As soon as you discover that your hamster is missing, close the cage’s room door, the front door of the house, and any other exit that could lead your missing hamster out of the house. Place your cat and dog in an empty room or have them stand guard, place food and water in various corners of the house, begin looking for your hamster, and set your bucket traps.
Why do hamsters get out of their cages?
Hamsters are exploratory animals, and their wild counterparts travel hundreds of miles each night for a variety of reasons, including:
- To find a new virgin territory and richer than his own
- To find food
- To find a female or a male
- To reach a watering hole
Even in cages larger than 1000 square inches, hamsters feel claustrophobic.
A hamster is constantly looking for a way out of its cage, so don’t make it easy for it: for dwarf hamsters, use an aquarium or glass cage; and for others, use a cage with tight grills.
Know that if a hamster manages to pass its head through a hole, the rest of its body will be able to pass as well; it is for this reason that hamsters, including Syrians, escape through holes that you would think are too small for them!
Boredom is the second most common reason for hamsters to escape from their cage, following the adventurous instinct.
As a result, you should choose a large (over 1000 inches square), secure cage for your hamster and provide it with as much enrichment as possible:
- Chew toys
- Food scattering
- Sticks and twigs
- Cage runs
- Sandbox for his cleaning sessions
- A good thickness of bedding (+12 inches at least on one side of the cage) so that he can dig holes.
- A wheel adapted to his body and silent.
- Tunnels and ladders
- Hanging vegetable skewers
When you clean the cage, replace some of the old litter to keep the smell, but rotate the items in the cage to encourage your hamster to explore the cage again and avoid boredom.
Why do hamsters escape at night and how do they orient themselves in the dark?
Hamsters escape at night to avoid being seen and captured by predators because they are crepuscular and nocturnal animals.
In the dark, hamsters use echolocation to detect obstacles by emitting sounds that are inaudible to our ears.
They also use their whiskers and sense of smell to find food in the dark, orient themselves, and create a 3D map of your house to help them find their way around even when the lights are turned off.
Finally, they leave an olfactory trail wherever they go, thanks to two glands on each side of his belly, which allows him to return to his burrow or cage if he wants to.
A female hamster in heat or a hungry or thirsty hamster can escape from the cage on instinct because, as previously stated, they are exploratory animals that run long distances at night for their well-being and health.
What to do if you discover that your hamster is missing?
As soon as you notice that your hamster is missing, here are the steps to follow:
- Make sure the hamster isn’t hiding in its nest, hideouts, or a new hole in its litter box. From now on, you must be careful where you put your feet and always open the doors to the rooms with caution; it could be hidden behind any of these doors or any other furniture in your home.
- Once you are sure that the hamster has escaped, quickly run and close the bedroom door, take a quick look around the house and close the front, back and cat or dog doors. Check the bathroom and close the door, as well as the garage door and any other room that could be dangerous to your hamster. If your hamster lives upstairs, secure the stairs.
- Pick up your cat, dog, ferret, or other pet and place it in a room where you know the hamster is not hiding, or have your family keep an eye on it.
- Remove your cat’s food and litter box and store it high, as well as any other food, particularly sweets, that your hamster may have access to (secure the food in your house).
- Set up small bowls or plates quickly, place a small bowl of water in each room, and a specific and equal number of seeds in another bowl or on the floor, choose the ones your hamster prefers the most (remember the number of seeds). You can also add a small piece of fruit with a strong odor, such as a banana, strawberry, or apple, but only a small piece.
- Place your hamster’s empty cage carefully on the floor or make it easier to access by adding a ladder if it is high, and fill it with food.
- Make one or more traps (bucket traps) out of containers, boxes, or small cages to catch your hamster if it is still in the house.
- Inspect your backyard, garage, garden, and pool,… before nightfall, and hope your hamster hasn’t already left the house!
- Inform your neighbors that your hamster has escaped and may be in their backyard, and be prepared to contact petshops, animal shelters, rescue pets, and so on. If you haven’t found your hamster in the next two days, make an announcement on Facebook.
- The best times to look for your hamster in the house are at dusk and early morning; sometimes it is enough to listen to hear your hamster tickling or dropping things to help you find him and return him to his cage.
What are the risks of an escaping hamster?
Hamsters are safe in their cages, but they must be supervised outside.
As a result, a hamster that escapes from its cage faces numerous dangers, some of which are listed below:
- Falling from the roof of its cage shortly after escaping and breaking a bone or an internal organ would usually result in death within a few days!
- Being surprised by your cat, snake, or dog and triggering their hunting instinct, which will result in the death of your hamster.
- Making its way out of your house and becoming prey to an owl, coyote, or other predator, or simply a car attempting to cross the road.
- Getting sick from eating cat or dog food, or finding and eating sweets on the floor (chocolate for example).
- Chewing on electrical wires, falling down the stairs, or dropping something on your head while attempting to climb a tablecloth or a stool are all examples of dangerous behaviors.
- Being stepped on by a family member who will wake up in the middle of the night to get some water!
How do you find and catch a hamster that has escaped from its cage?
- Determine which room the hamster is hiding in
First, secure the house by closing all the exits, and then begin by detecting the room where the hamster is hiding.
Simply listen for your hamster making noises or chewing things at dusk or at night to accomplish this.
You can also put a known number of seeds in each room, close all the doors, and check the next day to see which room has missing seeds and your hamster is hiding in that room.
- Catch the hamster and return it to its cage
After locating the room in which your hamster is hiding, you may proceed to retrieve your hamster from behind a piece of furniture, under the sofa, or under the bed.
However, if the room is full of hiding places and objects and you do not have access to the interstices and all the corners, you must set a trap for your hamster, which we will use:
- The bucket trap:
This trap is made up of a bucket or an empty can that is covered with a cloth or a small fabric and placed on top of nuts or fruit.
Install a ramp to make it easier for your hamster to reach the fruit and fall into the bucket when it tries to eat it.
- A tube:
You can also use a tube to attract your hamster: plug one end of the tube, fill it with seeds, and place it on the ground.
Hamsters enjoy tunnels and holes; he will undoubtedly refuse, and you will easily recover him the following day.
- Using flour to locate and catch your escaped hamster:
You can use flour to determine which room your missing hamster is hiding in.
Prepare your vacuum cleaner for an after-cleaning.
Place a handful or two of flour in each room where you suspect your hamster is hiding.
Your hamster will most likely be drawn to the smell of the small pile of flour and will go in search of it, leaving footprints in the flour.
The next day, you will know which room the hamster is hiding in so that you can look for him and catch him, or set traps with treats if the room is difficult to access.
- If your missing hamster is scared or stressed, it will not come out to eat
In this case, you must listen and look in nooks and crannies, including the wall and air vents.
Use apple pieces scattered around the house to keep your hamster from starving, and once you’ve found its hiding spot, use whatever means necessary to get it back, such as tearing down a wall or moving a large piece of furniture.
If your hamster comes out of hiding and tries to run away again, you may need to throw a light, dry towel at it.
Check your hamster’s health after retrieving and catching it to ensure it is not dehydrated or injured.
Return him to his cage and investigate how he escaped to secure the cage.
If you can’t figure out how your hamster got out of its cage, just wait until nightfall; it’ll try again.
How can you make your hamster cage more secure?
Begin by selecting the best cage for your hamster.
Dwarfs require a large aquarium or glass cage, while Syrians require a small bar cage (I never recommend a cage smaller than 1000 inches square).
Then, because hamsters are quick learners, secure the cage door with a small padlock.
Also, make sure there are no holes in the cage walls large enough for your hamster’s head to pass through; if his head does pass through, the hamster will be able to escape.
When the cage does not have a roof, such as in aquariums, ensure that the height of the walls is double the height of your hamster when it stands on its hind legs everywhere.
How long can an escaping hamster survive outside?
Months if it has access to food and water; the hamster’s instinct to find or dig a burrow will quickly take over, and it will have a better chance of survival outside of the winter.
Remember that securing your hamster’s cage is preferable to constantly searching for it!
Provide enrichment for your hamster so that it does not become bored inside and attempt to escape.
Give your hamster plenty of food and water; hunger can cause it to flee.
If your hamster escapes and leaves the house, notify your neighbors and create a wanted poster on Facebook, which you can tape up outside.
Look for your missing hamster at your local animal shelter as well; he could have been found just a few blocks away.
If you don’t find it, remember that having a hamster at home includes the possibility that it will run away and live in the wild. So, don’t be sad, but also don’t stop looking.
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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