Why Is Hamster Lifespan So Short & How To Make Him Live Longer

Most of you have probably had a hamster at some point in your lives. But almost every time we’re left feeling confused as to why their lifespan is so short compared to other pets.

In short, many factors affect a hamster’s lifespan. While we will get into that, we will also tell you the things you can do to make them live longer. So with all that said, let’s jump right into it.

What Affects A Hamster’s Lifespan?

Source: The Spruce Pets
  • Their Breed

Different breeds live longer than others. With 5 total breeds to choose from, we’ll give you information on how long each one lives so you’ll know what to get the next time you choose to get a pet hamster.

The two most common breeds are the Syrian and Dwarf. These will always be available to buy in a pet store because they’re very common. The three remaining ones are the Campbell’s Dwarf, the Chinese Dwarf, and the Siberian Dwarf.

The Syrian, Dwarf, and Chinese Dwarf live up to three years, while the other two breeds two years maximum. The most a hamster will grow during that time is 7 inches, although certain breeds are much smaller like the Dwarf types.

  • Genes

The other factor that plays a role in how long a hamster lives is its genes. Genes are important because it’s something that we have little to no control over when it comes to determining their lifespan.

There is no telling what problems they will develop during their short lifespan, and it’s all thanks to their genes. Certain hamsters might develop weak kidneys while others might develop diabetes. Hamsters are extremely prone to diseases and conditions that will ultimately shorten their lifespan even more.

These two are the most important factors that you need to be aware of when it comes to a hamster’s lifespan. Both of these are out of our control, but there are things we can do to ultimately make them live a little longer.

Let’s learn what that is.

How To Make Them Live Longer

Source: Petsoid
  • Diet

Diet is the first thing that’s up to you. Make no mistake about it, this is something you can do to make them live a little longer. It might not be much, but it’s something that both they and you will look forward to.

When it comes to a hamster’s diet, high-quality foods make a lot of difference. But that can be sometimes difficult as they eat everything they come across. They even eat one another.

So when it comes to modifying their diet, there are a few types of foods to focus on. What you should always give them, every day, are fruits, vegetables, and nuts. They especially love peanuts and bread.

Whatever you choose to feed them, the most important rule is to not overdo it. Fat hamsters are seriously prone to various health risks such as diabetes and heart complications.

  • Exercise

The second most important thing you can do to make them live longer is to encourage plenty of exercise. This is especially the case when they’re younger.

Physical activity is something that has proven to make their lifespan longer. The way to encourage that is by getting them a running wheel. This is an absolute necessity. But there are also other things you can do such as create a playground with plenty of things to do.

If you’re exploring this option, then you’ll need to get a bigger cage. Luckily for you, you can click here to know exactly what cage to get your pet hamster.

Source: Woman’s Day
  • General Care

Hamsters are like birds. They might be different animals, but they are extremely prone to stress. Stress is something that you want to keep at zero at all times. A stressful hamster is much more likely to develop serious health conditions. More so, stress is the number one cause of death in hamsters, apart from old age.

So it would work in both your and their favor to create a safe environment. To achieve this, there are a couple of things you have to do.

For starters, you have to keep the temperature to a certain level. Hamsters feel comfortable in the 20 to 23 degrees Celsius range. Another thing you can do is keep them away from direct sunlight. While sunlight isn’t that harmful, they will hide from it.

Drafts can cause all sorts of problems and even lead to premature death. So make sure to place the cage someplace where they won’t be exposed to drafts.

When it comes to general care, you will need to learn how to pick them up without causing too much stress. While it solely depends on the hamster if they like to be picked up, make sure to always be gentle when doing so. If you’re not gentle, then you’re risking getting bitten.

All in all, make sure to make their life less stressful as possible. A stressful hamster can be very irritated and they will certainly show you that.

  • Do You Get Them A Life Partner?

While it’s quite common to see people have two pet hamsters, one male one female, it is actually not recommended.

Certain breeds, such as the Dwarf breed, can live in pairs but they will need a much bigger cage. This is because hamsters are extremely territorial animals that will fight over territory. If they’re kept together close enough, they might become stressed. In most cases, one of the hamsters will show its dominance by constantly bullying the other. In the worst case, the hamsters will fight to the death.

This is especially the case with Syrian and Chinese hamsters. So if you’re getting these two breeds, then make sure to keep them alone.

Hopefully, this explains why you should never keep hamsters in two. While it might be the logical thing to do, it is absolutely the worst thing to do.

Source: The Spruce Pets


With a mixed lifespan depending on the breed, hamsters are creatures that don’t really have much time on their tiny hands. But you could hope to increase their lifespan by doing the things we mentioned in this article.

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