Rearing Russian Hamster Babies

3 day old Russian HamstersAfter the female has given birth the nest should not be disturbed or the babies touched for 2 weeks - to do so could cause the mother to reject the babies.

The male, and other hamsters within a group, will often help to look after the babies, although the female may banish the male, and other hamsters within a group, from her nest for a day or two at first. If two or more females in a group have litters around the same time they may place all the babies in a 'creche' and take turns nursing all the babies. It is not unusual for mothers to swap babies if two or more females have babies in separate nests and help to rear each other's babies.

Depending on the colour of the babies the skin will become dark or flesh coloured and so at around 4-6 days the skin may start to pigment, become darker depending on the colour of the baby. At 5-7 days hair begins to emerge and the ears open and by 9-10 days the babies are covered in short fur and the eyelids are developing. At this time the babies may also start wandering around the cage, even though still blind. The female will usually collect the wandering babies and return them to the nest - this may be accompanied by squealing from the babies but is not usually anything to worry about. At 14-16 days of age the eyes open and the babies are covered in fur. It is safe to handle the babies for short periods at this time and so the cage can be cleaned.

During the time the mother is rearing the litter plenty of hamster mix and high protein foods should be provided to her. As the babies star to eat solid foods they will easily manage some grated carrot, wheatgerm and scrambled or boiled egg before being able to manage hamster mix and other high protein foods.

The babies are fully weaned and can be removed from the mother at 3 weeks of age and it is a good idea to separate the sexes at this time placing males in one cage and females in another. The babies should be kept with their brothers and sisters in their separate sex cages for another 2-3 weeks.

At 5-6 weeks of age the babies are ready to go to their new homes.