Hamsters are arguably one of the cutest and most fulfilling pets to own. But unlike most other pets, they don’t get to live long. But with proper handling, you can prolong the life of your hamster.
How long does a hamster live? A hamster can live between 2 and 3 years. Depending on how well you keep your hamster, its lifespan can extend up to 4 years. A hamster’s life span usually depends on species, genetics, exercise, diet, environmental conditions, health, and the quality of care it receives.
In this article, I’ll shed more light on all things hamsters and how to increase the lifespan of your furry buddy. I’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about hamsters to help you know the dos and the don’ts of caring for your tiniest family member.
A Hamster Can Live for Around 2–4 Years With Proper Care
As tiny creatures, hamsters typically live around 2 to 3 years. Some hamsters, however, can live for up to 4 years. As per statistics provided by the Guinness World Records, the longest-lived hamster was 4.5 years old in the United States.
How long your hamster lives will depend on its:
- Environmental conditions
- Quality of care
With proper care, your hamster may live more than 4 years. But even if it didn’t, that doesn’t mean you didn’t do your best. As discussed above, factors like species and genetics also contribute to how long your hamster can live.
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How To Extend Your Hamster’s Life Span
Before giving your hamster a place to call home, you must first get some things right. Doing the right things right from the start will minimize the chances of health-related problems arising down the road, thereby setting up your furry buddy for long healthy life.
Below are some ways you can extend your hamster’s lifespan.
Get Your Hamster From a Reputable Breeder
A large part of having a healthy hamster depends on their genes. Hamsters bought from reputable breeders will save you the extra costs of vet visits. When choosing a hamster, look at its fur, eyes, and paws, ensuring there aren’t any signs of sickness.
A good hamster breeder should have individual records of the hamster being sold. Always ask for individual records like a breeding log, medical records, and birth date.
Buy a Spacious Hamster Cage
A preferable space for your hamster is a cage that measures 12 by 12 by 24 inches (30 cm by 30 cm by 61 cm). You should get a larger pen if you have a large-sized breed or when your furry friend reproduces.
An ample enough space ensures your tiny family member has room to play and they aren’t stressed.
Give Your Hamster a High-Quality Bedding
It’s highly advisable to invest in high-quality hamster bedding like the Kaytee Clean & Cozy Natural Small Pet Bedding from Amazon.com. The bedding is highly absorbent and great for odor control.
Alternatively, you can create safe hamster bedding using paper litter, aspen shavings, or timothy hay, which can also be a snack.
Get a Hamster Wheel
Hamsters are energetic furballs, and a hamster wheel is a great way to get them exercising. A hamster wheel and ball will keep your furry friend busy, especially at night when they usually get restless.
An example of a quality hamster wheel is the Niteangel Super-Silent Hamster Exercise Wheel (also on Amazon.com), which has a wide enough running track that allows extra comfort when your hamster is up and running.
You can also add some ladders and extra toys to keep your cuddly pal engaged and a water bottle for hydration.
Read Why Is My Hamster Bleeding From Its Bottom?
Give Your Hamster Some Chew Sticks
Hamsters’ teeth are constantly growing from infants until they die. Getting your hamster some chew toys like the SNOMEL 10-Pack Applewood Hamster Chew Toys (available at Amazon.com) will help it keep its teeth in good condition as wooden blocks or wooden chew sticks are some of the ways to take care of your hamster’s teeth.
Failure to give your hamster chew sticks can lead to destructive chewing behavior like chewing the cage’s metal bars, which can harm its health. You should also avoid giving your hamster toys made from harmful chemicals. Always buy hamster toys from reliable sellers to be on the safe side.
Read How To Take Care of a Hamster
Tips for Caring for a Hamster
Now that your hamster is firmly tucked in its cage, next is providing the best possible care to prolong its otherwise short life. Below are some tips that’ll help your hamster live a happy, healthy life.
Invest in a Properly Balanced Diet
A proper diet is key to a healthy and energetic hamster and will help them live longer. Give your pet some vegetables, oats, corn, sunflower seeds, and hamster pellets daily for good nutrition.
Ensure you don’t overfeed your hamster as doing this will lead to hoarding and contamination of food. Lastly, be sure to give your hamster plenty of water.
Do Regular Health Checks for Your Hamster
Get your furry friend looked at when you first bring it home. You should also get the vet to examine your hamster at least once a year.
As you spend time with your furry friend, be on the lookout for signs of illnesses like diarrhea and colds. If you notice any of these, visit your vet as soon as possible to prevent the situation from worsening.
Be Affectionate With Your Hamster
Hamsters do love attention from their parents. Ensure you spend some time with your hamster either through play or just by holding him. The more time you spend with your hamster, the more comfortable your hamster becomes, which helps minimize the risk of stress or anxiety.
Spending time with your hamster will also allow you to notice any behavioral changes or patterns that might signal underlying medical problems.
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Ensure Your Hamster Gets Plenty of Exercises
Despite their tiny sizes, hamsters have tons of energy that they need to get rid of to remain healthy. They particularly love running, so a hamster wheel for exercise will come in handy.
Investing in a large enough cage ensures your hamster will have ample space to run around and play with its toys.
Keep Your Hamster’s Cage Clean
Proper hygiene is vital to ensuring your hamster is healthy. A dirty cage can be a breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria, and the last thing you want is to visit the vet for avoidable reasons.
As such, it’s highly advisable to disinfect your hamster’s cage at least once a week to minimize the chances of infection.
Read What Does a Dead Hamster Look Like?
How To Groom Your Hamster
Hamsters are cute tiny furballs, a feature that makes grooming them a far easier task compared to when dealing with larger pets. However, grooming a hamster needs to be done with much care, as explained below.
Brush Your Hamster’s Fur Regularly
You need to brush your hamster weekly if you have a long-haired breed like the Syrian hamster. Brushing will remove tiny food and dirt particles that may attach to their furs. A small comb or a soft toothbrush is excellent for brushing your hamster’s fur.
Do Nail Checks for Your Hamster
For the most part, trimming hamster nails isn’t necessary. However, if your hamster’s nails grow beyond normal levels, then you may need to trim them down a bit. You will know your hamster has long nails if they start to curl or if your hamster scratches during self-grooming.
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How To Clean Your Hamster’s Cage
Though cleaning a hamster may not be as demanding, cleaning its home requires extra care. You’ll need the following:
- Paper towels or rags
- Mild soap, cleaning solution, or vinegar
- Replacement bedding
- Garbage bag
- Some cleaning gloves
To keep your hamster’s cage clean, observe the following steps:
- Wear gloves and move the hamster to a safe location where it’ll be comfortable.
- Remove all the used materials, including the beddings, toys, wheels, tunnels, and dishes.
- Scrub the empty cage using a mixture of soap, cleaning solution, or vinegar and water. Thoroughly rinse the remnants away once done washing.
- Repeat the same process for the dishes, tunnels, wheels, and toys. Remember also thoroughly rinse them after washing so that no residue is left.
- Wipe the cage, toys, and dishes using dry paper towels or rags and place them inside the pen with the new beddings.
- Throw away the soiled beddings, gloves, and paper towels into the garbage bag. If you used rags instead, wash and sanitize them before using them next time.
- Wash your hands. It’ll ensure you don’t carry any bacteria as you return your hamster to the cage.
FAQs on Keeping a Hamster
Should I Keep More Than One Hamster per Cage?
You should only keep more than one hamster in a cage if they’re closely related. Hamsters are typically not social animals and won’t get along with other hamsters introduced to the cage. Bringing in a new hamster may also increase the chances of diseases spreading and rising treatment costs.
What Illnesses Are Hamsters Prone To?
Hamsters are prone to diarrhea, commonly caused by influenza or salmonella. Chinese and Syrian hamsters are also susceptible to ‘wet tail’ caused by intestinal bacteria.
You can prevent your hamster from falling ill by maintaining your hamster’s good hygiene, feeding your hamster the right amount of food, and giving your hamster regular vet visits.
How Frequently Should I Clean My Hamster’s Cage?
You should clean your hamster’s cage daily or weekly. A daily routine will ensure you clean up your cuddly pal’s poop and pee while replenishing its food and water. As for weekly cleaning, you want to replace your hamster’s beddings as the ammonia smell builds up after a week.
Can You Bathe a Hamster?
You can “bathe” a hamster, although that’s usually unnecessary. A hamster typically does its grooming itself. But you can help your hamster to clean certain areas that it finds trouble reaching. Dip a cloth in lukewarm water and wipe the body area you want to clean.
A hamster can live an average of 2 to 3 years, extending up to 4 years if well taken care of. To prolong your hamster’s life, you want to ensure that you get it from a reputable breeder with all the necessary records.
Do the following when caring for your hamster:
- Feed it well.
- Create a clean, conducive environment.
- Keep a close eye on its behavioral patterns and physique.
Grooming your hamster regularly and keeping its cage clean will keep infections at bay, ensuring it lives a happy, fulfilled life as the tiniest member of your family!
Related Hamster articles:
- Why Is My Hamster Not Moving?
- What Hamster Lives the Longest?
- How To Play With a Hamster
- What Size Wheel for Syrian Hamster
- Why Is My Hamster Cold?
My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more