Why Do Hamsters Die So Easily? 7 Main Causes and What to Do

“Why do hamsters die so easily?” It’s a question that leaves most hamster owners perplexed and worried.  Although hamsters are cherished for their adorable antics and tiny paws, they have an uncanny knack for sleeping away too soon. As a devoted hamster owner, you want to know why your hamster died suddenly.

Hamsters die easily because of weak genes, body deterioration, diet, and heat sensitivity.Hamsters die easily because of weak genes, body deterioration, diet, and heat sensitivity. Since these pets are sensitive to most environmental stimuli like heat, they require favorable conditions that match their natural habitats. Failure to provide such conditions is an easy way to kill a hamster.

Hamsters are one of the most popular small pets in the world. They’re cute, furry, and relatively low-maintenance. The popularity of small pets like hamsters and rabbits in the modern world is attributed to their low maintenance costs compared to dogs.

Hamsters also:

  • Are relatively quiet
  • Are perfect for kids who are not ready for a dog
  • Do not need to be taken on walks
  • Do not require a lot of space

“Why do hamsters die so easily?” This is a question that many new hamster owners ask if their pet hamster died suddenly. The answer is not a simple one, as many factors, both scientific and lifestyle, contribute to a hamster’s death.

Today, you’ll know what do hamsters die of; scientific and lifestyle reasons are covered. Moreover, you’ll know what you can do to prevent the sudden death of your lovely hamster.

Why Do Hamsters Die So Easily? The 7 Main Causes

why do hamsters die so easily?
Boy holding a hamster

The main downside to owning a hamster is that they have a very short lifespan. The average lifespan of a hamster is two to three years. This is much shorter than the average lifespan of a dog, which is 10 to 13 years. The following are the some hamster death causes

1. Body Deterioration

As has been demonstrated, hamsters have a short lifespan. A big reason for this is that their bodies deteriorate quickly. This means that they get older quickly compared to other pets and may die suddenly.

In the wild, hamsters only live for 18 months on average. The Syrian hamster breed lives longer compared to the Dwarf hamster breed.

In captivity, a hamster may live up to three years if she’s well taken care of. However, most hamsters in captivity do not live that long. The average lifespan of a captive hamster is two years.

The main reason for this difference is that hamsters in the wild have to contend with many dangers. These include predators, lack of food, and harsh weather conditions. In captivity, however, they’re protected from all these dangers. This allows their bodies to deteriorate at a slower rate.

Signs of Old Age and Body Deterioration in Hamsters

While body deterioration is a natural process that all animals go through, it happens much faster in hamsters than in other pets. Old age in hamsters jets in after its 12 months. This is where their bodies start deteriorating, and you’ll witness gradual signs like:

  • They’ll begin to move more slowly
  • Their fur will start to thin
  • They’ll become less active
  • Their teeth will wear down
  • They’ll eat less

All these changes are a result of their bodies deteriorating.

You can euthanize your hamster if it’s old and suffering due to old age to help alleviate its pain as it will help them die easily. However, ensure the procedure is handled by a qualified veterinarian to avoid getting into trouble with the local laws or causing more suffering.

2. Weak Hamster Genes

Hybrid hamsters result when two different species of hamsters are bred together. This is done to create a hamster with the best traits of both species.However, this also creates a hamster that is weaker than either parent and m, ay cause the hamster to die easily.

Hybridization weakens the gene pool. When two different species are bred, their offspring will have a weaker genetic makeup than either parent. Each parent will only pass on half of their genes to the offspring.

As a result, hybrid hamsters are more likely to die younger than either parent. Most hybrid hamsters only live for about 12-18 months. This is because their bodies are not as strong as their parents’.

In addition, hybrid hamsters are more likely to suffer from health problems. They have low birth immunity and are more susceptible to diseases. Hamsters bred from healthy parents like Polymyopathy live longer because such parents don’t have hereditary diseases.

3. Hamsters are Fragile Creatures

Hamsters have a thin bone structure, and their skin is very delicate. This makes them susceptible to injuries and infections. Even the slightest fall or bump can cause a fracture or internal bleeding.

A hamster falling from a great height can easily die from the impact. Even a fall from a small height can kill a hamster if it lands on its head or back. If your home has a second story, it’s best to keep your hamster on the first floor.

It’s worth noting that a hamster falling on its head is more likely to die than one that falls on its back. This is because the head contains many delicate bones and organs. The brain is especially vulnerable to injury.

The delicate skin means that a small cut can lead to infection. If not treated quickly, an infection can spread and kill a hamster. Even a small abrasion can become infected if not kept clean.

Finally, the delicate skin makes hamsters more susceptible to heatstroke. They cannot sweat as humans do. Although they rely on panting, this is not enough to prevent heatstroke in hot weather.

4. The Wrong Diet Can Kill Hamsters

Hamsters are very sensitive to the type of food they eat. They will not survive on pellets alone. Most pet shops have diets high in protein and low in fat that are excellent for your hamster.

A diet that is too high in fat can lead to obesity and health problems. A diet that is too low in protein can cause muscle wasting and weakness. In addition, a lack of vitamins and minerals can lead to health problems.

The wrong diet leads to the following complications that can kill your hamster:

  • Digestive problems: Hamsters need a diet that is high in fiber to maintain a healthy digestive system. A diet low in fiber will lead to constipation.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: Hamsters need vitamins, minerals, protein, and carbohydrates to survive. A diet lacking in any of these nutrients will lead to health problems.
  • Obesity: Obese hamsters are more likely to suffer from health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
  • Dehydration: Hamsters need to drink water to stay hydrated. A diet that is too high in sugar can lead to dehydration.
  • Weight loss: Lack of protein will cause muscle wasting and weakness, leading to weight loss.

What Should I Feed My Hamster?

For the safety of your hamster, ensure her diet consists of:

  • Protein: This can be found in bugs, insects, eggs, meat, or tofu.
  • Fats: This can be found in seeds, nuts, or avocados.
  • Carbohydrates: Ensure your hamster feeds on fruits, vegetables, and grains.
  • Vitamins and minerals: These can be found in fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Water: This is essential for all animals. Here are the other three best alternative drinks for hamsters.

There are different types of hamster food on the market. Choosing a high-protein and low in fat food is vital. Avoid treats from stores because they contain honey, seed sticks, and yogurt drops with too much sugar.

Always make sure that your hamster’s chow, whether block or kibble, is served in a bowl or dish of some sort. Hamsters may ingest their bedding otherwise, and this may cause serious health issues.

Wedgewood Pharmacy.

5. They’re Susceptible to Diseases

Like any other animal and humans, hamsters are susceptible to diseases.

The leading hamster diseases linked to the death of most hamsters today are summarized in the table below:

Heart diseases (Congestive heart failure, atrial thrombosis, lymphoma)Amyloidosis and old age
Cancer (Lung, breast, liver)Exposure to nicotine and hyperoxia
Wet tailsStress and bacteria (Salmonella, pinworms, and protozoa).
ActinomycosisActinomyces bovis
Skin AbscessesBacterial infection of wounds
Hair Loss (Alopecia)T-cell lymphoma, cage rubbing, protein deficiency
common hamster diseases

Heart Disease

  • Congestive heart failure: When the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently, fluid backs up into the lungs and other organs. This condition is the leading cause of death for hamsters that die suddenly. It’s common in old hamsters or those with genetic predisposition whereby heart muscles are weakened and thus, cannot pump blood efficiently.
  • Atrial Thrombosis: This is a blood clot that forms in the heart and blocks blood flow. It’s common in old, obese, and diabetic hamsters. The condition is manifested through hyperpnea (rapid breathing), lethargy, anorexia, and cyanosis (bluish tint on the skin due to lack of oxygen in the blood).
  • Lymphoma: This is a cancer of the lymphocytes (white blood cells). It’s common in hamsters that are over two years old. The condition is manifested through anorexia, lethargy, and diarrhea.


This is a general term for a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells. Cancer is common in old hamsters. The most common types of cancer in hamsters include:

  • Lung cancer: It’s mainly caused by exposure to tobacco smoke, radiation, and other carcinogens. It has been found to be common among Chinese hamsters.
  • Breast cancer: It’s the most common type of cancer in female hamsters manifested through the formation of lumps in the mammary glands.
  • Liver cancer: It’s common in hamsters exposed to aflatoxins (toxins produced by mold). It’s manifested through malignant tumors.

Wet Tails

Wet tail refers to a disease characterized by diarrhea, dehydration, and anorexia. It’s common in young hamsters (3 months to one year) that are stressed or have a poor diet. 

Although the exact cause of wet tail disease in hamsters is unknown, scientists link it to Campylobacter bacteria.

Wet tail in hamsters is fatal if not treated early.

Bacterial Infections

These include pneumonia, ear infections, and skin infections. They’re common in immunocompromised hamsters or those with a weakened immune system. The most common symptom of a bacterial infection is fever.

Hamster diseases like eye infections, flu, and diarrhoea can be easily treated and are not that fatal for your hamster. If you leave an infection untreated for long enough it can be one of the hamster death causes.

6. Stressors

why do hamsters die so easily?
Playing hamster

Stress is the leading indirect hamster death causes. I It weakens the immune system, making the hamster susceptible to diseases. The most common hamster stressors include:

  • Inadequate housing: Overcrowding, lack of hiding places, and lack of enrichment.
  • Loud noises: Hamsters are sensitive to loud noises.
  • Excessive handling: Handling a hamster too much can cause it to be stressed.
  • Inadequate diet: A diet that is lacking in nutrients causes stress in hamsters.
  • Change in routine: Hamsters are creatures of habit, any change in their routine can cause them to be stressed.

It’s not always easy to notice when your hamster is stressed. You must be a keen observer. The common signs of a stressed hamster you should look for include:

  • Hair loss
  • Aggressive behavior like biting
  • Excessive salivation
  • Hyperactivity

7. Lack of Social Interaction for Dwarf Hamsters

According to the humane society, Dwarf hamsters are social and enjoy living in pairs. If you house them alone, they may become stressed, leading to health problems and even hamster’s sudden death.

When housing these hamsters, you must:

  • Provide adequate housing: This includes a spacious cage with plenty of hiding places and enrichment.
  • Handle them carefully: Handle them gently and avoid handling them too much.
  • Provide a healthy diet: Feed them a diet rich in nutrients and low in sugar.
  • Avoid loud noises: Hamsters are naturally nocturnal, which means that they sleep during the day. As a hamster owner, avoid loud noises during the day because your hamster needs a humble time to sleep.

How to Keep Your Hamster Healthy and Ensure She Lives Long

It’s easy to panic because of the many things that can hurt your fuzzy friend. However, there are powerful actions you can take to ensure that your hamster lives a long and healthy life. They include:

Providing a Clean and Spacious Cage

A clean and spacious cage is essential for your hamster’s health. It should be big enough for your hamster to move around freely and have plenty of hiding places.

The cage must be cleaned daily to remove any waste and prevent the spread of diseases. A dirty cage harbors fleas, mice, bacteria, and parasites that will make your hamster sick.

If your hamster died suddenly, you might want to check its cage to see if it was kept clean or not.

Below is a procedure for cleaning a hamster cage:

  1. Remove all the objects from the cage
  2. Wash all the objects in hot soapy water
  3. Rinse the objects with clean water
  4. Dry the objects with a clean towel or in the sun
  5. Spray the cage with a disinfectant and let it air dry
  6. Put back all the objects in the cage

Enriching Your Hamster’s environment

An enriched environment is essential for your hamster’s mental and physical health. It should include hiding places, toys, and plenty of space to move around.

You can enrich your hamster’s environment by:

  • Adding hiding places like cardboard boxes and tubes
  • Adding toys like chew toys and exercise balls
  • Ensuring the cage is big enough for your hamster to move around freely
  • Eliminating hamster stressors like loud noises and excessive handling

Providing a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is essential for your hamster’s health. Feed them a diet rich in nutrients and low in sugar. The diet should consist of fresh vegetables, fruits, hay, pellets, and water.

Avoid giving them sugary treats as they can lead to obesity and health problems that hamsters die easily of. Although you cannot prevent genetic heart conditions, you can minimize their impacts by reducing your hamster’s salt intake.

Provide fresh water daily and change it often to prevent the spread of bacteria.


Exercise is essential for your hamster’s health. It helps them stay active and prevents obesity.

Ensure your hamster has enough exercise by:

  • Adding an exercise wheel to their cage
  • Taking them out for supervised playtime in a safe area
  • Getting a hamster ball for them to run inside

A Word From Farewell Pet Care

Now that you have answers to the burning question, “Why do hamsters die so easily?” it’s your responsibility to keep your fuzzy friend healthy. Provide a clean and spacious cage, a healthy diet, and plenty of exercise. By doing so, you’ll help your hamster live a long and happy life.

Do you have any tips you think should be added? Share them in the comments below. You can also ask a question in the comment box, and we’ll respond.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do hamsters die after 2 years?

Hamsters die after 2 years because they have a short life span. The short hamster lifespan is necessitated by weak genes, inbreeding, and poor living conditions. To ensure a healthy lifestyle for your hamster, provide a clean and spacious cage, a healthy diet, and plenty of exercise.

Why do hamsters die so violently?

Hamsters die so violently because they are often injured by their owners or through accidents. The most common hamster injuries include broken bones, cuts, and bruises. To prevent these injuries, handle your hamster carefully and provide a safe environment for them to play in.

Can hamsters die from being scared?

Yes. Hamsters can die from being scared because they have weak hearts. When they are scared, their heart rate increases and they may suffer from a heart attack or atrial thrombosis. To prevent this, do not scare your hamster and provide them with an environment free from loud noise.

Do hamsters die suddenly?

Hamsters have a short lifespan of 2 years causing them to die suddenly on you. To avoid this shock, be aware of hamster death causes and the signs it is dying.

What are some signs my hamster is dying?

Here are a few signs that your pet is at the end of its life cycle;

  • Lethargy 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Red eyes 
  • Whimpering noises  

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