Hamsters escaping are never good news . So the best thing to do is to prevent your hamster from escaping in the first place. But for that, we need to figure out why hamsters try to escape in the first place. This is what I’ve done with my Teddy, and how it can help you too.
This can be applied for all hamster types, and I’ll tell you where things need to be different for each of them.
So why does your hamster try to escape ?
Some hamsters adapt to their home, some don’t. But generally hamsters try to escape when they don’t feel comfortable in their home. If they feel threatened, or like they don’t have enough space, or if they’re constantly tormented by kids or other pets.
Since hamsters are very quiet creatures, easy to scare, they can get uneasy in their homes. So make sure that any other pets in the house leave the hamster alone, by separating the hamster in a different room.
If it’s the children who are always on the hamster when it would need rest, or they keep scaring the hamster, that is an entire talk you need to have with them, that I am not entitled to guide here.
But the children need to give the small animal his own space, and understand that it won’t always want to play.
Alright, now let’s talk about some common reasons that your hamster could be trying to escape, and how to prevent those.
Hamsters are very curious and want to explore
Despite being easy to scare and sometimes too shy, hamsters are curious. They want to know everything that goes on, and will pop their heads out to see see what you’re doing.
If that is the case, make sure you give the hamster plenty of attention. If it’s suitable, then you can bring the action to the hamster. Like if you’re chopping carrots, you can give him a fresh new piece to sate him and his curiosity.
An example is when I make evening tea. I usually set the mug on the kitchen counter, which is where I keep Teddy at night. He’s always curious what I have there, and I bring the mug close to him so he can smell the tea.
Once he gets a few whiffs he figures it’s not that interesting and starts doing something else.
Or when you notice your hamster very focused on trying to reach something outside the cage, distract him with a treat on the other side of the cage. Also remove the distraction, or move the cage.
Most hamsters are very active and will be all over the place
Sometimes it might seem like he’s trying to escape, but he’s just being a hamster. Rodents in general, and especially hamsters, live a very fast-paced life. They climb their cage, they run around, they will chew on everything.
So it’s not something that you should worry about, but it is something you should keep an eye on. Make sure your hamster has enough toys to keep him entertained – like bendy bridge, a hide and seek tube, lots of hiding places.
And most importantly make sure you keep your hamster well exercised. That means a hamster wheel, for him to run in. The minimum for Syrian hamsters is 9 inches/23 cm diameter wheel.
The smaller breeds like Siberian o Campbell can do with smaller wheels like 6-7 inches/15-18 cm but I recommend getting them a larger wheel as well. This is to prevent back injuries and keep the hamster from feeling too confined.
A few things to keep in mind when looking for the hamster’s exercise wheel can be found here.
Also, an exercise ball for when he is outside the cage will help greatly. Your hamster can explore the house, and will learn the smells and sounds of it as well. As well as run as much as his heart tells him to.
Just be sure to keep the ball away from other pets when the hamster is inside. A few considerations for a hamster exercise ball can be found here.
For exercise balls the same space requirements apply as the exercise wheel.
Hamsters need more space than you’d think
The cage your hamster lives in needs to be a certain size.
The absolute minimum for Syrian hamsters is 24 inches by 12 inches in floor space. That’s 61 cm by 30.5 cm for your hamster to run in. But I do recommend getting a cage with more space than that.
Siberian and other small breeds of hamsters far well in smaller cages than Syrians, but with hamsters you should always get a bigger cage than you’d first think.
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Keep in mind that most of the cages you find in stores are too small for Syrians, and the accessories that come with them are too small as well.
The best cages for Syrians are actually the ones that are suited for ferrets or chinchillas or guinea pigs. But there the space between bars is a problem because the Syrian can escape through them.
Giving your hamster a lot of space to run around and play is going to keep him much happier, and he will want to escape much less. In general hamsters need a wide and low cage, instead of one with many levels, but they can enjoy those too.
The distance between the cage wires is important, since the hamster can squeeze through them. If they can get their head through, they can get their body through as well.
So for Syrians the wire distance should be 0.4 inches/1 cm or smaller, so thy can’t get their head through. Siberians and smaller breeds need much less space between the wires. Actually, for the small breeds it’s best to get an glass tank with a wire mesh over the top.
My Teddy has a 21 inch by 12/53 cm by 30.5 with 2 extra floors, which give him about double that running space. He has bridges connecting the floors and a thick layer of bedding in case he falls.
If your want to know more about what kind of cage to get your hammy, look here. I cover the 3 main types of cage, as well as how to clean the 3 kinds of cages.
A scared hamster will try to escape
If there is something bothering or even scaring your hamster consistently, he will try to escape. He will try to run as far away as possible, and will keep escaping if you bring him back. This is a case where cage size and temperature and food quality does not matter.
So watch your hamster for a few days, and see what keeps spooking him. Pets, kids, lawnmowers, visiting aunts, it could be anything. Find the reason, and figure out a way to keep your hamster safe.
An idea would be to keep the hamster in a different room, where nothing can bother him and he can sleep peacefully. This way pets like a very curious cat won’t be able to paw at the poor hamster.
If the hamster is scared of you, the owner, than you need to build trust with him. Let him get used to you, let him know your smell, and do not rush him.
Place your hand into his cage, with a treat on it. He will come to take the food, but possibly run away after that. It’s okay, it’s a step forward. Repeat this every day until your hamster trusts you to touch your hand. From there, small steps towards holding your hamster in your hand, inside the cage.
Talk to your hamster, even if he doesn’t understand the words he understands the tone. He knows a friendly tone from a harsh one.
A word from Teddy
This was about why we hammies try to escape, but really it’s about how you can help us lead a better life with you. A happy hamster might try to escape sometimes, since we are a curious and energetic bunch.
But if you keep us well exercised, and with lots of toys and love, we’ll stick around.
If you want to know more about hamsters, and why we throw our poop around or the best way to feed us, check the articles below. You’ll get lots of great info on hamster care !