The following are the most obvious ways of telling if your hamster is pregnant. If you’re still unsure, a vet will 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 give birth less than 20 days after mating! If your hamster has been in contact with a male over 30 days ago, then they’re not pregnant. If the mating had been successful, you would already have lots of baby hamsters. Here are the approximate gestation periods (i.e. the time from mating to birth) for the different species of pet hamster:
- Syrian hamster - 16 days
- Chinese hamster - 18-23 days
- Winter White hamster - 18-21 days
- Roborovski hamster - 22 - 30 days
- Is the large belly due to illness?
If you think your hamster is pregnant, it’s best to make sure the swollen belly isn’t due to a medical condition. If her belly is lumpy, it could be tumors rather than babies. A swollen abdomen can also be caused by infection, bowel issues, heart problems, or bladder stones. Whenever you suspect your hamster is pregnant, take her for a vet’s check-up. This will allow you to rule out these various health conditions, and, should your hamster indeed be pregnant, it will also enable the vet to tell you how the pregnancy is going, offer advice, and diagnose any problems.
- How old is your hamster?
Hamsters can breed at about six weeks of age. So, if you’ve been keeping males and females together after six weeks, the females may already be pregnant. If so, their litters could appear in as little as two or three weeks! Females remain fertile until they reach fourteen or fifteen months, while males remain fertile throughout their adult lives.
If your female hamster is looking larger than usual, and is gathering lots of bedding into one area, then she could be making a nest in preparation for her babies. Nesting is a strong instinct in hamsters, so watch out for this behavior as the pregnancy progresses.
- Avoiding stress or disruption
If your hamster is pregnant and has babies, you must make sure there is nothing stressful in her environment to disturb her. Any stress or change of environment during this time can be disastrous, as hamsters are among the many mammals that devour their own litters in times of stress. Ask at your vet surgery for more information and advice on this issue.