One thing hamsters are very good at is escaping; if there is even a small gap in their cage then they will make a bid for freedom!
It’s also possible that your pet might escape while it’s out of its cage for play time. You only need to turn away for a second for this to happen as hamsters are very fast on their feet.
The problem is that once a hamster has escaped, it’s really difficult to find them again.
So how do you find a lost hamster?
Removing the danger
Of course, it’s better to make sure that your hamster never escapes in the first place, than have to find them once they’re lost.
One of the most important things to do, as soon as possible, is to make sure any potential escape routes are removed. Make sure that your hamster cannot get through any gaps in its cage and that the cage is firmly locked. Also, try to keep the room where your hamster cage is as well sealed as possible whenever you’re not in the room with your hamster.
If you have any other pets then make sure they don’t have access to the room where your hamster lives. The last thing you want is your cat to get sight of your hamster on the loose!
Hamster come home
If you are very lucky then your lost hamster may come back to its cage on its own!
Make sure there are treats available in the cage, and that the area around the cage is quiet so that your little friend won’t be disturbed on the trip back home.
Don’t worry if this doesn’t happen straight away; it has been known for hamsters to suddenly show up back at their cage even after a couple of days of freedom.
The immediate search
When you first notice that your hamster is missing then you are obviously going to want to carry out a search. Being a member of a hamster search party can be very frustrating. Don’t forget you are dealing with a tiny creature that is speedy by nature so you are at a disadvantage. This does not mean you should give up; it just means you need to have a little patience and put a lot of thought into where you search.
Remember that once your pet is away from the familiar territory of its cage it will probably be frightened, and will want to hide itself away. Think about where you would hide if you were that small. The obvious places, such as behind and under furniture, should be checked. You should also check for any holes or gaps in furniture where your hamster could climb inside.
Remember to check in bags and backpacks, in drawers and under the items that are in the drawers.
When you’re conducting your search it’s best if you can make the area as dark as possible and use a torch. Hamsters are nocturnal animals so your pet is more likely to show its face in low light conditions.
The detective in you
If your immediate search does not have a happy ending then don’t give up! You may just need to do a little clever detective work.
Start off by placing some treats in the room(s) where you think your hamster may be hiding. If the treats disappear then at least you know you are on the right track!
You have probably seen those films where someone is lost and leaves a trail for anyone searching to follow. Well you can get your pet to do that without them knowing!
Simply scatter some flour around the treats when you place them and hey presto, you have some nice white paw prints to follow. You can also try the flour trick around cabinets and doorways, so that if your hamster ventures out at night to explore, they leave a trail right back to their hideout.
If you have the patience then you can also try placing some tinfoil on the floor by the doors in a room, then turn out the lights when it’s dark and wait for any tell-tale sounds of hamster activity.
Capturing a lost hamster
Once you have located your hamster then you need to get it back into its cage.
If you are lucky then all you will need to do is to place the open cage near to where your pet is hiding, with some tasty treats inside, and wait. Hopefully your hamster will be attracted by the treats and climb inside.
Another option, which many hamster owners have used, is the bucket trap. This involves the use of a container that is big enough for your hamster not to be able to climb out of but not big enough for it to hurt itself by dropping in. All you need to do is create a steady ramp up to the rim of the container, and place some treats inside, on a base of soft material. The idea is that your hamster will climb up and jump in to investigate, and then will not be able to climb out again. This makes it easy for you to place your pet back in its cage.
It’s important to remember that once your pet is back home it will need some time to rest and recover from its adventure. Try not to disturb them too much.
Obviously, you should always do everything you can to make sure your hamster does not get lost; but if your pet does go missing then try not to panic. Just follow all of this advice and hopefully your cute companion will be back running on its wheel in no time!