Since Syrian hamsters are solitary animals, breeding them is more challenging than with dwarf hamsters, who cohabitate. While breeding Syrian hamsters can be lovely, there are some things to consider. This article has answers to your questions about breeding Syrian hamsters.
Identifying Male and Female Hamsters
Identifying the sex of hamsters can be slightly tricky, especially at a younger age. Male Syrian hamsters are usually more recognizable. Once they are four weeks old, they would have noticeable testicles hanging below their rear end. While male dwarfs also have testicles, they’re less obvious. The scent glands are close to their umbilicus belly button). Every male hamster is capable of retracting its testicles into its abdomen. Female Syrian hamsters usually have noticeable nipples if their hair isn’t too long. Their 2 rows of nipples run parallel on both sides of their belly. While female dwarf hamsters also have nipples, they are smaller and more difficult to spot. The easiest way to differentiate a female from a male hamster is to view the distance between the openings at its rear. It’s the same with every hamster, female or male. In males, the penis (tucked up in a small opening) and the anus are further apart. But in females hamsters, the vaginal opening and anus are closer together.
Syrian Hamsters Breeding Behavior
Ensure to separate your hamsters into sex cages once they reach four or five weeks old. At this young age, they are sexually mature and can reproduce. When they reach six to eight weeks old, they should be housed alone as their territorial and solitary instincts begin to emerge at this age. From this stage, persistent and serious fighting will occur. You must ask yourself if you have enough cages, the equipment, the time, and the space to accommodate them all. If you aren’t able to house, cope, and supply the care, and love that these lovely creatures need, then have a rethink before breeding Syrian hamsters. The oestrus is the only period when female hamsters accept males for mating. The heat period generally starts approximately 1-2 hours after dusk on the 3rd day of their oestrus cycle, and complete ovulation 6 to 10 hours after the start of psychic oestrus. Ensure not to bring the male hamster to its cage as female hamsters tend to be aggressively protective of their territory. Introduce her to the male’s cage. Also, you allow the mating on neutral ground as you wish. Make sure to keep an eye on them while they interact. If the female hamster is receptive, she’ll immediately take a mating position, with her tail raised to the air and her tummy facing the ground. The male hamster will mount for some seconds and then dismount to wash himself. Copulation should take place within two to three minutes. If it doesn’t, or the female hamster is aggressive, take her back to her cage. If copulation occurs, you can leave the pair together until you notice a lack of further interest shown by either the male or the female. This is mostly between 20 and 30 minutes. Ensure not to leave them together for a prolonged period as they may end up fighting.
Supplies You Will Need for Breeding Syrian Hamsters
During your hamster’s gestation period, looking after them is essential to ensure they remain healthy and their offspring are delivered safely. While it may be difficult ascertain that your hamster is pregnant, here are a few things you should do once you discover:
- Ensure to provide a highly proteinous diet for the hamster.
- Provide enough clean, fresh nesting material.
- Avoid handling the hamster unless necessary.
- Ensure the hamster’s living area is quiet and undisturbed.
- Ensure to clean the hamster’s cage about two or three days to the expected delivery date.
As the delivery day approaches, the hamster will provide a secure and snug nest. Sometimes they might even provide a separate nest for the birth.
Do Syrian Hamsters Eat Their Babies?
If your hamster prepares for birth by nesting and consuming less food, then it can be surprising if she kills and eats her own younger one. But while a lack of food may cause this, hamsters may eat their babies for some other reasons, which include:
- Stress: Like humans, mother hamsters can experience a lot of stress. Pregnancy, delivery, caring for, and nursing multiple babies can be very stressful for hamsters. A hamster may eat its offspring if she feels excessively stressed. Caring for her babies might feel too much for her to handle, causing her to kill and eat them. This is more common with young hamster mothers or if the mother is excessively disturbed throughout the day.
- Fear: Every mother does their best to protect their babies, and it’s the same with hamsters. But when they are fearful or scared, this emotion can lead to killing and eating their babies. Threats like loud noises, a person or pet that the hamster is afraid of, or other intimidating things can cause her to eat her young.
- Scent: Mother hamsters spend quite some time caring for and cleaning their babies. The scent left on these babies helps her recognize them. If she finds a new scent on the babies, like a person’s scent, she might not recognize them and become confused. She may then kill and eat the perceived impostor since the scent of the young one changed.
- Inability to care for the babies: If a hamster feels overwhelmed with her new babies, especially if they are many, she may decide she’s unable to care for them, and eat some. She does this hoping to help the other babies survive, though it’s a wrong thing to do.
- Lack of food: This is probably the main reason hamsters would eat their babies. Every pregnant or nursing animal expend more energy and would need more food. The lack of food can also lead to the fear of the inability to provide for her young.
Prevent Syrian Hamsters From Eating Their Young
- Provide enough food: Ensure the hamster gets enough food while nursing its babies.
- Check on the young hamsters without touching them: It’s okay to take a peek at them, but they should be left alone for at least the 1st week. Avoid moving them or touching them with bare hands.
- Keep things quiet and calm: Ensure to provide a quiet and calm environment for the hamster to care for its babies. This may imply keeping other pets and children out of the area where the hamster lives, keeping the surrounding volume down to avoid disturbing the hamster, and potentially covering the cage, so she didn’t see any distracting element or perceived threat.
How to Care for Baby Syrian Hamsters?
Sometimes, a mother hamster may leave her nest and ignore her babies. She may come back to eat them. If you discover that the mother won’t be able to take care of her babies, you might need to hand-raise them or find a surrogate. You can consult a specialist or vet on how to successfully hand-raise newborn hamsters as it isn’t an easy task. Here are some steps to help feed the newborns:
- Feed them with a special milk formula (Lactol) as an alternative to mother’s milk.
- Use an eye-dropper or syringe to feed them every hour for seven days.
- Don’t squirt the milk. Instead, let the baby hamster lick or suck it as it hovers in the eye-dropper.
- 2 drops of milk are okay for each meal.
A better idea would be to get another female hamster to care for the abandoned kids, even though it’s not easy too. A mother hamster will eat a baby hamster she perceives not to be hers. It’s advisable to clean the young hamsters to eliminate their old nest scent and cover them in the new mother’s nesting properties to mask their scent. Then use a treat to lure the mother out and carefully relocate the babies into the surrogate mother’s nest.
How Often Can You Breed Your Syrian Hamsters?
In the wild, Syrian hamsters’ mating season is summer and spring, so females only go into heat during those seasons. But in captivity, female hamsters can breed year-round due to the absence of cold during winter and daily light availability for 12 hours. A female hamster is able to get pregnant after 24 hours of giving birth. However, you shouldn’t allow immediate breeding to avoid stressing the hamster. You can allow up to 3 months of space before the next breeding.
Are Syrian Hamsters Aggressive When Breeding?
When your hamsters are breeding, there’s a chance of aggressiveness between them. While mating, the male may lightly bite the female hamster’s neck, but a fight can occur if he’s too aggressive. Sometimes due to distraction, the male may groom the female hamster’s ears or try to mount from the side or front.
At What Age Do Syrian Hamsters Start Breeding?
Once the young hamsters are about four to five weeks old, they become sexually mature and are capable of reproduction. However, females should be allowed to reach three to four months old before breeding. Males can be bred when they reach four weeks. At this stage, ensure to separate your Syrian hamsters if they are a larger breed to avoid fighting.
Do You Need to Separate Male and Female Syrian Hamster After Breeding?
After breeding, ensure to separate the hamsters to avoid fighting. Unless you’re bringing them back to mate, Syrian hamsters are better off alone.
How Long to Keep Male and Female Syrian Hamsters Together?
A male and female hamster should be kept together only while mating, which occurs within 20 to 30 minutes. After this period, they should be separated and taken back to their individual cages.
Before breeding Syrians, ensure to consider the things mentioned in this article. It’s best to have an experienced breeder or vet around and ensure you have the required supplies your hamsters and potential litters would need.
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. It is important to think ahead before breeding hamsters and not just jump in at the deep end. Consideration must be given to the housing and finding homes or an outlet for the babies. Your hamster can have quite a lot of babies, 15 to 20 is not unknown, although 8 to 12 is normal and when separated from mum another cage will be needed. By four weeks it is recommended that the sexes are separated and this means another cage to find. If homes cannot be found quickly then at six weeks squabbles may break out and the offenders have to be segregated, so more cages are required. By three months each hamster is likely to need its own cage. Having thought carefully and decided that you want to go ahead, then the rewards of seeing the babies grow and their characters develop are great. The female should be a minimum of thirteen weeks old as to breed younger could lead to problems in the pregnancy. It is suggested that the first litter be taken before the female is eight months old as any older could also lead to problems. The male’s age is not so important as long as he is sexually mature and of a size to be able to mate. First it is important that the hamsters are persuaded into believing that it is the correct time of year for mating, this means that the lights may have to be left on for at least twelve hours a day and in winter some heating may be required. Female hamsters will only mate when “in season” or “on heat” which is normally every fourth day, approximately between sunset and sunrise. At any other time the female is likely to turn on the male and injuries can occur if they are not separated quickly. A box 18 inches square and about 12 inches high can be used for the mating and it is suggested that a pair of gloves are worn in case the female turns on the male and you have to intervene although if you are careful they may not be necessary. Place the male and female in the box and watch the postures of both. If it is the wrong night then the female may be seen to be squatting or trying to turn the male onto his back by putting her nose under his belly. If this is the case the female should be removed and the mating tried again the next night. If the female is ready then she will normally run away for a few strides but when the male places his front paws on her back she will “freeze”. This means that she will be standing quite still with her hind legs braced and her tail and ears erect, once seen it is always recognisable. Leave them together for between 20 and 30 minutes after the male is seen to penetrate and then replace in their own cages. Normally once mating has started there should be no trouble but they should never be left alone as sometimes the male becomes over aggressive in biting the back of the female’s neck or over enthusiastic about washing her ears and ending up at the wrong end. Just touching the male can stop both of these instances. The Gestation period is only sixteen days (one of the shortest period known in mammals) and so care should be taken with handling and feeding after the first seven days. It may be advisable to give the female some milk each day, either in the form of runny porridge or with bread soaked in it. A few extra sunflower seeds given from the twelfth day onwards should help with lactation (making milk). Two days before the babies are due the female’s cage should be cleaned and plenty of fresh bedding supplied to make a nest. All old food should be removed and new food given. The babies are usually born from 6.00 p.m. onwards on the sixteenth day with most arriving during the early hours, although some will not give birth until the next evening. If the babies have not arrived by the morning of the eighteenth day then you should consult your vet with the view to possibly inducing the birth. Milky foods and sunflower seeds should still be given daily but care must be taken with the dish containing milk as the babies can be mobile from a very early age and wander into a deep dish and drown. At seven days old you may find the babies trying to drink the milk and so a shallow dish can be used, also a little solid food can be sprinkled into the nest. If the female covers the babies every time she leaves the nest then it is advisable not to be nosey and look at the babies as she may destroy them, but should she leave the nest open then you can investigate but care must be taken not to touch the babies or upset the mother. As the babies get older some mothers will let them wander and gather food for themselves while others will haul them back to the nest and in this case it is advisable to drop some food into the nest itself as growing babies eat a lot. At fourteen days, if you do not have a over protective mother you may be able to clean the wet corner and dispose of any old food and replace with fresh but care must be taken not to upset mum. The babies can be split from mother from twenty-one days although some Fanciers leave them until they are twenty-eight days old. The actual time for splitting may depend on the number in the litter, the size of the babies and the mother’s state of health; all of this will come with experience. Split the sexes into separate cages before they are twenty-eight days old. If a serious squabble is heard after this, split the aggressive one into its own cage. Once split from mum the babies should be handled each day to make them as friendly as possible. Syrian hamsters are a great addition to anyone’s family. They make a great pet to teach your child about responsibility. For the experienced Syrian hamster owner, breeding can be a fantastic learning experience. The process is long but rewarding in the end. This is a complete guide on how to breed your Syrian hamsters.
Things to Consider
How many babies can Syrian hamsters have?
Breeding and raising Syrian hamsters is an important responsibility. Taking care of possibly 16 pups will require your time, money, and attention. If not done correctly, there will be a host of issues that will hurt your furry friends. Before considering breeding Syrian hamsters, make an outline of a plan to execute.
What kind of plans should be made?
Making plans ahead of time will make the breeding process smoother. Before your Syrian hamsters’ pups are born, decide where they will go. Keeping all the babies is an option, but that’s a lot of mouths to feed! Selling them is another option. People who want Syrian hamsters will seek out the best breeders to find their next critter. Putting the Syrian hamsters up for adoption is also another good option.
Preparing to Breed your Syrian hamster
Where should I get the Syrian hamsters?
The Syrian hamsters need to come from a reliable, experienced breeder. The breeder will be able to provide lots of information. This includes genetics, family trees, and bloodlines. Getting a Syrian hamster from a safe source will eliminate possible genetic issues. You will also have a good idea of what the Syrian hamster’s pups will look like. Never get Syrians Syrian hamster that will be used to breeding from a chain pet store. These Syrian hamsters are not documented, and their genetics are not controlled. When you purchase Syrian hamsters from a pet store, you have no idea how old they are, or what their parents look like. Your male and female Syrian hamster need to be the same age. A minimum of four to six months old is the best to start breeding. Older hamsters that breed will produce fewer babies and the pups will have various genetic problems.
What supplies will be needed?
Provide the Syrian hamsters with a comfortable environment. This means purchasing or making a sizeable Syrian hamster enclosure that will house multiple Syrian hamsters at once. Planning the space is essential. All the Syrian hamsters (including the pups once they are older) need to have their own separate cage. Keep the Syrian hamsters in their separate cages, unless you are actively trying to breed them. When you first get the Syrian hamsters, keep the pens in the same room, but not close together. Each one should contain a water bottle with fresh water inside, hide houses, food bowls, wheels, toys, and bedding. You will also need to prepare to have a back up in case your female Syrian hamster rejects her pups. Have a small eye droplet and kitten milk replacement handy. Cat milk is the closest to hamster milk, and the animals will thrive if this needs to be given.
How should the male and female Syrian hamsters be introduced?
Place their cages in the same room as each other. This will familiarize the hamsters to their different smells. Let them be for about a week. The introduction process is best to take slow. Letting the male and female Syrian hamsters take their time will make the breeding process easier. If introduced too early, the hamsters will fight and cause serious injuries. After about a week, take a clump of bedding from each of the hamsters’ cages and put them in the opposite enclosure. This will further naturalize the hamsters with each other’s smells. Push their cages directly next to each other. Now the Syrian hamsters will be able to see each other. Prepare a neutral territory. This will be where the breeding will happen. A neutral cage will have less stress on male and female hamsters. No smells are established, so no chance of threats. The enclosure should have bedding, water, and a hide house.
How will the female Syrian hamster show she is in heat?
Before putting your male and female hamsters in the neutral cage, you must determine if the female is in heat. She will show this by standing very still. Then the female hamster will lift her tail into the air. When you go to hold her, gently touch the top of her rear. If the female hamster is in heat, she will make the motions mentioned. Do not put the male and female hamster together when the female is not in heat. This will induce hostility and fighting between the hamsters.
How will the Syrian hamsters begin breeding?
Place your male and female hamster in the neutral enclosure. The female will pause and lift her tale. The male hamster will mount her and start the process. You must stay and observe in case any fights break out.
How long does it take for a Syrian hamster to mate?
The breeding will take around 15 to 20 minutes. Once they walk away from each other, remove the hamsters and put them back in their separate cages. Be sure to record the date and time of the breeding. Knowing the date will help determine when the female hamster will give birth.
Prepping for the Birth
Observe the female Syrian hamster for one week. Changes in her temperament will start to occur. The gestation period for hamsters is about 15 to 18 days. Using the date recorded, you will be able to determine when the birth of the Syrian hamster pups will be. Clean out your female hamster’s cage. You will need a cleaning solution, paper towels, a brush with a pan, and a garbage bag to put the dirty bedding in. Using rubber gloves will protect you from the bacteria that is on your hamster’s feces. Using the brush, sweep the soiled bedding into the pan. Do this until all the bedding is gone from the cage. Scrap off any filth that has gathered on the sides of the habitat. To get smaller particles, use a vacuum hose to get into tighter corners. You will need to spray down the cage with your choice of safe cleaning solution next. Coat the bottom, sides, and any other fixtures in the cage with the spray. Take a clean paper towel and wipe down the enclosure until it is dry. Gather your Syrian hamster’s belongings and put in a sink to be washed. Scrub on the objects with warm soapy water. Pay attention to the critters wheel; the wheel will have bedding and feces stuck to the surface. Once the washing is complete, rinse off the accessories. Do not leave any soap left. Dry off the items with a towel and set aside to let air dry. Add the bedding of your choice to your hamster’s freshly cleaning cage. The bedding should be at least four inches in height. The height gives your furry friend the option to burrow and make tunnels. Spread the litter evenly throughout the enclosure. Be sure to add all the essentials: fresh water, food, toys, and a hide house. Add additional bedding material. These include ripped up paper towels or toilet paper, strips of a fleece blanket, and an extra handful of your hamster’s regular bedding. When will a female Syrian hamster show signs of pregnancy? Female Syrian hamsters will begin to show signs of pregnancy about two days before the birth. Never handle your hamster when it is near the due date. This will cause your female hamster extra stress. The act of holding your hamster will hurt the delicate pups. Your female hamster will start to assemble her nest. She will gather nesting material and other objects she finds in her enclosure. Do not disturb her while she works. Your hamster will most likely give birth at night. Never touch or try to handle her or any of the pups. If you hold a newborn pup, your natural smell will get on the baby. This will cause the momma hamster not to remember her pup. She will reject it and possibly eat it.
Do Syrian Hamsters eat their young?
This is always a possibility when hamsters give birth. The mother hamster’s instinct will kick in and will determine if she will eat a pup. If the size of the litter is too big, the hamster will eat pups to eliminate any competition for food. The female hamster will consider this for the good of the rest of the pups.
Taking Care of the Litter
The mother will protect her babies and keep them in her nest. The pups will look pink and hairless. They are born with their eyes closed. You do not want to stress the momma hamster, but you still need to be sure she has everything she needs. For the first week and a half to two weeks, quietly refill the mom’s food bowl and water bottle. You do not need to provide the babies with anything currently. They will get everything they need from nursing. You might see them squirming around in their nest.
When should the hamster pups be introduced to solid food?
You should introduce solid food to the Syrian baby hamsters around one week after birth. Give tiny portions of light vegetables. Chop up broccoli into small pieces, or maybe give the pups a strip of a grated carrot. The mother hamster will also store food that she finds in the cage in her nest. Be sure to check for healthy development after about a week. The small pups will start to show signs of fur. Their different colors will also begin to appear. Adventurous babies may wander out of the nest to explore, but the mother hamster will gently pick up the pup in her mouth and bring it back to the nest.
When should the next cage cleaning be?
You should clean the cage two weeks after birth. Move the hamsters one by one into a safe and clean area where they cannot escape. When cleaning, be gentle, and only use water. Be sure to try and keep the nest intact. If its wet and soiled, then replace the bedding and nesting material. Spot cleaning will eliminate waste and help reduce the number of washings that will disturb the mother and babies. To get the pups familiar with your smells, take a clump of bedding and rub it around between your hands. This will leave your natural odor on the bedding, which the newborns will smell. At the two-week mark, your hamster will now be able to move around on their own, eat, and drink by themselves. Check the pups’ genders at around three and a half to four weeks. This can be a time-consuming process. Look at the distance between each hamster’s anus and genital opening. The range of a male will be longer than the length of a female. By four weeks, the males’ testicles should also be noticeable, as should the nipples on the females’ bellies.
At what age should Syrian hamsters be separated?
Once you determine their gender, you can now separate the pups by gender. Have two enclosures ready to go and place the males in one and the females in the other. You can pick up the baby hamsters by their scruff; which is on the back of the neck. They have loose skin on their neck, so the mother hamster can pick the babies up and not hurt them. Not all Syrian hamsters grow at the same rate. Double check their gender to be sure they are put in the right cage. If you are not sure, take all the pups to a vet. They will be able to confirm the hamster’s genders.
Can you keep two Syrian hamsters together?
Syrian hamsters are naturally solitary creatures. This means they prefer to be alone and have their own space. You can NOT keep two Syrian hamsters together. Your hamsters will fight for territory. If left together, the hamsters will hurt each other, and possibly try to kill one another.
When should the Syrian hamster pups be socialized?
The babies will be ready to meet you at around 30 days after birth officially. You can now begin to socialize with the pups and the mother. Let the babies come to you, do not try to pick them up to be safe. Offer them small bits of fruits and vegetables from your hand. At 35 days, your Syrian hamster will be able to be adopted out or sold to other people. Provide all the information on when they were conceived, when they were born, and what kind of food you have been providing your critters.
Breeding Syrian hamsters is an excellent and rewarding experience. Having happy and healthy pups is always the end goal. Plan ahead during the breeding process and do not leave your adult hamsters together in one enclosure. Letting the mother hamster do what she needs to do will make the process go fine.
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