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Lifespan of Syrian hamster

Syrian hamsters are a wonderful pet-choice with their quirky, interesting personalities and their differing personalities. They are also relatively easier to take care of once you have thoroughly understood their needs. But, before you go and get yourself one of these pets, it is always best to have a good understanding of them and you are willing to spend your finances taking care of them, spare enough space and dedicate time for looking after their well-being. When it comes to space, for instance, more than one of these territorial animals cannot be squeezed into one space since they get feisty once they hit maturity- which normally comes between 8-12 weeks. 

Fun FactAccording to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest hamster lived to a ripe old age of 4.5 years

You should note that mature Syrian hamsters FIGHT TO THE DEATH with any creatures they happen to be placed in the same cage with; be it a fellow hamster or even a rabbit. So it’s absolutely vital that each hamster be placed in its separate cage.

They are also nocturnal pets so if you want to get one, make sure you are open to a lot of activity at night.

If you are open to the factors we have outlined above and many more we haven’t mentioned, then you may get yourself one of these life-long companions. Well, not exactly lifelong per se since these wonderful creatures tend to have a lifespan of about 2-3 years. However, they are so companionable that you may have a memory of one you particularly loved for the rest of your life. I, know, it is heart-breaking. You are probably asking yourself why these creatures have such a short lifespan and the answer is below.

Why do hamsters have a short lifespan?

Your hamster’s lifespan depends on a number of factors, but as we said earlier, they mostly live to a maximum of 3 years. The most important factors that come into play in determining your hamster’s lifespan are species, care and habitat.

The main reason that makes hamsters have such a short lifespan is unlike most other pets, Syrian hamsters tend to reach maturity quite fast. In spite of these animals being born undeveloped, with very little fur on their bodies and unopened eyes, they rush through the stages quite fast- get weaned from 3-4 weeks and sexual maturity for a Syrian hamster comes at around 6-8 weeks. On the other hand, male hamsters are sexually mature at 8 weeks. As a result of this rapid development, an 18-month old hamster can be considered quite elderly and 3 years for this pet is quite a grand old age.

Proper care of Syrian hamster 

Like we explained on the Factors affecting Syrian hamster longevity part of this article, Syrian hamsters need proper care to live a longer life. Syrian hamsters require high quality food rich in fatty acids and fiber, and that diet should be supplemented with raw, fresh vegetables and fruits on a regular basis. According to ASPCA, the recommended feeding for a hamster should be once a day.

You should also ensure their living quarters are spacious and clean and their toys, especially their running wheel is of the right size so they can fit comfortably.

Syrian Hamster Diet

A hamster is omnivorous. The first and most notable factor about a Syrian hamster’s diet is it should contain Vitamin E. Diet for these pets is paramount as it will ensure the males are healthy and growth, milk production for females and breeding is maximized. As a result, you are recommended to give your Syrian hamster a diet that consists of 4.5% crude fat, 17-23% crude protein and 6-8% crude fiber. Vegetables and fruits should also be present on a regular basis. You can give them such vegetables as kale, carrots, celery, cucumber and lettuce, and an apple will do nicely as far as fruits are concerned.

You can also add such treats as yoghurt drops and sunflower seeds once in a while. You should, however, watch your hamster’s sugar intake as treats with too much sugar can pose a health hazard to these animals.

Water is also crucial. For every 100g of hamster bodyweight, you will need to avail at least 10ml of water; with more for female hamsters that are nursing. You should make sure their water is clean by cleaning their water bowl and changing the water at least twice a day.

Vet care of Syrian hamsters

Syrian hamsters, just like other pets, need veterinary care to make sure they stay healthy. The first step to ensuring your pet hamster receives proper veterinary care is understanding what their normal behavior and appearance is so you can be able to easily identify when they are not feeling well. The following signs in your pet Syrian hamster are clear indicators that they need vet care:

  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of weight and appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gum
  • Dull eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Matted coat

Factors affecting Syrian hamster longevity 

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A Syrian hamster’s lifespan doesn’t normally exceed 3 years but if you want your pet hamster to hit this ripe old age or at the very least come close to hitting it, you have to take a few factors into consideration. These factors include:

  1. Habitat- Your pet hamster’s living environment plays a crucial part in determining how long they will live. You should ensure they are well cared for by providing a clean and stress-free environment for them to live in- i.e. clean bed and substrate, plenty of toys etc. The house should provide space for the hamster to roam and sleep in peacefully, a protective layer of substrate of a depth of at least 1.5 inches for soaking up urine should be present and their bedding should be safe- paper and clothes are great options. These will greatly reduce any chances of them contracting life-threatening diseases.
  2. Diet- A healthy diet is important for every living creature, humans and hamsters included. Your pet hamster requires a well-balanced diet with plenty of omega 3 fatty acids and fiber incorporated. Most pre-made hamster food of high quality found in most pet shops come with these necessary nutrients. It is also advisable to top these pet shop foods with a variety of raw vegetables and fruits, which are preferably fresh and clean for a little variety and for your pet to gnaw on.

You should also ensure your hamster is well hydrated by providing a water bottle that they can reach and is cleaned and refilled on a daily basis.

  1. Exercise- Your hamster should not only be entertained by the toys you provide but they will make them active. An active lifestyle is paramount in ensuring your hamster lives a long and healthy life. Hamsters in confinement should have such toys as balls and exercise balls to keep them running around. You can also let them hang out of their cage with you once you have formed a good bond and the hamster is well trained.

Other than these, there are other factors that are out of your control. These factors include the hamster’s breed, genetics and other inherited traits.

Hamster lifespan by hamster type 

As we mentioned before, the lifespan of your hamster is determined by a variety of factors, among them it’s type or species. We have outlined the average lifespans of the 5 most popular hamster species below. The list is compiled from the shortest to the longest lifespan.

  • Winter White Russian Dwarf Hamster- 1.5-2 years
  • Chinese Hamster- 1.5-2 years
  • Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster- 2 years
  • Syrian Hamster- 2-3 years
  • Roborovski Hamster- 3-3.5 years

As you can see from the list above, the Syrian hamster has the second longest lifespan at 2-3 years.

How to look after your hamster as they get older

Juvenile hamsters are usually full of life and energy. When younger, they like partaking in physically taxing activity but as they grow older you will notice that they spend more time sleeping and prefer to be held than running around. 

Old age for your hamster is likely to take effect at around 1.5 years. As they get to this age, you should watch out for such signs in your hamster as need for more sleep, slowing down and losing interest in food and treats; these are clear indicators of ageing in hamsters. They will also slowly start to lose their sight and hearing as they progress into older age. Advanced age in hamsters is usually accompanied by paranoia and loss of fur.

All these changes are normal in old hamsters and in order to help them cope, you should make certain adjustments especially in their habitat. You should remove ramps and pipes that they are finding difficult to climb or get through, ensure their environment is quiet and peaceful and make sure they can easily access their food and water. 


How long does a hamster live as a pet?

As we have established before, hamsters can live to a ripe age of 3 years in captivity as long as they are taken care of properly.

You can find more about Hamster Care by downloading this pdf from ASPCA.

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