Hamsters tend to live between 2 – 3 years on average when they are in captivity.
Some Syrian hamsters have been known to live up to 5 years.
So is there anything we can do to elongate their life span?
Here are 9 things you can do to help your hamster live longer.
Give them items to chew on
The teeth of hamsters constantly grow.
This is from the time they first grow them to the day that they die.
The way they trim them down is to chew things, and by things we mean anything. If suitable items to chew are not provided for them, they will attempt to chew the next best thing.
This can often lead to them chewing unsuitable items, like the bars of a cage or plastic in their cage.
When they chew on things like these, this can cause damage to their teeth and give them problems, particularly in later life.
So give them chew sticks to nibble on and chewing items to attach to the cage, this will keep their teeth ground down and stop any needless trips to the vet to get their teeth trimmed.
Give them a healthy diet
A good intake of food is essential for the life of any pet.
Indeed, a healthy diet can greatly aid the life of a hamster.
A daily diet of hamster pellets topped up with suitable vegetables can really help them and mixed with sunflower seeds, oats, corn, barley, and wheat.
Don’t overfeed them vegetables as too much will have a detrimental effect.
Too much calcium, fat, phosphorus, sugar, salt or water can harm them so be careful with the foods you give them.
The food guides on this site should help you with this.
Just type in the food you are looking for in the search bar and we will have a review for you.
Just have one hamster per cage
Hamsters are not social animals and don’t react well to others sharing their cage.
The only way they will share their cage is if it is with a close family kin.
Otherwise, any other hamsters should steer clear of each other.
Hamsters that grow up together are usually fine to stay with each other.
But the process of introducing strange hamsters to each other is problematic and can result in fights and unfortunately fatalities.
When stranger hamsters are forced together it will not end well on the majority of occasions.
So it is better just to have a single hamster on its own to keep them safe from each other and from other animals.
Clean their cage regularly and thoroughly
Not many people like living in a badly kept home, and this is the same with a lot of animals including hamsters.
When a hamster cage isn’t cleaned out regularly, then feces can build up and attract bacteria to the cage.
It is also creates an unpleasant smell after a while with the build up of feces.
Keeping the cage clean for them is vital for the health of your hamster.
This starts with spot cleaning every day to cleaning out bedding every week on a regular basis.
Every three months, it is recommended that the whole cage is cleaned thoroughly and disinfected so as to clean it of bacteria that maybe building up.
This can be done, either by soaking the cage in hot water and using bleach or using animal friendly disinfectant.
If using bleach, you will need to soak it in hot water for 24 hours afterwards to wash off all the bleach.
It needs to be completely dry before putting it back and restoring the hamster to its cage.
By having a consistent cleaning routine you can ensure that your hamster lives happily and contented in its cage without the hindrance of rotting feces around it.
Have a constant supply of water
Hamsters need constant access to water.
Just like us, they need it to quench their thirst and to keep them healthy.
Having a water bottle filled with a good supply of water is vital for them.
Bottled water or water fro a tap is fine for them to drink in this regard.
Avoid sparking, flavored water and make sure it is just cold water and nothing else.
Water bowls are not so good giving them water so rely on a good sized water bottle instead.
Avoid them getting Wet tail
Wet tail is an ailment found in Syrian and Chinese hamsters.
It is an ailment that can kill them easily if it is not identified and dealt with.
Wet tail is caused by stress, poor hygiene and overfeeding of veggies plus water that is of poor quality.
Such stress is caused by such things as too much handling, a change in diet, being away from a mother or siblings, illness or death of a pair-bond or mate or a change in environment.
Wet tail is basically a disease which is found in the animal’s intestines and caused by the bacteria, Lawsonia intracellularis.
The main symptom for wet tail is if the hamster has a tail that is wet and has been matted with faeces.
However, other symptoms can be diarrhea, Lethargy, Lack of appetite, excess sleeping, folded ears, and smell/foul odor.
If it is not spotted within the first 24-48 hours and dealt with by a veterinary doctor then this can kill them.
Avoid them getting Diarrhea
A hamster can get diarrhea due to a virus such as salmonella or influenza, by eating too much greens or foods that have laxative agents, living in poor conditions or being increasingly stressed.
Their feces will become lighter and softer in color and maybe watery in some instances.
They will look sick and lethargic.
They may also lose weight.
If you discover any of these symptoms, a quick trip to the vet will head of diarrhea and can be treated quickly and effectively.
The longer it is left, the more your hamster will suffer
Make sure they get plenty of exercise
Exercise is vital for hamsters.
It is a part of their nature to spend a great deal of their time exercising.
They also love to run and do not settle still for very long.
This is why they need plenty of exercise.
We can provide this in different ways;
- A large enough cage for them to run around in.
- An exercise ball for them to run in.
- A large hamster wheel for them to run in that means that they don’t arch their back too much.
Spend time with your hamster
By spending time with your hamster on a daily basis you can head off problems they may have, you can spot changes in behavior patterns, what they are eating and not eating.
They can get to know you and trust you.
Learn to hold them and play with them so that they feel comfortable in your hands.
If they are left alone you cant keep up to date with how they are, what they’re doing and if there is anything that needs addressing.
The more time you spend with them, the better your relationship will be, the more you will understand them, their needs and requirements.