A baby hamster really does need their mother. Their mother gives them food, milk and tender loving care. However, sometimes this is impossible. The mother could have died during childbirth, they could have died afterwards from health complications or you may have found these children without their mother. Either way, you need to do something about it. This guide will be telling you how to take care of baby hamsters without their mother. It’s a difficult job and you need all of the help you can get.
Please realise that this will be a full-time job for you whilst the hamster is growing up. It will take around 3 weeks for them to be able to eat solid food and for you to be able to leave them alone.
This guide will be telling you how to feed your baby hamsters and how to protect their health. It can be extremely difficult to keep these babies alive, it can often be touch-and-go from the start. It is possible though and this guide will give you the best chance of achieving this. Hopefully, by the end of it all, you will know exactly how to protect their health.
How to feed baby hamsters without their mother
The way you feed baby hamsters depends on their age. They must first be fed milk and then will be able to move onto solid food at around 3 weeks.
Feeding baby hamsters milk
You will need to begin feeding your baby hamsters with milk. You will need to mix evaporated milk with water in order to make the solution that they are able to drink. Mix it 50/50 and then warm it to around 90 degrees. Feeding warm milk is important for your baby hamster at this stage of their development.
Avoid cow’s milk. These nutrients are for calves and not our pets. Lactol is a fantastic milk replacement that we fully recommend. You can buy it from most commercial stores or online.
The best way to feed this solution to the baby hamster is with an eyedropper, which you can get online or at most pet stores. Slowly and carefully place the end of the dropper near the baby hamsters mouth and squeeze it softly so that the baby can lick from it. Don’t force them to swallow the milk as this can flood their lungs and kill the hamster. Do you watch your hamster drink water from the water bottle in the cage? You should be feeding your hamster milk in exactly that fashion.
In terms of quantity, it really does depend on the type of hamster. Baby Syrians should have around 1ml 12 times a day for the first 2 weeks. Then feed them 2 ml 8 times a day. Baby Dwarf Hamsters should have 2 drops of formula every half-hour until they are 2 weeks old. Then feed them 0.5ml every hour once they are 2 weeks old.
Around the 3rd week, you can begin weaning them from the milk. This is because they will start to eat solid foods. Reduce the amount by half for 2 days and then stop giving them milk the next day. This will ween them from the milk safely as they move onto solid foods.
Feeding baby hamsters food
So. You’ve weened your hamster successfully from the milk. Now you need to start feeding them ordinary hamster food which they will now be able to eat. The good news is that you don’t need to buy anything else! We recommend the normal hamster pellets that you should already have for your pet.
To ensure that your baby can eat these pellets, immerse them in water first. This means that the pellets can be eaten by the baby hamsters as their teeth may not be able to bite through the tough pellets. Place them in water until they become soggy and then place them on the floor of the cage, preferably close to the baby hamster.
At the same time as feeding them, you need to ensure that your baby hamster has access to water as well. Ensure that the water bottle is lower down so that the baby can actually reach it. Don’t use a bowl for the water as your tiny baby could drown or be unable to get out of the water bowl.
Don’t feed them any hamster treats yet. This is because their digestive system is still delicate which means that they should be sticking to ordinary pellets.
How to make your baby hamster comfortable
It’s important to keep your baby hamster comfortable during this time. They are extremely vulnerable, even more so without their mother. This means that you need to help them the best you can. Taking care of baby hamsters without their mother is difficult, but you can do it.
Baby hamsters cannot regulate their own temperature. This means that it is vital that you do it for them. The best temperature for them is around 70-80F and you can do this by removing drafts from the room and keeping the room at that constant temperature. Failing this, you can use a heating pad to ensure that they are at the optimal temperature. If you don’t do this, they will die. Hamsters already have problems if the temperature gets too hot or cold, this is even more of a problem for babies as they are born without fur.
You can also use bedding to keep them warm. Just put some on top of them to ensure that they keep at a good temperature. Don’t completely cover them though.
Make sure that the cage is clean and spacious. Remove all extra levels to discourage climbing and ensure that the ground substrate is made up of non-allergic materials. You can check out our guides for hamster bedding and cage cleaning as well, these will help you. When it comes to bedding, ensure that it is in small pieces. The mother usually does this, so you have to!
Make sure that your baby hamsters have absolutely no contact with any other animal. This includes other humans if they are present in the household. This is because of the extreme stress that baby hamsters may go through due to them not having their mother around. Other animals, such as dogs and cats, can scare the hamsters which could result in them getting ill. An ill baby hamster without their mother is likely to sadly die.
Make sure to also separate the boys and the girls after around a month. This is to stop mating as you don’t want even more baby hamsters! After that, you should try to separate them from eachother. This is because hamsters can be territorial and this instinct will begin to kick-in at around about this time.
After feeding your baby hamster, you need to stimulate the babies to go to the toilet. This is normally something that the mother would do which means that you must take her place. If you don’t do this then the babies are likely to die. Softly rub the baby’s genitals and anus with a warm and wet cloth.
Chances of Survival
Let me be frank, the chances of survival for many of these hamsters is slim. Hamsters simply need their mothers and we can’t always be an effective surrogate mother for them. Don’t blame yourself if many of them die. Create a small grave and remember them as you would any other hamster. In the end, you gave them the best chance they had at life. You couldn’t do anything more than you did. The fact that you took the effort to research and read guides, as well as actually put them into action, shows that you tried your best.
It can be a sad task, looking after baby hamsters. It can also be a rewarding task though. The task of taking care of baby hamsters without their mother is monumental. If the baby hamster survives then they are likely to be very attached to you as their surrogate mother. This means that you can have even happier times together. The chance of survival is still slim but it certainly isn’t zero. If you follow this guide, and other guides out there, then you might stand a chance.
Have you ever looked after a baby hamster? Anything that I can add to this guide? Let me know in the comments.