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It’s important for anyone who owns a female hamster to be on the lookout for signs of pregnancy. From conception to birth, a hamster’s gestation takes 22 days or less. A pregnant hamster may not look much different than she did before; it’s important to know the clues that point to pregnancy early on so that the mother will be properly cared for.
Just like other mammals, a pregnant hamster requires certain dietary changes. A hamster that is eating more, and more often, might be trying to get the increased protein her body demands. Her diet should be supplemented with peanut butter, cheese, chicken, or other high-quality proteins. She shouldn't be allowed to gorge, though. While she’ll gain weight during pregnancy, she shouldn’t eat to the point of obesity.
A pregnant hamster will show nesting behaviors almost right away. If she or her mate is obsessed with gathering paper, fabric, stuffing, or other bedding materials into a nest, it’s time to move her cage mates out. She might burrow under the cedar chips if she feels cold, another sign that she is pregnant. Pregnant hamsters can become nervous; tucking her cage into a quiet corner will help her feel safer.
A pregnant hamster should never be caged with other hamsters no matter how friendly they were before. She will become aggressive and attack them. This could result in her losing her litter or causing injury to herself or another hamster.
All members of the household must understand the soon-to-be-mother should be left strictly alone. Children, especially, may want to make daily visits. They should understand that too much activity might cause her to lose her litter or turn on them when they are born.
Feeding and changing the water should be done with as little disturbance as possible. Most pregnant hamsters don’t like to be handled. It can make them nervous and can cause them physical discomfort.
If the pregnant hamster isn’t a long-haired type, her abdomen should be checked with quick peaks. When her nipples begin to show, she is about a week away from giving birth. She needs plenty of space. Hovering close by will make her feel threatened rather than safe, and this could result in her cannibalizing her babies.
Once she has delivered, the pups must be checked to make sure they are alive. It is common for hamsters to deliver one or more stillborn pups. If one is found, it should be lifted out of the cage as quickly as possible. Any living pups should not be touched.
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