How long do hamsters live?

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One standard rule about owning a pet is that you must know everything about it before you decide to bring it home. Knowing a hamster’s life expectancy is essential as it ensures that you make adequate plans to take care of it and budget for the costs

Once you decide to adopt a hamster, you should understand that this furry creature will be relying on you to provide it with the best care throughout its existence. So, by knowing a hamster’s life expectancy, you’ll decide whether you’re capable of nourishing and providing a safe and comfortable habitat for this cute pet. 

What is the Average Life Expectancy of a Hamster?

All hamster species belong to a subfamily of rodents dubbed as Cricetinae. While multiple factors such as species and habitat may significantly influence hamsters’ longevity, their average life expectancy is 2 to 3 years. 

However, this is just an average; some hamsters live longer than three years, and others won’t make it to the second year. The Guinness World Records notes that the age of the longest living hamster is 4.5 years. 

Lifecycle of Hamsters 

Hamster infants are born when most of their body structures are underdeveloped in what is referred to as altricial. This means that they are helpless and need to be catered for and fed by their parents until later. A hamster can give birth to 4-12 offspring once, depending on the breed. 

During their earlier stages of growth, infants are pale and pink in colour, but once they are 2-3 days, they start becoming darker. Infants’ eyes remain closed until they are two weeks old. Additionally, they stop suckling when they are about 3 to 4 weeks. Female hamsters sometimes turn into cannibals and eat their young ones when they are stressed or agitated. 

Female hamsters attain sexual maturity at 6-8 weeks, while their male counterparts do at 8-9 weeks. Although hamsters use their cheek pouches to store food when eating, they also use them to move their young ones from one point to the next. 

Factors Affecting Hamster Lifespan

Like any other animal, a hamster’s life expectancy depends on several variables. These include:

  1. Genetics – The genes that hamsters inherit from their parents can significantly determine how long they live. Some have genes that make them resistant to diseases, while other boast genes that make them susceptible to illnesses. 
  2. Species – Different hamster species boast different life expectancies. For example, Chinese Hamsters can live for 1.5 to 2 years, while Roborovski Hamsters can live for 3 to 3.5 years.
  3. Environmental factors – The type of habitat that a hamster grows in will also affect its longevity. Domesticated hamsters tend to live longer than wild hamsters.
  4. Diet and lifestyle – The type of food and lifestyle that a hamster leads can influence its longevity. Experts reiterate that hamsters that feed on a diet low in fats and protein when young, and foods with high levels of the same when mature, live longer. 
  5. Exercises – Creatures that don’t regularly exercise are likely to contract diseases easily and don’t live longer. 

Hamster Lifespan by Species

As mentioned earlier, different hamster species have varying life expectancies. Here are some examples: 

  • The Winter White Russian Dwarf Hamsters: 1.5 to 2 years
  • The Chinese Hamsters: 1.5 to 2 years
  • The Campbell’s Dwarf Hamsters: 2 years
  • The Syrian Hamsters: 2 to 2.5 years
  • The Roborovski Hamsters: 3 to 3.5 years

How Can You Prolong a Hamster’s Lifespan

As a hamster owner, you want your furry friend to live as long as possible so that you can have the best moments together. No matter what hamster breed you want to bring home, here are a few tips that can help you improve your hamster’s longevity.

  1. Give your hamster healthy foods with the right proportion of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, dietary fibre, and minerals.
  2. Ensure that your hamster lives in a clean and healthy cage.
  3. Encourage your hamster to be active and let them exercise regularly.
  4. Be on the lookout for any ailments and take your hamster to a veterinarian’s office if you see any sign of sickness.
  5. Provide your furry friend with the proper care, from grooming and food to petting and checking on their overall wellbeing.