Baby Hamster Care – How to Care for Baby Hamsters?
Baby hamsters are vulnerable because they are born dead, blind, and furless. Breeding hamsters at home is not encouraged, but you may end up unknowingly buying a pregnant one from the pet store.
It is common for pet owners to wake up to a littler of hamsters in the cage without knowing that the mother was pregnant. Female hamsters will, for the most part, take care of their young ones.
If you end with an orphaned litter, however, you will need to provide nourishment and a favorable environment. Read on to find out how to care for young hamsters:
Baby Hamster Care
You can make the pre- and post-birth experience for your hamster easier in the following ways:
– Before Birth
Once you realize that your hamster is pregnant, provide them with a protein-rich diet. High-quality meals will strengthen the mother to wean her babies.
You can offer protein treats like wheat germ, small pieces of cooked chicken, and hard-boiled eggs.
The mother will start stockpiling food for her babies, and you want to present more dry foods because fresh ones will quickly go bad.
The babies should be born into a clean habitat, and you should thoroughly clean the cage. The cleaning should be done at least a week before she gives birth, as doing it too close to her due date may trigger her to reject the babies.
Hamsters are born blind, and you should remove all accessories from their habitat to reduce the risk of injury.
You should also provide nesting material so that the mother can prepare a home for her babies.
You can use kitchen tissue or toilet paper, but avoid elements that can injure the babies like sharp straws. The mother will be ready to give birth if you see her building a nest.
The most important thing to do for your hamster is to avoid disturbing her and her babies. The birthing process should be as solitary as possible, and you should keep the room free of people and sounds. A stressed mother will be very likely to cannibalize her young ones.
Hamsters are easily irritable at birth, and you want to leave her alone for at least two weeks. Do not try and touch the young hamsters as the mother can attack your hand.
The area around the cage should be quiet, as loud noises can lead her to panic. Do not vacuum the room or move the cage. She can also abandon the juveniles if she detects foreign scents on them.
You only need to provide sufficient food and water. The mother will collect food for her babies, but you can scatter some of it around the cage after a week. The juveniles will soon start exploring the cage for food, and you want to give them the idea of feeding themselves.
Provide water in a bottle instead of a bowl because the young ones can easily drown. The bottle should be set low so that the hamsters can sip. You can expect them to start taking water in 10 to 20 days.
Young hamsters will open their eyes in 15 to 16 days, at which point they will have learned to feed by themselves.
You can clean the cage at this point as the mother will not be as fiercely protective as before. You can even try handling the babies, but you have to be careful because they are fragile.
– Separating Hamster Babies from their Mother
You can separate baby hamsters from their mothers at three or four weeks of age. You can tell that they are done weaning if the mother seems impatient with her young ones.
This is also time to separate the males and females as they will be ready to mate in about 40 days. You can put the hamster up for adoption to a trustworthy pet owner.
If you find yourself with orphaned hamsters, you will need to provide particular care in the following ways:
– Keep Baby Hamsters Warm
Hamsters are born without fur, and you have to provide a warm environment. The pups will thrive at a temperature of 70 °F and not higher than 80 °F.
Anything below 18 °C will force them into hibernation. The easiest way to provide warmth is through a heating pad.
Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature range and partially cover them with tissue paper bedding.
– Feed Baby Hamsters Often
Baby hamsters need a special formula every few hours. Feeding the pups is a critical affair because their lungs can easily get flooded.
Pet owners commonly use eye droppers to feed baby hamsters. Do not squirt the milk into the hamster’s mouth. You want to gently squeeze the milk so that a drop hovers around the end for the pup to lick.
The baby hamster will chew the milk, which is how they feed at that age. Two drops will be enough to get the energy they require to develop.
You can use a syringe to feed the hamsters when they are at least two weeks old. Place it in the hamster’s mouth, and pull the lower lip gently.
Be careful with syringes as they can easily cause choking and difficulty in breathing. You can also use a syringe when administering medication or mashed food.
– Keep Baby Hamsters Clean
Do not disturb the pups for the first ten days as they will remain in the nest generating warmth. Keep their cage warm and dry since wet bedding can result in pneumonia.
Bathing hamsters is not recommended as they can self-groom, but you can spot-clean any particularly dirty areas.
The growing fur on the pups will be covered in protective oils, which would come off in water. You can, however, provide sand baths as the hamsters grow older.
You will also need to clean their cage regularly. Relocate the pups to a soup bowl and wash their habitat thoroughly.
Ensure that the pen is dry before you put in fresh bedding, and build a new nest where the previous one was. Put the pups back only when you are confident that the cage is comfortable and warm.
What do Baby Hamsters Eat?
Hamster pups require milk to survive. If their mother dies or runs away, you need to provide a formula that resembles their mother’s milk as much as possible.
Lactol is popularly used by many hamster owners, although it is formulated for puppies and kittens. It is sold as a powder, and you need to mix it with water that is heated to 90 °F.
Wait for the mixture to cool before feeding your baby hamsters.
KMR is another kitten formula used to feed baby hamsters. It comes ready to use, but you have to mix it with water. Some pet owners also use baby formula blended with sterile water.
At What Age Can Baby Hamsters Start Eating Solids?
You can start your baby hamster on solid foods when they are three weeks old, although they can eat them when they are 10-days old.
Buy hamster pellets with 7-9% fat content and 18-20% proteins. Immerse the dry pellets in water so that they become soft and soggy and easier for the pups to eat. Place the pellets on the floor of the bedding where the young hamsters can access.
Introduce foods cautiously as you don’t want to upset your hamster’s stomach. Give fruits and vegetables in small amounts, and wash them thoroughly to clean dirt and pesticides.
Baby hamsters are commonly given wheat germ, nuts, boiled eggs, and seeds like millet. You can also offer cucumbers and carrots but avoid green leafy vegetables.
Keep your baby hamsters well-dehydrated when you introduce solid foods. The drinking tubes should be positioned in a low manner so that the pups find it easy to drink.
Can Baby Hamsters Eat Cow Milk?
Hamster milk is fundamentally different from cow’s milk, and the latter only has nutrients suitable for calves. Orphaned baby hamsters require milk that closely resembles that of their mothers.
Cow milk is, therefore, unsuitable since its fat and protein composition is different from hamster milk. Most vets recommend the use of lactol to feed baby hamsters.
Dairy products are also not recommended for baby hamsters. Some pet owners provide small quantities of cheese, but it can get moldy if stored by the hamster.
Dairy products are also rich in fats, which can result in obesity.
Can You Hold Baby Hamsters in Your Hand?
Don’t try to touch baby hamsters for the first two weeks after birth. If their mother is around, she can reject them if they have your scent on them.
You can pick them with a spoon if you must handle them.
Once they are two-weeks old, you can introduce them to the human touch. Baby hamsters move quickly, and you should keep them close to the ground in case they jump.
Young hamsters are also fragile, and you should not let children handle them.
Most hamster mothers will care for their young, but there is always a chance for rejection or cannibalization.
The prospects of nursing a baby hamster into adulthood are quite low, but you can raise the odds by keeping them warm and feeding them commercial formula.
Do not nurse the pups with cow’s milk since it is very different from hamster milk.