There are several ways to tell if your hamster is pregnant. Below we’ve listed a few of the most obvious ways, but if you’re still unsure, a veterinarian should be able to tell you.
- Has your hamster been in contact with a male recently?
Hamsters are only pregnant for a very short length of time - some species of hamster will give birth less than twenty days after mating! If your hamster has been in contact with a male over thirty days ago, then it’s unlikely that they’re pregnant - if that mating had been successful, then you’d have lots of baby hamsters by now. Below are the approximate gestation (time from mating to birth) periods for some of the different species of hamster:
- Syrian hamsters: 16 days
- Chinese hamsters: 18-23 days
- Winter White hamsters: 18-21 days
- Roborovski hamsters: 22 - 30 days
- Is the large belly due to illness?
If you suspect that your hamster is pregnant because its belly is larger than usual, then it’s a good idea to make sure that your pet doesn’t actually have a medical condition that’s causing this symptom. If your hamster has lumps in its belly, then they could be tumours rather than babies. A swollen abdomen can be due to issues such as infection, bowel issues, heart problems, or bladder stones. If you suspect that your hamster is pregnant, then it’s a good idea to take them for a check-up at the vets. It will allow you not only to be sure that your hamster isn’t suffering from one of these conditions, but it also enables your vet to tell you how the pregnancy is going, offer advice, and to diagnose any problems early on.
- How old is your hamster?
Hamsters are able to breed at approximately six weeks of age. If you’ve been housing male and female hamsters together that are six or seven weeks old, then the females may already be pregnant, and could produce a litter in as little as two or three weeks. Whilst females can only breed until they are about fourteen or fifteen months old, males are fertile from puberty throughout their lives.
If you notice that your female hamster is larger than usual, and is gathering lots of bedding into one area, then she could be making a nest in preparation for delivering her babies. The nesting instinct is quite strong in hamsters, so watch out for this behaviour as the pregnancy progresses.
The gestation periods vary between hamster species
If your hamster is pregnant and does have babies, you need to be aware that any sort of stress or change placed on the mother during that time can be disastrous for your pet and her litter. Ask your veterinarian or veterinary nurse for more information and advice.