If you’ve followed plenty of the other tips featured here on the site regarding hamsters, you’ve hopefully never found yourself in a position where the hamster has escaped. However, these things happen, and there’s no need to panic. Instead, you need to gather your thoughts and start to focus on getting the little guy back into his cage. They’re obviously small and pretty fast with it, so you’ll need to have your wits about you. Nevertheless, they’ll ultimately be no match for your detective skills when you put our 10 tips into practice.
1. Start the Search in the Obvious Places
If you’ve lost – and found – your hamster before, then wherever they ended up last time may well be the best place to start. If you don’t have any past experience to go on, you should begin near the cage and go from there. Assuming that’s where their escape plan started, you never know where they might have become distracted or tired. In effect, they’re more likely to have stayed near familiar surroundings than to have made a bolt for the door.
2. Focus the Search on Areas you Can’t Easily See
If your hamster is out in the open, then it won’t take much finding. The last time a member of our team lost their hamster, he was sat under the dining table, which was not the best hiding place if he didn’t want to be found. In many cases, you won’t be quite as fortunate, and you’ll have to root around. Behind and under furniture is often a good bet, as it is usually quite dark and secluded, which helps the hamster along if they’re the nervous type.
3. Move on to Warm or Dark Areas
If you’ve had no luck with the obvious holes and gaps, start to think about areas of your home that are warm and dark. Airing cupboards, water heater rooms or rooms with the washing machine in immediately spring to mind. Hamsters love these conditions in general, although it might lead to the job getting a little messier and more intensive than you may have hoped!
4. Wait Until Nighttime to Resume the Search
If you’ve searched everywhere you can think of with absolutely no luck, consider calling off the search until later on in the evening. You’ll know your hamster’s sleeping patterns better than we do, but the chances are they like to get up and about at night. With no luck finding them in a stationary position, it can be worth waiting until they make a move to track them.
5. Use Hamster Food as a Lure and Signal
You probably don’t have much around the home that a hamster would consider foraging, so their food can be a handy tool. Leave a small handful in the middle of the floor if you’re struggling to find them and keep doors closed as a matter of course. They eventually won’t be able to resist. Ideally, you’ll catch them in the act of eating and can put them back in their cage. If not, you’ll at least know which room they’re in based on which pile of food has gone down.
6. Track Them with Flour
We’re verging on rodent espionage here, but if you’re still struggling to track the little guy down after trying the above tips, it might be time to track their prints. Sprinkle flour across doorways and near and suspected hiding spots that you can’t quite reach. The hamster will come out eventually, and you can not only tell where they were based on disturbed flour but might get an idea of where they’re heading.
7. Always Leave the Cage Open and Accessible
There’s every chance that your hamster may tire of his journey around your home and may long for the home comforts of his cage. Even if you don’t hold out much hope, you should make it as easy as possible for them to get back. If their cage is normally on a table, move it to the floor so that they don’t have to attempt to climb to reach their bed. Ideally, you’ll be on hand to close the door behind them. If you can’t monitor it at all hours, you’ll have to hope that they’re happy to be back and stick around of their own accord.
8. Set a Trap
Now, we obviously don’t want to injure or scare the hamster, but a DIY mousetrap might be what you need as a last resort. Remember, we solely want to catch the hamster, nothing more, so set up your trap with a treat to attract them placed in a bucket or other container. Build a ramp to the top of the bucket and hope that they take the bait and fall into the container. Just make sure it’s tall enough that they cannot hop back out but shallow enough that they don’t injure themselves when they jump in.
9. Try a More Professional Trap
If your DIY efforts fail and you’re low on options, it may be worth buying a human mousetrap. They are specifically designed to avoid injury and will often do a better job than your homemade efforts. Be aware that there can be some risk to this and despite the manufacturers’ best efforts, they can cause minor injuries. This tip is very much a last resort if you’re worried that being lost may cause the hamster worse harm anyway.
10. Stay Patient and Don’t Panic
You need your wits about you to catch a hamster, as you never know when you might catch a glimpse of the little guy out of the corner of your eye. You shouldn’t give up and should always persevere with your chosen tactics as they’re bound to come good eventually. It can take a few hours or even overnight to get the job done due to their nature, but they rarely remain in one place for long – especially when they’re hungry.