This is one of the most often asked questions from new members and the public. Many times we hear that pet shops have sold a hamster but are unsure of it’s sex. Sexing of adult hamsters is not hard, although young hamsters especially the Dwarf species can be a little harder to handle and their smaller size also makes sexing more difficult.
A good method is to place the hamster on one hand, place your other hand over it’s back and then turn your hands over so that the hamster is lying on it’s back. If the hamster struggles hold it by the scruff of the neck and it will usually calm down and lie still.
The diagram on the left shows a male and female Syrian hamster.
As can be seen, the rear of the male is more elongated than that of the female.
Looking at the genitals in the diagram, there are two ‘vents’. On the male these are the penile opening and the anus and on the female they are the vagina and anus.
In an adult male Syrian the gap between these vents is around 1 – 2 cm apart, whilst in the female the gap is so small that is it sometimes difficult to distinguish the two separate vents.
The younger the hamster the closer together the vents, however the testicles of the male are usually quite apparent even at 3 or 4 weeks of age.
In other species of hamster the same rules apply with all males having a more elongated rear, this is particularly so in the Chinese hamster.
The photograph (right) shows a young Syrian hamster being held using the ‘scruffing’ method. The hamster doesn’t look very comfortable, but this method of holding a hamster is not at all cruel.
The skin at the back of the neck is quite loose and can easily be held between the thumb and forefinger; however you should ensure that you always support the hamster with the other hand.
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