How Long Does a Hamster Usually Live?

By Pam Goldberg Smith

Hamsters are popular pets who, on average, live one to three years depending on the specific breed and care. These nocturnal creatures are susceptible to respiratory diseases, even the common cold. Remember to wash your hands and refrain from handling your pet hamster when sick. Furthermore, take your hamster to a veterinarian if he exhibits weight loss, diarrhea, runny nose, matted fur or if his eyes appear dull.

Syrian Hamster

The most common pet hamster is the Syrian, also known as golden or teddy bear. This hamster is a solitary animal who, at maturity, measures roughly 6 inches. The average life span for the Syrian is two to three years. Though rare, a few can live up to five years.

Dwarf Hamster

Dwarf species, like the Siberian and Chinese hamster, are social butterflies and do well living with others. These smaller hamsters measure 2 to 3 inches and live only one to two years. The occasional dwarf hamster lives up to three years.

What Affects Life Span

Alongside genetics, the care you give your hamster affects his life span. A food mixture of grains, pellets, seeds and corn can be found at most pet stores. Give your hamster an occasional treat of fresh fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, apples, lettuce and spinach. Provide clean, fresh water at all times. Hamsters should be housed in either a wire cage or a 10-gallon glass aquarium with a mesh top for ventilation. Soiled bedding and uneaten food must be removed daily and the bedding dumped entirely each week so the cage can be cleaned.