Breeding hamsters is quite simple. Domesticated hamsters can usually breed throughout the year, even though wild hamsters only breed when females are in heat twice a year. However, certain defects can be passed on from hamster to hamster, and they can become aggressive when kept for breeding. Therefore, hamster breeding is generally best left to experienced breeders.
Most hamsters become sexually mature at the age of 5 weeks, but it is best to wait until they are at least 4 months. If you want to separate hamsters to prevent pregnancy, you will need to do so before the 5-week stage.
There are a lot of different breeds of hamsters and different breeds may reach sexual maturity at different stages. Generally, however, it is best to assume that they will reach sexual maturity at 5 weeks of age. But this doesn’t mean that this is the best time to breed your hamsters.
It doesn’t really matter how old the male is, and males can be bred from this young age, although younger males won’t be as fertile. Female hamsters make better mothers when they reach about 4 months of age.
The Difficulties of Hamster Breeding
It is possible to breed hamsters, but that doesn’t mean that it is the best choice. There are several potential pitfalls that home hamster breeding brings.
A single litter can consist of between 4 and 20 pups and domestic hamsters are technically able to have a litter every month, although experts recommend leaving a gap of around 3 months between litters. This means that a single female hamster could have as many as 200 pups in a single year and twice over a 2-year lifetime. And then there’s the possibility that the young hamsters can also get pregnant. Left unchecked, you could end up with several hundred hamsters or more within a few months.
While you won’t be actively involved in the breeding itself, caring for pregnant female hamsters and the young they produce is a time-consuming process. You will need to remove the young, house them, and then feed them and clear out their cages. Assuming you won’t be keeping all of the pups, you will also need to find good homes for them.
3. It Doesn’t Always End Well
Female hamsters can die when giving birth and it isn’t uncommon for mothers to eat their pups. Some pups are likely to be stillborn and there are myriad other ways that things can go wrong. As the main carer, you will need to be able to deal with all of these possible eventualities.
4. It Isn’t Profitable
If you’re considering getting into hamster breeding for profit, don’t. Pet stores sell hamsters for a few dollars each, and you will need to pay to care for and feed the young hamsters, transport them to the pet store, and meet a variety of other costs. This all means that breeding hamsters is not a profitable venture for the average owner.
5. Difficulties Homing Them
There are more hamsters than potential owners, which means that you will be adding more hamsters to an already saturated market. Even if you have family and friends that want to take some off you, these recipients will soon run out, and many people buy hamsters from reputable breeders or pet stores. It is also possible for potential owners to get hamsters for free from some rescues and shelters.
6. Lack of Knowledge
Simply putting a male and a female hamster together for long enough may yield a litter of pups, but female hamsters can get very aggressive and attack the males when they are not in heat—a window that lasts less than a day every few days. There are also certain hereditary conditions and other health problems associated with breeding certain hamsters. If you don’t have a good understanding of these, you could be setting yourself up for failure and heartache.
Alternatives To Breeding
If you want to breed hamsters so that you can have more hamsters, you may want to consider other alternatives. Shelters and rescues may have hamsters and if they are struggling to rehome them, they may be willing to let them go cheap or even free. There is no guarantee that the hamsters will be friendly or amenable to handling, however. You can also buy hamsters from most pet stores that have live animals for sale, and there are breeders to be found in most areas that specialize in unique and sought-after breeds.
Hamsters are very popular pets. They are arguably easier to care for than dogs and cats, and they cost less to own. They are suitable for life in an apartment, and even landlords that prevent the ownership of dogs and cats are usually amenable to the idea of their tenants keeping small caged animals like hamsters.
Hamsters can become pregnant from the age of about 5 weeks so if you have young hamsters, you should ensure that they are separated by this age. If you are looking to breed hamsters intentionally, it is recommended that you wait until the female hamster is around 4 months of age.
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