A friend recently bought a hamster for her children, only for it to escape a few days later. Although the cheeky little chap was found safe and sound at the end of the story, it made me wonder why do hamsters try to escape? What drives a hamster to want to leave the safety of its cage? Is it for far-flung adventures beyond the bars? A bid for hamster freedom? Or are they seeking some relief from their everyday boredom?
A hamster will be content in their cage as long as they have toys, food, and water. There’s also no need to worry about your hamster escaping if you escape-proof their habitat and keep an eye on them when they’re out of their cage.
But what if your hamster manages to get away? How long can a hamster survive on its own, and how easy is it to lure it back?
Reasons why hamsters try to escape
Most hamsters don’t even fantasize about life outside of their cages. That’s because they’re perfectly content with playing with their toys, running through their tunnels, and being catered to by their human servants.
There will, however, be a small number of bored hamsters. The daily grind of eat, sleep, and play is not fulfilling enough for them, and they will seek ways to escape. If your hamster gnaws on their bars excessively, it could be a sign of boredom, and you should look for other ways to keep them entertained.
You should give your hamsters plenty of handling time outside of their habitat, no matter how big their cage is. But beware, hamsters will look for opportunities to escape. To prevent hamster escapees, make sure they are supervised at all times and, if you are easily distracted, set boundaries for playtimes such as placing them in an empty bath, playpen, or hamster exercise ball. After all, it is always preferable to be safe rather than sorry.
Can hamsters survive if they disappear?
It only takes a split second for a hamster to seize the opportunity and flee. Hamsters can move at an incredible speed because they are quick, nimble, and incredibly agile. Can a hamster survive on its own in the big wide world?
Unfortunately, hamsters are extremely vulnerable when left to their own devices due to their poor eyesight and terrible gnawing habits. A variety of factors will determine how long they can survive on their own. This includes the hamster’s health, whether food and water are readily available, the temperature of its surroundings, and whether there are any threats within the home, such as other pets, stairs, or high ledges.
Hamsters enjoy chewing on anything, including your furniture, doors, curtains, and even electrical wiring, which can be hazardous to both them and you.
Because hamsters have poor vision, they rely on their other senses to guide them. This puts them in danger if they go off without knowing where they’re going, especially if they happen to stumble outside. Bad weather, predators, parasites, and potential traps could all be fatal for your missing hamster.
How long can a hamster survive without food?
You don’t want your hamster to go missing for more than a week because they won’t be able to survive without regular food and water supplies.
How to entice a hamster back?
Your little runaway will be active at night because hamsters are nocturnal. This is the time to conduct your investigation. Here are some simple things you could do to entice them to return:
- Try placing a mixture of fresh and dried food out for when they get the midnight munchies. Foods with a pungent aroma are best, as they will help to attract the attention of your hamster from its hidey-hole. Things such as peanut butter, apple slices and fresh green vegetables such as broccoli are especially tantalizing to their taste buds. Cucumber is also good to put out as it aids rehydration (just remember to take the skin off beforehand).
- Listen out for any rustling. If your hamster is particularly stealth-like, you could try placing some tin foil under the food or in the corner of rooms to alert you to the sound of their tiny paws. You may also want to place flour around the food in the hope that they leave a trail for you to follow, back to their new home.
- Place the cage on the floor with the wheel just outside the cage door. The temptation to run on it could just get the better of them.
What places do hamsters like to hide?
We had a lovely pet hamster named Mindie when I was younger. When we returned from a trip, we discovered a hole in the cage and a missing hamster! We feared the worst after searching for hours and watching the cat stalk around with a knowing smirk on her face. But, lo and behold, a few days later, we discovered her curled up in a video box, safe and sound and completely unaware of the uproar she had caused.
The moral of the story is not to always assume the worst. Most hamsters do not like to leave their cage and will look for the nearest thing to make a nest. This is why, when looking for your escapee, you must think like a hamster!
Pet hamsters crave warmth, small spaces and somewhere close to food and water sources.
Oscar has never escaped (fingers crossed) and has never had the opportunity to do so in the time we’ve had him. We are so vigilant as owners that he is lucky if he makes it to the end of the settee before being placed back in our laps for cuddles. His cage resembles a mini assault course (thanks to the abundance of tunnels, tubes, and climbing frames we’ve been forced to purchase due to our overzealous children), and when he needs more exercise, we put him in his hamster ball.
A happy hamster should not feel the need to flee, especially if it is well-loved and cared for in a safe and secure cage. Accidents do happen, so if you come in one day and find the cage door open or the bars chewed through, don’t freak out! Your little Houdini is most likely nearby.
If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on food, toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!
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