As long as you keep a few things in mind, hamsters may make wonderful family pets. They are simple to take care of and, with regular handling, may develop into quite docile and lovable animals.It’s important to remember that hamster lifespans are considerably shorter than those of certain other common household animals when bringing a new hamster home.
The Life Cycle of a Hamster (How Long Do Hamsters Live?)
Hamsters go through their life phases rather fast since they don’t live very long. They have no fur and are born blind and deaf. “Pups,” or newborn hamsters, are highly susceptible. They start to grow fur at five days. They begin to open their eyes around two weeks. Until they are 21 to 28 days old, hamsters often remain with their moms.
The age at which hamsters become sexually mature is between four and six weeks. Ideally, they shouldn’t be bred until they’re at least 8 to 12 weeks old or 90 to 100 grammes in weight. The gestational period is only 20–22 days long. Hamsters stop reproducing at around 14 months of age.
Hamsters typically live between 18 and 36 months, with the Syrian hamster breed having a higher likelihood of living longer than dwarf variants. Elderly hamsters are those that are one and a half years old.
What Causes Some Hamsters To Live Longer Than Others?
Domesticated hamsters live longer than their wild counterparts, like many other animals. Hamsters are preyed upon in the wild by owls and foxes, among other predators. Environmental factors and conflict with other hamsters also shorten their lives. With the right housing, handling, diet, and medical care, hamsters may live far longer in captivity.
Domesticated hamsters are delicate, sensitive animals that are prone to disease and other health issues that can shorten their lives. For instance, a pet hamster may get diarrhoea related to stress within the first few weeks (often between three and ten weeks) of ownership. But diarrhoea may strike anyone at any age.
Nutritional deficits can also cause fur loss in hamsters. Other typical conditions hamsters experience include:
- ocular proptosis
- Cheek pouch conditions
- Heart condition
- kidney illness
- dental issues
- (Protein buildup in the organs) Amyloidosis
Breeds vary in their susceptibility to certain diseases. For instance, Djungarian and Striped Black hamsters are more likely to develop diabetes. Additionally, glaucoma is more common in Djungarian hamsters. Syrian hamsters frequently experience pneumonia, amyloidosis, and heart problems. These disorders can be prevented and treated properly.
Tumours and Cancers in Hamsters: What Are They?
Hamsters, particularly Syrian hamsters, commonly have abnormal growth in their epidermis, adrenal glands, and reproductive systems. Although these tumours are typically benign, they can spread to other parts of the body and must be surgically removed. Syrian hamsters are less likely than dwarf hamsters to develop tumours.
Tumour and Cancer Symptoms in Hamsters
Symptoms of hamster tumours include:
- Visible skin growths
- Appetite reduction
- Diarrhoea (occasionally with blood)
- Weight loss
- abdominal ache
- Hair loss
- increased thirst
- Weakness or altered gait
Tumour and Cancer Causes in Hamsters
Tumour formation in hamsters is influenced by a mix of inherited genetic genes and environmental influences. The thyroid and adrenal glands are the most prevalent sites for benign tumours. Although these tumours are normally benign, they might induce an overproduction of hormones, resulting in discomfort.
The skin is the most prevalent location for malignant carcinoma in hamsters. Skin cancer accounts for up to 90% of all cancers detected in hamsters.
How Do Veterinarians Detect Tumours and Cancer in Hamsters?
A veterinarian does a fine needle aspiration test to identify tumours in a cat. A tiny sample of cells is taken from the tumour and examined under a microscope slide. If the little sample size does not yield an answer, a biopsy may be required. A bigger tissue sample is surgically taken, which is then processed and inspected by a professional veterinarian.
Tumour and Cancer Treatment in Hamsters
The therapy options are determined on the tumor’s diagnosis. Alternative therapies, such as chemotherapy or radiation, may be utilised if the tumour cannot be removed. Radiotherapy destroys cancer cells while chemotherapy prevents cell division. Surgical excision may limit tumour spread, however if the tumour cannot be removed, other therapies such as radiation may be explored.
Tumour and Cancer Recovery and Management in Hamsters
The removal of tumours and cancer therapies differ based on the type and therapy chosen. Skin malignancies are readily removed, whereas malignant tumours may need several rounds of treatment. Because of the long-term consequences, recovery might take months. Due to tumour excision, hamsters may undergo dietary adjustments and activity limits. Due to the possibility of recurrence, owners may choose not to seek sophisticated therapies for hamsters.
How to Improve Your Hamster’s Lifespan
By giving your hamster the right nutrition, environment, and care, you may help them stay healthy and live longer.
The primary component of a hamster’s diet should be a commercially available pelleted rodent food meant for mice and rats. Nutritional deficits in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids may result from diets heavy in seeds. They are also high in sugar and fat, which can cause diabetes and obesity.
Grain, fruit, and vegetable treats can be given to your hamster on occasion if you offer it a diet that is properly balanced. Avoid foods with excessive quantities of processed sugar and little fibre to promote hamster lifespan.
Hamsters require ample space and can be housed in various cages, including commercial options made of stainless steel or plastic. Large cages with nest boxes and exercise wheels are ideal. Hamsters prefer absorbent, non-toxic bedding, and regular sanitization is crucial for their health. Avoid using cedar or untreated softwood, as they can cause liver disease.
Finally, maintain the room’s temperature between 68 and 79 degrees, with a suggested humidity level between 30 and 70%, to assist keep your hamster happy and healthy.
- Medical needs of hamsters
To maintain their health and avoid dental disease, hamsters need to see their veterinarian each year. Veterinarians are able to do a comprehensive examination, keep track of weight, and look for dental problems. On their hips, hamsters have elevated, pigmented glands that might resemble tumours or thinning hair. Hamsters in good health are attentive, have bright eyes, and have normal-length nails and teeth.
They could conceal disease until it has sufficiently advanced. Cough pouch impaction, respiratory problems, diarrhoea, skin sores, obesity, dental disease, vision problems, and heart disease are examples of common ailments. Tularemia, lymphocytosis, and ringworm are a few examples of zoonotic illnesses that may transfer to people. Given that hamsters can contract illnesses from people, including influenza and COVID-19, it is essential to discuss these concerns with a veterinarian and a human health professional.
- Cleaning Needs for Hamsters
A fresh food bowl and water sipper must be supplied every day for hamsters. The cage should be cleaned once a week or as needed, and a water bottle is typically utilised. Water bottles that are fastened to the side of the cage allow hamsters to drink as well. Diluted bleach can be used to avoid respiratory and skin irritation, but the cage needs to be completely washed after cleaning. For long-haired breeds, regular brushing and nail trimming are important. Most hamsters keep themselves clean, but some, particularly Dwarf types, like to take frequent sand baths. To avoid causing respiratory discomfort, it is essential to remove the sand from the cage after washing.
- Handling Hamsters
Hamsters are bad pets for young children since they are nocturnal and easily startled. Owners should handle them with two hands, carefully cupping and holding the scruff of the neck firmly but softly. To begin socialising and taming hamsters, provide modest, high-value snacks and daily handling. They grow friendlier and more content to spend time with their owners as a result. If a hamster is cooperative, daily engagement should begin with brief, repeated bursts and then progress to longer periods of time. This method produces placid, tame, and seldom aggressive hamsters.