How old do hamsters get? life expectancy of rodents

How old do hamsters get? A question that you should ask yourself before you buy. Unfortunately, the life expectancy of the nibblers is not very high. You can find out more about this and how you can ensure that your hamster lives a happy and long life here.

Hamsters may have a short lifespan, but they bring a lot of joy to their owners - Shutterstock/stock_shot

Hamsters may have a short lifespan, but they bring a lot of joy to their owners – Shutterstock/stock_shot

The species-appropriate and loving care and attitude of pets not only determines their well-being, but also their health and thus their lifespan. But what about the life expectancy of hamsters?

Hamster: Unfortunately, only a short life expectancy

Hamsters have an average life expectancy of two to three years, although in exceptional cases some can live less or even longer. It is crucial, for example, whether there is an underlying disease that increases the risk of dying sooner. Due to overbreeding, some hamsters are unfortunately pre-programmed with genetic defects. For this reason, you should only ever buy from a reputable breeder who can assure you that the animals are healthy. As a hamster owner, you can tell quite well when the little ones are getting old.

Recognize signs of aging in hamsters

Hamsters become visibly slower with age, usually after just one year. They are then less able to orientate themselves, also because they may no longer see so well, and to be on the safe side they take it easy. You can also tell from the fur that a hamster is getting older – this usually becomes shaggy and thinner overall, especially in the head area. The coat color can also change and become lighter, for example. Other signs of an old hamster include an increased need for sleep, changed eating habits and weight fluctuations, although these could also be symptoms of various diseases – if in doubt, consult the veterinarian.

The golden hamster belongs to the genus of the middle hamster and is divided into different species - Image: Shutterstock / VeryOlive
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Adapt hamster cage for older rodents

Talk to your veterinarian about what measures are particularly useful in relation to your hamster senior. Often things need to be changed regarding the hamster cage. For example, the risk of injury should be minimized: Higher platforms are dangerous because older hamsters can sometimes sway and then possibly fall down. Bars that are too narrow are also not ideal, as a senior rodent could become entangled in them. The grid spacing should not exceed one centimeter for golden hamsters and 0.8 centimeters for dwarf hamsters. Also make sure that your furry friend can easily get food and water – is the water dispenser maybe too high for the old bones? In a multi-tiered cage, move all important items downstairs, as old hamsters often only roam around on the first floor.

Increase life expectancy with the right senior food

Older hamsters are happy about an adapted food composition. For example, they need a higher proportion of crude fiber in their diet, while protein and fat become less important. You may need to add some vitamin supplements to the drinking water should your senior hamster stop munching on fruit and veg. Also, consult your veterinarian about hamster food.

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