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Home > Hamsters > How Long Do Hamsters Live? Vet Reviewed Average Lifespan, Data & Care

How Long Do Hamsters Live? Vet Reviewed Average Lifespan, Data & Care

Hamster on fresh hay bedding

Hamsters can be excellent first pets due to their friendly dispositions and entertaining natures. However, if you are considering bringing a hamster home as a pet, you should be aware that hamsters have fairly short lifespans compared to other pets.

This doesn’t mean that a hamster is a poor companion. The time you spend with your hamster can be very rewarding, especially if you take steps to improve your hamster’s quality of life and spend lots of time getting them comfortable being handled.


Hamster Average Lifespan

The average hamster will live for around 2 to 3 years.  Certain breeds may live longer than other breeds.

Here are some of the most popular hamster breeds and their average lifespan:
  • Campbell’s dwarf hamster (Phodopus campbelli): 2 to 5 years
  • Chinese hamster (Cricetulus griseus): 2 to 3 years
  • Roborovski dwarf hamsters (Phodopus roborovskii): 5 – 3 years
  • Syrian hamster (Mesocricetus auratus): 2 to 5 years
  • Winter white Russian dwarf hamster (Phodopus sungorus): 1 to 3 years


How to Care for Your Hamster for a Long Lifespan?

While hamsters don’t live especially long lives, you can take steps to increase their odds of living longer. You can greatly improve their quality of life by providing the best care possible for your pet in the following areas.

Feeding & Diet

Most of a healthy hamster’s diet will be a commercial pellet diet. Search for diets with enough protein, ranging from 15–25%. Offer your hamster small amounts of fresh produce to supplement their pellet diet, but be aware that too much fruit and veggies may lead to digestive upset. Similarly, if produce is left in the enclosure for too long, it may spoil and contribute to health issues later on. Ensure you remove uneaten fresh food daily.

hamster eating inside his cage
Image Credit: RaquelVizcaino, Shutterstock


The size of your hamster’s cage depends on the breed of hamster you have.  As a minimum, a Syrian hamster’s cage should contain 900 square inches of floor space. The floor should be made of solid material, not wire, as wire flooring can hurt your hamster’s feet and doesn’t allow for deep litter bedding. The walls should be made of wire to promote proper ventilation. Enclosures that are entirely glass are not appropriate as they do not allow adequate ventilation.

Be mindful that hamsters can chew through wood, plastic, and even soft metal, so you must find a sturdy enclosure to keep your hamster safely inside.

Adding fun features to your hamster’s enclosure will keep them enriched. Tunnels, toys, hidey holes, and more can keep your hamster’s mind sharp and prevent boredom.


The aim with hamsters is to get them comfortable being held, but it is important to get them comfortable gradually.  Initially, your hamster may be too fearful of being picked up, so it is a good idea to allow them to become used to your voice by talking around the cage, and offering them treats from your hand. Hamsters should be handled at least once per day once they are comfortable being handled.

Hamsters should be given plenty of opportunities to be active. This can be done by providing features in their cage (such as tunnels) and by purchasing an exercise ball for them. Deep bedding allows them to build tunnels which is a natural behavior for them.

Hamster playing with toy ball
Image Credit: chrisbrignell, Shutterstock


Cleaning a hamster will look different than cleaning your average pet. Rather than bathing your hamster with water, you should provide a sand bath for your pet.

Hamsters roll in sand to shed the oils and dirt that have built up on their skin. This can also shake off parasites. Sand baths are also a source of habitat enrichment for hamsters.

You should not bathe your hamster with water unless given express instructions from your vet. Hamsters do not enjoy water baths. Even worse, they are highly sensitive to extreme temperatures, so water that is too hot or too cold can lead to issues such as hypothermia.


Although hamsters are friendly creatures, in the wild they are mostly solitary, so they shouldn’t be housed with other hamsters.  This is particularly true of Chinese and Syrian hamsters.  With the right conditions, some Dwarf hamsters can be housed together.  Male hamsters shouldn’t be housed near to other males (even in separate enclosures) and males should be housed separately from females when they’re in season.

Two syrian hamsters playing together on white background
Image Credit: PrakapenkaAlena, Shutterstock


Take your hamster to the vet once per year for an annual checkup. This will allow you to stay informed regarding your hamster’s state of health and be aware of any medical concerns your vet has. Likewise, you will be able to take steps toward preventative care to minimize the chances of your pet developing a potentially life-threatening condition in the future.


The 4 Life Stages of a Hamster

1. Pup

Due to their short lifespan, the life stages of a hamster pass quickly. Newborn hamsters are known as pups. In this stage, they are incredibly vulnerable, as they are blind, deaf, and furless. After five days, they finally begin to grow fur.

2. Young Hamster

At the age of two weeks, a hamster will open their eyes. Typically, they will stay with their mothers for only another week or so after this, as they tend to leave their mother’s side around 21–28 days old.

Hamster on clean bedding
Image Credit: ToNN Stocker, Shutterstock

3. Adolescent Hamster

Around 4–6 weeks of age, a hamster will reach sexual maturity. Although they have reached sexual maturity at this stage, it is advised that they are not bred until they are around 10–12 weeks (or they weigh 90–100 grams). Gestation in hamsters is short and lasts around 16–22 days (depending on the type of hamster).

4. End of Sexual Maturity

A hamster’s breeding life will end at between 12-18 months old.


How to Tell Your Hamster’s Age

Determining how old your hamster is can be a challenge. While there are some obvious physical changes between life stages, such as newborn pups being entirely hairless, there aren’t as many ways to narrow down an adult hamster’s age. To get the closest estimate on your hamster’s age, take them to the vet. Your vet may be able to examine your pet’s teeth and approximate your hamster’s age based on the wear observed and the color of the teeth, but this will very much be an estimate.

kid holding a cute grey hamster
Image Credit: Stratos Giannikos, Shutterstock



Hamsters may have short lifespans, but that doesn’t mean the time spent in their presence is any less worthy. If you are considering adding a hamster to your household, there are ways that you can improve your pet’s quality of life, predominantly by ensuring they receive sufficient care. To best provide for your hamster, consult your vet on ways that you can strive to lengthen their lifespan.

Featured Image Credit: gashgeron, Shutterstock

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