Dwarf hamsters are smaller and more docile than their larger Syrian hamster relatives, making them popular pets. These social animals generally do well in pairs but will reproduce quickly if given the opportunity. Dwarf hamsters have extremely short gestation periods, which may last as little as 18 to 22 days in length. The signs of pregnancy may not always be clear early in the gestation period, so it is important to keep close observation on female hamsters.
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Observe your female hamster's behaviour. In the early stages of pregnancy, many females will begin to display nest-building behaviour or may seem unusually anxious or nervous. This behaviour is not always present but can be an early indicator of pregnancy.
Watch for any changes in eating habits. Pregnant females will eat and drink more than previously and will also begin to hoard food.
Observe any changes in the size or shape of your female hamster. A few days before giving birth females will become noticeably larger and rounder in the abdomen and the haunches.
Remove male hamsters from the enclosure before any pups are born. Female hamsters go into heat immediately after giving birth.
Tips and warnings
- Supplement your pregnant hamster's diet with plenty of leafy greens in addition to a higher protein diet.
- Dwarf hamsters may cannibalise their newborn pups if they are stressed for any reason. Do not open the cage except to provide food and water, and do not attempt to handle the mother or her young for the weaning period, about two weeks after the birth.
- Do not change the substrate or introduce any new hamsters during the weaning period.
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