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Hamster sexing PDF Print E-mail

Sexing Your Hamster

Many people wish to know the sex of their hamster, whether to aid name choice, to separate a litter, or to double check a same sex pair of dwarfs. Often we hear that owners of a pet shop brought hamster are unsure of the sex, with the use of this guide you can reassure yourself of the sex of your hamster. The following photos and descriptions are to help guide you through figuring out the sex of your hamster, from photos of hamsters at different ages to tips on how to hold the hamster. If you are using this guide to help separate a litter into same sex groups remember- if in doubt place in the male tub! Its better to risk one female being mated by her brothers than one male mating with a whole group of sisters!

To read what each photo is of simply move your mouse curser over the picture.

Syrian

Dwarf - Campbell, Winter-White, Chinese, Roborovski

Syrian Hamster

 

Things to look for sexing a Syrian
  1. Openings close together in females, further apart in males.
  2. Nipples can sometimes be seen on females
  3. Males gain obvious testicles especially when warm.

Syrian hamsters are solitary animals with an early maturing reproductive system. Due to this it is recommend that litters are removed from the mother and put into single sex groups at around 4 weeks of age. These hamsters though will need to be in individual cages by 8 weeks old. Its often best not to leave females with mother beyond 6 weeks as solitary tendencies will become stronger in both her and them by then. Start by picking up the hamster and gently turning it over onto its back, you can use your thumb under the chin to secure the hamster, or under the front legs. Let the weight of the hamster be supported by the palm of your hand. Sometimes it is necessary to scruff a hamster to sex it and to check its belly. This can be done by holding the loose skin of the hamsters neck between your thumb and forefinger and carefully lifting the hamster. It is important to make sure though that your other hand is taking the weight of the hamster when this is done.

 

The following photos are of 3 week old Syrian pups, already the difference between sexes is clear, though will get clearer as the animal matures. Note how the two openings are very close together for the female, and further apart for the male, some females you can also see two rows of teats on them as well. Males will gain swellings of the testicles, at the moment this boy has his further up.

Remember to move the curser over the picture for more info.

 3 week old male syrian                                             3 week old female syrian

The same two hamsters at 4 weeks the difference as you can see is clearer. The holes are more noticeably apart and the male has gained distinctive swellings. Syrians should be in single sex groups by this point. The female in this shot has also made the distance between holes more noticable by choosing this moment to poop.

4 week old syrian male       4 week old syrian female

 

Finally here are two fully grown examples of the sexes in Syrians.

Adult male syrian                              Adult female syrian

The difference now is very striking! (note this male does have rather thin belly fur making it clearer) It is in fact so clear that you can often tell by looking down at an adult Syrian, as you can see below the male extends more on the bottom due to his testicles.

Adult male syrian                                                    Adult female syrian


Dwarf hamsters

 

Things to look for sexing a dwarf
  1. Openings close together in female, far apart in male
  2. Sign of a scent gland on male (often stained yellow around where you would expect a navel)
  3. Testicles on a male.

Sexing dwarf hamsters is similar to sexing Syrians, if the two openings are close together you have a female, if further apart a male, the male will also have testicles and often the scent gland is very noticable. The scent glad is located where you would expect a belly button to be and is often stained yellow. The different dwarf species due to their size can be more problematic to sex, and with them often living in same sex pairs* it’s often a wise idea to regularly check a young pairing to make sure they ‘stay’ the same sex. This way they can be separated if there is any doubt to prevent pregnancy.

It is important to consider when separating a dwarf litter at around 4 weeks old that you consider where the babies will go, if the father has been removed from the mother (which should have happened before the birth as the male will re-impregnate the female straight after she has given birth) the females can stay in with her, this can be particularly useful if you wish to pair the mother to a daughter, and if there is only one female baby, if there are more the others can be removed over time to leave mum alone with chosen daughter. The same method can be used with the father; the male sons can be introduced to him to stay with him while sorting out new homes for them, or one to bond with father to stay as a pair.

By turning the dwarf over as with the Syrians you reveal the openings; however you will often find the fur obstructs a decent view! As with Syrians, hold the hamster with its back resting on the palm of your hand, with your thumb and forefinger under the front legs or chin. With dwarfs it’s often beneficial to use your other hands thumb and forefinger or two fingers to help clear the view. You can do this by placing one either side of the openings and gently moving the fingers apart, this separates the hair around the area and often causes the male to ‘pop’ up, clearly identifying them.

When handling young dwarf, especially quicker species such as Roborovski, it is often best to hold them over a towel lined storage tub or bath, something that will contain them and give a soft landing should they attempt to ‘ping’ out your hands.

 

Campbells Russian Dwarf


Campbells sexing is similar to Winter White sexing, the fur usually hides the openings well so using two fingers, one either side of the area to move the fur appart and gentally stretch the skin can make it a lot more obvious.

While young it can be rather hard to tell due t size,but usually by 4 weeks the males will have a distinctively larger gap between openings, plus their testicles should show.  you can sometimes encourange them to show more (if its cold) by gentally pushing down wards either side of the openings, but be very gentle when trying this.

Below is a picture of a 5 week old male campbell.

5 week old male campbell

Photos of more young and adult campbells to follow.  Please feel free to submit photos to the webmaster.

Winter white Russian Dwarf

Winter White sexing is usually similar to Campbells. They tend to hide away their openings, so using two fingers either side of the openings to move the fur aside.

Obviously it can be as with the campbells harder to see the differences when they are young, but hopefully the pictures below will help give you a better idea of what subtle clues to look for.

Photos of young winter whites to follow. Please feel free to submit photos to the webmaster.

As adults once again the difference between the sexes is very clear, though often still requires the fur around the areas to be moved apart. The males scent glade is clearly obvious (and in need of a wipe with a damp cotton bud)and his penis is now clearly a large outward mound compaired to the females top opening.

Remember to move your curser over the picture for more info.

Adult Winter White male                       Adult Winter White female

Chinese

Chinese dwarfs are often the easiest dwarf species to check. This is because the adult male’s testicles are extremely prominent! This picture of an adult male Chinese (domspot) clearly shows this.

Remember to move your curser over the picture for more info.

 Adult Male Chinese 8 week old female Chinese

Of course as babies it can be harder to tell them apart, but as with the other species you are looking for the openings to be close for females and further apart in males. The female show at 8 weeks has clearly two openings close together, a close up of the area shows just how clear.

 8 week old female Chinese close up

 

The males will start to show their testicles by about the age of separation.

 

2 week old male Chinese 2 week old female Chinese

As you can see even at two weeks the difference is there, there is hair between the two openings on the male, whereas none between the females, also there is a considerable size difference to the gap between the holes.

By three and a half weeks (seperatation age) this difference is even more pronounced, as shown below.

3.5 week old male Chinese

Roborovski

Though the smallest hamster species the sex can be easily identified on grown Roborovski (Robos) It can be very hard to sex them at a young age, as being on a small body everything is much harder to see, this coupled with their habit of never staying still can make it rather tricky! If you cannot handle the Roborovski into a position to sex it all is not lost! Instead place the Roborovski into a clean (and dry) pint glass. You can then look through the glass at the area; this view can be made clearer when the Roborovski stands on its back legs to attempt escape!

Here are pictures of 3 1/2 week old Roborovski (around age to seperate into single sexes).

Remember to move your curser over the picture for more info.

i3.5 week old Roborovski male pictures by T. Buckland 3.5 week old Roborovski female

Young Roborovski males may lack the yellow scent gland, but this will come over time. Already you can see the same have a more distinctive gap between the openings, note that the female has no hair between the holes but more around the area, where as the males hair though sparse can be found between the openings. The difference though will still become clearer as they mature, so keep sexing young hamsters to make sure they are not developing into something else. Many good breeders can find a robo they thought to be female at 3 weeks old is actually male by 6 weeks...it’s worth constantly checking.

Adult Roborovski, as mentioned, show the difference between sexes clearly. Note the patch of yellow for the male’s scent gland. Adult male robos tend to become bald around the genital region as shown.

 

Adult Male Roborovski                                  Adult Female Roborovski

 

Adult Male Roborovski                 Adult Female Roborovski

The NHC promotes a high standard of hamster care and welfare. Membership of an NHC affiliated club means you automatically agree to follow your club's rules and those of the Constitution. In addition, you also agree to follow the separate NHC Codes of Practice. The NHC expects ALL its members to keep their hamsters in suitable housing, with some type of enrichment. There are no exceptions.