What to Do When Your Hamster Escapes: Tips on Finding Missing Pets

Jeannie has been writing online for over eight years. She covers a wide variety of topics—anything from hamsters to office work.

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!

© 2012 Jeannie Marie

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on November 11, 2020:

If you are hearing her, that is a good sign. Leave the cage on the floor with the door open. Sit out her favorite food and she is likely to show up. Good luck!

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on November 11, 2020:

I hope you found your hamster. Leaving food out will often bring them back. Good luck!

Tyeshia Haslam on September 06, 2020:

I can’t find my hamster I have just lost her but I can hear her but she runs away

JadeLeeDynast01 on September 04, 2020:

I accidentally left my hamster cage open and now I can’t find him. I’m pretty sure he’s in my room because the area under my door is pretty small. I’m worried though because he would have fallen off of the little bench that his cage was on. I’m worried and scared and somewhat freaking out.

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on June 16, 2020:

I would try leaving food out to see if the hamster will come out. Unfortunately, since it's been a while, it's possible she somehow got outside. You may want to tell your parents. They might try to find the hamster in a place you didn't think about looking. Good luck!

Luna-Chan on June 15, 2020:

My hamster is missing in the walls and I can’t tell my parents about it the owner is my sister and we’re pretty sure she’s gotten lost forever is there anything to do she’s been gone for four days now

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on July 30, 2019:

I hope you have found your hamster. Leaving some food out on the floor and putting the cage on the floor beside the food helps.

Leila Sanchezhe on May 01, 2019:

My hamster is missing and I looked everywhere what do I do ?

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on February 06, 2019:

Yes, httpuhbpagescom! They are quite sneaky like that. I am glad you found your hamster. Thanks for your comment.

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on February 06, 2019:

MyHaMsTeRNaMeIsMiLkTeA, it's funny how a hamster can figure out his or her way home. I am glad your hamster came back! Thanks for sharing.

httpuhbpagescom on January 26, 2019:

My hamster had escaped when I was asleep, when I was looking for her, she wasn't anywhere in my room, then I decided that she was somewhere hiding from me, then I heard her messing with some wood, thought that she was in her cage, she wasn't, then I checked my drawers, and I found poop pellets in my underwear drawer, then I realized she was in my drawers, checked my sock drawer and saw something move, then I realized she was in there! I picked up my hamster ball, put a blueberry treat in, she moved to another drawer, then moved to my underwear drawer, then moved back to my sock drawer then got in, I still don't know how she even got into the drawer in the first place.

MyHaMsTeRNaMeIsMiLkTeA on January 07, 2019:

My hamster's cage was left open when i was cleaning the cage, one escaped. We couldn't find the hamster and we gave up. 7 hours later its showed up back at the front of the cage! So I guess the hamster knows its home!

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on September 25, 2018:

Try sitting out food and waiting for your hamster. Usually a hamster that doesn't escape much gets a little confused and takes longer to return. I hope your hamster comes back soon!

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on September 25, 2018:

I hope you found her. Sometimes they disappear for a while before returning. It sounds like you are doing the best you can do for the situation.

ibeati13 on September 18, 2018:

My baby hamster has gotten away from me,she has been missing for three days.I have already looked every where in my room where she went missing from,I have left her food dish and cage on the floor,and has locked my two cats out of my room.Any other advice?

Fatihah on September 14, 2018:

My hamster just went missing I usually let my hamsters out for 10 minutes around my room and one that usually escape is smallest one but now the one that missing is bigger one and I already find around my room but still doesn't found him... I am panicked because my mom hates animal inside house so she told me if she found them then she going to throw them outtt

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on March 13, 2012:

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!

Movie Master from United Kingdom on March 13, 2012:

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

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on March 12, 2012:

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!

Ruchira from United States on March 12, 2012:

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 him...lol

voted up and the tips were good!


WD Curry 111 from Space Coast on March 12, 2012:

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.

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on March 11, 2012:

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!

Healing Herbalist from The Hamlet of Effingham on March 11, 2012:

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 sleeping..lol. Voted up, and useful, so someone else doesn't lose a nights sleep!

Corey from Northfield, MA on March 11, 2012:

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.

Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on March 11, 2012:

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!

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

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!

Shasta Matova from USA on March 11, 2012:

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.

Taming A Dwarf Hamster

Taming and handling a dwarf hamster takes time.With the right care, your hamsters will become very tame and easy to handle. They key is to work with your hamster a little each day to successfully tame your pet.

It’s worth noting that Roborovski hamsters can be hard to handle due to their small size and agility. Taming a Robo definitely takes more time and is more suited to an experienced dwarf hamster keeper.

When your first bring your dwarf hamster to its new home, don’t try and handle it straight away. Give the animal time to settle into the new environment and regularly talk to your hamster so it becomes familiar with your voice. After a few days to a week, start offering treats to your hamster by hand and lightly stroke the animal when possible.

Once you’ve reached this stage, you can try this taming process:

  • Place your hand flat of the surface of the hamster cage and allow your pet to explore – place a treat in the middle of your hand to encourage this
  • Once familiar with your hand, gently scoop the dwarf hamster from underneath and lightly stroke him/her
  • Now you can start lifting your hand into the air when the hamster is scooped – don’t rush this and slowly increase the height over a few days to build trust
  • Now you can try picking up your dwarf hamster and holding him outside the cage!
  • Always award treats whenever you have a successful taming session with your pet

Hamster Handling Tips

Don’t approach your hamster from above. Predators will often attach a hamster from above in the wild which is why they can become scared or flighty when you attempt this in captivity. Instead, scoop your dwarf hamster from underneath its body.

It goes without saying, but do not squeeze or drop a dwarf hamster from a height. Hamsters are fragile animals and tightly squeezing as you pick one up won’t do it any good (this can also cause biting). If you’re worried about dropping your dwarf hamster, simply hold him near ground level or over a soft landing area.

Always supervise children when they’re handling dwarf hamsters. Remember these are small animals and can’t be treated like a toy. Poor handling techniques will either scare a small hamster or cause it to feel threatened and therefore inflict a bite.

Don’t rush it . The taming process can take a week, or it could take a few months – it depends on the hamster! A little handling time each day is the best way to successfully tame your pet.

You might not be able to tame a Roborovski. Robos are very small and incredibly quick. That isn’t the best combination for handling! You may be better off with a different species of hamster if handling is one of your top priorities.

In a five-year survey conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, during which more than 1,000 pet parents were polled, the ASPCA found that 15 percent of homes with a pet had lost a pet in the past five years. Even though more dogs are outside pets than cats, the percent of dogs lost and cats lost was nearly identical 14 percent lost dogs and 15 percent lost cats. On a positive note, 75 percent of runaway kitties were returned home to their pet parents.

Wearing a collar and ID tag could be the difference between never seeing Kitty again and a happy reunion. His collar isn't just to make him look well-dressed, he should always have an ID tag on it. It should say your pet's name, your phone number, your address and possibly the information for his vet or other emergency contact. If you have to move or get a new number, make sure his tag is updated. Give it a peek every now and again to make sure the tag isn't difficult to read if so, it should be replaced. Remember, Kitty collars should never be too tight and you should opt for a break-away or stretch collar for Kitty. These collars will keep him from strangling himself should he get hung up in a tree or under a fence.

How to Find a Lost Hamster

“Sit with the lights off and listen,” says Victoria Raechel, 21, a Canadian YouTuber with 413,000 subscribers and nearly 60 million views on her channel dedicated almost entirely to hamsters. If your hamster escapes its cage, don’t be too hard on yourself you’re dealing with a smart rodent prone to slip away. First, close all your doors. Look at night (hamsters are nocturnal). “You’ll hear chewing and rustling,” Raechel says. Check small, dark spaces, like under the fridge, beneath a dresser, between couch cushions, even inside a box of tissues.

Raechel stumbled into YouTube hamster stardom as a preteen. By 10, she had her first hamster. By 12, inspired by YouTube makeup tutorials, she started uploading her own how-to guides on the thing she knew best: hamster husbandry. She now makes a living on ad revenue from her videos. This year she bought a condo. Over the years, Raechel has had to locate escapees half a dozen times. Don’t panic. “If they can find food and water, they can survive a pretty long time,” she says. She’s heard from people who’ve lost a hamster, given up the search, bought a new one, only to have the fugitive turn up months later.

A vast majority of Raechel’s viewers genuinely want to do better by their pets or want to buy a T-shirt from her online store that reads: “Hamster Servant.” But darker, meaner forces track her, too. “I’ve had quite a few creepy experiences,” she says. People have set up social media accounts just to malign her. She never shares her full name publicly (Raechel is her middle name), or even what province she lives in with her longhaired Syrian hamster named Lenny.

Put your enclosure on the ground, door open, entryway smeared in a thin layer of peanut butter. “A lot of hamsters will just crawl back in for their nest and food,” Raechel says. If that doesn’t work, try “the flour method.” Put three sunflower seeds on the floor in each room. Sprinkle all-purpose flour around the seeds. If you find white dusted prints and missing seeds, close off the area and do a thorough search. If your hamster is a repeat runaway, get a bigger cage you’ve most likely given the animal a world too small to be satisfying.

Hamsters are most active at dawn and dusk, which can be frustrating for children who want to play with them during the day. Also, their early morning activity may disturb their guardians’ sleep.

Overbreeding has caused hamsters to be prone to congestive heart failure at an early age (as early as 6 months old). Treatment for this painful condition can be costly, and there is no cure. Hamsters are also prone to an incurable kidney disease called amyloidosis and are susceptible to many different types of dangerous bacteria that can lead to diarrhea and dehydration. Some of these bacterial strains can also infect humans.

Watch the video: How To Look For A Lost Hamster

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