Hamsters, like all pet rodents, are little Houdinis when it comes to making a quick escape. They are able to squeeze into the tiniest spaces and narrowest cracks, and can squirm into crevices in your home that you never even knew existed. Under floorboards and inside sofas and pianos are three classic hamster home-from-homes.
These escape artist skills are compounded by the fact that hamsters move around under the cover of darkness. Some owners find themselves trying to locate their hamster by sound at night. One particular pet known to us here at Omlet, an adventurous little Syrian hamster called Paddington, managed to get under the floorboards on the fourth floor of a large home, and re-emerged 10 days later on the ground floor, very hungry, and happy to be taken back to his enclosure!
Take note - there are lots of different methods you can use to find your lost pet
How To Locate A Lost Hamster
- One of the most important things to do before you start looking for your hamster is to make sure you get to him before your pet cats and dogs do! So, one of the first things to do is to remove other pets from your house temporarily (e.g. cats, dogs, ferrets). You could put the other pets into their carry cases (especially cats, dogs, ferrets, large birds and reptiles), or let the dog and cat play outside, if possible.
- Check the rooms on your hands and knees, investigating every nook and cranny and looking under all the furniture. (You could then keep your 'dangerous' other pets in this room, if that works).
- You can use a bucket trap to capture your roving pet (more info on this below), or put the hamster wheel out in the open in the hope that he'll sneak back for a quick spin. Some owners try treats covered in foil too - the idea here being that you will hear your runaway pet and so be able to recapture him.
Using A Bucket Trap To Catch A Lost Hamster
- The bucket trap needs to be nine or ten inches deep. At this depth, the hamster won't be able to easily climb out, but nor will he hurt himself when he tumbles in. Pad the bottom of the 'bucket' with a towel or lots of soft bedding. Make sure there's not so much padding that the hamster can use the material to climb out!
- Bait the trap with hamster-friendly food that has a strong odor, so your hamster will be tempted by it. A slice of apple or carrot, perhaps.
- Build a little stairwell with a few books, to give the hamster access to the lip of the trap.
- You could put tissue paper over the trap and bait it with treats - the hamster goes in for the snack, and falls into the trap.
- Check the bucket a few times a day to see if you’ve caught your runaway pet.
Listen for the tell-tale noises of your lost pet scrambling around
Preventing A Hamster From Escaping
To prevent your hamster from escaping again, carry out a Sherlock Holmes-like investigation into how it escaped in the first place. It may simply have run away during playtime outside the enclosure. Or perhaps it was a faulty door? Wide bars? A cage left open by mistake? An exercise ball that lost its locked door? A Great Escape involving lots of secret chewing and gnawing?
Remember, hamsters can fit through tiny gaps and gnaw their way through wood and plastic. If you notice that part of the cage has been nibbled, this might become a hole through which your pet could escape sometime soon.
Is the location of the cage an issue? If your hamster is stressed or unhappy due to noise or light, it may have run away simply to escape these undesirable things. Review noise levels in the vicinity, or whether other pets or householders may be scaring your little pal.
There are also some basic happiness checks to go through - does the hamster have have lots of mental and physical stimulation? Is the cage large enough? Are you feeding it well and regularly? Is the water bottle working? A hamster that keeps trying to escape might be unhappy in its enclosure.