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Hamster breeders choose adult male and female hamsters that are suitable for breeding and allow them to mate. Breeders can be hobby breeders or commercial breeders who sell the hamster pups to pet shops. Commercial breeders sometimes have many hamsters on rodent farms. There are several types of hamsters, such as the Chinese hamster, the Roborovski hamster and the winter white Russian hamster. Some breeders specialize in a particular type.
Hamsters hit puberty at six to eight weeks. Females have an estrus cycle that lasts four days. At a certain point in a female's cycle, she will come into heat. This happens at the end of the third day and lasts for up to 10 hours during the night. This is the correct time for breeders to introduce a male hamster in the hope the female will find him attractive.
Good hamster breeders will breed only healthy hamsters with good temperaments. Some hamster types, such as the Syrian hamster, have low genetic variation, so they have a high incidence of genetic defects. A good hamster breeder will breed in new blood from outside a colony if necessary. Hamster breeders sometimes breed close relatives, so new, unrelated blood is helpful. A breeder might also choose to breed only the hamsters who have particular traits that customers find appealing.
Hamster breeders need to understand their hamsters before allowing them to breed. Some hamsters, such as Syrian hamsters, require supervision during the mating process in case the male and the female fight. Dwarf hamsters or males and females that already live together typically can be left unsupervised.
A hamster pregnancy lasts 15-18 days. The female produces four to 12 pups that weigh only about a tenth of an ounce (about 3 g) each. A good breeder will then leave the pups and the mother alone for two weeks with enough food and water.
After this time, the breeder can accustom the pups to human touch. The pups should be weaned after three to four weeks. At about five weeks of age, the hamster pups are capable of breeding, so a responsible breeder will separate potential breeding pairs into different cages.
Some countries have a hamster breeding association, and breeders can sign up for membership. Some of these associations do not regulate the industry or inspect the breeding establishments. These associations are useful places for one to find a list of hamster breeders in a particular area. A good hamster breeder should be able to give a new owner instructions and help on how to care for his or her pet.