So, you think your hamster is pregnant? Usually, in my experience, I am always unsure. Here's how to tell (or so I've been told): she gets fat quickly in two days, usually around the rear, she eats more and drinks more, hoards food, and makes a big nest. The easiest way to tell is if she gets fat in just a couple of days.
When you figure out she's pregnant, start feeding her food high in protein, like cheese, peanut butter, and oats. Don't overfeed, though.
I've read it's best to keep the father in the cage with the mother. My advice: take him out as soon as she starts looking fat. He will probably eat the babies, not care for them. Some fathers do help raise the babies and take care of mom, but to be on the safe side, take him out. Also, the moment after the mother gives birth, she goes into heat. The male WILL mate with her and she will become pregnant again and deliver in 18 days. That is another reason why I recommend separating him. This gives her time to rest between litters.
As soon as your mom hamster starts to look fat, you can expect babies in approximately 2-7 days, depending on how your hamster handles her pregnancy. One of my females gets fat and 2 days later has babies; the other gets fat and has hers a week later. It just depends on the hamster.
When she starts to deliver, mom will hunch over and start moving around a lot. Usually, she will have all of the babies in her nest, but she might also have them in different areas in the cage. Don't worry, though, she will gather them up and bring them back. If you get a good look, you might see her deliver one. They come out head first and feet first. It doesn't matter, so don't worry about it. Mom will take care of herself and her new litter.
My best advice to you when your hamster has babies is to leave her completely alone and keep the cage in a quiet room. Only get in her cage to give her extra food and water. Don't touch the babies for two weeks, or she might eat them. Yes, that's right, eat them! Dwarfs are cannibalistic toward their young, you know.
Clean the cage out a couple of days before she is due to give birth. Remember, you won't be able to clean it for two weeks. Baby hamsters are extremely cute, but be sure you have homes lined up for them.
It is part of nature that female hamsters may eat their young. If this happens to you, here are some factors that may (or may not) have caused it.
- She was stressed out by loud noises or the father.
- The babies were touched by a human and therefore, had another scent on them.
- The babies were deformed or had genetic disorders.
- The mother was a first-time, inexperienced mother.
Mothers may eat the babies for any of these reasons. I have found that the second birth is usually much larger and has a much better survival rate because the mother knew what was going on and what to do. The first litter was sort of a surprise to her and she had to learn the ropes.
Sometimes, the mother never has any trouble with the first litter. Again, it just depends on the hamster. If your mother eats her first litter, give her plenty of recovery time and try again. Unless she has problems with her health, I can guarantee more of the babies will live the second time around. It often takes a little time to get the ball rolling, but once it is done, you will have plenty of little pups.