How to Recognize When a Hamster Is Pregnant

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Has your pet hamster been acting differently? Like humans, the first indication that your hamster is pregnant is an increase in body weight, especially in the abdominal area. You'll also want to pay close attention to pregnant hamster behavior for indications of when she'll be getting ready to give birth.

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Pregnant hamsters become protective.
Image Credit: Alex Milan/iStock/GettyImages

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For a pregnant hamster, behavior changes are an important symptom for which to watch. Hamsters who are pregnant may act differently. They become protective of themselves, wanting to keep their growing baby safe. You can help them stay calm and healthy by keeping them comfortable and feeding them a healthy, high-protein diet.

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Pregnant hamster behavior

When hamsters are carrying a baby, they often appear to be more stressed. If you notice your hamster acting defensive, aggressive, or more guarded than usual, there's a good chance she may be pregnant. Pregnant hamsters tend to be protective in order to keep themselves and their unborn pup healthy and out of harm's way.

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Closer to the time when she will give birth, a hamster's stomach will become larger and bloated, and she might have vaginal bleeding. She will build a nest area, and her nipples will become swollen. She may seem anxious and unable to relax as she gets closer to giving birth. Put away toys and wheels, leaving nesting material, hiding places for her to have time alone, and additional food and clean water. You should put two weeks worth of meals in the cage when it's time for your hamster to give birth so you can give her space and privacy after the pups are born.

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Caring for a pregnant hamster

If your hamster is pregnant, the best thing you can do is help her stay comfortable, especially as she goes into labor. Make her a soft area in which to rest and give birth and give her shredded paper or other soft materials to use for her nest. Add protein and also give her a wheel to help her stay active. Once she is showing, which happens in the final week, do not pick up your hamster.

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Ensure that she has constant access to fresh water and healthy meals. Give her a diet high in protein, including foods like hard-boiled eggs or plain, baked chicken breast. Keep her hydrated with clean water and feed her fruits and vegetables. Hamsters can have cucumber slices, sweet potatoes, celery, kale, and peaches. These should be enjoyed in moderation.

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Hamster gestation period and babies

Hamster gestation varies slightly by breed, but most hamsters are pregnant for between two and three weeks. A pregnant hamster will typically give birth to six to eight babies, also known as pups. Most hamsters, who live two to three years, have about two litters in their lifetime. Born furless, pups should not be picked up by humans for the first seven days of life. After a week passes, slowly begin to care for them. The pups will nurse from their mother for up to a month.

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Most of the time, mom will take care of her babies completely. If the mother is healthy, she won't need any help from people within the first week, and the cage should be left as is. Sometimes, human intervention is needed if the mother isn't feeling well. Humans should also pay attention to prevent a mother from eating her baby. Only allowing young, healthy hamsters to breed and providing them with food and a relaxing environment can help stop this issue.

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