What To Do When Your Hamster is Missing

Missing for eight hours!
Missing for eight hours! | Source

Your Little Escape Artist

Hamsters are very popular pets for many reasons. First of all, they are adorable. Second, they are perfect for someone who can't have a dog or cat. A third reason is they are very reasonably priced. And well, number four is they are quite clever. Unfortunately, what goes along with being clever is that hamsters are excellent escape artists. Just when you think you are set to go to bed for the night, you could just discover your hamster has figured out how to get out of the cage and you now have a missing hamster on your hands.

Hamsters manage to escape from their cages all the time. Some hamsters are more likely to try escaping than others though. It just depends on your pet's personality. In some instances, you might have a hamster that is smart enough to learn how to open the door to her cage. In other cases, you might have a hamster that has been gnawing her way through part of the cage and is basically breaking out of her little prison. Still, there are many instances when the pet owner simply forgets to shut the cage door. Also, you could have a cage that is just not secure enough. Hamsters can often chew open a cage attachment if given the chance.

This type of attachment sometimes becomes detached.
This type of attachment sometimes becomes detached. | Source

No matter what the reason, when you have a missing hamster, you might panic. Honestly, that is not going to do any good at all. If you happen to see an empty cage, don't get upset yet. Sometimes the hamster has just escaped and you can find her immediately. You can often find a hamster lingering in an area close to the cage. If not, you are going to have to conduct a search for the missing hamster.

Hamsters are very curious.
Hamsters are very curious. | Source

Places Hamsters Like To Hide

Now is the time to start thinking like a hamster. Hamsters like to curl up in small spaces. They also like to hide under things. Some ideal hiding spots for your hamster are:

  • Shoes. If any shoes are left out, they love to crawl in them.
  • Closets. Open the closet doors and start rummaging through. Use a flashlight if necessary.
  • Kitchen appliances. Look under the stove, the fridge, and anything else the hamster could crawl under.
  • Furniture. Hamsters enjoy hiding under couches, futons, beds, dressers, entertainment centers, and so. Also, check to make sure your hamster did not somehow figure out how to crawl into the cushions or into a pillow case.
  • Boxes. If you have shoe boxes or other small boxes your hamster could crawl inside, check those out.
  • Blankets. Hamsters enjoy crawling under blankets. It's cozy—can you blame them?
  • Bathroom. Some hamsters are obsessed with the bathroom. This is especially the case if you have a lot of nice-smelling shower gels, perfumes, etc.
  • Heaters. If you have a heater a hamster could easily get inside, and the heater is not too hot, there is a chance your hamster is in there. Use a flashlight for your search and pull the heater apart, if possible.
  • Basement. You might find it dark and creepy, but a hamster doesn't mind the dark. If you have a basement, you should check it out.

Buy A Cage Without Too Many Attachments and Escape Options

When All Else Fails

If you've pretty much torn your home apart looking for your hamster, but you still can't find her, it can be very frustrating. It is still not a good idea to panic, but if you have an outburst of tears, don't feel so bad. It happens sometimes. Even if you haven't found her, chances are, she is still somewhere close by. Some hamsters will make a lot of noise when they escape and that helps a lot. Other hamsters are so quiet, you can hear a pin drop.

At this point, you need to make it inviting for your hamster to reappear. If you have other animals, try putting them in one room you are certain the hamster couldn't be hiding in, or put them in carriers if possible. Next, put the hamster's cage on the floor in the area where your hamster's cage normally sits. Open the cage door and put some of the hamster's favorite snacks right outside the door. Eventually, your hamster will get hungry, thirsty, or tired. She is likely to go back to what she knows.

While you wait, it is a good idea to alert everyone in your home about the missing hamster. You don't want anyone to step on your little pet by accident. Furthermore, if you live in an apartment building and you haven't been able to find your hamster after a pretty extensive search, you are going to want to let your neighbors and possibly building management know about your missing hamster. If you are allowed to do so, make some signs and post them. Hamsters are amazing at finding spaces you never knew existed. It is not likely she will end up in a neighbor's apartment, but you never know.

She is plotting her escape.
She is plotting her escape. | Source

What Happens Next

If possible, now you need to wait it out. It never hurts to keep looking for the hamster, but at some point, you are just driving yourself crazy. You could also be scaring the hamster and she might be less likely to come out. Try to relax and periodically check to see if the hamster returns to the cage. If you find the snacks missing, but still no hamster, you have a sneaky little escape artist. You might want to watch the cage closer and get the hamster once you see her. In some cases, your thirsty, tired hamster will just sit next to the cage or crawl right back in.

When your hamster does return, remember your hamster has been through quite an experience, too. Don't just assume your hamster is going to be ready to play immediately. Your hamster may be traumatized and not ready to socialize with anyone. In this case, lock her back up in the cage and give her some time to adjust. Sometimes hamsters can be missing for many hours or even days.

If your hamster does not return, I am very sorry. Try not to blame yourself because hamsters are mischievous little animals. Sometimes they are going to get into more trouble than they can handle. Also, I've heard stories of hamsters reappearing after long absences. I heard a story once of a hamster that showed up in someone's sock drawer after being missing for weeks. I've also heard about a hamster that was found in a garage months after escaping. Apparently he had been living on scraps from trash bags. So there is hope.

Happy hamster hunting and good luck to you!

© 2012 Jeannie InABottle

Comments 11 comments

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

I do hope this hub wasn't written from a recent experience, and that your hamster is safe and happy in its cage. When we had a hamster, we used a fish tank, and it worked out very well. We didn't need to add a cover at all. There was plenty of room, but the walls were too slippery for him to climb up.

Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

Awwww - I don't know whether to laugh or cry - the hub is so cute and funny (and useful), and then I start imagining how worried you would be while looking for her! What a fun read, and I love the tips you added here. We had pet rats for a few years, and it was always interesting to search for them when they got out (or, more likely, when the kids left them out while playing with them). Voted up and useful!

Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Millionaire Tips - Yes, unfortunately, I barely slept last night because I was searching for my hamster. She was missing for about 8 hours. She showed up at her cage at 7 AM this morning. I was so happy to see her. She is REALLY dirty and jumpy though. I have no idea where she has been, but I am so happy she is back. Maybe I need to consider using a fish tank, too.

Marcy Goodfleisch - I can definitely laugh now, but there was a lot of crying last night. I've never had a hamster hide so well before. I could also find my other hamster in about an hour. I can't even imagine where this hamster was staying... she was dirty and nervous. I am just so glad she is back! Thanks for the votes up!

Thank you both for reading and for the comments!

cabmgmnt profile image

cabmgmnt 4 years ago from Northfield, MA

Thanks for this hub. It is cute and informative. I have a chinchilla and she has escaped several times on me. One tip I learned from a book is to keep your toilet lids down if a pet like a chinchilla or hamster escape to lessen their risk of accidental drowning.

cloverleaffarm profile image

cloverleaffarm 4 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

This was a great hub. I so relate to this. We had a hamster once, and it got out a couple times. This and having a small baby were not a good combo for Voted up, and useful, so someone else doesn't lose a nights sleep!

Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

cabmgmnt - I did not realize chinchillas liked to escape so much, too. I had a hamster that constantly escaped, but this is the first time this hamster has ever escaped. And wow, did she ever take it to a whole new level! I can't believe she was missing for about 8 hours... my other hamster would usually come out when I called her name. Thanks for the tips on putting down the toilet lid... I would not have thought of that.

cloverleaffarm - I can image a baby and a hamster was not a fun time. There can't be a lot of sleep in a household like that. Thanks for the votes!

WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

I used to raise hamsters. I gave so many away, it is ridiculous. Some hamsters can rearrange their molecules on the other side of their cages. Nothing can keep them in.

I had Boogie, a little mop of a cock-a-poo. She was a born hamster hound. She found them every time. They did need a quiet rest after all of her sniffing, crying, and barking. At least they don't fly out the door like a parakeet.

Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

hahaha...your hub is so true in every sense. My friend's hamster got loose and they went frantic looking for him in their house. She called us all up to look in their 3 bedroom house.

It was fun looking all over the place for him and finally one kid found

voted up and the tips were good!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

WD Curry 111 - Some hamsters have an amazing ability to escape. I had one hamster that never stayed in her cage. However, the hamster I have now never escapes. It was a shock to find her missing. It was even more of a shock that I never found her. I had to wait for her to return to the cage hours later. I guess some hamsters are great at escaping and some hamsters are great at never being found. I could have certainly used a little dog to find this hamster this past weekend.

Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!

Ruchira - I felt so desperate when I could not find my hamster. I can imagine it would be good for a number of people to go on the hamster hunt... especially in a 3 bedroom house. Thanks for the votes up!

Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi Jeannie, that must have been a very upsetting night!

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed reading, funny and useful!

How amazing that hamster turned up in a sock drawer! I wonder where yours had been hiding?!

Voting up and best wishes Lesley

Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Yes, I felt like I was the worst pet owner ever. I could not believe she was lost for so long. I was so relieved when she reappeared the next morning! I think she was probably hiding inside the heater. She loves to play near the heater when she is in the hamster ball. I am now going to get her a sturdier cage that she can't break out of as easily. :-)

Thanks for reading and thanks for the votes! I always appreciate it!

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    Jeannie InABottle (Jeannieinabottle)1,163 Followers
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    Jeannie has been writing for HubPages for over 4 years. She covers a wide variety of topics - anything from hamsters to office work.

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