Let’s dive into the charming world of Syrian hamsters – those adorable pocket-sized pets known for their soft fur and playful nature. Have you ever wondered how long these delightful creatures live? In this article, we’ll unravel the mystery and explore the lifespan of Syrian hamsters. From the moment they become part of your life, their journey is a story worth discovering.
Wild vs. Pet Syrian Hamster Lifespan
How long does a Syrian hamster live in the wild? The life expectancy of wild Syrian hamsters is shorter compared to their captive counterparts. Some of them only live for 1.5 to 2 years whilst others can live up to 2-3 years if lucky enough.
Many hamster owners wonder: “Why do Syrian hamsters only live for 2 years in the wild?” Wild hamsters, including the Syrian species, are prey animals to large creatures like owls and foxes. Environmental factors such as extreme weather conditions and food shortages make them easily vulnerable to illnesses. These factors greatly reduce their chances of living long lives.
How long do Syrian hamsters live in captivity? Syrian hamsters fare better in captivity than in the wild. They can live for around 3-4 years. As they are regularly provided with their daily needs, such as food and housing, pet Syrian hamsters are able to enjoy longer lives.
Male vs. Female Syrian Hamster Lifespan
How long do male Syrian hamsters live? There are insufficient records about the life expectancy of male Syrian hamsters. However, some studies have observed that they tend to outlive females.
According to one research, a gene mutation prolonged the longevity of males and they lived significantly longer than female hamsters. Another study observed that pregnancy drastically shortened the lifespan of female Syrian hamsters. Those that were not bred were able to live longer.
Syrian Hamster Life Cycle
Here is a short timeline of a Syrian hamster’s growth, from being a pup to reaching full maturity and later on, becoming a senior.
A week after birth, Syrian hamster pups develop hair growth and teeth. Once they reach 2 weeks old, their eyes are fully developed as well as their coats. Around this age, the pups can move around on their own and they can be weaned from their mother.
Male Syrian hamsters reach adolescence faster than females. They gain sexual maturity around 4-6 weeks of age. On the other hand, females do not become sexually mature until they are 8-10 weeks old.
When a Syrian hamster becomes 3 months old, it has reached full maturity. Its body has grown to its full size during this life stage, which is roughly 13-20 cm (5-8 inches) in length.
Once a Syrian hamster is 1 year of age, its body processes begin to slow down due to old age. It will be less inclined to run the exercise wheel or eat more food. A senior Syrian hamster’s body will start to show signs of aging, such as losing hearing, eyesight, and fur.
Longest Living Syrian Hamster
What is the longest-living hamster? According to the Guinness World Records, the longest-living hamster to be ever recorded was 4.5 years old. It was owned by a lady named Karen Smeaton of Tyne & Wear, United Kingdom. There was no mention of the hamster’s breed.
Now you might be curious to know: “How old is the oldest Syrian hamster?” Not much information exists about the oldest Syrian hamster. However, there is scientific documentation made by Richard Weigl which mentions a captive Syrian hamster that lived up to 3.9 years old.
Can Syrian hamsters live 5 years? Although there is a major lack of scientific records on Syrian hamster lifespan, many pet owners shared that their Syrian hamsters lived for 5-6 years. Thus, this hamster species can possibly live beyond its expected lifespan.
Syrian Hamster vs. Other Hamster Species Lifespan
Generally, the average lifespan of a hamster can range from 2-2.5 years. However, depending on the breed, the hamster’s life expectancy may become either shorter or longer.
- Pet Siberian Dwarf hamsters can live for 1.6-2 years.
- Russian Dwarf hamsters have a life expectancy of approximately 1.4–2 years.
- Chinese hamsters have an average lifespan of 2-3 years.
- Roborovski Dwarf hamsters’ life expectancy is around 3-3.5 years.
If we look at the lifespan of a Syrian Hamster, it tends to be longer than most pet hamster species on the list. However, compared to other popular pets like cats, dogs, and even Guinea pigs, a Syrian hamster’s life expectancy is extremely short.
Thus, taking proper care of your Syrian hamster is very important to ensure that he lives a long and fulfilling life with you.
5 Ways to Prolong Your Syrian Hamster’s Lifespan
Providing your Syrian hamster with its basic daily needs is one of the best ways to help it live longer. Below are a few tips you can do for your pet:
1. Get a spacious cage
Syrian hamsters are small pets but need plenty of space to explore and run around. So be careful when shopping for a hamster cage in pet stores. Many of them tend to be too small for hamsters in general.
Ideally, the cage size for a single Syrian hamster should be at least 2 feet by 1 foot and approximately 12 inches high. You can also go for a bigger size for more floor space.
The bar spacing of the cage is also important. If it’s too narrow, your pet will easily get stuck and may potentially suffer from injuries. If it’s too wide, you run the risk of your Syrian hamster escaping the cage. The recommended bar spacing for this hamster species is 0.5 inches.
2. Do not skip cleaning duties
A dirty hamster cage makes a good breeding ground for harmful bacteria. It increases your pet’s vulnerability to many diseases, such as wet tail and respiratory infections. Thus, keeping its enclosure clean should be a priority.
Spot cleaning the cage every day will prevent you from getting saddled with many cleaning tasks within a week or month. This process involves:
- Removing old bedding and replacing it with fresh new ones.
- Cleaning the food bowls and water bottles.
- Getting rid of leftover food and chewed toys
- Scooping out hamster droppings
Full cage cleaning can be done once a month if your Syrian hamster’s cage is big. Smaller enclosures will require weekly cleaning since they get dirty easily. Only use hamster-safe cleaners when washing your pet’s cage, toys, and other items to avoid the risk of poisoning.
3. Solitary living is better
Syrian hamsters are gentle towards humans but not towards their own kind. They are highly territorial and housing them together will cause conflicts and fights. For this reason, Syrian hamsters are better off living alone.
If you are breeding this species, always separate the pups from their mother once they reach 4-5 weeks old. Otherwise, they will be at the mercy of their own parents.
4. Maintain a balanced diet
The best diet for Syrian hamsters is high-quality pellets combined with different types of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Be sure to use pellets specifically made for hamsters to ensure that your pet acquires the right nutrients it needs.
Beware that not all fruits and veggies are safe additions to hamster food. Here are some that should be excluded from your pet’s meals:
- Citrus fruit (high acidity)
- Rhubarb (poisonous)
- Garlic (poisonous)
- Onions (poisonous)
Also, avoid opting for loose seed mixes as the main part of your Syrian hamster’s meals. Many hamsters often consume their favorite food item and ignore the rest, which can lead to nutrient deficiency.
Larger hamster species, such as Syrian hamsters, need more food than small breeds. Make sure to feed your pet 2 tablespoons of hamster food every 24 hours.
5. Keep interactions limited to evenings
Syrian hamsters are crepuscular animals, meaning they sleep in the mornings and wake up during twilight hours, between dusk and dawn. In the wild, their sleeping time keeps them safe from roaming predators at night.
With this in mind, do not attempt to interact with your pet in the morning because it is likely asleep. Disturbing its sleep can result in aggression, such as biting. It would be safer for you to spend time and handle your hamster at night when it is awake and active.