Should hamsters be allowed to breed?
Hamsters do not need to breed – they are quite happy if they never produce young animals.
Hamsters are old enough to breed at 6 – 8 weeks. They will produce young hamsters unless they are separated or the males are neutered. Females attack males when they are not in season, so they are best separated from the males except for mating.
Female Hamsters In Season
Most hamster litters are produced between May and November. Female hamsters will only accept male hamsters when they are ‘in season’. This happens once every five days. You cannot tell when the female is in season by looking at her. The best way to find out is to put a male and a female in a cage together. You should use a spare cage which is not the ‘home’ of either hamster. You should put them together in the evening, and leave them together for an hour or so, under observation.
If the female is in season, she will accept him. If she is not in season, she may attack him or ignore him. If you put them together once a day for five successive days, she will eventually be in season on one evening. Hopefully you will then get a successful mating.
Pregnancy lasts only 15 – 18 days. Pregnant hamsters should be kept in a clean cage with a nesting box. The usual litter size is between five and nine young hamsters. A pregnant hamster should not be disturbed in the three days before the birth, or until nine days after the birth. If you open the nesting box and peep at the young ones, this will distress the mother. Sometimes this can cause her to damage the young hamsters. Baby hamsters start to eat solid food at around ten days of age. They can be separated from the mother from around 3 – 4 weeks.