Hamsters are great pets to have around. They are small, cute, and easy to care for which is why most people enjoy having them as a pet. Owning a hamster will have the pet owner with a lot of questions as well. One of them that most don’t like to talk about is the hamster’s lifespan.
Hamsters are one of those creatures that don’t have a very long life. They have a very short lifespan than most other creatures.
In this short article, we’ll go through more details on why do hamsters die so fast. Also, what causes it and the different ways to extend their life.
Why Do Hamsters Die So Fast?
There are many reasons why hamsters die quickly with some that you can prevent and some that you can’t. It is usually due to genetic, health issues, the environment they are living in, and food being fed to them. These are the 4 common reasons for their short lifespan.
When it comes to health issues, Hamsters are susceptible to wet tail disease, colds, and heart problems.
Besides health issues, their environment and diet are the biggest contributors to their short lifespans. In order to keep hamsters living as long as possible, there are ways you can help them.
The last one is genetic, which there’s really nothing you can do about it. Once they are born, if they have a bad genetic, the hamsters will likely not live very long.
Do Hamsters Get Heart Disease?
Heart disease is another common problem for hamsters. This usually occurs in older hamsters, but young ones are likely to have heart disease as well.
The most common problem contributing to heart disease in hamsters is overbreeding. This is more common with commercial animal supplies. Reputable breeders are aware of the issue and will be more careful with the pairing of their breeding stock.
Below are heart conditions that are a common occurrence in hamsters:
Atrial Thrombosis – This disease is common among older hamsters. Roughly 70% of older hamsters will get this disease. Once they get this disease, and actual heart failure will follow.
Hamsters that have atrial thrombosis will experience constant rapid breathing and blue feet. Once these symptoms appear, they will typically die within 1 week.
Cardiomyopathy or Polymyopathy – This is a recessive gene that causes the weakening of the muscles. It will usually start to weaken gradually until it fails.
Polymyopathy, which is the most common, affects all muscles in the body.
Cardiomyopathy, on the other hand, only affects the heart muscles. It will cause the heart muscles to weaken over time and will eventually lead to heart failure.
Symptoms will include poor muscle coordination, weakness in the body, and fatigue.
Congestive heart failure – This is common among young hamsters. They will die for no apparent reason. If that’s the cause, it is often due to congestive heart failure.
What is happening here is the muscles in the hamster’s heart is no longer pumping blood through the body efficiently. The heart will gradually weaken until it stops beating completely.
Warning signs usually include a bluish tint to the skin, trouble breathing, and swelling of the abdomen due to water retention. Also, the most noticeable sign will be unexpected movements for no apparent reason.
What is Wet Tail Disease?
What most may think is that this disease is something that has to do with their tail. The term “wet tail” does not have anything to do with their tail actually.
It’s a description that is a reference to diarrhea. Veterinarians have many terms for it such as ‘terminal ileitis’, ‘regional enteritis’, or even ‘enzootic intestinal adenocarcinoma’.
Whichever terminology you prefer to call it, this is a very dangerous disease and will kill the hamsters quickly.
The bacteria usually occur when the hamster is less than 10 weeks old. It is usually involved with the strains of Lawsonia intracellularis. Below is one of the 4 following bacterium:
- Clostridium difficile
- Clostridium pilliforde
- Escherichia coli
- Proteus morganii
There are many different causes of the infections, but the warning sign is all the same.
The most common symptom of this disease will be diarrhea. If your hamster has diarrhea, it needs to be taken care of quickly. This disease will manifest quickly and it usually happens within the first 24 to 48 hours. The wet tail disease has about a 90% fatality rate in hamsters, which is why you should take them to the veterinary right away.
The other less common symptoms include severe lethargy, rapid weight loss, and fur falling off. If you notice any of these symptoms, you’ll need to take them for medical treatment immediately.
Can Hamsters Catch Colds From Humans?
Yes, hamsters can catch a cold from humans. Not only can they catch a cold, but hamsters are also susceptible to human strains of flu as well.
While a cold is generally not life-threatening for humans, for hamsters it could be for them. This is due to the small size of the hamsters and their immune system isn’t as strong as a human.
If you have a cold or flu, it’s best to stay away from your pet hamsters until you feel well. It’s best to let someone else care for your hamsters while you’re sick.
Ways To Prolong Your Hamster Life
There are many things that can hurt the hamster and shorten their life. Food, environment, and genetics play an important role in how long hamsters will live.
Below are some of the things you can do to help your hamster live longer:
Hamster hearth issues – Heart disease is genetic and there’s nothing that you can to prevent it. However, you can help keep them from getting worse. This includes lowering their salt intake, provide them with a stress-free environment, and a lot of healthy foods.
Dealing with Wet tail disease – Wet tail disease is very deadly and has a high fatality rate. If you notice the sign of this disease, immediately take them to the veterinary for treatment.
Prevent transmission of the common cold – Hamsters are able to catch a cold from humans. For that reason, if you’re feeling under the weather, it’s best that you do not go near them until your cold goes away. Hamsters that get sick will weaken their immune system. If they get sick too often, this is a sure sign that it will shorten their life.
Avoid Stress – Stress can be fatal for hamsters. This includes their environment, other pets in the house, and food.
As for the environment, they should be kept in a clean area that has a lot of fresh air. The best place to keep them is close to a window, but avoid them being in direct sunlight.
Avoid other pets such as cats and dogs from getting close to the hamsters. Hamsters see these other animals as predators. If the other pets keep coming around their cage, the hamsters will become stressed.
Food should be changed out with fresh food every day. It’s also a good idea to rotate their food each day. Hamsters that eat the same food each day could get stressed from not getting enough nutrition in their body.
Hamsters have a short lifespan due to many reasons. Some of those you can prevent and some you can. Something like genetic is something you can’t prevent. For that reason, it’s best to buy hamsters from a reputable seller that knows a great deal about them. Also, keeping their environment stress-free and clean also helps extend their life. The food they eat helps them live a longer life as well.