Hamsters are one of the most popular pets, particularly for children. But before you bring a furry little addition into your family, it is important to know the answer to the question "how long do hamsters live?" Today, we will answer this and address other important questions about bringing a hamster into your home.


How Long Do Hamsters Live?


The average hamster lives between 2 and 2.5 years. However, the hamster's species has the greatest effect on how long the hamster will live. The winter white Russian dwarf hamster and Chinese hamster live, on average, 1.5 to 2 years. The Campbell's dwarf hamster lives for an average of two years. You can expect a Syrian hamster to live for 2 to 2.5 years, and the Roborovski hamster usually lives for 3 to 3.5 years.

What Other Factors Affect A Hamster's Lifespan?

someone holding a hamster

image source: Pexels

Besides a hamster's species, there are many other factors that affect the answer to the question "how long do hamsters live." These factors include genetics, diet, exercise, quality of care, illness, and living environment.

You can't change the species or genetics of your child's favorite hamster in the pet store, but some factors you can control. To help your hamsters live as long as possible:

  • Feed them a healthy diet
  • Encourage them to exercise
  • Keep their home nice and clean
  • Take good care of them
  • Look out for signs of illness and take them to the vet if they appear sick

While the above tips won't change the poor genetics passed on from a hamster's parents, they will guarantee your hamster has the best chance to live a happy, healthy, fulfilling life.

What Do Hamsters Eat?

hamster

image source: Unsplash

An important part of how long do hamsters live is making sure they have a nutritious diet. Be cautious when you buy pellet or muesli from a pet store for your hamster. The more colorful the mix is, the less likely it will be full of additives.


Natural Food

To ensure your hamster gets adequate protein, give her some meal worms or a piece of a hard-boiled egg once a week. When feeding your hamster fruit or vegetables, give her a small cube. Too much fiber in their diet can lead to stomach cramps and diarrhea. Hamsters love carrots, but do not give them too much, because they are high in sugar.


The best fruit for hamsters are apples, pears, peaches, and bananas. The best vegetables for your furry little friend are broccoli, cauliflower, chicory, and carrots.


Do not feed your hamsters citrus fruits or onions because they are very high in acid. This can cause severe gastrointestinal distress. Furthermore, you should never give a hamster sticky or sharp food. They store food in their cheek pockets to save under their bedding for later. Sharp food can get stuck in their cheek pouches and cause painful damage.


How Much Do Hamsters Eat?

Hamsters of all sizes eat approximately the same amount of food. For example, dwarf hamsters have a much higher metabolism than Syrian hamsters so have about the same appetite. Feed your hamster 10 grams of dry hamster food twice a day.


When Should I Feed My Hamster?

Feed your hamster once in the morning and once in the evening. Wild hamsters search for food at night but that is mainly to protect themselves from predators during the day. In addition to feeding your hamster dry food, give her fresh food. She will store this food under her bedding to snack on during the day when she gets hungry.


Give your hamster fresh water daily and thoroughly clean their drinking bottle weekly at a minimum. When you clean your hamster's bedding, check to ensure there is no fresh food rotting. Take out old food while you are cleaning the cage and give your hamster more fresh food.

What Is the Lifecycle Of A Hamster?

hamster

image source: Unsplash

Birth

After a gestation period of between 16 and 30 days, between one and 20 hamster babies are born in a litter. These babies are called pups. They are born blind, deaf, and furless. After about five days, their fur starts to grow in. After a couple weeks, their eyes open.


Once they can see, pups begin to explore, but their mother continues to rear them until three to four weeks old. Syrian hamsters live in solitude after three to four weeks because they fight if they are together. Dwarf hamsters can continue living together until they reach sexual maturity but keep your eyes peeled for fighting.


Adolescence

Hamsters are sexually mature from four to six weeks old with females maturing later than males. However, if a female hamster is allowed to breed before she is at least 10 weeks of age, there is a good chance she will give birth to stillborn pups. Separate her from any male hamsters after she gives birth. She can get pregnant in as few as 24 hours after delivery!


Prime

Shortly before turning one year old, hamsters reach the prime of their life. While this depends on the breed of hamster, they are usually fun, playful, and full of energy. Female hamsters become infertile between 12 and 14 months of age. Prevent your hamster from breeding past 14 months as this can cause hip and pelvic damage.


Golden Years

The risk of illness and other health conditions increases as hamsters age. At around two years old, ask your vet what additional steps you need to take to ensure the highest quality of life for your pet and ask your vet, "How long do hamsters live, and how long do you think my hamster might live?"

How Can I Protect My Hamster From Ailments?

hamster

image source: Unsplash

Wash your hands before you pick up your hamster. The common cold, while inconvenient for humans, can quickly become a bacterial respiratory infection for hamsters. Even if you do not feel ill, consistent hand washing is important because you do not know what germs you are carrying in from outside your home.


Take your hamster for regular veterinary checkups, invest in pet insurance, and take her to the vet at the first sign of potential illness. Rapid action is important to ensure the health and safety of your pet.


Injuries

When it comes to hamsters, injuries are just as much a concern as illness. Wire wheels and wire mesh wheels both have both been known to break the legs or feet of hamsters. While exercise is crucial for hamsters, be sure to only purchase solid-surface wheels. Make sure your hamster's chew toys are all appropriate such as soft wood blocks. Chew toys are necessary because they prevent your hamster from chewing on wheels. If your hamster has long hair, make sure she gets her fur trimmed, so it does not get caught or tangled on any wire or metal surfaces.


Bedding

A hamster's bedding is of utmost important. Opt for unscented paper-based bedding rather than pine or cedar shavings. Wood shavings often cause eye irritation, respiratory irritation, and skin irritation in small animals. Furthermore, the odor of scented bedding can disorient your pet. A hamster's sense of smell is very important because of their poor eyesight.


Depth Perception

Since hamsters can only see a few inches in front of their face, they have very poor depth perception. They may be prone to take a flying leap into your hands. Sit on a large sofa or the ground when you calmly hold your hamster. They can suddenly jump out of your hands or fall and become injured if you are standing when handling them.


Hamsters handle stress very poorly and are very excitable. They commonly bite or jump when startled and can develop proliferative iletis and other stress-related diseases if they feel overly anxious. Keep your hamster's cage to one level so she does not fall inside her home.

The Bottom Line

Hamsters are a great addition to your family, especially if you have small children. While the answer to how long do hamster live varies upon factors such as species and genetics, there are things you can do to ensure your hamster remains happy and healthy for several years.

Regardless of her size, give your hamster 10 grams of dry food once in the morning and once in the evening. Feed her small cubes of fresh fruit and vegetables. Do not feed her citrus or onions because of the high levels of acid. Never feed her sharp or sticky foods.

As your hamsters approach four to six weeks of age, separate them. Most breeds have a tendency to fight, particularly pregnant Syrian hamsters. It is even more important to separate a hamster who has just given birth, because she can get pregnant again 24 hours after delivery.

To keep your hamster healthy, use unscented paper-based bedding. Hamsters use their sense of smell to navigate their world and scented pine or cedar bedding can disorient them and lead to injury. Have your hamster in for regular check-ups and take her in at the first sign of illness. Especially when your hamster turns two years old, you need to be particularly diligent about washing your hands to protect her from contracting any ailments.