Seperating by Gender
Seperating males and females is hard at first, but very easy when you do it a lot of times. First, you need to hold it correctly. Most hamsters may try to bite. Anyway, you can hold it a couple different ways:
- Place it on your hand while holding its scruff (loose skin on back of neck)
- Put it on one hand, flip it over, then hold that position
- VERY GENTLY grasp its head on the sides with your index finger and thumb and hold it in your hand
Now that your holding it, check the bottom area. Its gender is accordingly: males have 2 holes far apart and females have 2 holes very close, almost looking as one. I will put helping pictures up soon!
Mating, Pregnancy and Birth
Getting hamsters to mate isn't very hard. Except pairing older hamsters is not easy. There are, however, ways of pairing any age. One way is something called the "Switch Cage Method". You put a wire mesh divider across a 10 gallon (or larger) aquarium and set up each side as an individual cage. Place one hamster on a side and the other on the opposite side. Leave them there for 1 week (don't cage the cage while performing this method). Then, put both hamsters on the opposite side of their current side. Wait another week. After that week, take the divider out. It almost always works for me. If not, try doing it again. How does this work? Well, the hammies can smell and see eachother, just no touchie and no fightie. The hams rub their scent all over their side. Then when they switch, they smell eachother's scent and get used to it. And so, they're used to the other hamster. But usually if you start the hamsters younger, you won't have have to go through all that.
The gestation of Dwarf Campbells is 18 days. But if they come later, it's normal. When the mom is 2 days away, she looks really fat and lays around more than usual. She may also eat and drink alot more. While she has a belly full 'o babies, give her lots of fruits and veggies. But not too much! Make sure clean water is accesible along with food. 2 days away is a critical time, a time to make sure the babies come okay.
Give a lot of nesting material (such as toilet paper) to the parents so they can make a big comfy nest. 2 days before birth, thoroghly clean the cage. Try not to hassle Momma while she is pregnant.
Now for the birth. During the birth, make sure that the room she's in is quiet, dark, and has a comfortable temperature. A dim light may be used if you must see. She will be very active, running in her wheel and around the cage. There will be spots of blood in her trails. Not to worry, unless there is a lot. She will hunch over, and then start running around again. She will probably have her first couple while she moving, but that's not unusual. Then she will hunch over again and have another baby. She will have spurts of energy in between babies. There is 3-10 minutes between babies (it depends on the mother). When she is done, she will rest a minute and then collect the babies. Normally, the mom will start nursing right away. If she doesn't immediatly, it's okay. But if she ignores them for over a half-hour, try gently and carefully nudging her over to them. If she abandons the newborns, let a "foster" mom handle them (if you have one on hand). If there is no way to save the abandoned nest, then there is no way to save the abandoned nest. Many first-time mothers abandon or eat them because they are shocked. Don't worry. Seperate the parents for a little while, and try again later.
The First Days
Once your hamster has it's babies, it is mandatory to leave the mother, nest, and babies alone for about 4 days. It is a great nest idea to put some toilet paper in the cage. The parents will shred it into a cozy nest. At day 4-6, don't disturb the nest exept for changing food and water. The mother has enough stress on her paws, and any more and she might abandon or canibalize the babies. You shouldn't handle the mother for around a week. Maybe 10 days to be on the safe side. At 10 days, the mom will be glad to have a break, so put her into her ball or play with her. But that is later on.
When the pups are born, you can hear a gentle squeaking sound coming from them. Around 4-6 days old, the pups will start to grow fur and make louder squeaking noises. You may peek into the nest, but be very very cautious. If you need a spoon to see them, make sure you rub it around the bedding to get the nest's scent on it first. The safest way is not do it at all, but if you're that curious, put the mother in her ball.
Around day 8, cut up tiny peices of carrot or apple and put it in the cage. The mother will start stuffing her face, and the babies will be eating their first solid food. Not only is it funny watching them eat it, but it will prevent the babies from dehydrating (which is a crucial chance at this time). Plus it gives them a healthy start.
Approaching day 7, the pups' curiosity kicks in and they start wand4ering around the cage. The mother will usually make trips around the cage collecting them, but if she doesn't, the're is no reason to worry. Sooner or later they will instinctivly return if the momma doesn't round them up. Then at days 6-9 they start running in the wheel (or at least trying to), eyes open or not. Days 10-12 is when the babies open their eyes for the first time.
Oh yeah, and the question "Can the father stay in with the mother?" is asked quite often. The answer is yes. But, if the father beats up on the mom or babies in any way, remove him immediatly. I have found this rare, so don't worry too much. Just keep an eye on him for the first couple days.
Important Information on Raising Babies
There are some important things to know in order to raise hamster pups.
First of all, NEVER touch the babies until they are 14 days old. As I said, the father may stay in as long as he doesn't hurt Mom or the kids. The only reasons for fiddling around with the cage before 14 days is to change food and water. Once they are 2 weeks old, it is safe to clean the cage (by then, the smell will drive you up a wall). When born, the babies are tiny, pink, blind, deaf, can't smell, and wiggly. They grow quite fast. At 2 weeks when you hold them, they will be terrifyed and bite. But you can barely feel it. Just try not to scare them. Anopther impotant thing is that there is plenty of food and water available for the mom and babies at all times. Remember not to disturb them until they're a few days old. If you touch the babies before 2 weeks, the parents will smell the foreign scent and abandon or eat the pups. You must give Momma a break once in a while as she is overwhemled and tired.