The first Days

After she has given birth, you will see your hamster-mommy only a few times a day for a few seconds, while she´s eating, drinking or doing her personal things. She´s nursing her babies and each of them is in need of at least 7 "meals" per day - and her days will be a 24 hours task.

After 2 to 4 days, she will return slowly to her old routine, while still nursing the babies most of the time. Some hamsters wants to be handled or doing her favourite stuff (like running in their exercise-balls) at this point. And you can start again with handling her. But don´t take her out of the cage (and apart from her babies) longer than 10 to 15 minutes. Put her back in the cage and you´ll see her returning to her duties. If she wants later to come out again, take her out for another 10 to 15 minutes. You can continue this as long as you and your hamster wish to do. But take care, that between each absence from the babies is at least 30 minutes of presence in the nest.

In this phase of their development, the babies are in need of the body-warmth and milk of their mother.

First Excursions

At the age of 6 to 8 days, the babies will start to leave the nest (still with closed eyes) and wander around. The mother will have much work to collect them and put them back into the nest. The number of excursions will now increase until about day 12 to 14, when they start exploring their cage on their own without being permanently brought back to the nest by their mother.

Before day 12 after birth, you should not touch the babies if not necessary. As long as their eyes are not open, you should carefully rub your hands in soiled litter before touching the babies, to get their "nest scent" on your hands.

If you touch a baby too early and/or leave your scent on it, the mother will recognize it as an intruder and will react like her nest has been attacked. This is the death-sentence for the baby !

Exploring the cage

The development of their own scent will end at the age of 12 to 14 days. Then the mother nest-scent has changed to a group-scent and you can touch and handle the babies without danger. But you should always wash your hands carefully with not parfumed and scentless soap before you touch the babies. Rubbing the hands in the litter of the cage is also a good idea, cause the babies will not fear their own group-scent. Don´t handle them too long! After a few minutes you should put them back.

Now you can see, that they develop more each day and will explore their little world a bit closer. They will eat and drink on their own and use the group-pee-corner (or the hamster-toilett).

The mother starts to decrease the daily amount of milk to force them to eat and drink on their own.

In this phase of their development, you have to change the soiled bedding in the pee-corner at least once a day. Hygiene in the cage is absolute necessary, cause the last cage-cleaning has happened at least 14 days ago !

You can (and should!) clean the cage at day 14 after the birth for the first time. Do it carefully but fast and don´t separate the mother from the babies during the procedure. Keep about the half of the bedding inside the nest and provide clean nesting-material.

Now you can return to the normal cleaning-cycle.

The eyes are open

At about day 16 after birth, the babies will open their eyes. Don´t worry, if all or a few babies may take a few more days to get their eyes open. This is normal. It is also normal, that they will fear your hand - they have never seen it before. If you started with handling before they had opened their eyes, they recognize your scent and it will be much easier for them, to accept your hand like something normal.

At least when their eyes are open, you should start handling them each day. This way they´ll become tame really quick.


At day 19 to 21 the mother will stop nursing them. You may recognize some noisy squabbling, cause not all babies are happy with their mothers decision, not to nurse them anymore.

Between the 25 and 30 day, the boys will gain fertility. To be on the safe side, you should separate the male babies from their mother and sisters before the 28th day after birth.

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(c) Kay Michaelsen 2002