Not long ago I came across a flyer at a dog show which I was very taken with, and I have changed it to fit our subject of hamsters. I cannot credit the original author or the club it came from since the flyer did not include that information.

Know The Facts Before Breeding Your Hamster!

We think it is extremely important to learn the facts and possible consequences in advance if you are contemplating breeding your hamster. In today’s overcrowded world, we, the wardens of our domestic pets, must make responsible decisions for them and for ourselves. Please consider the following points carefully.

QUALITY: A pedigree is NOT an indication of quality. Most hamsters should not be bred. Though wonderful pets, many have defects of health, temperament, or structure which should not be perpetuated. Breeding animals should be proven free of these defects BEFORE starting on a reproductive career. Breeding should only be done with the goal of IMPROVEMENT—an honest attempt to create hamsters better than their parents. Ignorance is no excuse—once you have created a life, you can’t take it back, even if blind, crippled, badly diseased, or a rodent psychopath!

COST: Hamster breeding is NOT a money-making venture, if done correctly. Proper housing, high-quality food, correct bedding, advertising, possible vet bills, etc., are all costly and must be paid BEFORE the babies can be sold. An unexpected Cesarean may cost several hundred dollars. This would be an impossible amount to recoup even IF the babies lived, and IF you could sell them. Most breeders consider themselves lucky if they can break even on a litter.

SALES: First time breeders have no reputation and no referrals to help them find buyers. Previous promises of “I want a hamster just like yours” evaporate. Consider the time and expense of caring for babies that may not sell until they are 4 months old, 6 months old, or more! What WOULD you do if your babies did not sell? Send them to the pound to be euthanized? Dump them in the country to fend for themselves and starve to death? Sell them cheap to a pet store to be used as snake food? Remember, the average Syrian litter is 8-10, and can be much more. Where are you going to find homes for a litter of 20?  If they are not sold by 2 months of age, remember that each will need its own cage.

JOY OF BIRTH: If you’re doing it for the children’s education, remember that the birth may be at 4 A.M., or at the vet’s on the surgery table. Even if the kiddies are present, they may get a chance to see the birth of a stillborn or watch the female scream and writhe in pain attempting to deliver a baby which is too large. Some females are not natural mothers and either ignore or savage their litter. Females can have severe delivery problems or even die in the process of giving birth. Babies can be born dead or with gross deformities that require euthanasia. Of course there can be joy, but if you can’t deal with the possibility of tragedy, don’t start.

TIME: Many veteran breeders of quality hamsters spend several minutes a day, every day with EACH baby after its eyes have opened. This can mean many hours of labor in raising an average litter to 6 weeks. Both before and after the delivery, mom needs special care, attention, and feeding. Babies need daily checking, socialization, careful feeding, and their cage needs lots of cleaning. More hours are spent doing paperwork, pedigrees, and interviewing buyers. If you have any abnormal problems such as sick babies, or a female who can’t or won’t care for her little ones, count on double or triple the time. If you can’t provide the time, you will either have dead pups or poor ones that are bad tempered, antisocial, dirty and/or sickly — hardly a buyers delight.

HUMANE RESPONSIBILITIES: There are MILLIONS of unwanted animals put to death in pounds in this country each year, including many hamsters. Many more die homeless and unwanted through starvation, disease, abuse, neglect, etc. The breeder who creates a life is responsible for that life. Will you carefully educate potential buyers on the responsibilities and duties entailed in owning a hamster? Or will you just take the money and not worry if the hamster is locked in a cramped cage all its life, forgotten and neglected? Will you turn down a sale to irresponsible owners? Or will you say “yes” and not think about the baby you held and loved now having a litter every time she comes into heat in order to create more uncared for statistics? Would you be prepared to take back a grown hamster if the owners could no longer care for it? Or can you live with the thought that the baby you helped bring into the world will be destroyed at the pound?

The views expressed herein are of the author and do not reflect any policy of the California Hamster Association.  This article was originally written for the AFRMA Rat and Mouse Tales publication ( and is reprinted with permission from the author.  Hamster modifications made by Linda Price.
Think Before You Breed
by Nichole Royer
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