If you’re thinking about getting a hamster, you naturally want to know what age they live to be. Seems like a simple answer, right? Well, it actually isn’t. Not all hamsters were created equal. The life expectancy may differ from species to species.
Average life expectancy per species
There are five hamster species that are kept as pets, and the lifetime for each varies greatly.
- Chinese hamster: 1.5 to 2 years
- Russian dwarf hamster: 1.5 to 2 years
- Campbell's dwarf hamster: 2 years
- Syrian hamster: 2 to 2.5 years
- Robo dwarf hamster (desert hamster): 3 to 3.5 years
These are only averages, but you'll notice that the lifespan of a hamster is a lot lower than that of other pets. The oldest hamster in the Guinness Book of World Records made it to a stunning 4.5 years and lived in the UK. Did you know that?
Of course you can ensure that your rodent leads a fulfilled, healthy and (relatively) long life. How do you make that happen?
How do you give your hamster its best life
Unlike guinea pigs, hamsters are omnivores: they also need to eat animal proteins. High-quality hamster food provides this food source. You can occasionally give them some hay, but this is mainly to keep their teeth healthy. It’s certainly not an dietary alternative to extruded pellets or muesli.
No matter how old your rodent is, invest in a spacious cage with lots of wooden play toys and gnawing options. Hamsters don't have much depth perception so don't make the floor too high if you install different storeys. Provide a thick layer of bedding so that your pet can dig tunnels. Lastly, it’s best to keep some hamsters alone, because this solitary animal can react very aggressively towards other hamsters.
And how old is my hamster now?
Estimating the age of a hamster is not easy, but as the animal gets older, its fur becomes finer and thinner. This happens when they are about a year old. Older hamsters are also less active: so you won’t find them in their exercise wheel as often.