Gerbils & Hamsters/pregnant syrian
Hey i bought my syrian 5days ago and i noticed 2 days ago she looked fat at her back end so im assuming i bought her pregnant? Ive given her lots of extra bedding which she has taken, removed any tubes hamsters could fall down, ive kept my room warm and put a teatowel over the place where she sleeps (im assuming where she will give birth). I have been giving her normal food plus boiled eggs, fresh veg and bread soaked in milk. Have removed water bottle and put in shallow water dish. I havent handled her.much since i got her to be honest only 4 times but im just going to leave her be for now. and i plan to take the wheel out in 2 days time. Am i all set??? Is there anything else you think i should do?? Thanks :)
It sounds like you have got this all under control!
I wouldn't worry about the water bottle - if you put a dish of water in, then not only will this get soiled quickly, but is more of a risk for any babies who could drown in it - so I suggest you put the water bottle back.
Syrian hamsters' gestation periods are 16-18 days - so if there is no sign of a litter in a couple of weeks time you know she wasn't pregnant, just a bit overweight! Don't overfeed her during this time, just her usual amount of food. You can increase this with the added milk/bread etc. when a litter appears. If you overfeed before birth then the unborn babies can get large and you want the birth to be as easy as possible. Also, once a litter appears I usually put in baby food (dried creamy porridge oats mixed with water) as the mum will enjoy this and when the babies are two weeks old and leaving the nest they will love it too.
Don't worrying about handling her. I've just taken on a rescued hamster who has had babies - she's never been handled. My plan is to talk to her whenever she is out and about, but not try to handle her - that can wait until the babies are a few weeks old and I suggest you do the same. Just get her used to your voice. The last thing you want to do at this stage is spook her. If she feels threatened, then she could end up killing the litter which you don't want happening.
Usually the birth takes place in the night and is straightforward. Don't be tempted to open up the nest to check on the babies - if she is a good mother she will be very aggressive to anyone going near the nest and she will want to keep her babies warm all the time. Sprinkle food around the nest so that she can reach it without having to leave the nest for long. Some mums do leave the babies for a while but they should tuck them in - if she leaves the nest wide open (especially in the early days) or if you notice any babies out of the nest then carefully warm the baby up in your hand and gently place it back in the nest before tucking the nest in. If you have to do this, talk to her all the time - you can drop some food in to preoccupy her - and then gently place your hand on the other babies and on the nest too - this way your scent is everywhere and you haven't singled out just one of the babies. More often than not you don't have to go near them.
When the babies are around 12 days old you will see them leaving the nest - they will still have their eyes closed and be very wobbly and mum may panic and try to get them back into the nest - this is normal. After a couple of days mum tends to give up trying to get them all back in the nest, and by then they will be able to find their own way back there. I never clean my litters out for around 2-3 weeks - if you need to, just scoop out any soiled corners and put in fresh bedding (never use the fluffy bedding as they can get this caught round them and end up with missing limbs - only use the shredded paper type). When the babies are 3 weeks old you will need to clean the cage every day or two, but always return some of their bedding back so there is a familiar smell - also I tend not to use disinfectant during this time.
From 2 weeks you should try handling the babies - they will be very jumpy initially so it is best to sit down, but the more handling you do, the better they will be. Try to handle them for a few minutes morning and night. Also, you might be able to try handling mum, but if you can't don't worry as you can concentrate on her once the litter is gone.
Foodwise - the babies can eat chopped nuts, seeds, raw porridge oats, bread from around one week. From 2 weeks they can eat all of this, plus hamster mix, scrambled egg, vegetables (avoid lettuce as this causes diarrhoea). Make sure the water bottle is low enough for them - you might need to put a second bottle in the cage and build up a step for them to reach it. Also from around 2-3 weeks they will start running in the wheel - only use solid wheels - ones with bars or drainage slits should not be used. If you can, try and put a few wheels in the cage.
At 4 weeks you must sex and separate out the boys - the girls can stay with mum for another 1-2 weeks, the boys can stay together also or 1-2 weeks. By 6 weeks they can be re-homed and will all need a cage of their own. If the litter is very large - i.e. 10 or more, if you think that mum looks exhausted as the babies won't leave her alone, at 4 weeks you can separate her out too. It also depends on how many girls there are - if there are only one or two that is fine, but if I have a littler of 12 and 10 are girls, then I tend to split of the mum and just leave her with the runt in the litter for another week or two.
Once the litter has gone you can concentrate on mum and getting her used to you and handling her. By then she should be quite easy to train as she will know you.
I hope this helps you - good like with this.