How To Breed/Raise Dwarf Hamsters
So, you've decided to bring some fuzzy, little critters into the world? Breeding and raising dwarf hamsters is fairly easy and fun for all ages (except for all who cannot read this, sorry toddlers and illiterate individuals). I have bred dwarf hamsters for about three years and have never, even in the beginning, had any problems or issues that I could not face! No matter if this is a one time thing or you want to create your own little furry farm, this guide will teach you how to successfully breed (no, you will NOT have to "breed" with your hamsters) and raise them!
A Djungarian Hamster
What You Need To Do First:
Before we begin, there are questions that you must ask yourself:
- Are you able to take responsibility for multiple hamsters?
- Do you have the room, time, and money (this is very inexpensive)?
- Do you have possible homes for your hamster's offspring?
- Can you withstand the cuteness that you will experience?
If you answered "yes" to all of these questions, you'll be a great hammy parent.
Good, I knew we would get farther than this. I believed in you! Lets get started!
What you need (not gonna get too technical here):
- a female dwarf hamster
- a male dwarf hamster
- two/three separate hamster-proof cages
- hamster supplies (bedding, food, etc)
If you already have these things, you are well prepared.
A Cute Roborovski Hamster
Picking Out Hamsters:
Whether you already have a hamster(s) or not, you should still make sure the hamsters you're breeding are completely healthy and aren't aggressive towards each other. If you do not already have dwarf hamsters, you should visit a reliable pet store or breeder to buy them.
When you are buying a pair of hamsters, you should look for a friendly disposition and a lively personality. Never buy a hamster that looks sickly (oily fur, cuts/injuries, wet bottom, watery eyes, etc). Also, get one that appeals to you (obviously), whether it be physical or a more personal connection. The hamsters housed in cages together will most likely be of the same gender so make sure that you are for certain you have a male and female.
You should also pick out a species to work with. There are Chinese (technically not a dwarf, but I will consider them), Roborovski, and Campbell (Russian), and Djungarian hamsters.
WARNING: Make sure your hamsters are of the same species, you CANNOT breed Syrian hamsters with Dwarves. I have dealt with all of these Dwarves before but only have I ever bred Campbells and Djungarians (vast variety of coat colors).
My opinions on the breeds:
- Chinese: These have to be the sweetest and most docile of the hamsters listed. My first hamster was a Chinese dwarf named Lily. I was only 8 so I might have not been the BEST owner but she never bit me regardless and seemed to handle any little mistake I had with her. Chinese hamsters only come in three colors, the typical wild color, dominant spot, and black eyed white (very rare). So there isn't much variations, yet they are still great pets! Males do tend to have VERY over sized scrotums, like half their body length (from experience). It might be a little awkward looking but I could easily get over their weird testicles, so you could too! Overall, they make a good rodent companion.
- Roborovski (robo for short): These are the smallest type of hamster and most energetic! I only have owned one (ended up returning him to the pet store because I could not even hold him) but experience differs! They come in ten different colors and always keep their minuscule size. I have to say, robos have to be one of the most cutest things in the world; it is amusing to watch them bolt and scurry around. These little critters are also great climbers and make the best pets for people who are looking for hyperactive, adventurous hamsters!
- Campbell (Russian): These are the most common and most popular of dwarf hamsters! Every pet store I have been to sells these little buggers! Campbells don't have the most variety of coloration (a regular brown with a black stripe down the back and a white belly) but they still live up to their popular name. They are very hardy and easy to take care of, my friends and I have owned a couple with varied personalities; most are sweet and rewarding to have.
- Djungarian: These are also common and popular, but have more coloration. Many get djungarians and campbells mixed up, they are hard to distinguish. They, too, have a white belly and a dorsal stripe, but come in more coat colors. Djungarians are sound and simple, almost the same as a Russian hamster. I have had a couple of these as well and they make great pets and companions. Also, they are very photogenic creatures!
Note: Djungarian and Campbell hamsters can interbreed (mostly all my hamsters were mutts, even the three I had bought from the pet store to start with). It is very hard to distinguish them apart from each other, I was never sure what hamsters I had but just labeled them dwarf hamsters. The coat colors for these hybrids are endless and are as healthy and normal as any other hamster in my experience. Their temperament seems to be the same as well. In my opinion, these are the most fun to breed because of all the pretty colors you can get, I've even had the rare color, champagne!
You should ask yourself if you are breeding simply for fun or you want to combine the unique traits of your chosen hamsters .
Which Hamster is the Best for You?
Very easy and hardy hamsters
Hardy but not for begineers
Easy and Hardy hamsters
Easy and Hardy hamsters
Very easy to handle
Hard to handle due to energetic nature
Easy to handle
Easy to handle
Calm and Friendly
Energetic and Curious
Friendly and Outgoing
Friendly and Outgoing
What is the best breed of hamster?
A Campbell/Djungarian Hybrid
Hamsters do not require much supplies to be successfully raised, same as any caged animal. Yet, you should always have these things for your furry friends:
- Hamster Food
- Water Bottles
- Bedding (bought or shredded newspaper could work)
- Hamster Wheel
- Treats (optional)
- Huts/Shelter (optional)
Hamsters can easily and safely be housed together, for most love to snuggle up to one another. I have even had mother hamsters help take care of each other's litters! I'd recommend having AT LEAST two or three cages, to separate females and males. The hamster food is self explanatory, just be sure to feed your hamsters a diet that is healthy and nutritional, nothing that can make it sick. You must always use a water bottle to hydrate you hamsters; they can easy drown in small bowls of water or get sick from becoming wet. For the bedding, you can use almost anything, but nothing that could harm your little hammies. I used to shred newspaper; free and plentiful! Be sure to change the bedding every so often (once a week). You don't exactly need a hamster wheel, but think of the well being of your hamsters; they NEED exercise. Although, some might just use their wheel as a little home and stuff bedding in them, it is still nice to have a place where your pet will feel safe. Treats are a great way to reward your hamster but are optional. Some hamsters prefer different treats than others, so try a variety! These treats can be made at home or purchased from any local pet store. Shelter is optional, but your hamster will most likely use their hamster wheel as a nest if they do not find comfort in their cage.
When you buy a hamster, they may already be friendly and easy to handle but, some may be the complete opposite! Have no fear, you can easily hand train a hamster so it will not bite and enjoy your company.
Taking your pet home:
When you bring your furry friend home, you should introduce it to it's new cage and let it be for at least three days. It is stressful for your hamster when entering a new environment and they should have a little time to become accustomed of their surroundings. This DOES NOT mean that you must avoid contact with your hamster at all costs! You can still observe and talk to your pet, fix things in the cage, feed/water pet, and get it used to your scent. I am not stating that a good owner should give their animal some time to themselves; I have almost ALWAYS handled my pets as soon as we arrived to my house. This is just an effective way to gain a hamster's trust, especially if they are a little aggressive.
After this time period has passed, you can begin to take your hamster out. Place your hand into the cage, DO NOT grab for your hamster. This will spook it and make it harder for your pet to get trust to you. Let the hamster sniff you; it may nibble/lick you, but it shouldn't hurt. Don't jerk your hand away! If your hamster does not walk onto your palm, try coaxing it with a treat or it's favorite food (sunflower seeds have always been my hamsters's favorite snack). Carefully lift your hand up and out of the cage and sit on a bed/chair/sofa; make sure that the chair would be by a table in case the hamster were to drop. Talk calmly to your pet and gently stroke them with your pointer finger; this will get them used to both your voice and touch. If all goes well, your hamster will learn that you are a respective, kind-hearted owner and you can move on to cupping it in your hands/regular play.
Sometimes people chose an unruly, little rascal of a hamster and believe that they can one day be on good terms with it. This is correct! No matter the personality of your pet, they will eventually get used to you and grow to like you! But, it might take a little work. If you have an uncooperative/nippy hamster these, words of wisdom should help you with hand training them!
Follow the steps of bringing your hamster home. If your hamster seems like it will bite, wear gloves so you will not get hurt. Some hamsters might bite hard and even draw blood if frightened, so be careful! Try to get it out of the cage, if it is too finicky, it might be too soon to bond with it. Place an old clothing item of yours in the cage, something that would have your scent. This will help the hamster get used to your smell and therefore, get it used to you! If your hamster still does not appreciate being handled, try the "tough love" concept. No, this does not mean beat your hamster till it loves you; it simply means that you should handle it whether your hamster likes it or not! You should also do this with gloves in case biting occurs. Also, be very gentle and even if your hamster squirms, hold it firmly (not enough to the point it could hurt your little friend). Try giving it treats and food, so it will know that being held is a good thing and you're associated with that. If you repeat all of these steps often, your hamster should get used to you in no time!
If you are still having problems with your hamster and none of these steps work, comment your issue and I will try to help as soon as possible.
A Couple of Campbell Hamsters
So, you got everything together and you think it is finally time to breed your hamsters? Breeding is simple; there is practically no work required! All you need to do is make sure things work out well and prepare to expect a little litter of hammies.
Before breeding, make sure the two hamsters of your choice like each other and do not fight. If the hamsters begin lashing out at each other in a violent matter, separate them with a piece of cardboard. Also, MAKE SURE that your hamsters are of the right age to breed. Sexual maturity is usually 4-5 months. You do not want a young mother because being pregnant can hurt her or she will kill/abandon her babies.
- Two hamsters of the opposite sex that are of sexual maturation (same species excluding Campbell and Djungarian)
- A romantic place (AKA: a cage or box)
Put the two hamsters of your choice in a cage together, preferably a place where they do not have their scent on anything. If not, put the female in the male's cage or put the female in the box first. Female Chinese hamsters are quite aggressive towards males, so be careful if you are breeding that species. Watch them closely; they might chase each other around for a bit and squeak. You shouldn't worry, unless the hamsters are physically hurting themselves; do not intervene otherwise. Wait till the hamsters are fully finished; you wouldn't want someone to bother you right in the middle of doing the "do". You can continue to keep these hamsters together if you'd like (not with Chinese hamsters), especially with Campbell or Djungarian hamsters, but keeping them separated is preferred. They harmonize well with their partners and help take care of the offspring. BUT, the male might end up impregnating the female again too soon and that isn't healthy for the hamster or good if you were only expecting one litter. Keep that in mind!
Gestation periods and litter sizes for the breeds:
Campbell: 18-21 days and 4-8 pups
Djungarian: 18-21 days and 4-6 pups
Chinese: 21-23 days and 4-6 pups
Roborovski: 23-30 days and 3-5 pups
(litters can be a little bigger or smaller)
To tell if your hamster is pregnant, look for these signs:
- Creates a bigger nest
- Round, enlarged belly
- Eating more
- Odd behaviors
- Might be more aggressive
If you think your hamster is pregnant, give her more food, water, bedding, and more space than usual. She needs to eat/drink a lot for her pregnancy and you should put her cage in a quiet place with more bedding material. Also, don't handle her much; some hamsters will enjoy the company more than others will.
You may witness the beautiful process of birth or you might not. If you so happen to, watch out for signs where your hamster may huddle into her nest and frequently lick herself. The birth is quick and she may scurry around her cage while doing so. Don't worry, there will most likely not be any birthing complications. After the babies are born, give the mother some space. IT IS A MYTH that disturbing the mother and her babies when they are still young will ALWAYS result in eaten baby hamsters, but some mothers may do so. I have had great mother hamsters that let me inspect the babies and get close to them with no fuss or consequences. If your hamster seems stressed and doesn't like handling much, do not try handling the babies. The only time I have had a mother eat her babies is when I've had aggressive mothers or the babies had health issues. If you feel like you have a bad mother and have another mother hamster or pregnant hamster, you can give the litter to a them if it doesn't put too much stress on the hamster. Every time I've had a hamster foster babies, it has ended up in success. As I have stated before, I had groups of mothers in a cage together that would take care of each other's kids.
You now have your very own litter of hamsters! Yes, they are still very tiny and you cannot do much but, soon you will be able to handle these babies and show them the world! Here are the stages of growth and how to handle baby hammies.
Your baby hamsters will be born hairless, unable to see or hear but can feel and smell their mother. You should try to avoid handling them unless completely necessary. The litter will begin to grow hair on the seventh day since their birth.
On day ten, they will begin to open their eyes and move around, but very little. You might see them stumble around the cage a bit. At this point, you can handle them for small periods of time, but near the cage. They are very tiny and can be jumpy, so hold them in or near the cage to avoid any injuries to the babies.
The baby hamsters will walk around the cage and learn from their mother, eating solid food and learning to use the water bottle (be sure that they can reach it). You can now handle them more often and get them used to human contact.
It is now time to separate the babies from their mother and the opposite sex. To determine the sex of a hamster, lift the hamster up carefully and examine their bottoms. You should see two holes or a bump and hole. The females will have two close together holes, the sexual opening and anus, while the males have a bump (the penis) and an anus that are farther apart. Males also have testicles and only female hamsters have nipples. These hamsters can now be treated like mature hamsters and are ready to be re-homed.
Mother and Child
It is about time to part ways with your litter of hamsters. It was fun watching them grow, but now they need new homes. This will show you how to find the best homes for your furry friends and how much you should re-home them for.
- Give to a pet store
- Make an ad on craigslist or in any other classifieds
- Make an ad on newspaper
- Tell a friend
- Make posters to hang around town
I have always re-homed my hamsters on craigslist, sold to a petstore, or re-homed to local friends and have found those methods to work the best! My local pet store took in a couple of my uncommon coat colors, giving me 25$ for 2 mottled hamsters. I trust this pet store and know the owner well to believe that these hamsters would go to good homes. When making advertisements on craigslist, I gave out my email, number, and listing info about my hamsters to re-home them. Most met up at my house and I found out that these people were very kind and wanted a pet for their kids, usually bringing them along so that they could pick out a hamster for themselves. If you feel uncomfortable with letting a stranger come over, you can agree on meeting at a public place, like a Walmart parking lot! My friends wanted a couple baby hamsters and I still come over and see them from time to time. All are very effective ways if you want to find good homes for your hammies.
Depending on breed and coat color, your hamster could range from 8 dollars or more. You should always re-home hamsters with a price unless giving them to a friend because a free hamster could easily end up as snake food. If your hamster is a common coat colored dwarf like a simple Campbell, 10 dollars is a reasonable price. But, if you had a mottled coat colored hamster, that could go for 20 dollars or more.
You do not have to re-home all or some of your hamsters, but it does require a little more work having multiple hamsters. If you want to continue and breed hamsters, make sure to keep a good bloodline and not inbreed. Do not get overwhelmed with hamsters!
I hope this article helped, comment if there are any questions I didn't answer!
- Alia Norwood