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Hamster Breeding

Remember my warning earlier about breeding hamsters? Are you going to be able to find homes for all of the babies (assuming that there are up to 20 in a litter always plan for contingencies)? If you are thinking that your local pet store will take them off your hands, think again. A lot of pet stores already have ready suppliers of hamsters from hamster breeders and will not take any more from other sources. Talk to them first before you embark on a breeding program for your hamsters. If you're still keen on learning how to breed hamsters, then read on... The sex of adult hamsters is easy to determine. Male have very large, prominent testicles. In fact, owners unaccustomed to seeing them are often astonished at the anatomic peculiarites. Male golden hamsters should be first bred when they are 14 weeks old. Females should be first bred when they are 10 weeks old. As the time of copulation approaches, thin, stringy, cobweb-like mucus exits the female's vulva. The female is then placed into the male's cage about one hour before dark. The pair must then be carefully observed for mating activity and/or fighting. Females can be very aggressive to males in this situation and can harm them. The male should be removed at once if there is fighting. Because fighting is so likely, aggressive males are best hand-mated. In these situations, they are better able to defend themselves and "hold their ground". The male should be removed after mating. Pregnancy lasts only 15 1/2-16 days. Before delivery, the female becomes restless and usually discharges a small amount of blood from her vulva. Litters usually range from 5 to 10 pups. The pups are born hairless, with ears and eyes

closed. They do, however, have their front teeth (the incisors) at birth. Female hamsters with young must be provided with abundant nesting and bedding materials, and plenty of food and water. They must not be disturbed in any way. The young should not be touched or handled until they are at least 7 days old, the nest should not be disturbed, and the cage should not be cleaned during this period. Failure to heed these cautions (especially with females nursing their first litters) most often results in cannibalism of the young. Observant owners may note an interesting maternal rearing activity, especially if the female with young is excited or disturbed. She will stuff pups into her cheek pouches and deposit them into the nest a short time later when she believes the danger has passed. Occasionally, pups suffocate as a result of this activity, especially during lengthy period of disturbance. Young hamsters usually begin eating solid food at 10 days of age but are usually weaned at about 3 weeks of age. Solid, pelleted food must be soaked to soften it and be placed on or near floor level of the enclosure for easy access by the weanlings. As mentioned above, sipper tubes must be positioned low enough so that the smallest pups can reach them. Some pups will not be strong enough to extract water from sipper tubes, so owners must be vigilant for this potential problem and provide an alternative water source for them. Ooo - the babies are here - what now? Let her nurse the babies till they are about 3 weeks old. DO NOT disturb the nest during this time as she may decide to turn on them and eat them. The cage will smell during this time - that's unavoidable, any attempts to change the

bedding material would increase the likelihood of cannibalism so it's best to just leave it for the moment and put up with the smell. Sometimes despite all this, the female hamster will still cannibalize her young, this is common in female hamsters bred under 4 months and in older females who will cull some babies to reduce the numbers in the litter. Continue with the high protein foods (other ideas are bread soaked in milk) during this time. At about 3 1/2 weeks of age, the hamsters are ready to be sexed and weaned - they are no longer reliant on their mum for nourishment. You can keep them in 2 different boxes/cages (all the male hamsters in 1 cage and the females in another). They can be kept in these groups for a further 2-3 weeks. In the meantime, you can find new homes for them and they can go to their new owners at 5-6 weeks of age. Breeding Pairs To Avoid
By Tammo & jennawing Any male will usually mate with any female, but that does not mean that its safe to mate the two. There are a few breeding pairings to avoid, and Ive highlighted some of them here.

Satin Coated:
You shouldnt mate 2 satin Syrian hamsters together. The result is supersatinisation, which means the babies will have very sparse fur, and if you breed supersatins, the result is almost hairless hamsters. There is evidence it can cause skin problems but Im not sure its been verified. If you have a satin hamster and wish to get satin babies, find a non-satin hamster, and you should get a mixture of non satin and satin babies, although sometimes you can get all satin babies or all non satin. NB: Satin Campbells do not have this problem and 2 satin Campbells can safely be mated.

White bellied:
Never mate 2 white-bellied hamsters together as there is a large chance they carry the white-bellied gene, also known as the eyeless white gene. This combination produces eyeless whites, which will either have very poorly formed eyes or no eyes at all. All hamsters carrying this gene have white belly fur, but not ALL hamsters with white belly fur actually carry the gene. This means it is hard to separate carriers of the gene from non-carriers. All banded and spotted hamsters have white belly fur, so unless you are 100% certain they do not carry the eyeless gene, you should mate them to a plain coloured hamster with normal coloured belly fur. ALL roan hamsters are carriers of the

gene, so never mate a roan to a roan under any circumstances. Carriers of the gene can be identified by their eyes, which shine with a bright-red glint when a strong light is shone into them. If you have any doubt as to whether your pair carry the gene or not, play it safe and dont mate them. The same applies to mottled campbells.

Kinked tails:
Do not mate any hamster with a deformity it was born with. E.g.: kinked tail. *You can feel a kinked tail by running your thumb and finger down the tail. Kinked tails are often found in Dark grey, lilac, and smoke pearl hamsters. Kinked tails wont actually affect your hamster during its life, but if you breed the hamster, over time, its offspring could develop congenital spinal problems.

Bad parents:
If a hamster has proven to be a recurring bad mother if is not the best idea to breed her again. She may pass on this trait to her babies and it is obviously not something to be desired. It is common for the mother to kill some young if she is stressed, disturbed or feels unwell enough to care for the litter. Also she may kill a sickly or deformed baby. But if she does it for no reason at all it is best to not breed from her again.

jennawing's advice on breeding hairless hamsters


In order to get a new litter of hairless hamsters, a breeder must first breed a hairless male with a haired female. The females of those litters will carry the hairless gene and when bred with another hairless male, some of the litter will be hairless. The same genetic mutation that causes the lack of hair also effects other aspects of the epidermis- namely the mammary glands- where the milk is produced. Female hairless should NEVER be bred, as they cannot produce milk to feed their young. Take care never to put a hairless female in contact with any male hamster. If you see hairless hamsters in mixed-gender cages at a pet store, explain to the store-workers the importance of keeping them separated. Any hamster bred with a hairless father will carry the hairless gene so care should be taken that these hamsters are not bred unknowingly or if further hairless generations are not the intended desire. The new owners of any haired offspring of a hairless hamster should be told and made to understand that their hamster carries the hairless gene.

Did you know that eye colors vary depeding on the color???
Here are the eye colors of each hamster color: Albino: Pink-eyed Blonde:Black-eyed Red-eyed Carmel,Chocolate,Cinnamon,Cream:Black-eyed Ruby-eyed Red-eyed

Fawn:Ruby-eyed Honey:Amber Ivory:Black-eyed White:Balck-eyed

Hamster Breeds

Hamster can be found in any pet shops nowadays, five species are sold as pets although there are more species in the wild. The most common hamster is the Syrian Hamster, experts say the Syrian is the hamster to get for a younger child. Because of its larger size, it is less likely to be injured by accidentally squeezing.

Dwarf Campbell Russian hamsters is smaller then Syrian, and more social.

Dwarf Winter White hamsters change color in cold weather to a shade of white, they are slightly smaller then Dwarf Campbell Russian.

The smallest hamster is the Roborovski. These tiny creatures are very fast on their feet

and very entertaining. They live longer too.

Last but not the least, is the Chinese hamster, which has a very sweet temperament and will rarely bite.

Different Hamster Breeds

Although there are many breeds of hamsters, the 5 most common domesticated species are the Syrian hamster, Dwarf Campbell Russian hamster, Chinese hamster, Roborovskii hamster and the winter white Russian hamster. The following figures are taken from The alt.pets.hamsters FAQ and shows the approximated lengths

that each breed can grow to. Campbell Russian (10-12cm) Chinese (female: 10cm, male: 12cm) Common/European (female: 22-25cm, male: 27-32cm) Eversmann's (16.6cm) Golden/Syrian,Fancy,Teddy Bear (15-18cm) Longtailed (16cm) Migratory (13.5cm) Mouse-like (16.5cm) Rat hamster (26cm) Roborovskii (4-5cm) Rummanian (varies) Striped (13cm) Tibetan (varies) Winter White Russian/Siberian/Djungarian (female: 8cm, male: 10cm)

Breeding Hamster - how to breed hamsters

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Remember my warning earlier about breeding hamsters? Are you going to be able to find homes for all of the babies (assuming that there are up to 20 in a litter always plan for contingencies)? If you are thinking that your local pet store will take them off your hands, think again. A lot of pet stores already have ready suppliers of hamsters from hamster breeders and will not take any more from other sources. Talk to them first before you embark on a breeding program for your hamsters. If you're still keen on learning how to breed hamsters, then read on... Which hamsters do I breed from? You generally would breed hamsters according to their specific breed ie Breeding only Syrian hamsters or breeding only Chinese hamsters. It is not advisable to breed hamsters of different breed types. If you've got a friend who has a hamster of the same breed of the opposite sex, you can arrange with him/her to breed your hamsters and then share the load of having to find homes for the young. This is the case for breeding Syrian hamsters as they are more often than not kept in isolation. Dwarf hamsters are different in that they are sociable and can live in social groups so long as they are introduced to each other after weaning and they 'grow up' together. If you have a cage of dwarf hamsters (who are not of the same sex), they will start to breed when they are ready - and they generally will pretty much 'self regulate' their breeding pattern and frequency and you just have to 'watch' it unfold.

What's the best age to start breeding hamsters? Generally for female hamsters, the ideal age to start breeding is at 4-6 months - any younger and you would risk her having a poor litter (she has still to grow herself) and also increase the likelihood of cannibalism. Leave it any longer than 6 months and you run the risk of birth complications. For male hamsters, they are sexually active from as young as 6 weeks of age but it's probably best to leave them alone till they're about 2-3 months old before contemplating breeding from them. Dwarf hamsters kept together will start breeding at 2-3 months of age. How often can I breed my female hamster? Whilst you can just keep her breeding litter after litter, this will greatly shorten her lifespan. It's best to wait about 3-4 months before you breed her again. This will give her body time to 'recuperate' and put her in a better condition come mating time. If you stick to this regime, it will mean that you will probably get 2 litters out of any one breeding female hamster as they often become sterile when they turn 14 months old. Sometimes you can get a third litter from a female but this is the exception rather than the rule. Strangely enough, this is the self same pattern that dwarf hamsters will adhere to even though they have 'free rein' as to how often they mate and produce offspring. 2-3 litters per breeding female is the norm for dwarf hamsters kept as mating pairs. Breeding Syrian hamsters Because Syrian hamsters are kept in isolation, you usually have to play 'matchmaker' when it comes to breeding frivolities. Female hamsters come into 'season' once every 4 days (ie they ovulate during that time) and it's only when they are in season that they are 'receptive' to the advances of the male hamster. Any other times fighting would inevitably occur. How do I know when my female hamster is ready to breed ie in season? Given that they will go into season once every 4 days, if you get it wrong the first time, there's always the next time. Generally, the female hamster will emit a musky odor just before she comes into season and inevitably, it's always around evening time that the 'oestrus period' (time when she's fertile and accepting of the male) starts and it lasts for anywhere between 4 and 18 hours. It is during this 'window of opportunity' that she will be receptive to the male so breeding them has to take place then. After the female hamsters finish their season, there is a thick white mucous discharge that is excreted from their vaginas. Less experienced hamster breeders will then take that as a starting point, count another 3 days after that and then try for a breeding encounter (anticipating the next oestrous cycle 4 days later). If the weather is cool (ie winter), most hamsters will not breed. The other tell-tale sign that she is in season is that when you stroke her back towards her tail, she will freeze on the spot, flatten out and lift her tail. The hamster breeding protocol Okay, you've established that the female hamster is ready for breeding, what now? You have 2 choices - you can put her in the male's cage or take them both out and

put them in a separate breeding box (neutral territory). Wear protective gloves, have an object ready to separate them if any fighting ensues - they often aren't very selective about who they nip and will nip you in your efforts to separate them if they choose not to breed. If you've picked the right time, the female will 'freeze' with her tail in the air and allow the male hamster to mate with her a few times. Keep them together for anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour - when they start to lose interest in the mating ritual, then it's time to separate them. Virgin males can be a bit confused initially and may turn the female hamster off by mounting her from all directions but they will soon learn 'on the job'. Breeding is generally more successful when both male and female hamsters have had previous mating encounters. How can I tell if the mating has been successful ie that the female hamster is pregnant? If the female doesn't come into season again 4 days later, she's regarded as being pregnant. Given that the babies only stay in her for 16 days, 10 days after the mating, she will start to become decidedly pregnant - her abdomen will swell (no, she's not getting fat), and her nipples will start to become more pronounced. What do I do after the mating? You return both hamsters to their respective cages. Female hamsters will need extra food during the pregnancy. High protein foods like tofu, boiled egg, wheat germ (to aid in birthing) can be added to the diet. She can still be handled but it's best to leave her alone when it's closer to the expected birth date. Clean out her cage at day 14 and take out the exercise wheel, provide her with extra nesting material (eg shredded paper). Then put her cage in a warm, quiet spot with as little disturbance as possible and wait... Ooo - the babies are here - what now? Let her nurse the babies till they are about 3 weeks old. DO NOT disturb the nest during this time as she may decide to turn on them and eat them. The cage will smell during this time - that's unavoidable, any attempts to change the bedding material would increase the likelihood of cannibalism so it's best to just leave it for the moment and put up with the smell. Sometimes despite all this, the female hamster will still cannibalize her young, this is common in female hamsters bred under 4 months and in older females who will cull some babies to reduce the numbers in the litter. Continue with the high protein foods (other ideas are bread soaked in milk) during this time. At about 3 1/2 weeks of age, the hamsters are ready to be sexed and weaned - they are no longer reliant on their mum for nourishment. You can keep them in 2 different boxes/cages (all the male hamsters in 1 cage and the females in another). They can be kept in these groups for a further 2-3 weeks. In the meantime, you can find new homes for them and they can go to their new owners at 5-6 weeks of age.

Hamster Illnesses and Diseases - common ailments

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This section will run through the common hamster illnesses and diseases that affect the pet hamster. It's meant to be an information section only, if your pet hamster is visibly sick or ill, please visit your local vet and have it attended to. Hamsters are little creatures that can get very sick rapidly and as with most diseases with any animals, the earlier you catch it and start treatment, the better the chances are that your hamster will make a full recovery. As mentioned before, hamsters don't have a very long life span (sad I know) but the joys that they will bring in their short little lives with you is worth the pain at the end when it comes time to say 'good bye'. Hamster illnesses and diseases - digestive problems Wet tail - this is a bacterial infection of the gut resulting in diarrhoea. The diarrhoea is severe and droppings are pale, very mushy and may or may not contain mucus. It is called wet tail because the diarrhoea is so severe that the tail and anal area of the hamster is often dirty and 'wet'. Affected hamsters are lethargic, hunched up and are often in pain. This is an emergency situation as affected hamsters can get dehydrated very quickly - it is therefore vital that at the first onset of signs, veterinary treatment is sought immediately. Wet tail is often precipitated by stress which is why it is often seen in hamsters who have just been weaned (very stressful for them) and many owners who have just acquired their new pet hamsters from the pet store would encounter wet tail as a disease. It is highly infectious and any equipment that the sick hamster has had contact with should be disinfected thoroughly and left for a period of a few weeks before allowing another hamster to use it. Salmonellosis - this is the same organism that can (and will) affect humans so be warned. Hamsters by and large acquire it by eating food contaminated with the Salmonella bacteria. Therefore it is best that you wash your vegetables and fruits well before you feed it to your hamsters and to practice common sense hygiene precautions eg washing your hands after playing with your hamsters, cleaning their cage out etc...The problem with Salmonellosis is that your newly acquired pet hamster could very have the disease but isn't showing signs of it so hygiene measures are your best protection. Hamsters with this illness can suffer from sudden death (ie you wake up and find them dead) or they can suffer a chronic wasting disease where they just seem to lose weight and fail to thrive. Tapeworms - this disease is quite common in hamsters although they may not have many symptoms. Owners usually only find out when they see the worm segments in the droppings or on the hamster's anus. Heavy infestations can cause weight loss but this is rare. There have been instances where owners have inadvertently acquired tapeworm infections from their pet hamsters (usually kids as they aren't very particular about hygiene). A trip to the vet (and the doctor) would solve the problem quicksmart.

Hamster illnesses and diseases - cancers Cancers are quite common as a disease in hamsters - anything that has such a short lifespan is prone to cancers. There seems to be a higher prevalence of cancers in female hamsters than male hamsters - but this is only because the female reproductive tract is often a site for cancers hence the skewed results. As with most cancers, they can be benign or malignant. Malignant cancers are fast growing and inevitably kill the affected hamsters with great rapidity. Benign cancers as their name implies are often slow growing and is not a death sentence per se. Hamsters

seem to be quite prone to getting many different types of benign cancers. The most common cancers in hamsters are ones involving they thyroid and adrenal glands. Signs include hair loss and alterations in their behaviour. Skin tumors are also common in hamsters. Whilst surgery is an option, most hamster owners will opt for euthanasia when the word 'cancer' surfaces whether the condition is benign or not. Hamster illnesses and diseases - skin problems Lumps and bumps - if you discover a lump on your hamster don't just leap to the conclusion that it's cancer (it could be), more often than not, it could be an abscess. Abscesses are usually caused by bite wounds from fighting. These often form hard painful lumps under the skin where the puncture wound has closed up. Hamsters can also get abscesses in their cheek pouches - these would've resulted from puncture wounds from food or bedding materials. If you suspect an abscess in your hamster, you will need to take it into the vet to have it drained and antibiotic therapy started. Mange - If you notice hair loss in your hamsters, then it could have mange. Demodectic mange does affect some hamsters to a degree and is usually not a serious problem except for the fact that it's often associated with some underlying disease that's set it off eg kidney problems, cancer. Fleas and Lice - these are common diseases in hamsters where other pets (eg cats) are present in the household. You will need to see your vet for flea control measures which will need to include ALL the animals in the household.

Hamster illnesses and diseases - musculoskelatal and joint problems Hamsters can suffer from what is known as cage paralysis - this is generalized weakness that results due to lack of exercise and a small cage is usually the problem. Choose the largest hamster cage you can afford because your little friend deserves to be in spacious surrounds. Generally providing them with adequate exercise - see hamster toys and a larger cage would solve the problem. Sometimes a lack of Vitamin E and D could contribute to weakness and paralysis, if this is the case then vitamin supplementation helps. Some Syrian hamsters also have a hereditary defect which often starts as a progressive hind limb paralysis from 6 months of age. There is no cure for this hereditary disease condition.