What Is the Typical Lifespan of a Hamster?

N. Madison

The lifespan of a hamster isn't usually very long. The average lifespan is up to three years, though many die around the two-year mark. The expected lifespan often depends on the type of hamster, but caring for a pet hamster properly may help it to live longer. For example, feeding a hamster properly, helping it stay free of diseases and injuries, and providing the proper habitat may increase its longevity.

Hamsters, including Syrian hamsters, only live a few years.
Hamsters, including Syrian hamsters, only live a few years.

The average hamster may live for up to three years, though this varies somewhat, depending on the breed. For example, most dwarf hamsters only live for about two years, while a golden hamster is more likely to live longer. Some hamsters, however, die much sooner than others. While a hamster owner is usually not responsible for the death of his hamster, there are some things he can do to improve the hamster’s chances of living to its expected lifespan.

Keep hamsters happy to increase longevity.
Keep hamsters happy to increase longevity.

One thing a pet owner can do to help extend the lifespan of a hamster is feed it well. A hamster needs to be fed appropriate food, and a pet owner can learn about his pet's dietary needs in a book about hamsters, via websites that focus on hamster care, or from an employee of a pet store. In general, hamsters typically thrive on fresh, contaminant-free water and pellet food that is designed for rodents. Hamsters often enjoy seeds as well, but they aren’t as healthy for them; seeds are best used as diet supplements instead of as the primary food offering. Owners may also supplement meals with sugar-free cereals, fresh produce, and other treats in moderation.

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A properly maintained habitat can have an effect on the lifespan of a hamster as well. A hamster enclosure should be escape proof yet allow for good air circulation. Hardwood shavings or recycled bedding materials are good for lining the hamster enclosure. Some people assume that cedar shavings are appropriate for a hamster’s habitat, but they contain chemicals that can hurt a hamster’s health. Wet bedding material should be removed each day, and a pet owner may do well to clean the whole enclosure weekly.

Providing untreated sticks, wood blocks, or dog biscuits may extend the lifespan of a hamster by helping to keep it healthy and preventing it from chewing on cage bars. An individual may also help to keep a hamster healthy enough to live a long time by removing leftover fresh foods promptly, as spoiled food may prove harmful.

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