Hamsters are mammals. All mammals can bear their offspring in their uterus and breastfeed them. Females have hormone-governed cycles to ensure their bodies are ready for growing babies. These cycles prepare the body to accept new life by lining the uterus. All mammals except primates go through an estrus cycle, while primates have a menstrual cycle.
Estrus Cycle and Menstrual Cycle
After equal time intervals, depending on the size and life span of the animal, its uterus gets covered with a lining to facilitate fertilization. During this time, they appreciate male attention despite being hostile otherwise.
If the female is not pregnant, the lining either gets reabsorbed or shed from the body.
If the lining gets reabsorbed, there is negligible to no bleeding, and the cycle is known as an estrus cycle. If the lining gets shed, that is known as the menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle is marked by a period of vaginal bleeding to rid the body of the uterus lining.
Hamsters and all other mammals except primates go through the estrus cycle. In comparison, primates like chimpanzees and humans undergo the menstrual cycle.
The period of bleeding you are familiar with is the menstrual cycle. Hamsters do not experience that. They do have a hormone-governed cycle but do not undergo any vaginal bleeding. A single spot of blood is not rare, but continuous bleeding observed in your female hamster is not normal. It is a sign she is ill and must see a vet.
Also, read: Can A Hamster Eat Watermelon? [14 Do’s And Don’t’s]
Do Girl Hamsters Get Their Period?
Yes, and no. Yes, female hamsters have a periodic cycle that allows them to procreate. No, female hamsters do not bleed or undergo menses as humans do. Instead of bleeding, female hamsters have whitish discharge during their estrus period. It is not uncommon to see a minuscule amount of blood sometimes. However, it’s nothing like the period women experience.
Female Hamster Reproductive System
As a female hamster owner, you must strive to understand better the estrus cycle, its stages, and how to care for your female hamster. Here is an overview of the reproductive system of the female hamster to assist you. The following parts make up the reproductive system of a female hamster:
- Two Ovaries
- Two Uterine Horns
- Vaginal Canal
Hamsters have two 2-3mm long ovaries, similar to rats and other rodents. These are where the egg cells stay until they are ready to be fertilized.
Humans have a single uterus and two fallopian tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus. The hamster’s uterus is divided into two tube-like structures connecting directly to the ovaries. They are known as uterine horns. You could imagine it as a primitive organ that does the job of both the fallopian tubes and the uterus.
Like humans and other mammals, female hamsters have a cervix that acts as a barrier between the uterine horns and the vaginal canal.
The vaginal canal is the channel between the female hamster’s internal and external sexual organs. It is where sperm from the male hamster is deposited while mating and babies are pushed out during labor.
The labia are the external visible sexual organs of the female hamster. This part is where you would notice regular estrus-related discharge.
Stages of the Estrous Cycle
While a woman’s menstrual cycle lasts a month and her period lasts three to five days, a hamster’s estrus cycle repeats every four days. Every four days, a female hamster goes through the same phases, including a period of estrus, also known as heat. Four phases mark the estrus cycle in all hamsters:
The Proestrus stage is when the reproductive cycle in hamsters begins. After each previous cycle finishes, the proestrus phase starts again. During this phase, the body releases hormones that prepare egg cells for fertilization.
Unlike rats and mice, the proestrus phase is particularly short. Even the most seasoned hamster owners cannot catch when this cycle stage starts until they see the signs of later phases. If you mark the date of estrus, you can easily predict when this stage will occur. However, you will never be sure until its already passed.
The estrus stage is the next stage in the reproductive cycle of a female hamster. During this stage, the hamster’s eggs are ready to be fertilized, exhibiting behaviors that let us know it is in heat.
This period is the only time females, especially Syrian hamster females, are not hostile towards males. Since hamsters are nocturnal, the estrus period starts at night and lasts for twelve hours.
Signs your hamster is in its estrus period
- Hyperactive behavior
- distinct odor
- clear vaginal discharge
- non-hostile reaction towards males
- lifting tail if you pet her lower back
- swelling and reddening of visible organs
Click to know: Can Baby Hamsters Survive Without the Mother?
This is the stage after estrus or “heat” when the female hamster calms down. The hormones urging your hamster to behave oddly are not subsiding, and your hamster will likely rest. The clear secretions of the estrus period are now thicker and whitish.
This is the end of the cycle when hamsters recede into their huts or igloos. Your hamster expects to be pregnant. It would burrow into the ground in the wild.
Like women go through menopause after they can no longer have periods, hamsters also have an anestrus stage. Anestrus is when your female hamster is not going through its regular estrus cycle. There are several reasons why your hamster may go through anestrus.
Your hamster could no longer be of litter-bearing age. Its body is no longer fit to have any babies. That is similar to when humans go through menopause. Your hamster may be pregnant. Pregnancy is a viable possibility if your hamster is exposed to an unfixed male at any point of its cycle.
Your hamster will not go through estrus while it is a nursing mother. If you notice that the normal cyclical signs have stopped while it cares for its pups, that’s fine.
If your hamster is severely malnourished, it will become anestrous. The hamster’s body is very sensitive to its glucose levels. It will pause the estrus cycle if it realizes it does not have enough fuel or isn’t getting enough. This safeguard prevents the hamster from dying during the estrus cycle or pregnancy.
Once the stress of starvation subsides, the cycle goes back to normal. This is not an uncommon occurrence in the wid. Sometimes food is few and far between in the wild, and hamsters have built-in safeguards for these situations.
How to Care For Your Female Hamster During Its Estrus Cycle
If you are a woman or live with women, you understand that your hamster deserves some special care during its time of the week. Here are the dos and don’ts of caring for your hamster during the estrus cycle.
Dos During the Estrus Cycle
You can do some things to make the cycle easier for you and your hamster.
To understand which stage of the estrus cycle your hamster is in, you must observe its behavior. You must be extra attentive to hamsters.
Unlike some pets, you can ignore them until you want to interact with them. If you know when the cycle starts and finishes, you can learn the behavior patterns of your hamsters.
That is precious information because then your female hamster will be predictable. You can plan activities, feedings, and care around established behavior patterns. Hamsters are susceptible creatures. They can easily become ill from shock and thus require extra engagement.
Mark Important Dates
All people born female understand the importance of marking important dates during their menstrual cycles. Since you are carefully observing your hamster, you can mark the dates of it going into different stages. The easiest stage to mark is the estrus stage since it is obvious when your hamster is in heat.
Marking the estrus phase in the calendar helps you predict the start date of the next cycle and enables you to plan accordingly. Suppose you desire to breed your hamster. Please seek the help of a professional. The best time to have your hamster breed is the start of its estrus cycle.
You can know that if you have been diligently marking the dates.
Experiment with Feeding
Some people have experienced their hamsters responding well to extra food during the estrus cycle. Others notice their hamsters eat less. You can test our different feeding regimens if you carefully observe your hamster’s behavior during each phase.
Food can be very influential on how your hamster feels. Women appreciate some chocolate or ice cream during their period. Your hamster may enjoy some extra nuts or veggies. Try out different things and see what works the best.
Don’ts during your Hamsters Estrus Cycle
Your hamster may be avoiding the outside world or imitating borrowing at some point during her cycle. When she is like that, do not take her out of her shelter or pick her up. You will cause her to feel stressed and make her lose trust in you.
Time with Males
Breeding is not for beginners or even veteran hamster owners. Please only trust a professional breeder if you desire to have your hamster bred. If your female hamster interacts with a male during its cycle, it can get pregnant. If your hamster ever had an un-fixed male in her cage or if you’re sure she’s pregnant, please take her to the vet.
You cannot handle a pregnancy unless you do a lot of research. Even then, you must have professional help.
Hamsters do have a reproductive cycle called estrus. However, they do not have a period in which they expel blood like humans.
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My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more