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Breeding Syrian Hamsters

Breeding and raising Syrian hamsters doesnít take much skill, but some very important steps must be followed in order to insure the safety of the adult hamsters and the babies to come.

First you will have to get a male and female hamster. Click here for information on how to sex hamsters. Be sure to pick out a male and female from different litters to prevent inbreeding. It is best to get them when they are young, they should also be friendly and must be healthy.

You will want to have supplies ready when you get home with your new pets. Please see my care section of this page for more information on what you will need for the hamsters.

Syrian hamsters are solitary animals and will require two separate cages. In the wild, they live in separate burrows and do not live with other hamsters. If you house a male and female hamster together, and allow her to give birth to her babies while the male is still in the cage, there is a good chance that one or both of them will destroy the babies. Also, the hamsters will fight horribly and possibly injure or kill one another if kept in the same cage.

Hamsters can mate when they are as young as 38 days, but it is not suggested to start the breeding process this young. They can be safely bred when they are about 2-3 months old. The female comes into heat every 4 or 5 days. If you are breeding Syrian hamsters you will introduce the female to the male each day until mating occurs. Be sure to put the female in the maleís cage. Do not put the male in the femaleís cage because she is very territorial and will only try to fight him off. It is best to introduce them in the evening, since this is when they are most active. If the female is in heat, they will smell each other and begin mating right away. If not, they will ignore each other, or possibly start to fight. If she is not in heat and they do not mate, try again the next night and every night until the mating takes place. This should happen within 5 or 6 days. If the female is not ready, she will act scared, flip over on her back, and maybe squeal. If this happens, wait a week or two and then try again.

Once mating has taken place, you must get the female ready to give birth. The babies will be born in exactly 16 days. Occasionally it may be 17 or 18 days, but my hamsters have always given birth at exactly 16 days. The female should not be held much during this time, especially as she gets to where she just has a few days left of her pregnancy. Her cage should be cleaned 3 or 4 days before the litter is due, and she should have plenty of bedding and tissue to make a large nest. You may want to feed her greens, fruits, and vegetables now, but in strict moderation, too much can lead to diarrhea. Kale and parsley are some favorite green foods. Chopped up apples and carrots can also be added. These foods will give her plenty of moisture to keep her milk supply good, and also keep her healthy. Never feed iceberg lettuce as it is bad for any small animals digestive system.

Hamsters can have 2-16 babies in a litter, but a litter of 9 or 10 is most common. My hamsters have usually had litters of 10 or 11, but one of my females once gave birth to 14 babies! When they are born they are only about a half an inch long. They are pink and have no fur. They may wander out of the nest, but donít worry because she will find them and bring them back. Make sure her cage is in a dark quite place, and donít disturb her except to feed her. Unless you really know your female hamster (as I do mine), and trust that she will not harm the babies if you touch them, donít disturb the nest or the young.

Here is a litter of new born baby hamsters. These are actually Russian Dwarf babies, but Syrian babies look pretty much the same.

They will grow and develop quickly. In about 5 or 6 days, the young hamsters will start to get their fur and you will be able to recognize any dark markings. Here is a litter at about 1 week old.

At 10 days or sooner they will begin crawling out of the nest. Their eyes and ears are not open yet, but they follow their sense of smell to find food. When they do this, you may want to begin feeding enough greens and fruits for them also, but chop them up in very small pieces to make it easier for them. If they donít have that moist food and only eat their mother's dry food, they will dry up her milk supply, especially with a very large litter. They need the moisture from the fruits and vegetables as well as her milk. You will also want to make sure that the water bottle is low enough for them to reach it now.

These babies are about 10 days old, and are enjoying some pieces of kale, apples, and carrots.

When they are 14-15 days old, their eyes will open. A couple of days later, their little ears will also open and pop away from their heads. They look quite comical at this stage because their heads are so big and their bodies are not proportional. They will be quite active now, and need to be fed both seeds and greens once or twice a day. These babies are about 2 weeks old.

Pretty soon, the babies will become rounder and fuzzier, and look more like hamsters. They can be weaned as early as 18 days, but it is better to keep them with the mother for 28-30 days. Males can be taken away a little sooner. These babies are 3 weeks old (21 days), and this is when I usually separate the males from the mother and the rest of the litter.

When they are taken away from their mother, they should also be separated by sex. They can stay together this way for about another month, or until fighting becomes a problem. You can expect them to play fight occasionally, but make sure that it doesn't get too serious.

I usually leave the females with mom until they are about 28 days old. This way the mother is weaned from their nursing also. These babies are about 4 weeks old (28 days).

Now you must find homes for the hamsters. You can put an ad in your newspaper and sell or give them away. A local pet store also might take them, and probably pay for them. This is much easier because you get rid of them all at once. Unless, of course, you want to keep them all! I try to spread the word that Iím looking for homes, and then I put an ad in the paper as they get close to being ready. I let the ad run for about a week and then whatever babies I have left I take to a local pet store. Make sure that you know the pet store is responsible and takes good care of the babies. I know that my pet store separates them by sex, and this is something thatís very important to me in determining whether or not they are a good pet store.

For more information on breeding you can take a look at the books in a pet store or library. Knowing the simple steps to this process will help you on your way to becoming a successful hamster breeder. This can be a very fun and interesting experience for anyone, if the right steps are taken to do it right.

The Beginning
Other Breeders
Hamster Care
Types of Hamsters
Hamster Links
More About Me

This page created and maintained by Jillian Hansen. Comments, questions, or suggestions, please e-mail