Caring for a hamster baby with or without a mother is not an easy task. Even with mothers, there are chances of them eating their offspring due to various reasons such as stress, lack of diet and bad health of the mother or newborn. Without a mother, there are very few chances of survival of hand-reared baby hamsters but with devoted care, proper diet and a comfortable environment, these few chances can be enhanced greatly.
In this article, we will highlight some of the ways through which you can take of a baby hamster without a mother and ensure that they can have a healthy life.
Ways to Take Care of the Baby without Mother
Diet – the most important component of the baby hamster’s diet is mother’s milk. It contains all the necessary ingredients needed to give a baby hamster a balanced and healthy diet. Without mother feed, chances of survival are very low. The best replacement you can find is the Lactol. It is a milk formula made to be used for dogs. Baby hamsters need milk feed every hour until they are 7-10 days old. After 10 days, they can manage to eat a solid diet. Now you can introduce a normal diet for your hamster. This diet includes ready-made hamster pellets, small amounts of fresh fruits, boiled eggs, nuts and mealworms (occasionally) and fresh clean water. Make sure that there is a sufficient supply of food and water after 10 days.
Feeding method – Knowing about the right feeding method is very important. You can use an eyedropper for this purpose. Fill the eyedropper with Lactol formula. Squeeze the eyedropper, so that a drop hovers at the tip and hamster can suck the droplet or lick it. Remember not to squirt the milk in the mouth of baby hamsters as they are unable to handle the pressure and their lungs can be flooded from them or they can die by this. Difficulties in feeding methods are the main reasons behind the death of hamsters without mothers. When you are holding the pup in your hand, make sure you are gentle and do not squeeze them even a little. Wait for the pup to stop chewing the milk (chewing is the normal swallowing action of baby hamsters). If your baby hamsters consume two drops of milk, it is great and enough to supply them with adequate amounts of energy. It takes around 10 minutes for a baby hamster to complete a feed.
When you are introducing solid foods, remember to cut it up in small chunks, approximately the size of their ears. Keep the chunks near their mouth and let them hover over it. Baby hamsters take around 20 minutes to swallow food chunks in the first few days.
Cage and temperature – Make sure that the bedding you provide to your baby hamster is very comfortable and it stays dry all the time. Baby hamsters are so fragile that they can pneumonia with a little wetness in their bedding or cage. If a water bowl spills or there is water leakage in the cage or bedding, dry out the cage and replace the bedding immediately. You can use multiple sheets of large kitchen rolls as bedding as they are cheap and easily replaceable.
For the first 10 days, baby hamsters will be spending most of the time in the nest. Nest helps in giving them the body heat that is not available to them without a mother. Maintaining a suitable temperature of the cage is very important. Baby hamsters do not have any body hair until they are 10-12 days old. You can use a heating pad to warm up the temperature and use a thermometer to measure the temperature. Keep the babies at a constant temperature of 70 F. the baby hamsters are comfortable till the temperature of 80 F, after that they start to get heat-stressed.
Managing peeing and pooping – When the hamsters are with their mother, she licks their bottoms to encourage them to pee and poop. You can do this by using lukewarm water, cotton bud, and a tissue. Dip the cotton bud in water and wipe off the excess water. Hold the babies in such a way that their bottom is not in your grip. Gently rub the damp end on the bottom area for 10 seconds. This will relax the babies to excrete. Remember to place the tissue underneath your hand to catch any drop that may fall down. Continue this practice every two hours until they are ten days old. After this time, baby hamsters manage their pee and poop by themselves.
Taking care of a hamster without a mother is a demanding and time taking task. You will have to be around all the time. Despite all your efforts and time, baby hamsters can give up on you and die. Do not be heartbroken if this happens. You have given your hundred percent and their death is unstoppable as it is an act of nature. Remember to visit a vet in case your hamster falls ill or refuses to eat for a day or two after birth.