Becoming more knowledgeable in the reproductive physiology of hamsters will you better manage and prevent problems associated with the breeding and reproduction of pet hamsters.
How to prevent hamsters from eating their young?
Here are a few suggestions for minimizing the risk:
Make sure a nursing hamster has lots of peace and quiet
Don’t disturb a mother hamster, don’t make lots of loud noise, don’t handle her and don’t allow children to handle her. If you give a nursing mother hamster the peace and quiet she needs, she is much less likely to eat her young.
Make sure your hamster is well fed before and after giving birth
If you know your hamster is pregnant, make sure she gets lots of food leading up to the due date. Supplement her usual food with plain cooked chicken or beef to give her some extra protein, and make sure she has access to fresh water every day.
Continue to give her plenty of food right up until the pups are weaned to meet all her nutrient requirements while caring for her young.
Make sure the cage is large enough
This will discourage her from killing the babies through perceived overcrowding.
Never touch baby hamsters
Never touch baby hamsters to avoid putting your scent on them and causing them to be rejected. If you touch them, you are putting them at serious risk of being eaten.
It should be safe to touch baby hamsters after two to three weeks around when they are weaned – but before that, it’s best to just leave the mother to care for them herself.
Keep the cage clean
A clean cage will help reduce stress for the mother – but be very careful when cleaning it because you don’t want to disturb the nest or touch the babies.
Remove other hamsters when one gives birth
When a hamster is about to give birth, separate any other hamsters to allow the mother to nurse her young in peace.
Remove other hamsters when one gives birth
Try to keep an eye on the litter to identify any babies that are being rejected. If you act quickly enough, you may be able to save the rejected animal by removing it from the nest and nursing it yourself.
Be careful in the morning if you know your hamster is pregnant
Since hamsters often give birth at night, if you know your pet is pregnant, take special care in the morning when you go into the room where the hamsters are kept. This way, you will avoid scaring a hamster that has just given birth only a few hours before.
Remove hamsters from mother after weaned
This will stop the hamster turning on her own young because she sees them as rivals.
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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