If you’re looking for information on this topic, then you’re probably leaving home for a few days. This was always our concern when Alexandra and I left town over the weekend or for the entire week.
So how much can a hamster survive without food or water ?
The short answer would be that hamsters can live about 3-4 days since they last ate or drank water. So if you hamster just ate and had some water on Monday morning, you’ll find him still in good condition by Wednesday evening or Thursday afternoon.
Never let your hamster go without food or water longer than that, since they can develop health problems without proper care.
Of course, this all depends on several factors, including: how old the hamster is, how well you’ve taken care of him, if he’s ill or healthy, the temperature of the room he’s in, etc.
This is all great to know, but let’s see why your hamster can only live for so long without food or water, and what you can do to make his life easier.
How long can a hamster live without food ?
Our Teddy taught us a lot about how to care for a hamster, and when it comes to food we’ve learned that hamsters are hoarders.
It might look like your hamster ate everything you’ve put in his little bowl, but when you clean his cage you’ll notice he has a nice stash in his house/hideout.
Hamsters hide food to be sure they have enough in case of an Apocalypse. But that stash doesn’t last them for more than 1-2 days.
It also depends on what kind of food you give your hamster. We gave Teddy grains and pellets, we have him pieces of vegetables, we have him a bit of boiled chicken, boiled egg white, bread, grapes, etc.
All those things keep your hamster fed for different periods of time. Protein-based foods will keep your hamster longer than vegetables, but grains and pellets keep him fed the longest.
If you want to know what your hamster can eat, then check out my article on what to feed your hamster. I’ll also tell you what foods to avoid, and talk about pre-made food mixes on the market.
How long can a hamster live without water ?
The water requirements for a hamster are a bit iffy, since they vary according to the size of your hamster. In general it’s about 10 ml (0.33 fl oz) per 100 grams (3.5 oz) of hamster, per day.
So if your hammy is like Teddy, a fully grown Syrian hamster who weighs around 170 gr, then he’d need 17 ml of water every day. So that’s a 6 ounce hamster who needs 0.57 fluid ounces of water per day.
If your hamster last drank water this morning, then he’d be alright for only 2-3 days. This is without any food at all, since they can draw water from their food as well.
Dry pellets and grains provide little to no water, but vegetables and fruits give them a fair amount of water so hamsters can survive for about a week without a water tube.
If your hamster has somehow escaped and is roaming somewhere, know that he’s pretty good at finding and drinking condensation from pipes, or a small puddle somewhere. It’s not good for him, but he can find them easily in a worst case scenario.
But if he’s in a closed cage, then his survival is limited.
If you want to know how much water to give your hamster, then check out this article here. I’ll also tell you what you can do when you hammy isn’t drinking any water, and how to see if his water bottle works.
In case you’d like to know more about how to care for your hamster, you can check out these 15 essential steps.
How to leave food and water for your hamster for a few days
If you’re leaving home and there is no one that can come over to look after your hammy, here’s a few ideas.
In general you should leave your hamster very dry and very wet food as well, and a full water tube. So that would be grains and pellets, along with a leaf of lettuce or a piece of cucumber, and a whole water tube.
The amounts vary according to how long your hamster will be alone. If you’re leaving just for the weekend, from Friday afternoon til Sunday afternoon, that’s 48 hours.
Your hamster, assuming he is a fully grown adult, and healthy, left in a room that is not cold or humid or drafty, will survive well enough with just one serving of pellets and the water he already has in his tube. He will hoard some food in his house as well, so there’s extra food there already.
If you’ll be gone for longer than that, your hamster will need more food and water.
To make sure his water is sufficient, best to fill up the water tube fully. The one we have has a capacity of about 150 ml/5 fl oz which would last our Teddy nearly 9 days.
To make sure your hamster has enough food for 5 days, provide him with:
- Dry food like grains, seeds, pellets for about 3 days – that’s about 2-3 teaspoons of dry food per day
- A dry biscuit – the ones we have are 6 grams/ 0.2 oz each, which lasts our Teddy for about 3 whole days to nibble on, as long as he has pellets and grains as well.
- A few slices of water-based veggies and fruits – cucumber, apple, seedless grapes, carrot, lettuce. Whatever is most readily available. Not cabbage.
This depends heavily on your hamster’s disposition. If he eats a lot and is very greedy, then this will not be enough, and you will have to provide him with more before you leave.
Some hamsters binge on their food, and some only take what they need and a bit more to hide in their house. So observe your furball, and if he’s greedy leave him more dry food, so he’ll be alright with you leaving for 5- days.
If you like this article so far, then you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. There’s more info headed your way after this image.
How does health and age factor into this ?
If your hamster is still a ‘child’ (under 3 months) then he will not survive as long as an adult. Young hamsters are weaker than adults, and need more food and care.
Even if they’ve reached their full size, there are a lot of changes happening in their bodies still, and they need the extra food and water and rest.
But what if your hamster is a senior ? Hamsters can live for 2-3 years depending on the care they’ve had when they were young so that their immune system developed well.
So if your hamster is approaching the 2 year mark, then we will probably be slower and weaker, and will need more care. Leaving him alone will be just as tricky as leaving a young hamster.
Likewise, if your hamster is healthy and has no obvious illnesses or diseases, he will fare better if left alone for a few days.
If the hamster is sick, we do not recommend leaving him alone, and insisting upon finding someone who can check up on him regularly if you absolutely must leave.
How we make sure Teddy is alright when we leave
In our case, we have the option of leaving our house key with a neighbor we trust, or a family member. They live close and can check up on Teddy regularly, and leave him food every day.
Water is not a problem since we leave Teddy water for a whole week.
So if you can, please ask your neighbor or family members if they can spare a few minutes each day, or every other day, to come and check up on your hamster, and leave it food. A quick training on how much food to leave, and how to close and open the cage is enough.
Other times, when we only leave town for just a couple of days we don’t ask someone to look after Teddy. We’ve left him for 48 hours with food and water, and found him safe and happy when we came back.
We still left a key with our neighbor, just in case. But for this we made sure Teddy has:
- enough dry food for a day (2-3 teaspoons of grains and pellets),
- about a quarter of the dry biscuit we mentioned earlier
- a full water tube
- and a couple slices of carrot or cucumber
This is all accounting for the fact that he has a stash of food in his house as well, in case of emergencies.
When we leave Teddy for a few days, even if it’s just the weekend, we take care that the central heating is set to 22 Celsius. That’s 71.6 Fahrenheit, and it’s an average temperature that will be alright for Teddy.
This way we’re sure he’s not too cold or warm, and there is not too much humidity in the air as well.
A word from Teddy
I’m glad you stuck with us so far, and I hope you’re checking this info preemptively, and your hammy is safe. You’ll always get good info from Dragos and Alexandra, and I’ll be sure to tell them everything you need to know about hamsters.
So I hope this info on how long a hamster can live without food or water was helpful to you ! I hope I was a good example.
Feel free to check the other articles on here as well, you’ll find info on the best cages for hamsters, how to handle a hamster, even what we can or can not eat. Take a look !