What To Do When A Hamster Escapes

Firstly take a deep breath and don’t panic. It may feel like a dire situation, especially that first time... yes hamsters are masters of the great escape, but once you know what to do then you’ll feel more in control and realise it’s not necessarily the disaster you imagine.

  • If you know which room your hamster is in then you have a head start. Close all doors leading out and warn everybody else in the house that you have an escapee. Remove any other pets and young children from the room.
  • If on the other hand you don’t know which room the hamster is in then you need to close off all the possible rooms – do not underestimate your hamster though; they can climb stairs and they are also quick.
  • Once the rooms are safe and secure leave a counted number of sunflower seeds in each and monitor them. Unfortunately, because of the hamster’s nocturnal habits, it may mean having to wait some time for a result. But in this way you will find out which room your hamster is in and the search can become more centralised.
  • Now the room where your hamster is hiding has been identified it is time for the next step. So... place your hamster’s cage in the room with the door open. Leave food in it and wait.... pop quietly in to the room every now and again to check.

If you are lucky, and it is surprisingly often the case, at this point the hamster will, of his own accord climb back into his nice, comfortable cage and all will be well once again. However if it is not the case then you need a second plan of attack.

How to make a Hamster trap

Take one bucket, a thick towel and a ramp – this latter can be anything that will make a secure and steady slope up to the bucket - and fix into place. Wad the bottom of the bucket with the towel to make for a soft landing. Now scatter a very small amount of food near the base of the ramp and lead upwards. As well as this place a small amount of food in the base of the bucket. What you’re hoping for here is, of course, that the hamster will follow the trail. And when he finds more food in the bottom of the bucket he will hop down to eat. For this reason the bucket needs to be shallow enough for him to get in without hurting himself but steep enough for him not to be able to get out again. You can put a little butter on the sides of the bucket if you wish to make it more difficult. If this does not work you are now officially in stage three of the campaign and it is time to up your game.

Stage Three

  • Scatter a fine dusting of flour in a circle around a small amount of food. Make sure there is no other hamster food in the room to distract him. Leave a 12inch gap around the food so that as he eats he does not disturb his own footprints. From this you will be able to see which direction your hamster has come from and when he leaves he should leave a trail.
  • Tie some lightweight string or wool securely round a monkey nut – your hamster will take this back to his hiding place and you will be able to follow. You can also try tying a small bell, such as a cat collar bell, to the food as well. When he takes the food this noise will hopefully alert you.
  • Be prepared to sleep in the room so that you are on hand to observe these activities.

Sometimes an escaped hamster will be found and returned to his cage within hours. Sometimes it takes a little longer. I have known a hamster be gone for two or three days at a time, without ill effect. I even know someone whose hamster makes such regular escapes that it has all become quite common place and she and her children go into automatic escapee mode, whereby they all have their own particular role to play in getting him back. She has got so used to it, she says, that she knows all his favourite hiding places, which narrows the search considerably. So I leave you with these last words from her. The main thing is to be patient and not to give up and to know the most likely places a hamster will head for.

Favourite Hamster Hideouts

  • Behind and underneath furniture as well as down the backs and sides of sofas etc.
  • Cabinets, drawers, shelves and bookcases.
  • Boxes – especially tissue boxes.
  • Holes – check furniture, walls and skirting boards for these. Your hamster will make use of anywhere that seems snug and safe.
  • Anywhere warm such as the behind heaters and radiators. Also heated water tanks.
  • Dark places. Hamsters love quiet hideaways to sleep the day away in.
  • Starting point should be from the cage – throw the circle wider as you go.

Good luck!


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