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The quintessential family pet for those not ready to commit to a larger animal, hamsters are well-loved members of many families. The first hamster is said to have been identified in 1930, and from there over 26 unique species have been identified. Originally discovered in Syria, the most popular and most common species of hamster today is known as the Syrian hamster, and those are the most likely ones you’ll find in pet shops or in homes across the world. Other popular species, like the Chinese hamster or the dwarf family of hamsters, have also begun cropping up. Hamsters can make great family pets, but there are quite a few things you want to keep in mind when you begin your hamster journey. But the key question for today’s blog is how long do hamsters live?

How long do hamsters live?

One of the biggest questions people have when choosing a pet hamster is often: how long do hamsters live? That question depends on a lot of different factors that we’ll explore, including breed, diet, and living conditions. On average a hamster can live around 18 months to 2 years.

Hamster Breeds

Your hamster lifespan depends on their genetic code built into their species type, as well as their housing situation. One important thing to know when you’re trying to keep your hamsters alive is that it’s better for everyone if you keep your hamster in their own cage by themselves, especially if you have multiple. Different species of hamsters should never be kept together, nor should male and female hamsters, as they will either become aggressive or create more hamsters (if you catch our drift). There are three major subcategories of hamster breeds.

Syrian hamsters are the most common type kept as pets.They can be quite tame and easy to handle, making them good candidates to live longer due to their easygoing nature.

Dwarf hamsters are more social creatures and might benefit from having a partner in their cage. Fast and agile, they are a bit harder to handle and can die younger if not properly cared for.

Chinese hamsters are similar to dwarf hamsters but still identify as their own separate breed. Sometimes they get along with other Chinese hamsters, but often they do not, so putting one by another might cause strain and an earlier death.

Hamster Diet

Hamsters like to eat a variety of hard and soft items like seeds, grains, nuts, cracked corn, fruits and vegetables, as well as fresh lettuce. A captive hamster’s diet should be at least 16 percent protein and 5 percent fat, according to Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. The healthier you feed your hamsters, the longer they live, so pay special attention to their diet choices.

Hamster Living Conditions

Hamsters come in a variety of size ranges depending on their species. Understanding how big your hamster is expected to grow will help you create a hamster habitat that is suitable for your size hamster and thus extend their lifespan. The biggest priorities are picking a cage that is large enough, safe, and easy to clean. Cages are NOT one size fits all, so spend extra time and diligence picking out a cage that matches the needs of your breed. 

The Overall Lifespan

Unfortunately, most hamsters in general do not have a lengthy lifespan. Through careful attention to three major factors we’ve discussed, you can try to extend their lives as long as you can, but sadly most hamsters will not make it past two or three years of life. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of the temporary nature of hamsters before you select them as pets. Despite their short lifespan, however, hamsters are still wonderful, cute, and sweet creatures that make captivating and lovable pets for all ages.

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