The Ups and Downs of Hamster Mating
So, you really think you’re ready for the joys of planned hamster parenthood? Oh yeah, they are cute, cuddly and undeniably precious. But, and it’s a big “BUT”, please consider the following “hamster facts” before making that all too important decision of allowing your hamsters to breed. If you happen to be considering breeding your Syrian hamsters, there is the very real potential for twenty babies in just one litter. Actually, there’s room in the uterus for a whopping 24 fetuses. On the other hand, if your pets are dwarf hamsters, you may only have to deal with eight or so little ones.
If all goes well, they will begin to grow up and as kids will do, some will begin to fight amongst themselves. And, if you keep them long enough, and a hamsters babies do grow up very quickly, some will even begin to mate with their own siblings, if not separated. That means undertaking the difficult task of trying to identify the sex of each one of the hamster pups and then providing separate facilities for their future confinement. And, the number of hamsters cages needed, or creative and secure partitions, will depend on how many of the hamsters babies you decide to keep and who’s getting along with whom. Did I mention they eat an incredible amount of food?
The particular species of a hamster will determine the precise age at which they become fertile and can range anywhere between one to three months old. The reproductive period for the female will generally last approximately 18 months, with the male hamster remaining fertile for a lot longer period of time. The normal breeding season for hamsters located in the northern regions of the world is usually between the more moderate temperature months of April and October. During that time, the females may go into heat every four days or so. Females are capable of producing between two and five litters in a given season. Gestation periods vary with hamster types and can range from 16 to 23 days. The Roborovski hamster and the Chinese hamster are a little longer extending to possibly 30 days.
If that scenario doesn’t frighten you, let’s move on and take a look at some of the aspects of pregnancy and beyond. Nest building will begin promptly as a soft and plush bed will be needed for the naked little newborn hamsters. Toilet paper makes for terrific nesting material, as the expecting mom will tear it into manageable shreds and line the base of the new bed. Commercial nesting materials can frequently be hazardous to baby hamsters, so save your money and just stick with the paper.
The question of whether or not to cage the male and female hamsters together has more to do with species than anything else. Some opposites are aggressive toward each other, while others thrive with the close bond to their mates. Chinese hamsters should never be left together after mating, as they are aggressive toward each other and serious injury or even death could result from an incidental attack. The same holds true for Golden hamsters. On the other hand, Siberian hamsters maintain a monogamous relationship with their mate and become extremely depressed if separated.
Another notorious behavior of the female hamster is the disturbing act of eating the newborn hamster pups if she thinks they are in danger. How ironic is that? So, it’s extremely important to avoid any undue disturbance while giving birth or shortly thereafter. The pups are born individually and frequently distributed around the cage during the delivery process. Don’t be alarmed, as she will gather all of them together into the nest and begin with the function of nursing. Another disturbing aspect for some observers is the eating of the afterbirth by the mother hamster. It’s a natural part of the entire process and considered essential for the replacement of nutrients given up during the pregnancy.
The hamster babies will begin to show a light covering of fur after 3 days and their eyes will open around day 13. At 3 to 4 weeks the hamster pups are ready for weaning and prepared to leave the nest. The youngsters should be placed into separate cages based upon their gender.
One final comment concerns the next litter of pups: Unless you’re ready to repeat this entire scenario really quickly, it’s best to separate the male and female dwarf hamsters, as they are perfectly content to mate again within 24 hours of giving birth. Regardless of the species you’re breeding, avoiding the potential may be the optimum solution.
Copyright 2010 Walter Tekman. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share the entire contents of this article with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged, including this notice.
Source by Walter Tekman