Written By : M Samy

How old Do Hamsters Live ?

Hamsters live between 1 and 3 years; nevertheless, certain factors such as genes and breed purity, stress, illnesses, diet, and housing conditions can reduce or increase drastically their lifespan.

Syrian and some Roborovski hamsters seem to have better life expectancy than the other breeds while the European wild hamsters can exceptionally live up to 8 years in their natural habitat.

Hamster lifespan as pet and in the wild

Hamster SpeciesLifespan in captivityLifespan in the wild
Syrian Hamster2 – 2.5 years1 – 2 years
Roborovski Hamster 3 – 3.5 years2 years
Chinese Hamster2 – 3 years1 – 2 years
Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster1.5 – 2.5 years1 – 1.5 years
Winter White Dwarf Hamster1.5 – 2 years1.2 – 1.5 years
Russian Hamster2 – 3 years1 year
Teddy Bear Hamster2 – 2.5 yearsDon’t live in the wild
Hamsters lifespan as pets and in the wild
How long do hamsters live?

Hamsters life cycle

Compared to other pets, hamsters have a short lifespan. They go from one stage of their life to another quite quickly.

Pups (newborn hamsters) are born after a short gestation period of about 3 weeks. They come out deaf, blind, coatless, and utterly dependent on their mothers for their first 3 to 4 weeks.

They will grow their first hair after a week and not open their eyes until about two weeks.

By the age of one month, hamsters enter adulthood and can quickly reach about 90 grams in weight and start mating after only two to two and a half months old. Hamsters become sexually mature very quickly because they usually only remain fertile for one to one and a half years.

So you can understand why hamsters’ life span seems too short, but in those 36 months of their average life, they live through all the stages of their short life; they are born, grow up and quickly become adults, give birth several times, age too fast for us, but that’s the life of hamsters, short but complete and fulfilled.

Is there a hamster breed that lives longer than the others?

So, what hamsters live the longest?

Unlike the other breeds, the European wild hamster ” the biggest hamster 14 inches/900g ” can live up to 8 years.

You should also know that pure breeds live longer than hybrid hamsters.

Apart from the Teddy bear Hamsters (7 inches/+100g) that only mate with their own species, the majority of other hamsters that are purchased at pet stores are Hybrids, which unfortunately come from Pet Mills.

Pure breeds are only available from certain passionate breeders, so take this into consideration when estimating the lifespan of your Hamster.

Yes, it seems that the bigger the type of hamster, the longer it will live. Goldies or Syrian hamsters and Roborovskis are those who live longer than others.

how long do Syrian hamsters live

Some Syrian hamsters have lived up to 4.5 years (the record is in the United Kingdom), but their average life is 3 years when they are well cared for.

How long do dwarf hamsters live?

Dwarf winter white and Chinese are the ones who live the longest among dwarf hamsters, they can live up to 3 years.

The other dwarf hamsters, even when you find a pure breed with a healthy genetic heritage and a lineage well selected by the Breeder, they rarely exceed 2.5 years of average age!

Some hamster breeds may have a shorter life span due to disease

It should be mentioned that some hamster breeds are more prone to contract certain diseases than others :

Djangarian and Striped black hamsters get diabetes more easily than the others

Syrian hamsters contract Amyloisis, Pneumonia, and heart problems more easily while Djangarian hamsters are often victims of Glaucoma.

The Hamster BreedAverage lifespanCan Live Up to
Syrian (Golden) Hamsters2 to 2.5 years4.5 Years
Roborovski Dwarf3 Years3.5 Years
Campbell’s Dwarf1.5 Year2.2 Years
Chinese Dwarf2 to 2.5 years3 years
Winter White Dwarf1.5 years2 years

To summarize, if you have a purebred Teddy Hamster, it will be able to live 4 years or a little more if all goes well!

A Roborovski Hamster could reach 3 years, while the Winter White ( Russian, Djungarian, striped, Siberian ), Campbell, or Chinese, will live only a little more or less 2 years and do not expect to celebrate its third birthday!

Chinese Hamsters are the ones that generally live the shortest, rarely reaching the age of two years, they usually die the first year especially if they are hybrids.

Who lives longer, the male or female hamster?

According to an old study done by Dr. Kirkman and Dr. Yao, male hamsters (Boars) tend to live longer than females (Sows).

Bred female hamsters have a shorter average lifespan than unbred females.

The gestation, rearing, and nursing of offspring and all the physical exertion and stress associated with this means that female hamsters that raise their babies alone never live as long as males.

How to make my hamster live as long as possible?

Hamsters lifespan

So, What makes some hamsters live longer than others? since there are factors that decide in advance the length and quality of hamsters’ lives. 

See also  How to care for an old Hamster ?

I will give you some tips that can help you choose a hamster that will live as long as possible and especially a happy life without too many visits to the Vet!

So, how can you make your hamster live longer?

Here are the things that can influence the life expectancy of a hamster:

1- The life span of your Hamster will depend on its Species:

If you want a hamster that will live as long as possible and more than the others, choose a Golden Hamster.

They are known to live an average of 4 years, but they can reach 5,5 years according to some resources!

If you want a Dwarf Hamster that will live longer than the others, I suggest you choose a Roborowski.

With a bit of luck and a lot of care, it will be able to stay with you for a little more than 3 years.

2- Purebred Hamsters live longer:

If you want to have a hamster that will live longer than its fellow creatures, choose a purebred.

There are 18 known species of Hamster and only 5 that have been domesticated and become pets after hundreds of selections for some of them in research laboratories and universities!

So there are always somewhere, passionate Breeders who will be able to guarantee you to have a Hamster resulting from a pure lineage and without crossing.

When you choose a pure breed, you will also benefit from a breed of hamster whose ancestors are selected one by one …

The breeding stock is often well-sorted and is chosen according to strict selection criteria.

They will ensure healthy hamsters and offspring, without malformation or predisposition for diseases like cancer and diabetes, heart problems, and even the deadly wet tail...

3-The longevity of a hamster is linked to its enclosure & lifestyle:

After choosing the species of your hamster, it will also provide a properly set up enclosure and optimal living conditions for him to live as long as possible.

You must avoid stressing your hamster at all costs by preparing him:

Enough space for your hamster to live in, normally 5 square miles, but your hamster will be satisfied with at least 800 to 1000 square inches of floor space for his cage or aquarium.

Then, at least 10 inches of good quality paper-based bedding, because the hamster is a burrowing animal, which loves to make burrows up to 4 feet under the ground. The bedding should be absorbent and dust-free to avoid respiratory diseases.

Hideouts in every corner of its kingdom so that he feels safe.

You should also avoid extreme low and high and sudden fluctuations in temperature, usually caused by drafts.

Hamsters tend to live longer when the room temperature varies between 68°F/78°F (20/26°C)

An exercise wheel that’s big enough for him to do his 5 miles every night and burn off his excess fat and sugar and keep his transitional system healthy.

Good quality hay, soft branches and chew toys to file his teeth and keep them clean and in good condition, especially the molars.

A well-balanced hamster diet, not too fatty nor too sweet, and arranged in all the cage and in well-calculated portions.

A bowl of fresh water at your hamster’s disposal and toys so that it avoids getting bored, drinking a lot of water will definitely help your hamster with longevity.

Another play area, such as a playpen or even a special room for your hamster’s free-roaming to jump, jog and play ( he needs to run for at least one Mile a day !!! ( 5 Miles for the wild hammy ).

To aid in hamster longevity, you’re gonna need daily attention to detect the symptoms of common hamster diseases and medical care as soon as a health problem occurs in your hamster.

A sandbox and not a dust box (use already baked kids’ play sand ) !! for your hamster to do his daily toilet, take its daily cleaning sessions and sand bathes, and get rid of the excess oil in his fur.

The large sandbox will be the bathroom of your hamster, it is very important in the cage of your pet because the cleanliness of the hamster will surely avoid problems, especially those of the skin, and will allow him to live longer too.

And finally, very calm living conditions, no cage mates, no meeting with your other pet, no temperatures outside of 65/75 °F, no drafts, no disturbance when he sleeps or when he does not want to be carried …

There are of course other conditions that you will discover in other contents of this blog that I invite you to read and advise your friends.

Hamsters are generally considered old at 18 months, so if you want your hamster to live as long as possible, you need to learn how to care for an old hamster.

Will a cage mate increase the life span of a hamster?

Do hamsters have a long lifespan ?

Nope !! , on the contrary, a cage mate will certainly cause the early death of the Hamster because the hamster (older than 8 weeks) loves solitude and hates to have a competitor in its territory especially if the cage or aquarium is not too large.

A lonely hamster will surely live longer because he will be less stressed and will not be a victim of fights with his mates.

Female hamsters can also kill males right after mating if the latter does not escape, so never put a couple in the same cage without supervision!

Why do hamsters die so fast?

In their natural habitat, it is clear that most hamster breeds do not live long, rarely more than two years because of predators.

Behind each hamster runs a jackal, a fox, an owl, a snake, a hungry wolf…etc

This poor hamster has many enemies, and the most dangerous hamsters enemy is of course, us, humans,  because of the monoculture which decimates completely colonies of hamsters because of the diseases and some kind of madness that this monoculture, and corn-based diet and the insecticides provoke in hamsters.

See also  15 main reasons for sudden hamsters death

As a pet, one of the multiple reasons why hamsters seem to die too fast is that their biological clock is faster than ours, let me explain:

A hamster that lives 2 years is the equivalent of 60 to 80 years for humans!

Hamsters reach their sexual maturity just after only 30 to 50 days of their birth !! you understand how fast their life is!

The reason for this is that hamsters are prey, and they have to grow up fast, mate and make babies as fast as possible so that the species doesn’t die out.

This is the law of nature! but if the hamster knows that it will be safe in an enclosure, it will develop a metabolism that grows slowly like ours and it will probably live for many years.

So a hamster that lives more than a year (40 to 50 years for humans) is a hamster that has lived well, don’t compare it to us, the hamster’s life is very fast, it moves fast, it walks 5 miles every night while I don’t even walk half a mile during the whole week…

The other reason that can shorten the life of a hamster is an unexpected death, because of diseases for example, or an accident especially falls.

Stress and poor diet are the two main causes of early hamster mortality, followed by accidents, especially falls from the hands, which cause fractures and injuries that do not heal and become fatal for the hamster.

To avoid the wet tail, the number one enemy of hamsters, avoid stressing them, put them in a large enclosure with all the necessities, avoid noise and artificial lights and give your hamster well-balanced and healthy food. 

Domesticated hamsters tend to live longer than their wild cousins:

There are about 18 different species of wild hamsters if we classify them according to the color of their coats.

how long do hamsters live in the wild?

Due to their exposure to harsh environmental conditions, stress caused by predators, and fighting over territories, females, and food; most dwarf hamsters rarely live more than one year in the wild, while the larger Syrian hamsters can survive up to 3 years if the conditions are optimal.

hamster lifespan and how to  get him live longer

The only species of wild hamsters that live longer in the wild than they do in captivity are the European hamsters, which can live up to 8 years in the wild while they rarely reach 5 years in captivity.

Can Pet Hamsters make it to 5 or 6 years?

Yes, of course, I’ve heard of Syrian hamsters surviving for 5 years or more.

I have not seen it with my own eyes, but they say that Roborovskis can also live up to 4 years if they are well cared for, treated right after the onset of symptoms, and kept away from stress.

Above all, you should never let your hamster get bored in his cage if you want him to live a long life.

Is there any way to increase the life expectancy of my hamster?

How to make my hamster live longer? is there a way? some final tips !! ok…

A large enclosure, reduce the noise in the room, no light at night unless absolutely necessary, strict cleaning of the enclosure and spot cleaning, a strict and varied diet, enrichments ( important )… etc

There is another very important thing if you want your hamster to live for longer, and it is to never use perfumes, deodorants, … in the room and especially the cigarette, and never smoke in the presence of your hamster.

How to avoid your hamster dying on the first days of its arrival in your home?

Unfortunately, some hamsters do not survive even one week after their transfer from the pet store to their new enclosure, why and how to avoid that your hamster will not die too quickly?

The main reason that causes the premature death of new hamsters is the stress due to travel and change of location, but especially the lack of experience of its new owner and sometimes because of the hamster itself.

To prevent your hamster from contracting diarrhea (the hamster will lose a lot of nutrients and Electrolytes… which will cause its death) or a fatal wet tail due to stress during its first few days in your home, follow these tips:

Learn as much as you can about hamsters before you buy or adopt one, their needs, their characters, their illnesses, their lifestyle in captivity, the symptoms of illnesses, taming…etc

Don’t be stingy when you buy the cage, I actually recommend you to buy an enclosure of at least 1000 square inches and install all the necessary elements for the well-being of your hamster, especially a thick layer of paper-based bedding and hideouts as well as the wheel, the sandbox and the food without forgetting the sprays and the water…

Place the enclosure away from drafts, direct sunlight, humidity, heat or cold sources, strong odors (good or bad), noise, other pets, and strong light sources, especially at night…

Bring your hamster in a pet carrier, covered, and go straight home when you buy your it avoid making him go around the city and especially to show him to your friends … etc.

When you arrive with your new hamster, put it directly in its enclosure, which you will have prepared well before, and give it its usual food, the one it eats in the store while waiting to create its own seed mix.

Let your hamster discover his new habitat, and avoid touching him or putting your hand in the cage during the first week except for spot cleaning or giving him his daily food and water ration.

My last advice is to buy a healthy hamster from an ethical breeder and not in a pet store because the hamsters that the pet stores sell you are predisposed to disease and malformation because they are usually hybrids, born from unselected parents, and in pat mills.

Frequently Asked Questions about hamsters lifespan :

what is the longest a hamster can live?

The longest-living hamster was a Syrian hamster with a record of 4.5 years, but wild European hamsters can live twice as long, or even 8 years, Syrian hamsters in the wild must also live longer if a predator does not come and shorten their lives

See also  10 Reasons Why Your Hamster Is Not Drinking Water

how long do hamsters live with a tumor ( cancer )?

If the tumor is benign, the hamster will live normally but if it is malignant, It will be difficult to answer this question because we have seen hamsters that have continued to live normally with a malignant tumor in their belly and others that have only survived because they had an operation to remove the tumor before cancer progressed.

I advise you to see a vet as soon as you suspect that your hamster has cancer because the sooner you remove the tumor, the better the chances of survival if the tumor is not benign.

how long do hamsters live with Cushing’s disease?

This disease usually appears in hamsters older than one year, it spreads very quickly, and you will notice a loss of hair and muscle mass, the hamster treated in time can live longer, it will just need to add bedding, especially in winter.

No one can estimate how long a hamster with Cushing’s disease will live, just take care of your hamster and follow the advice of your veterinarian.

how long can hamsters go without food and water?

Never force your hamster to fast, but if you want to know how long it can go without food and water, the answer is 1 to 4 days. This will depend on your hamster’s health and age, as older hamsters tend to resist hunger and thirst less than younger ones.

Hamsters will only be able to go for two days without water when it is hot in the summer, so make sure your hamster’s water bottle is always full of fresh, clean water.

how long can baby hamsters survive without their mom?

even though they are completely dependent on their mothers for the first three weeks of their short lives, baby hamsters can survive normally without their mothers if you give them milk until they are 3 to 4 weeks old and then wean them off the usual hamster food, especially fresh herbs and vegetables.

how long do hamsters live if they have a wet tail?

A hamster that has a wet tail or proliferative ileitis and does not receive any treatment will probably die within two or three days of the onset of symptoms, but if you treat it as soon as the disease is detected, chances are that the antibiotics will save its life and that your hamster will live a long time after that

how long do hamsters from PetSmart live?

I would talk about all hamsters bought in stores and not from a passionate breeder, these hamsters will generally live less long than hamsters born at a specialized breeder who has well-selected their parents ….etc

Hamsters bought from pet stores seem to die quite weirdly, they usually contract diseases, and cancers more easily because they are born in Pet Mills of unknown parents and sick and stressed mothers ….etc

So always buy your hamsters from breeders and not from pet stores if you don’t want them to live half their normal age

how long can a hamster live under floorboards?

You absolutely must get him out of there because if he doesn’t figure out how to get out on his own, he probably won’t survive without food and water for more than 4 days in the best-case scenario.
Read this article, it will help you to get your hamster out from under the floor and save his life

hamster lifespan indoors

The chances of survival of hamsters become slim when they are found outside in cases where they escape, for example, they quickly become victims of stray cats, owls and snakes, and other predators

Do not underestimate these small rodents, because it happened that they survive a long time after their escape, especially in the open country where they can find hiding places and what to eat and drink and soft ground where to dig their burrow

The longest-living hamster

The longest-living hamster in captivity made it into the Guinness Book of Records after a healthy happy life of 4.5 years, he was owned by Karen Smeaton who lived in the town of Tyne & Wear in the United Kingdom.

There may be other hamsters that have beaten this record that have not been heard of and with a little love and care, your hamster may be able to live that long too.

Where do hamsters live?

Even though their population is in constant decline, there are still a few colonies of Syrian hamsters in their natural habitat which is mainly mountainous steppes, sandy dunes at the desert edges, and rocky areas, you can find wild golden hamsters in northern Syria, and southern Turkey.

European hamsters live in Europe of course, they have also become very rare to observe, they live in all countries from Bulgaria in the south, Belgium and French Alsace in the west, and up to the Russian borders in the east.

Djangarian hamsters, Campbell Russian, Roborovski, and Chinese hamsters live mainly in Dzungaria, the basin of lake Zaysan in Kazakhstan, the meadows of Mongolia, Siberia, and Manchuria while Chinese hamsters originated from northern China and Mongolia.

Let’s wrap this up!

Hamsters are solitary animals, which do not live long in captivity even if some can live twice the time that was predicted, but it remains exceptions here and there!

Hamsters live between 1.5 and 4.5 years and don’t expect more than that even if it’s not impossible!

You can extend the life of your hamster by giving it great care and excellent living condition and timely medical care.

M Samy pet blogger and author at famillypet

About Author

Hey! Samy here , Welcome to my Blog I'm an animal lover, especially pets and Really concerned about their well being ; I've been around and caring for all my life and Now ; a full-time Pet blogger at your service . My motto here at Famillypet is: "Pets First" ... Read More