Firstly, don’t panic. Hamsters don´t escape to go anywhere in particular, they just want to explore, be free, and get food. If he has only just escaped, try calling out his name, offering tasty food and searching the room the cage is in. If you don´t fine him, or if he has escaped during the night, they are relatively easy to find.
Firstly, any pets such as dogs or cats should be closely watched, they often know where you hamster is, and some will even try to eat your hamster. If you know what room your hamster is in, try to keep other pets out.
If you don’t know what room the little houdini is in, simply place a few sunflower seeds in each room, preferably in a dark corner, and if possible sprinkle a little flour around the seeds. A hamster will wait until everybody in the house is silent before coming out, so don´t wait up, just go to bed (remember to close every door!!) and check the seeds in the morning, whatever room he´s hiding in will be minus the seeds! And hopefully there will be little flour paw prints leading to his hiding place.
Once you´ve found the room he´s in, there are many things to do. Firstly, always keep the door shut, inform everyone else in the house so they will be careful, and just be aware when moving furniture around. You can try looking through the whole room, but they are incredible at hiding and chances are you won´t get lucky! But don’t fear, I know people who have lost their hamster for weeks, and thought they must be dead, only for them to run out in front of them while they´re watching telly one night!
For the first few nights your hammy may want to just stay put and stay safe, if you find any holes in your walls / pipes / loose floorboards / etc. Don’t cover them up, hammy is 90% of the time in a place like that, informing the neighbours may be an idea!
The most tried and tested method of re-capturing your little buddy is simple. I would always suggest leaving the open cage on the floor, with plenty of water and bedding (but no food!) and you may find him snuggled up asleep in the morning, if not, then try the infamous bucket trap.
Take a container, too tall for a hamster to get out of, but not too tall that he´ll be hurt falling into it. Put a handful of hammy food inside, and add some strong-smelling food, I find cheese works great, as does peanut butter or apple. But if you know what he likes, just use that. Make a ramp up to the bucket, and rub the apple onto the ramp, or sprinkle minute particles of food up the ramp. Your hamster will be hungry wherever he is, and will jump into the bucket to get the food, and will not be able to get out. Its a good idea to add some bedding so he doesn’t get cold, but be warned hamsters are escape artist pros, and will pile up bedding to climb on and make their escape! Also, hamsters stretch pretty long, so can get out buckets you think they couldn’t.
Be patient, they can survive for 3 days without food or water, so you might not see them until they are hungry. Also, they will steal dog or cat food and water, and will find scraps of food in any house! They nearly always end up in the kitchen! Its a good idea to do a good hoover (taking care not to hoover up the hammy of course!) to make sure they will fall into your trap.
Be careful if your hamster is in the walls, once they get outside they will not survive. They are domesticated animals and cannot survive without us anymore. They will chew and chew, a great clue as to where he is, just sit in the dark and listen! But they can chew through electrical wires, harming themselves and costing you money.
Overall, if your hammy doesn’t return, don’t give up straight away, leave out the trap and / or the cage. Always provide water and food, its better to have a hamster that’s lost, but alive, then one that has died of starvation or thirst.
I hope this helps, but please, please feel free to ask me any questions, Id be happy to help! Here are a few places I have found my hamsters previously, they seem to be the most common hideouts! Oh, and always take note of where your hammy was staying if possible, chances are, next time he escapes, he´ll be there!
And once he´s safe and sound back in his cage, your job is not over! He must have escaped somehow, check all the cage, fittings, locks, etc. If he´s chewed through somehow, then he might be bored. provide some toys to keep him happy. I have found hamsters will learn fast how to open wire cage doors, so simply shutting them will not do! Get a spring lock. And the plastic cages often have doors with plastic locks, hamsters can chew through plastic. Glass tanks seem to be the safest, but hamsters will climb on their houses and wheels, push the lid upwards, and hop out! Just check the cage regularly and provide lots of entertainment inside the cage to keep them busy.
Places that hamsters have turned up in:-
- The back of washing machine / fridge.
- Inside coat pockets
- Inside sofas / chairs – watch out when you sit down!
- Behind fireplaces
- In the walls / floors
- In your bed!
- Top of the curtain rails???? How did they manage to get up there?!
- In cupboards / closets
- Anywhere warm, dark and away from noisy humans!
PetStreet Editor www.petstreet.co.uk is the UK’s leading social network for pet -lovers.