Rodent Lifespan – How Long do Rodents Live?

When considering a pet, several elements will influence your pick. One of the most important is the lifespan of the animal you choose. You would not want to deal with the loss of an animal that you have formed a deep emotional connection with every few months.

This is not only emotionally draining but also financially draining because it introduces the expense of replacing your pet. On the other hand, a pet that lives for a very long time means higher maintenance needs.

Getting the right balance with a pet rodent seems like the safest choice. There are several rodent species with different lifespans.

The following is a guideline on how the lifespans of different rodents compare to guide you in making a choice that will work best for you.

Lifespan of Popular Pet Rodents

Rodent Lifespan in the wild (years) Lifespan as a pet (years}
Hamsters 1-2 2-4
Guinea pigs 1-4 4-8
Gerbils 2-3 2-5
Rats 1-2 4
Mice 1 2
Degus 1-4 6-8
Chinchilla 8-10 15-20
Sugar glider 9 12-17
Chipmunks 2-3 6-8
Lemming 1 2.5
Agouti 10 15-20
Squirrel 12 20

Factors That Influence the Lifespan of Rodents

The above table only gives you a general idea of how long you can expect to live with your pet. Even so, several aspects will determine the exact lifespan of a rodent. Below are tidbits on some of these aspects.

– Genetics

The genetic makeup of your pet rodent can predispose it to various conditions that affect its life quality and longevity. Most people will not pay much attention to the genetics of their pet, believing that this is something over which they have no control.

While this notion might be true to some extent, you can influence the genetics of your pet rodent by being careful about the breeder from whom you get the animal. Some breeders take great care to ensure that the animals they breed come from a background with specific genes.

Some will, for instance, want a docile line of rodents, while others opt for variations in the colors and sizes of their pets. To get the desired trait, breeders will look for an animal with the same trait, so that the gene is passed to an offspring.

Study the genealogy of your pet rodent before taking it home to know what can affect its lifespan.

– Environment

The environment you give your pet rodent influences its comfort and health. You should aim to give it an environment that closely mirrors the one it is used to in the wild. This will ensure the animal remains comfortable.

One thing that most pet owners will err on is the cage size for their rodents. Though most rodents are small, this does not mean squeezing them into the smallest possible space.

Give them enough room in their cages to exercise and move around so that they remain healthy. Moreover, ensure the cage has enough space for the addition of play or exercise items to keep the rodent fit.

– Food and Diet

Be careful to get the food types and portions right when feeding a rodent. Some foods are poisonous to specific rodent species and might cause accidental death.

For example, chocolates have a substance called theobromine that is toxic to hamsters and can kill them, so they are best negated from their diets.

Furthermore, be careful not to overfeed your pet because this places it at high risk of obesity, which shortens its lifespan.

– Stress

The location of a rodent’s cage can make it stressed. Most rodents do not like places with loud noises and a lot of light. When placed in these environments, they learn to be on high alert because they think they are at risk.

This is an inborn trait because the animals have lots of predators in their natural environments. Stressed rodents are irritable, nippy, and generally in poor mental or physical health.

– Predators

Be careful about the animal species you choose to house in the same place as your pet rodent. Some big animals like cats and dogs might terrify the rodent and leave it stressed, thus decreasing its lifespan.

Other than stress, these animals might eat your pet rodent. Some of the other rodent predators you should avoid in your home include snakes, weasels, eagles, hawks, and owls.

– Breeding

It is common for most people with pet rodents to want to increase their animal populations. Even so, breeding will often take a toll on your beloved rodent. You should be careful to only breed the animal when it has reached the right age.

Moreover, leave as much time between pregnancies so that the rodent can regain its health. Too little time between pregnancies will wear out your female rodent and decrease its lifespan.

– Diseases

Rodents, like all animals, are at risk of contracting different diseases. The most common ones in pet rodents include anorexia, respiratory infections, and tumors.

To minimize the odds of losing your pet rodent to an illness, get the required vaccinations from a vet, and be careful to notice any changes in the animal so you can get it checked promptly.

Why Do Some Rodents Have Such A Short Lifespan?

In general, small animals live for a shorter time compared to larger ones. The reason for this might lie in the animals’ evolutionary makeup.

Since wild rodents did not expect to live for a long time because of high predation, their bodies may have evolved in ways that made the development of biological abilities to sustain long lifespans a non-critical factor.

Which Rodent Has The Longest Lifespan?

According to sciencemag naked moles have the longest lifespans among rodents since they can live for over thirty years.

Wrapping Up

With the information above, you know how long you can expect to live with your pet rodent and the elements you should avoid to maximize its lifespan.

Irrespective of the lifespan of a pet rodent, you are sure that it will make a wonderful pet for your household. This is provided you give it the appropriate care for its species.

avatar Jane
Jane is an experienced animal care specialist with a focus on rodents and small mammals, with over 10 years of experience in the pet industry. Her articles provide practical guidance on choosing the right pet and managing common health issues. Jane is an advocate for animal welfare and supports organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife. read more...

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