Hamsters are such escape artists. You look at a hamster and think, that is a cute and very adorable pet. But don’t get fooled by their cute ears and sweet face, these hamsters can bring so much trouble for such small creatures.
One would think “how can this tiny animal can escape an enormous cage?” In this article, I will discuss the ways for a hamster to escape and answer the popular question “why is my hamster trying to escape. And of course, how to stop hamsters from escaping.
WAYS FOR HAMSTERS TO ESCAPE
Before we get on the reasons why hamsters try to escape, let’s first discuss how hamsters actually do it. It goes from basic to full-on talent.
Squeeze through the metal bars
If you are housing your hamster with a store-bought cage, these cages often have metal bars around the wall. Unfortunately, not all ready-to-use hamster cages are big enough, which forces hamster owners to use long and big cages made for other pets.
These cages designed for other rodents are bigger than hamsters, this means the spaces between metal bars are wider. Hamsters can easily squeeze their way out of these kinds of cages.
Sometimes, if you get lucky enough and found a cage that is for hamsters, the metal bar spaces are still too big for Dwarf Chinese hamsters.
Chew the way out
Hamsters are also talented chewers. They can chew through wood and plastic easily. Hamsters don’t even need to chew a big hole, just enough to squeeze themselves out. Again, if you are using plastic or even a wood cage, hamsters can easily chew through it and escape. This is the reason we usually recommend glass tanks as hamster cages.
Climb like a spider
So now you decided to switch to a glass cage, chewing through the cage is no longer the problem. But unfortunately, you are wrong. Believe it or not, hamsters can climb the wall just like spider-man.
The solution for this is to have a secured top cover installed without compromising the top ventilation. You can use metal screws and zip ties
Get lost while playing in the playpen
Taking your hamster out in the playpen for a few minutes daily is such a great way for your pet to decompress and have fun. However, if you don’t keep an eye on or use a playpen that is not secured, your hamster can easily escape.
Again, your hamster can chew their way out, climb, or easily waltz out depending on the type of hamster playpen you are using. While a playpen is a great place to put your hamster while cleaning their cage, it’s important to still keep an eye on them while spending time there.
If the playpen is made of fabric, your hamster can easily chew a hole in just a matter of minutes. Make sure the playpen also has a top cover.
WHY IS MY HAMSTER TRYING TO ESCAPE
Let’s now talk about the reasons why your hamster would escape.
This is the number reason why a hamster would escape. Hamsters need a spacious area to run, play, burrow, and explore. If you are housing your hamster in a tiny critter cage, that is the main reason why they will want to escape.
A tiny cage for a hamster doesn’t offer enough area to explore and burrow. This results in your hamster wanting to get out to have more space to run around.
Hamsters need a long and deep cage, as opposed to other animals who like a narrow and tall cage. You can learn more about choosing the right and safe hamster cage and read our entire list of articles about hamster cages.
Bored/not enough toys
Hamsters also get bored quite easily. Hamsters need a lot of toys to keep them active, busy, and burning that extra energy. Unlike the wild, hamster cages don’t have infinite space to explore – this is why it’s vital to provide basic items hamster needs and fun hamster toys.
When a hamster is introduced to its cage, the first thing they do is explore the cage and memorise where everything is. This helps them navigate easily since they can’t see very well.
However, after a few months, you can only imagine that going from the sleeping area to the water bottle, to the water bowl, and then to toys becomes a routine. Once your hamster feels like they are doing the same thing every day, boredom will kick in.
This forces your hamster to get out of the cage and find something more fun, entertaining, and interesting. Depending on which species of hamster you have, you can add different toys for Syrian hamsters and toys for Dwarf hamsters.
Placing a running wheel inside a hamster’s cage is not enough, you need more toys than that. The solution for this is to add plenty of toys like tunnels, fun hamster climbing toys, and deep bedding. You can hide or scatter treats under the bedding once a week to invite your hamster to burrow deep. Take a look at our list of safe and fun hamster toys.
You should also have a hamster playpen and let your hamster spend about 10-minutes a day. In the playpen, you can add other toys. This will give them a new space to explore where they can satisfy their curiosity and also get a break from the routine inside the cage.
When you do a deep cleaning of a hamster’s cage (once every 5-6 weeks), you can rearrange the toys or even the entire cage. Just remember not to rearrange the cage too often as this can stress your hamster and cause anxiety.
Not enough food
As I mentioned before, hamsters love to hoard. The only reason hamsters in the wild get out of their safe and comfortable living area is because they need food.
When there’s not enough food inside your hamster’s cage, they will want to go out and find more. Hamsters create food chambers all around their cage to hide their hoarded food. Even though as a human, you know that will not be a scarcity of food for hamsters, however, your pet doesn’t know that.
So, they go follow their instinct to find and collect food even that means leaving their own cage.
Not enough chew toys
Hamster’s teeth grow forever and honestly at a faster pace than humans. This is the reason you should place plenty of chew toys around the cage to keep your hamster’s teeth trimmed.
When there are not enough chew toys for your hamster, their need to chew on something because frustrating. This frustration will drive your hamster to leave the cage and find something to chew on.
When a hamster chews their cage, they don’t necessarily do it to escape. They usually do it because they need to chew on something to scratch the itch to trim their teeth. It’s just a “bonus” discovery for them to learn that they can squeeze themselves out through the hole.
There is plenty of reason a hamster gets stressed. This includes:
- not enough sleep
- not enough chew toys
- changes of environment (could be a change of cage set up or being in a different place)
- bright lights
- change of type of bedding or type of sand
- not getting a time out of their cage
The stress can make your hamster want to get out of the cage. In the same way, we feel the need to go for a walk or run when feeling stressed.
To avoid stressing your hamster, make sure that:
- the cage is located in a shaded/dark and quiet area of the room
- there aren’t too many changes in the cage set-up that happens too often (i.e don’t move the water bottle or food bowl every day/every week)
- don’t let strangers pick up/hold your hamster
- don’t use scented hand soap or lotion before holding your hamster
- don’t change the bedding/sand type (unless for safety reasons)
- let your hamster out of the cage for a few minutes daily
Getting away from other hamsters
If there are multiple hamsters in one cage, this is a big reason why your hamster is trying to escape. Hamsters are solitary and territorial animals. Regardless of whether they are living with their siblings or parents, hamsters thrive living alone.
At around 4-weeks old, hamsters will also start fighting with another hamster for territory, these fights can be fatal – another reason a hamster will try to get out of the cage and find their own space.
Never house your hamsters together after 5-6 weeks old. This will cause stress, fight, and unnecessary anxiety both on the hamsters and yourself. Regardless if hamsters are the same gender, came from the same litter – always separate your hamsters and get them their own spacious cage.
We want to acknowledge that you can provide the best cage, a secured cage, lots of toys, and plenty of playpen time – yet, a hamster will still try to escape. Don’t take it personally or feel like you are doing something wrong.
Hamsters like humans are simply curious animals. They want to see what’s beyond their cage. They want to explore as many areas as possible, mostly for food, because that’s what they do in the wild.
They are named after the word “hoarding” because there is no amount of food that can satisfy their need to feel safe. They need to make sure they have enough food in case rummaging outside their living quarters is deemed unsafe.
Keep doing your best, your pet hamster surely appreciates it. I hope that you found this article helpful and we answered your question “why is my hamster trying to escape”. If you have other tips on how to stop a hamster from escaping, let us know in the comment section below.