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.