A couple of months ago, during a trip to the feed store to buy baby chicks, I got sucked into letting the kids buy baby hamsters while there. Six of them - six! Because naturally, they all wanted their own. Since we'd had hamsters before, we had all the necessary equipment already in stock, so it really wasn't a big deal. We set up their large terrarium in the school room, and watched them grow.
Taking over Isaac's Playmobil fort
Then, a couple of weeks ago, we woke to find one of the hamsters had had a litter of 4 pups during the night. To say the kids were thrilled is an understatement!
Watching the momma care of her babies was fascinating. It was amazing to see how intricately developed the tiny babies were. They were smaller than the top joint on my thumb, yet every feature such as tiny toes, noses, tongues, etc. were perfectly and delicately developed. It made me think of the marvel of unborn children, who long, long before they are big and old enough to be born, are perfectly developed tiny humans.
My favorite part was when the momma "homeschooled" her litter: she lined all four up in front of her, and taught them how to groom themselves. She showed them how, then they repeated it, again and again. It was pretty funny. One of the other older hamsters also took on the role of a nanny, and would watch over the babies, keep them warm, and let them "nurse".
Now, they are almost old enough to move on (thank you, Craigslist!). This was a great experience for the kids, but from now on, I think we will be separating the female hamsters from the males.