The issues of pregnancy and childbirth of a hamster concern many owners of these animals. The appearance of offspring is a responsible and exciting period in which more careful care is required for the female. Therefore, each owner of hamsters should be familiar with the features of reproduction, pregnancy and the content of the newly-born mother and cubs.
Among the people, hamsters are known as very prolific animals, although this is only partly true. In captivity, hamsters do breed all year round, but in the wild they obey instincts and reproduce only in the spring and summer. On average, a female gives birth 2–4 times a year, while the number of cubs in the litter varies greatly – from 1 to 18, but on average 8 animals are born in the litter.
How hamsters give birth
Not every owner succeeds in contemplating the birth of his animal, since in most cases the appearance of offspring occurs at night. Despite this, it is worth knowing the features and signs of the appearance of the babies, as well as possible complications in the female and the procedure in such a situation.
True signs of the approach of childbirth and their course
You can learn about the imminent completion of pregnancy by the following signs:
- the animal ceases to eat;
- activity decreases;
- the birth canal opens.
What to do, how to help a hamster give birth
As such, assistance from a person during the birth of a hamster is not required. The main task is to ensure comfortable conditions for the future mother:
- 1-3 days before the birth, you need to clean and wash the cage (it is better to use a one-story for a pregnant female), replace the filler, put in food that does not deteriorate.
- It is necessary to maintain the optimum temperature (21-24 ° C) in the room, to prevent drafts.
- It is advisable to place the cage with the expectant mother in a secluded, quiet, comfortable place where nothing will bother her.
- A pregnant and lactating female should not be scared, once again picked up and touched.
- It is strictly forbidden to keep a male and a female in one cage, and not only for the period of pregnancy and feeding, but generally at any time! It is necessary to plant heterosexual animals in different cages immediately after mating.
These are the main manipulations that you need to carry out before childbirth. If a female gives birth during the day in your presence, you can just watch. However, if there are a lot of offspring and the female is not coping, you can try to help: some babies gently wrap a paper towel to eliminate mucus and the fetal bladder, then cut the umbilical cord slightly above the abdomen and return it to the rest of the babies.
In no case should you interfere in the process if the female after childbirth has begun to eat offspring. The maximum that can be done in this situation is to supply her with protein feed. Usually, after resting, the female begins to allow the animals to the nipples. If this does not happen, the cage needs to be placed in a dark place, covered and, possibly, for a short time, mom will begin to care for the offspring.
Complications can occur both during childbirth and after the offspring:
- Toxicosis. It occurs in the last days before childbirth, a female with a brood can die during childbirth or shortly after them. Therapy for this condition does not exist.
- The death of offspring in the womb. It occurs due to poor nutrition, infections, age, physiological characteristics or genetics. If you do not perform an operation to remove the uterus, the female will soon die from blood poisoning.
- Lingering labor. Occur due to age over 12 months (in females, the pelvic bones lose elasticity over time), due to the large size of the cubs, especially if they are few in the brood. In this case, unproductive contractions ensue – the fetus does not pass through the pelvic bones even with strong and numerous contractions. In this case, surgery is necessary.
- Mastitis. Disease of the mammary glands occurs shortly after childbirth and leads to the absence of lactation, inflammation.
- Endometritis. Inflammation of the uterus, also occurs shortly after childbirth, manifests itself as bloody, unpleasantly smelling secretions that last more than 3 days.
Hamster care after childbirth
Like any new mom, a hamster needs special care and attention after hard work has been done. The most important thing you should do is to ensure her peace, quiet and good nutrition so that the pet can recover and take good care of the cubs.
Peace and silence
If you have correctly prepared the place for the cage before the birth (secluded, quiet, shaded corner), you should not change anything, let the relish with the offspring remain there for 2-3 weeks. At this time, do not disturb the pet, try to take hamsters in their arms and bother animals in every way. This may be fraught with the refusal of the female to feed the cubs or cannibalism in general. Other pets should not be able to get close to the cage and disturb the hamsters.
What to feed
When carrying, delivering and feeding, the brood of a hamster loses up to 1/3 of its weight, even if its diet is full and balanced, therefore pregnancy for the animal is a rather energy-consuming and exhausting process. However, in older pets, recovery is worse. Therefore, it is very important to maintain the female’s body with a balanced, varied diet.
The female can show interest in food already half an hour after the birth of the babies. With prolonged childbirth, when the babies appear with a large interval (not to be confused with a protracted, difficult birth!), The hamster can even rest and eat between the appearance of animals. Postpartum feeding is different from that of non-pregnant animals. Servings should be increased by 100%, protein content should not be lower than 20%, and fat – not lower than 10%. Together with grain mixtures, it is worthwhile to include succulent feeds from the list of allowed:
- greens (dill, parsley, lettuce, nettle and dandelion leaves)
- vegetables (zucchini, pumpkin, cucumbers and tomatoes, cabbage, etc.);
- fruits and berries (strawberries, raspberries, pears, apples, peaches and apricots, etc.).
Be sure to give a boiled egg, boiled chicken breast, low-fat cottage cheese three times a week. The female should have constant access to fresh drinking water.
When you can take hamsters from mom
Hamsters are born completely helpless: they are blind, deaf, completely devoid of hair and red, for a minimal orientation in space and finding a mother, babies have a slightly developed sense of smell. In general, they are completely dependent on their mother and very vulnerable – until 10 days of age, little hamsters will not survive without a mother!
Some features of the development:
- on the 5th day the first coat appears;
- at the age of a week, babies begin to try solid food;
- on the 14th day, eyes begin to open;
- on day 20-21, lactation completely ends and the kids go on an independent diet.
Thus, the appearance of offspring in hamsters is a rather fascinating, but extremely responsible process. Do not let random breeding of pets, because pregnancy and childbirth for females are a difficult task. Therefore, it is necessary to approach the birth of small hamsters responsibly, observe the intervals between pregnancies, give the female the opportunity to fully recover and provide the pet with the most comfortable conditions so that her and her baby’s life are safe!