How Long Do Hamsters Live? (As Pets & In The Wild)

Have you just arrived home from the pet store with a brand new hamster?

Then you’re no doubt keen to get your fluffy friend cozy and settled in as soon as possible. But how long do hamsters live and what can you do to make sure your new addition to the family has the fullest life possible?

In this article, we’ve covered everything you need to know about how long hamsters live in the wild and as pets.

Key Takeaway:

Pet hamsters have an average lifespan of 1.5 to 3 years. In the wild, their life expectancy will be higher if they are able to avoid predators. Dwarf hamsters live longer in the wild than they do as pets.

But perhaps you’re wondering, is there anything you can do to make your hamster live for longer? What main factors will affect your hamster’s life expectancy?

Keep reading to find out.

syrian hamster

What Is the Lifespan of a Hamster?

Are you the proud new owner of an incredibly cute hamster? Then you’ll know that these balls of fluff are sources of joy for children and adults alike.

Was your new pet hamster a gift? Then you’ll surely agree with us when we say that a pet hamster is the gift that just keeps on giving.

So what can you do to make this little treasure live as long as possible? And, how long do hamsters live?

Find out in the next section.

How Long Will a Pet Hamster Live?

We all want our pet hamsters to live as long as possible.

But how long is that?

How long do hamsters live as pets?

Let’s take a closer look at the average hamster lifespan.

Domestic hamsters live for up to 3 years. But the average lifespan for this small pet is 1.5 to 3 years.

What Should Be the Diet of a Hamster?

Now, I know what you’re thinking.

1.5 to 3 years doesn’t sound very long at all!

So what can you do to make the most of the time?

Make sure your hamster is healthy by feeding it a proper diet.

So what should it be eating?

Your hamster should eat commercial hamster pellets. These are full of all the goodness and nutrients your hamster needs.

But that’s not all.

hamster eating broccoli

Its diet should also include small amounts of fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs. These include the following.

  • Apples, pears, bananas, and grapes
  • Carrots, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and greens such as spinach and romaine lettuce
  • Basil, parsley, and coriander

And, of course, you can’t forget the hay!

You might also wonder…

…Is it okay to give your hamster treats? And if so, what will it enjoy?

Your hamster will love the occasional piece of boiled egg, mealworm, or nut.

What kind of nuts do they like?

Here are some they can eat, but, remember!

Only give them treats on occasion and in small quantities!

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Pine nuts

Providing Access to Clean Water

It is also essential your hamster has access to clean, fresh water at all times.

But, how should you give it water?

Your hamster can drink from a bowl, but it is best if it drinks from a small pet bottle. This will prevent it from knocking the water over and making a mess in the cage.

We recommend a 4 oz clear water bottle like this one on Amazon.

A clear bottle is a good choice as it will help you to see exactly how much water is in the bottle. This will help you monitor the water levels so your hamster doesn’t go thirsty.

Providing your hamster with a bottle will also prevent it from potentially contaminating its water with nesting materials. This will help you keep him as healthy as possible.

The right diet is not a miracle cure for longevity. But, it will make sure your hamster stays healthy.

A Daily Dose of Exercise

To improve your fluffy friend’s life expectancy, ensure he is able to get enough exercise in his cage.

How can you be sure he’s getting enough exercise?

Equip your hamster’s cage with an exercise wheel. He should use the wheel daily to help him keep in shape.

If your hamster does not have a wheel, it should have an exercise ball. Make sure you do not leave your hamster unattended while it plays inside an exercise ball.

We’re fans of clear exercise balls. With a transparent ball, it will be easier for you to keep an eye on your hamster.

We recommend a clear exercise ball like this one on Amazon.

Your hamster will not live as long as some of your other pets such as your leopard gecko for example. But, with a healthy environment, a good diet, and the right cage size, your furry friend will live a long and happy life.

Even still, a life expectancy of just a couple of years might seem too short to accept. This is because the average lifespan of a domestic hamster is shorter than one in the wild. That is, of course, if it is not killed by a predator, something it is not likely to need to worry about in your home.

Now that leads us to your next question.

So, what is the life cycle of a hamster in the wild?

Check out the next section to find out!

How Long Is a Wild Hamster’s Lifespan?

Now, we’ve just stated that wild hamsters generally live longer than domesticated hamsters.

But, just how long are we talking?

How long do hamsters live in the wild?

Wild hamsters can live a long life if they are able to dodge their predators. We’ll discuss some of these in just a mo. (Check out the list below!)

The European hamster, for example, can live for up to 8 years in the wild. Other hamsters tend to live between 2 and 3 years.

What determines how long hamsters live?

Their average lifespans are dependent on the following.

  • Their ability to escape from predators
  • The environmental conditions in their habitat
  • Mating and fighting with other hamsters

Wild and Pet Hamster Life Expectancies

The life expectancy of a hamster in captivity is about 1.5 to 3 years. Some hamsters in the wild live a lot longer.

There are many different hamster breeds and some have a shorter lifespan than others.

How long do Syrian hamsters live? And how long do Teddy bear hamsters live?

Coming up next, we’re going to take a closer look at the lifespan of a hamster.

We’ll be comparing a number of different types of hamsters. You’ll be able to see how long each type of hamster tends to live.

For some of the breeds, you’ll even be able to see how long a hamster lives in the wild in comparison to how long it lives in captivity, be it in a cage at home or at a pet store.

Let’s start comparing!

Hamster’s life expectancy

In the wildIn captivity
Syrian hamster2 to 3 years 3 to 4 years
Chinese hamster 2 to 3 years 2 to 3 years
Dwarf hamsterUp to 5 years1.5 to 3.5 years in captivity
Teddy bear hamsters 2 to 3 years 2 to 3 years
Roborovski hamster 2 years 4 years in captivity
Chinese dwarf hamsterUp to 2 yearsUp to 2 years
Russian dwarf hamster 2 to 3 years 2 to 3 years
European hamsterUp to 8 yearsUp to 5 years in laboratory conditions

As you can see, the life expectancy of a hamster varies depending on the hamster breed. Whether the hamster is in captivity or roaming free in the wild also alters how long it will live.

Other factors affect their lifespans such as the hamster’s diet, its ability to exercise, and its environment.

Here are some of our favorite hamster life expectancy facts for different hamster species.

  • Syrian hamsters live longer in captivity than they do in the wild. This is because, in the wild, they have a lot of predators including owls and other birds of prey.
  • Another name for the Syrian hamster is the golden hamster.
  • Dwarf hamsters live a lot longer in the wild than they do as pets. To make sure your dwarf hamsters live as long as possible, clean their enclosures regularly. Fresh hay and bedding are essential.
  • Dwarf hamsters will live longer when fed a proper diet full of nutrients.
  • Chinese hamsters originated from the deserts of China and Mongolia. The Chinese dwarf hamster has the shortest lifespan of all hamsters.
  • The longest-living hamster breed is the European hamster. They have a long lifespan of up to 8 years.

Can a Hamster Survive in the Wild?

Hamsters are innocent, delicate creatures. But while they most definitely are super cute, they are still robust. Hamsters most certainly can survive in the wild!

Wild hamsters must make sure they give certain animals a wide berth. That’s right, they need to stay out of sight of the following animals in order to stay alive.

  • Snakes
  • Some birds such as red and black kites, buzzards, lesser spotted eagles
  • Red foxes
  • Domestic dogs
  • Eurasian badgers
  • Stoat

Although hamsters look pretty defensive when faced with these predators, they certainly do put up a fight when trying to protect themselves. Some female hamsters even look after their young by hiding them in their cheeks when faced with their enemies.

Fancy that for a hiding place!

hamster wild

Can a Hamster Live for 5 Years?

Hamsters do not have a very long lifespan. The average life cycle of a pet hamster is just 1.5 to 3 years long.

Some hamsters such as the Russian dwarf and other dwarf varieties will only live for up to 2 years. The Roborovski dwarf, on the other hand, can live for up to 4 years.

It is not possible for a hamster to live for 5 years in captivity. In fact, the oldest hamster in captivity ever lived for just 4.5 years.

European hamsters, however, are the exception to the rule. They can live for a lot longer.

In the wild, they can have a lifespan of up to 8 years. In laboratory conditions, their lifespan is up to 5 years.

Of course, 5 years is not as long as they would be able to live fending for themselves in the wild. But it is still a massive leap from the average hamster’s life expectancy.

Can Hamsters Live Longer Than 2 Years?

We all want our pet hamsters to live as long as possible. This is why we do everything we can to make them feel comfortable and eat healthily.

But even with our best efforts, it is difficult to get a hamster to live for a long time. Most domesticated hamsters have a lifespan of just 1.5 to 3 years.

Your hamster can live for longer than 2 years in captivity, but it might live for even longer in the wild. It all depends on the type of hamster you have and how you treat it.

Here is a list of some breeds of hamsters that live for longer than 2 years in captivity.

  • Syrian hamsters
  • Roborovoski hamsters
  • Dwarf hamsters
  • European hamsters

If you are looking for a hamster that will live longer, these are some of the best breeds to go for. But even still, illnesses and environmental factors might cause an issue that prevents your hamster from living as long as you would like it to.

Many hamsters live for more than 2 years in the wild. Here are some of the different breeds.

  • Dwarf hamsters
  • European hamsters

Is there anything you can do to make your hamster live longer? Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do.

But, making sure their living conditions are clean, their food is nutritious, and they get plenty of exercise is a good way to ensure they live a full life.

The Key to Hamster Longevity

How long do hamsters live? As you’ve seen today, it all depends on the breed of the hamster and whether the hamster is in captivity or in the wild.

Domestic hamsters tend to live between 1.5 to 3 years. Those in the wild, however, can live a lot longer.

Roborovski hamsters live a longer life that can span up to 4 years!

But as we’ve also stated, giving your furry friends the best living conditions, a nutritious diet, and plenty of TLC can help them to live out their days to the full.

Have you found this article interesting? Then make sure you check out some of our other odd pet guides on our website where you’ll find tips and tricks for looking after your unique pets.

Thanks for reading!

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