Kaylee, Pennsylvania, Eighth Grader

This is an essay telling about baby hamsters and the experiences I've had with them. Over the years, I have become very interested in hamsters and rodents, so a little while back, I started breeding them. In the following paragraphs, I will be writing a little about each of these: breeding, baby hamsters' birth, baby hamsters' growth process, how to wean them, and when to sell or give them away.

First of all, breeding hamsters is a pretty important subject. To begin breeding, you have to be able to do it at the right time. That would be when the female hamster is in heat and more receptive to the male. To tell if the female is in heat, you should get her out and set her on your hand. Next, run a finger or two down her back, to her tail. If she freezes in place and puts her tail up, that shows that she is in heat. Sometimes hamsters just "click" and others don't. It is important to place the female in the male's cage, not vice versa. If you DO put the male in the female's cage, the female will not be too thrilled. She will think that the male is a threat to her, so she will probably attack him. There have been a few accounts of hamster deaths due to this, but it doesn't happen often. So, after the female gets pregnant, her gestation period will carry on for about eighteen to twenty-one days. During the female's pregnancy, you should be giving her protein foods, like hard-boiled egg, and little bits of cooked chicken.

The baby hamsters' first days fly by, because they grow so fast, and their change is very quick. When the babies are born, you really don't have anything to do for them, except for maybe putting a blanket or something like that over the cage, to help keep down the mother hamster's stress. The mother's stress is raised when she hears loud noises, or if people try to get her out right after she gives birth, and things like that. If the mother hamster does get too stressed, sometimes she'll just stuff her babies in her mouth to "protect" them for a while, and other times she will actually eat them. The babies basically just eat and sleep at this point. Right now, they should be about three-fourths of an inch to an inch long, and their skin will be transparent. For now, no one should touch the baby hamsters, because once you do that, the mama hamster will smell your scent on them, and to "protect" them, again, she might eat the babies, either because she doesn't want to care for baby hamsters that smell like humans, or she thinks that they are in danger. As for anything else you might feel like you should be doing, you need not do anything. Chances are, mama hamster knows what she's doing.

Baby hamsters are some of the sweetest little baby animals on earth. By the time the babies are about two or three days old, their skin should be changing from transparent to a little darker color. Some even have a light gray color of skin by this age. When they are about three or four days old, the babies' ears pop up, and they grow adorable whiskers. Then, when they are about a week to ten days old, they will have their soft, silky fur, and they will also start walking around the cage. Now you can start feeding them little bits of carrot, lettuce, and vegetables like that. When they are about twelve or thirteen days old, their bright little eyes open. When they are this age, you can start holding them.

The time will come when you will probably have to give your baby hamsters away, unless you are planning on keeping large amounts of hamsters. They can be weaned from their mother at three or four weeks of age. Also, at this time, they are old enough for you to separate them into different cages, if you are not planning on more pups. Then, you can sell them or give them away to new homes.

From conception through weaning, the hamster breeding process is very easy and fun. I learn a lot each and every time my female hamster gives birth to a new litter. Also, there are some great advantages to breeding hamsters. One is that they are so very small and easy to care for, that you don't have so much work and raising involved as you would if you were going to breed say, dogs, or rabbits. It is a lot more expensive to breed and raise dogs or cats, or even larger rodents, like guinea pigs. The time for you to decide to breed hamsters would be when you have learned at least a little about the basics of hamsters. There really isn't much that you have to do for your hamster or her babies. Lastly, when your baby hamsters are old enough to go to new homes, some pet stores take them for free, some buy them for like a few dollars each. Some don't take them at all. But when you are breeding, always know that the babies have good homes to go to. Overall, I think the hamster breeding process is very profitable. I have found that I always have a satisfactory feeling after I have raised them up to adults.


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