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Chinese Hamster


All about Chinese hamsters. All in one place.

Chinese Hamster Library

All about Chinese hamsters. All in one place.

Hamster Pregnancy Care

Breeding Chinese hamsters is a big responsibility.

Each pairing and pregnancy risks injury, illness and even the death of both your male and your female. It is important to have a good vet and robust vet fund, because when things go wrong it gets expensive.

When you breed, you need to make sure you have the welfare of the parents and the pups at heart. Aim to improve the species.


How to Care for Litters

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Before Pairing

Pregnancy care for the hamster starts even before pairing! When you are planning a pairing, look at the hamsters and assess their qualities.

  • What is their health?
  • What is their temperament?
  • What is their body shape?
  • What is their pedigree?

Select pairs whose flaws in body shape are balanced. For example, if your male has a narrower head, then choose a female with a good broad head. Do not breed from hamsters with health problems.


In the weeks to months before pairing, optimise the care of your female. Make sure she has regular handling and good environmental enrichment because pups learn from their mothers. Ensure she is well nourished and in good condition as pregnancy is hard on her body.

In the week before pairing, give both parents a thorough health check, including teeth and a urine glucose test.

Reproduction Facts

Heat Cycle: 4 days

Pregnancy Length: 18-21 days

Litter size: 2-6


There are different ways to pair Chinese hamsters for breeding. Each has its individual benefits and risks.

Two young hamsters: A young male is introduced to a young female before they are 5 weeks old. They are allowed to grow up together. This approach does risk the female becoming pregnant younger than is ideal, and limits your selection of pairs as not all characteristics are fully developed at this age.

Younger female and older male: These pairs can either be introduced for the short-term or with the aim for them to live together longer. Always introduce the female to the male’s cage or carrier and supervise closely. This method allows selection of males who have demonstrated good health and longevity.

Colony: This approach involves keeping multiple hamsters in a single cage, and removing those you do not wish to breed from. It is a useful way to establish a less common colour. It requires excellent understanding of species, especially the ideal body type because it uses inbreeding to emphasise desirable traits.

Collar seclusion method: This method is not used outside the laboratory setting. Female hamsters are fitted with collars that prevent them entering tubes. They are each placed in a cage with a tube leading to a central area. The male, who has no collar, can travel into the females’ cages but they cannot follow.

After Pairing

From the time of pairing, pregnancy care of the female hamster steps up. Digging and chewing behaviours increase from the day of pairing. Allow females opportunities to express this through enrichment feeding and deep substrate. Minimise stress to the female as this reduces litter size. As the pregnancy progresses, the female will reduce her wheel use and climbing, so provide other activities for her.

Between four and seven days before the expected due date, clean out the female’s cage. Remove the wheel, sandbath and enrichment which would be unsuitable for young pups, but do provide enrichment activities. Provide as great a depth of substrate as possible, and ideally more than one type. Provide a dark nest box, and add plentiful nesting material. 

When the pups are due, minimise disturbance to the mother and the room where she lives. Visually check the female is healthy; this usually involves putting some food in the cage and watching while she snacks.

Some indications of the arrival of pups are the female suddenly becoming slim again, movement in the nest while the female is not in the nest, and squeaking or suckling noises. Chinese hamster pups aren’t the noisiest pups so it is normal not to hear them squeaking. It is not always possible to be 100% sure that the litter has been born. If you are not sure, treat the mother as if she has pups and do not disturb or check the nest until the potential pups are 14 days old.

Pregnancy and delivery sometimes go wrong. If you see any of the following, contact your vet for advice:

  • no delivery by the end of the expected due dates
  • discharge from the vent
  • bleeding before delivery
  • excess bleeding after the delivery (a small amount is normal at the time of delivery)
  • swelling of the stomach after the pups have been born
  • being hunched or lethargic

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