Why Do Hamsters Live Such Short Lives? All You Need To Know

If you decide to keep a hamster, you should know that hamsters do not have a long life, they live about 2-3 years.

Chinese dwarf hamsters have the shortest life span, which lives only 1-2 years, and Roborovski hamsters live the longest, on average living about 3-3.5 years.

Why do hamsters live such short lives?

Hamsters have short lives because they have a fast metabolism that releases free radicals that break down their bodies at the cellular level, which is why hamsters age and die quickly.

Hamsters have a fast metabolism with which they successfully maintain their body temperature, but that’s why they don’t have a long life.

These small animals undergo more metabolic stress than larger animals.

In today’s article, you will learn why hamsters have a short lifespan, why some breeds live longer than others, and how to increase their lifespan.

Why do hamsters live such short lives?

A major reason why hamsters live so short is that they have a high level of metabolic stress.

Metabolic stress breaks down the cells in the body very quickly which ultimately results in rapid aging and the short life of hamsters.

Since hamsters are small, their temperature can drop very quickly or they can heat up quickly, so their faster metabolism allows them to regulate their temperature in time, but that’s why their body wears out quickly.

The faster their organs are used up in the body, the faster hamsters age and die.

Fast metabolism allows them to produce a larger amount of free radicals that are part of their cellular metabolic process.

When an excess of free radicals is released, oxidative stress occurs in hamsters, which breaks down the body and destroys the cells in the body faster.

Then there is damage to the DNA itself in the hamster’s body and aging, which ultimately results in a short life span.

The smaller the animals, the shorter their life span, the larger animals have a slower metabolism and therefore live a longer life span.

For example, elephants can live 40-50 years, while cats and dogs about 8-10 years, and the smallest ones like hamsters and other gerbils live about 2-5 years.

If hamsters were bigger animals, they would certainly have a longer lifespan, but unfortunately, the reality is different.

Do hamsters in nature have a short lifespan?

Yes, hamsters in nature have a shorter lifespan than hamsters that we keep at home.


Hamsters in nature are genetically the same as hamsters in domestic conditions, but the wild itself does its own thing and therefore hamsters live even less there.

Hamsters in nature often find themselves in a situation where they don’t have enough food or water, they have more difficult weather conditions in which they have to manage by themselves without anyone’s help.

That is why they have a shorter life span than domestic hamsters who have far better conditions for nutrition, a comfortable cage, and a sufficiently warm temperature in their room.

Which breed of hamster has the shortest and which has the longest lifespan?

Chinese dwarf hamsters have a short life span, they live about 1-2 years in domestic conditions, and even less in the wild.

Unlike them, Roborovski hamsters have the longest life span, they live in domestic conditions for about 3-3.5 years.

Can hamsters live more than 2.5 years?

It all depends on how we take care of them, for example, the Syrian hamster if you keep it in good condition it will live for 2.5 years and maybe even more.

Sometimes hamsters do not manage to live long because of a certain disease, old age, or insufficient care for them.

You should also be careful when buying a hamster that they don’t sell you an older hamster, because it will die in a few weeks.why do hamsters live such short lives

Why do some breeds of hamsters live longer than others?

Some hamsters live longer than others because they have a specific gene network that allows them to better deal with oxidative stress.

Since oxidative stress is the cause of the rapid aging of hamsters, as we said, it is created by free radicals.

The easier the hamster can deal with oxidative stress, the longer it will live, that’s why some hamsters live longer than others.

This is the main factor, although other factors also affect their life span, such as diet and temperature in their environment.

Can we increase the lifespan of hamsters?

Yes, although hamsters obviously have the biggest problem with oxidative stress, we can still improve other factors that affect their life span so that they live longer.

Here are some tips to maximize their lifespan:

Healthy diet

They should always have enough food with nutrients to improve their health and clean water. The food should be varied and besides pellets, you should give them vegetables and fruits.

Vitamins C and E are very important and you must make sure they are represented in your hamster diet.

They cannot produce vitamin C by themselves and must take it through their diet in order not to develop scurvy, which is a dangerous disease that can be fatal for them.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and oxidative stress.

Food rich in vitamin E is the following:

  • mango
  • sunflower seeds
  • asparagus

Never give them too much food so that they don’t get fat, because obesity can have a bad effect on their health and cause diseases.

Cage and toys

There should be an exercise wheel in the cage that they run a few miles on every night to help keep them healthy and in good shape.

The cage should always be clean, with soft and clean bedding.

Apart from an exercise wheel, you should also provide them with enough toys, and tunnels so that they have enough activities, which will make them happy, and they will have less stress and fewer diseases.

A quiet room without other pets and noise

Hamsters when there is a lot of noise, other pets around them, and unknown people can only cause them stress.

Stress leads to disease, and disease shortens the lifespan of your pet.

Therefore, provide him with a quiet room, where there is no loud noise, unfamiliar people, and other pets.

Can hamsters live 5 years?

Yes, sometimes hamsters can live 5 years, such as some Syrian hamsters in domestic conditions.

The average lifespan of hamsters is up to 4 years for Roborov hamsters, and up to 2 years for Chinese dwarf hamsters.

In order to live above the average, hamsters should have a very good diet with vitamins and minerals, a peaceful atmosphere, and lots of activities in their cage.

Read more: Can Hamsters Die from Cushing’s Disease? Let’s discover

Do male hamsters live longer than females?

Yes, male hamsters live longer than female hamsters.

The reason is that female hamsters wear out their bodies more often during pregnancy.

In order for female hamsters to live longer, you should keep them separate from the males so that they don’t get pregnant, so they will keep their bodies and live longer.

Read more: How To Handle and Relieve Stress in Hamsters? Let’s Discover


Hamsters live very short lives due to their fast metabolism.

Since hamsters are small, it is more difficult for them to control their body temperature, which is helped by their fast metabolism, but that is why they have a short lifespan.

Fast metabolism knocks down their organs very quickly, and oxidative stress created by free radicals causes rapid aging of their body and a short life span.

Better living conditions, a healthy diet, and less stress can help your hamster live a longer life.

Read more: What Is The Lifespan Of Hamsters? How To Live Longer