Looking to learn more about the development of baby hamsters?
Are you a proud new owner of a hamster? Thinking about contacting a breeder to adopt one?
Well, you’ve come to the right place!
In this article, we’ll explore how to care for baby hamsters and their development from the day they’re born to the day that you take them home. We will also carefully trace their milestones and development so that you know what is happening every step of the way.
Plus, we’ll also answer some key questions that surround baby hamsters. Such as “What is a baby hamster called?” and “What do baby hamsters eat?”
What Is A Baby Hamster Called?
A baby hamster or a baby dwarf hamster is normally called a pup.
Occasionally, you will also see them being referred to as kittens.
This is true whether you’re talking about baby dwarf hamsters, baby syrian hamsters, baby teddy bear hamsters, baby russian dwarf hamsters, or baby robo dwarf hamsters.
Truly, the terms are really interchangeable and you can use whichever one you prefer.
Usually, a hamster baby is considered a pup until they are separated from their mother and ready to live by themselves. Depending on the species, this might happen right after weaning, though some other species might remain with mom for a little bit after weaning.
We’ll discuss the specifics of this process and species differences a little further on.
What Do Baby Hamsters Eat?
Under most circumstances, baby hamsters are completely cared for by their mother. They will nurse from their mother, and receive all the nutrition they need this way.
Occasionally, it might be necessary to hand-fed baby hamsters, such as in the case of the mother’s death or rejection. However, this is a full-time job and the success rate is generally pretty low.
If you find yourself in the position that you must hand raise baby hamsters, it is always best to work closely with your local vet.
At about ten days, baby hamsters can begin eating solid foods. They will begin by eating very little and still receiving most of their nutrition from their mother.
However, as time progresses, they will eventually wean off of their mother’s milk and consume an adult diet.
When Can You Touch Baby Hamsters?
Unless completely necessary, it is better to restrain yourself from touching baby hamsters for as long as possible.
This is especially important if the mother has never given birth before.
Hamsters are notorious for eating their young when stressed or not fed a complete diet. Therefore, touching the pups should be put off for as long as possible.
Baby Hamsters Week By Week
The first few weeks of a hamster’s life is full of development and both physical and psychological changes. After all, a hamster must go from a helpless baby to an adult in only a short few weeks!
And we’re sure you have so many questions! When do baby hamsters open their eyes? What do baby hamsters eat? What are the hamster growing stages?
It really is a very interesting journey completed in only a couple weeks, and there really is a lot of information that can be discussed. So, let’s look at each week in depth and attempt to cover as much as possible.
Baby Hamsters: Week One
Syrian hamsters are only pregnant for around 16 days, while most dwarf breeds give birth after 18-21 days. Other breeds, like the roborovski hamster, might be pregnant for up to 30 days.()
After the designated gestation time frame, the mother hamster will go into labor. Generally, labor occurs for about one to two hours, with baby hamsters arriving every 15-30 minutes.
It is important to give the mother space and privacy during labor, as interference or noise can stress the mother out and cause her to eat her young.
The average litter size is usually 4 to 6 pups. However, this can range dramatically from as little as 1 to as great as 20.
For at least the first week of life, the newborn baby hamsters will be cared for completely by their mother. Interference by their human caretaker has a high chance of causing abandonment or cannibalism.
Week One Baby Hamster Milestones
In their first week of life, baby hamsters will not be very active. Baby hamsters will, for the most part, huddle in their nest and nurse.
They are born hairless and pink no matter their species, whether baby roborovski hamsters or another breed, and will rely on their mother and siblings for warmth.
Newborn baby hamsters are born with teeth, but their ears and eyes will be closed for at least the first week. Depending on the species, their ears might open at the end of this week or it might take until the end of week two.
At the end of the first week, fur might be visible on the baby hamsters. However, depending on their coat color, it might be too light to really notice until later.
Their human caretaker will not generally interact with the hamsters at all at the phase. In fact, many breeders will not even clean out their hamster’s cage for at least the first week in order to avoid stressing the mother.
Baby Hamsters: Week Two
At their second week of age, baby hamsters are still decently defenseless. Their mother will still do most of the caring for them, though they will have enough hair by the end of this point to maintain their own body temperature.
They will still nurse from mom for the majority of their caloric needs.
The majority of breeders still will not handle the babies nor will they clean the cage this week. It may sound strange, but leaving the family alone really is the best way to ensure their health and safety.
Week Two Baby Hamster Milestones
Depending on the species of the hamster, the baby’s eats might be open and they might be gaining some of their mobility. Syrian hamster baby’s ears open towards the end of the first week, though dwarf and Chinese hamsters’ ears don’t open until the end of week two.
No matter their species, the pups’ eyes will open near the end of this week, which will give them a new found independence.
Furthermore, this week mom hamster might begin offering her babies solid foods. She will spend a decent amount of time out of her nest foraging for food to feed both herself and offer to her babies.
The babies’ fur will be visible now even if they are of a lighter color, and this new thick coat will help them maintain their body temperature as they begin preparing to venture out of the nest.
Baby Hamsters: Week Three
By this point, the hamster babies will begin looking like smaller versions of their parents. Their fur will be completely grown in, their eyes and ears will be open, and they will begin finding food by themselves.
At this age, the baby hamsters are no longer reliant on their mother for food, warmth, or safety. They are practically smaller versions of their adult counterparts.
It is at this point that many breeders will separate the babies from their mother. Some species, like the dwarf hamster, might stay with their mother for another week or so.
However, it is common practice to separate the babies as soon as they are weaned.
Week Three Baby Hamster Milestones
With both their hearing and eyesight, the hamster babies will begin exploring and finding food on their own. They no longer rely on mom for most of their caloric needs, and will probably be completely weaned by the end of this week.
Most hamsters figure out how to use a water bottle at this age, though some might need a little coaxing before they figure it out.
This is also the first time most baby hamsters will be handled by a human. Since they can now mostly fend for themselves, abandonment is not an issue.
If you are adopting your new friend from a breeder, at the end of the third week is usually the time you can expect to be able to take your new pet home.
Some breeds, however, might stick around with their mother for a few extra days. This is also true if the babies were particularly small or did not grow quickly enough.
How to Take Care of Baby Hamsters
That’s a lot of growing up done in only three weeks!
As you can see, there really isn’t much human involvement when it comes to baby hamster care. Due to the risk that handling babies can bring, breeders usually do not handle their babies until they are already weaned or almost weaned.
In almost every case, the mother hamster will care for her babies completely and will not need human involvement.
At the end of the third week, baby hamsters will need to be cared for just as you would an adult. Though they might still be slightly smaller than their adult counterparts, they do not need any special care.
Do you have a baby hamster? Has your hamster ever given birth to a budding litter? What are your experiences? Let us know in the comments below!
References and Further Reading
- Quesenberry, Katherine. Breeding and Reproduction of Hamsters. Merck Veterinary Manual.
- Tissier, Mathilde (2017). Diets derived from maize monoculture cause maternal infanticides in the endangered European hamster due to a vitamin B3 deficiency. Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences.
- Vinerean, H.. Hamsters. Florida International University.
- Hill, M. A. (2018). Hamster Development. Embryology.
- Larimer et al (2010). Foraging behavior of golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) in the wild. Journal of Ethology.
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