“In the end, long life is the reward, strength, and beauty.”
The most adorable off all… our little HAMSTERS! So very popular and prime choice of pet lovers, hamsters usually do not have a very long life and it is important to take their life span into consideration if you intend to keep them as pets. Just like other small pet animals hamsters too have an average lifespan which is affected by their: breed, genetics, upkeep, nurturing etc. Despite being a short lived specie they have certain exceptions. In order to surpass the average lifespan and increase the chances of a long, healthy life of your hamster you can follow general pet care procedures and your Vet’s guidance. An important fact to remember is that hamsters vary completely to other pets and hence they have a different rate of aging, hamsters have such a short lifespan because they tend to hit their fully mature state much quicker than most other animals. For instance, research studies reveal that a 2 year old hamster is equivalent to a human that is approximately 70 years old. Due to their rapid maturity, most hamsters do not usually exceed their average life expectancy by a large amount.
Life expectancy of Hamsters:
The average life span of a hamster is around 2-3 years. This is an average of all breeds, though some dwarf hamsters rarely exceed a 2 year life expectancy. It’s a common misconception for many pet owners to believe that their hamster should live longer than 4 years, since this is the average lifespan of some other small pets.. However, not all hamsters are fortunate enough to live this long. Hamsters attain maturity in a very short time. For the sake of comparison, hamsters reach puberty after around 8 weeks of age, while for humans the same takes around 15 years. The gestation period for hamsters is less than 3 weeks, as compared to the 9 months for humans. A 2-year-old hamster is equal to a 70-year-old human being! So you can imagine the pace at which changes take place in hamsters. The average life span of a dwarf hamster is even shorter at 2 years, and in very rare cases a little above that. Also, a hamster’s lifespan is also largely affected by the care and nutrition that they receive during their captive life.
Technically it is impossible to prevent your hamster from aging but one can put efforts to ensure that their cute, little pet is able to enjoy a much improved life expectancy. So here are some beneficial tips that have been lined up in order to help you attain the goal of giving your hamster a longer life.
Ways to enhance your hamster’s life span by paying attention to various attributes of their care-
Picking the right hamster- be careful when you chose your hamster and make sure that it is comes from a clean environment, has been surrounded by clean and hamsters and kept in hygienic habitats in the past. His fitness is also an important factor to be considered if you really want your hamster to live a little longer.
Large Cage Size – If a hamster is kept in a smaller cage it will have a higher stress level than if they were housed in a larger cage. The cage is your pet’s shelter and hence should be able to accommodate the toys, food, water, sleeping set up and gives your hamster enough room to run comfortably in their cage.
Healthy Diet- You have to make sure that your hamster is fed with the right quantity and quality of food. This pet is an over sensitive little version of you and therefore eat whatever you give them. Diet forms an important part of the lifestyle of hamsters. The life span of hamsters can increase if you feed clean, hygienic, and nutritious food to them. Food such as fresh vegetables, fruits, and pulses can also be given. Eventually you will want to feed the little beauties out of your hand and this will lead you to teaching them tricks and rewarding them with treats, make these rewards distinguishing from daily food yet healthy. You should also provide clean and pure water to your pet, so that it does not contract any disease. If you plan to have a bowl of water, make sure that it is heavy enough to not get kicked over by them. If you decide to go the water bottle route make sure that the tip is not plastic because they are accustomed to chewing things. Make sure that your hamster is kept away from sugared sweets like sweet potatoes, melons and cherries.
Obviate lethargy and invoke activity- Feeding the hamster all the time with no exercises will make your pet fat and lazy and just like in humans, exercise has beneficial effects for hamsters as well. An exercise wheel, or taking them out of their cage for an extended period of playtime is a good idea. Other than that there are also many enclosed exercise balls which allow your hamster to explore your home from the safety of an enclosed plastic sphere. Regular exercise will not only keep your hamster healthy throughout the day but will also ameliorate its overall health.
HAIR LOSS/ HAIR THINNING/ ALOPECIA
Hair thinning and loss is normal in elderly hamsters, particularly on the belly. Hair loss varies, but is often more obvious in females. Severe and sudden spreading hair loss could be a result of hormonal problems. This is usually, but not always, symmetrical. The exposed skin may look normal or pigmented, smooth and thin. Hormonal disorders can be associated with old age and tumors. These are difficult to treat, but may not affect quality or length of life. Slight behavioral changes may occur, which you can discuss with your vet. Alopecia can be secondary to self-trauma caused by itching. This occurs if a hamster scratches itself enough to cause hair loss