It’s no secret why hamsters are so popular as pets. Cute and adorable, these little busybodies bring much joy with their engaging personalities. If you’re thinking about keeping a hamster, one of the main things to think about is how long do hamsters live for?
The average hamster lifespan ranges from 2 to 2.5 years – the key here is average because it’s important to take into account factors that can influence the lifespan of a hamster.
Check out the following information to help you get the most from your pet hamster experience.
Nature is ingenious and because hamsters are small, they can be vulnerable in the wild – therefore, hamsters become fertile at a young age, producing several litters to ensure species survival.
Hamster size is interlinked with their lifespan and how they age. Mammals age through a process of wear and tear and as time advances, the physical body proves less efficient.
Compared to larger mammals, the biological mechanisms of small creatures like hamsters aren’t as efficient. Here’s where nature’s ingenuity comes in – because wild hamsters often live in risky habitats, bodily processes are focused on procreation.
The hamster life cycle
Females will come into oestrus relatively early, usually between 6 and 8 weeks old, the males around 8 to 9 weeks.
Litter sizes vary dependent on breed but, as a rule, produce 4 to 12 pups. In the wild, hamsters will breed seasonally but in captivity, it’s wise to keep sexes separate unless going for hamster world domination.
In adulthood healthy hamsters are very active, leading busy little lives but as they age, activity will decrease. Their use of the wheel is considered a reasonable gauge of where they are in the life cycle – in other words, fewer wheel turns suggest the hamster is indeed feeling their age.
How long do hamsters live for – Some factors affecting hamster lifespan
Although the average lifespan is 2 to 2.5 years, there are several factors that may influence how long a hamster will live. Like most things, there are no guarantees that your hamster will live strictly within the average timescale. Some hamsters will live 1.5 years, while others might reach three. Here are some things to consider.
Hamster species have varying lifespan averages – again, there are no hard and fast rules to apply, but they’re useful as baseline figures.
How long to Russian Dwarf Hamsters live?
Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamsters and Russian Winter White Dwarf Hamsters have similar lifespans.
Russian dwarf hamster lifespan – they live on average between 15 months and 2 years.
How long do Robo Hamsters live?
The Robo Dwarf hamster or Roborovski dwarf hamster is the smallest breed of hamster, yet have a very good life expectancy.
Roborovskis hamster lifespan – relatively long-lived at 3 to 3.5 years.
How long do Syrian Hamsters live?
Syrian hamster lifespan – between 2 and 3 years [males usually outlive females].
How long do Chinese Dwarf Hamsters live?
Although not officially a Dwarf hamster, Chinese Dwarf hamsters are often categorized with their smaller cousins as due to their size and appearance. Again they have a relatively long life expectancy.
Chinese dwarf hamster lifespan – on average 2 – 3 years.
How Long do Siberian Dwarf hamsters live?
Siberian dwarf hamster lifespan – from 18 months to 2 years.
What is the longest living hamster?
There is a lack of definitive information on the longest living hamsters, with anecdotes of a Syrian hamster living over 6 years! According to the Guinness Book of Records, the longest living hamster reached the grand age of 4.5 years. True or not, you can give your hamster the best chance to have a healthy life – whatever age it reaches – by providing it with optimal care. Before looking at diet, environment and other factors, it’s important to consider the genetic component to lifespan.
Unless you know the history of your hamster’s parentage – and perhaps, beyond that – it’s very difficult to know if there are genetic predispositions to health issues.
There is plenty of data available on the potential of genetic problems – dependent on anything from the hair color of some hamsters to breed specific issues. Ultimately, existing genetic problems are beyond your control, so let’s talk about what you can do to help your hamster stay happy and healthy.
Diet and health
Apart from feeding your hamster a nutritional diet, limiting food access might help improve hamster lifespan. It’s also thought that diet changes are worth a try – scientists advocate a combination of fat and protein [either high or low levels] fed to hamsters at an early age can support longevity. Ensure your hamster has omega-3 rich foodstuffs for a healthy cardiovascular system – lean meat, eggs as well as fruit and vegetables are all suitable. Add oats or similar for fiber, giving your hamster the healthiest diet possible.
Environment and exercise
Hamsters thrive in clean, well-ventilated environments. Replenish bedding regularly, avoiding potential health hazards from accumulated dirt and droppings. Situate the hamster enclosure dependent on the needs of your hamster.
For example, some breeds feel the cold easier than others, so avoid draughts and chilly rooms – similarly, direct sunlight might be harmful. Always try and tailor to your hamster’s specific needs.
Provide plenty of stimulus for exercise and natural behaviors – add tunnels and sufficient space to burrow and hide, as well as the iconic hamster wheel. Hamsters in safe enclosures that give adequate scope for exercise tend to be healthy, busy little creatures.
This isn’t about ticking hamsters, but their Circadian clock. Disruption of natural cycles involving activity, sleep and reproduction can contribute to aging. Generally, hamsters kept as pets will be most active at dawn/dusk and during the night.
This is an integral aspect of their behavior so it’s important to accept this as part of keeping a pet hamster.
To ask how long do hamsters live for is clearly dependent on many factors. Being alert to any changes in your hamster’s behavior can help keep it as healthy as possible.
Pre-emptive veterinary care may prevent problems from arising – regular checks are recommended. Providing a secure and quiet environment can only be of benefit.
Inevitably, your hamster will age. Watch out for reduced activity, and less interest in food and/or treats. Make things easier by placing food bowls and water near to your hamster, in case their sight, smell and vision are affected.
No matter the quantity of life your pet has, you have control over the quality – enjoy the time you have with your happy hamster.