What to Do When Your Hamster Escapes: Tips on Finding Missing Pets
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. Thirdly, they are very reasonably priced. And, well, number four is that 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 discover that your hamster has figured out how to get out of the cage, and you now have a missing hamster on your hands.
How Hamsters Escape
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.
Try Not to Panic!
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.
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?
- Bathrooms. 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.
- Basements. 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.
What to Do When You Can't Find Your Hamster
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.
Entice Your Pet to Come Home
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.
Alert Your Family (and Possibly Neighbors)
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.
Relax and Be Patient
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.
Welcome Your Hamster Home
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.
Don't Blame Yourself If Your Pet Doesn't Return
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.
. . . And Don't Give up Hope
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!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2012 Jeannie Marie