The Lifespan of Hamsters


Cute hamsterHamsters make great pets, but they have short lifespans. Their life span is dependent on breed, but it’s rare that any hamster survives beyond three years. You should keep this short lifespan in mind if you’re considering a hamster for a family pet. Mourning a hamster can be tough on kids, but they do make fantastic pets because they’re easy to care for and have interesting behaviors.

Hamster Life Expectancy by Breed

Assuming you hamster is well cared for, these are the various breed’s life expectancies. Remember: hamsters live longer when they’re well cared for. It’s important to keep cages clean, feed a healthy diet, encourage regular exercise, and take them to the veterinarian if they’re exhibiting signs of illness. If you take good care of your hamster, he should live an average of 2 to 2.5 years.

The life spans of the most popular hamster species:

Roborovski Hamster: 3 to 3.5 years

Syrian Hamster: 2 to 2.5 years

Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster: 2 years

Chinese Hamster: 1.5 to 2 years

Winter White Russian Dwarf Hamster: 1.5 to 2 years

Common Causes for Hamster Death

In general, most hamsters die of old age. If you’re hamster is well cared for, but dies young, perhaps he’s fallen victim to another common cause of death, such as infection, cancer, parasites, demodicosis, or influenza or cold. Merck Vet Manuals lists other common and uncommon causes of hamster deaths.

Tips for Increasing Your Hamster’s Lifespan

If you take extra good care of your hamster, you may be able to increase your hamster’s lifespan. The following are some ways to go the extra mile in terms of caring for your hamster. (If you’ve had a hamster live an uncommonly long lifespan, please leave a comment with some tips for increasing lifespan and I’ll include them in this list.)

  • Make sure to provide your hamster with a large cage to avoid cage paralysis.
  • Add vitamins to your hamster’s water.
  • Keep cages clean and diets well-balanced.
  • Provide more than just hamster wheels for exercise. Provide them with playgrounds, run-about balls, climb kits, tubes, and more.
  • Supplement diets with fresh greens, such as kale, lettuce, and spinach.

Hamsters are Best Raised in Captivity

Believe it or not, but hamsters live longer and have happier lives in captivity. So, you’re doing a good thing loving this small creature. For children, the loss of a beloved pet can hurt, but remind them that their fuzzy friend actually lived a great life.

To make the loss a bit easier, have the family share some words and sentiments and gather to bury him in the backyard. Or, you can have a veterinarian cremate him for a small fee. Either way, the experience will be less traumatic if everyone takes it seriously and gives children an opportunity to express their grief.

Hey, if your hamster dies, there’s nothing wrong with getting another one. You already have the toys and cage and everything else you need to provide him with a happy life. Kids will enjoy heading to the pet shop to greet and adopt a new pet after saying goodbye to their old friend.

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