Hamsters in the USA appear cute and innocent, but in reality, they are devilish little escape artists. They can always find a way out if you don’t secure their cages.
Once a hamster escapes his enclosure, finding him and getting him back can be difficult. There are several reasons a hamster tries to escape.
Sometimes, it is all down to your pet hamster being stressed out, while sometimes, they might just be bored and want to escape their cage as something to do. The reasons are endless.
This blog post will look at the things that compel a hamster to escape, as well as ways to prevent this from happening.
Why Are Hamsters Always Looking for Ways to Escape?
Contrary to popular belief, female hamsters are more temperamental than males and more determined to escape their cages if given a chance. Let’s zero in on the reasons hamsters escape.
The Cage Is Small
To keep your hamster happy, the cage needs to be a specific size. A small cage can frustrate a hamster, thus encouraging them to escape.
It can also make your hamster feel suffocated, which will lead to it having to deal with health issues, eventually leading to it passing away.
According to The Humane Society of the United States, to keep your hamster happy, the standard size for a cage is 576 square inches. If you have a glass aquarium, it shouldn’t be smaller than 288 square inches.
According to the ASPCA, the cage shouldn’t be smaller than 2000 square inches. As far as the RSPCA is concerned, the cage should be as big as possible.
Of course, a hamster needs a bigger space to play and run around freely, without feeling suffocated.
The Hamster Welfare Community has two different size suggestions for hamster cages, depending upon their specific bread.
According to the community’s guidelines, a dwarf hamster should have a cage that is 430 square inches in size. On the flip side, its bigger counterpart, the Syrian hamster, needs a cage that is 620 square inches.
That’s right, a bigger cage allows a hamster to forage, burrow and explore its surroundings. Not too long ago, a study was carried out. It was found that the hamsters that were placed in a 1550 square inch enclosure were the happiest hamsters.
The study reveals that if a hamster is placed in an enclosure that doesn’t meet the minimum size requirements, it will definitely look for ways to escape.
Like other animals, hamsters, too, have their own set of instincts.
One of these instincts is to dig deep burrows. Their ability to dig simply goes through the roof when they don’t find ample bedding to dig through.
It seems weird, but a wild hamster has the ability to dig a tunnel that is a few inches shy of a meter. Therefore, they need a lot of digging space to satisfy their instincts.
Similarly, there are some hamsters out there that have an inbuilt compulsion to escape.
As we have discussed above, female Syrians are much harder to please. Even if she is placed in a big cage, she will still try her best to escape. In such cases, your best bet is to secure the cage as well as possible.
Because hamsters are small and weak, they are an easy target for bigger predators. Therefore, it is within them to avoid situations that are potentially fatal.
They are timid animals, but their timid nature actually makes them good at escaping. If a hamster doesn’t feel safe, it will somehow find a way to get out of there.
It’s your job to make sure your hamster doesn’t feel too stressed.
Stress can be caused by a number of reasons.
- Cats, dogs, and other big pets.
- Bright lights and loud noises.
- Too much manhandling (especially if they aren’t tamed).
- Not ample bedding.
- Too many full-cage cleanings.
It is important to place your hamster’s enclosure in a quiet and dark place where they can live peacefully without being disturbed.
Also, make sure not to expose your hamster to a bigger animal. Such exposure is bad for a hamster’s psyche and triggers its desire to escape.
Hamsters are pretty fast when it comes to running around in search of food. If they don’t have a big running wheel, the sheer amount of boredom gets to them, and they find their own ways to get rid of their boredom. One such way of battling boredom is escaping from their enclosure.
Here are a few things you can provide your hamster with in order to kill their boredom.
- Chew toys
- Silent runners
- Sand bath
- Tubes and tunnels.
- Coco soil
- Flower and leaf forage
Too Much Unnecessary Space
This may seem a little counterintuitive, but it’s true. Too much space can also be a curse when it comes to hamsters.
Therefore, it is better to have their enclosures semi-cluttered, which allows them to escape danger when they feel threatened.
If the hamster doesn’t find enough hideouts, it will try to escape the enclosure. It is a defense mechanism that is programmed into a hamster by default.
As discussed above, hamsters are prey animals, and therefore, they are always on high alert. Even a little bit of noise can activate their high alert mode.
It’s your job to provide them with enough space to hide when they feel threatened. Or else they won’t have any other option but to escape their enclosures.
Why Do Hamsters Climb Their Cages?
Hamsters are also very good at climbing their cages. It allows them to explore their surroundings. The hamsters that are placed in barred enclosures are more likely to climb than the ones that are placed in solid wall enclosures.
Interestingly, hamsters also have the capability of monkey barring across the roof. However, if a hamster loses its grip and falls, it can sustain some bad injuries.
Contrary to popular belief, just because a hamster climbs the cage doesn’t mean it is trying to escape. It can also mean that the hamster is looking for ways to explore the space and not necessarily run away.
However, mostly they are looking for ways to escape.
As far as climbing is concerned, hamsters can scramble across rocks in the wild. However, they aren’t natural climbers.
Moreover, a cage is something a hamster experiences, only when they are in captivity. Climbing is sometimes a sign that something is bothering your hamster, and therefore, it is trying to escape.
How to Keep Your Hamster from Escaping
Resort to Glass Tanks
It is much easier for a hamster to escape a barred cage than escaping a glass tank. No matter how good your hamster is at escaping, it will never be able to climb the glass walls of a tank.
So, if you have noticed your hamster trying to escape, or at least caught them in the act, make sure to invest in glass tanks.
Your glass container should have a mesh lid, and it must have ample ventilation. In the absence of ventilation, a hamster can feel overheated or suffocated. Too much heating or suffocation can be fatal for a hamster.
The great thing about glass containers is that they are better able to hold on to warmth in cold winter months, as opposed to enclosures made of bars.
You can easily find a 40-gallon tank for your hamster from Petco. These tanks are effective, and they are also affordable. If you have a fish tank, you can also put it to good use.
One thing you need to understand is that a hamster needs more surface area to roam freely rather than bigger walls to climb.
Bring in an Exercise Wheel
As we have discussed, a hamster is always looking for some excitement. When a hamster fails to get that level of excitement, it tries to get it by escaping its enclosure. You can simply get him an exercise wheel.
An exercise wheel keeps your hamster involved and also gives them something to do. Also, it is worth noting that a hamster needs a bigger wheel.
If the wheel isn’t big enough, your hamster can end up with a spinal injury.
Most people make the mistake of getting their hamster wheels too small for their size and build. Here is what you need.
- For a small dwarf hamster, you will need a wheel that is 20cm in diameter.
- If you have a Chinese hamster, you will need to get them a wheel that is 26 cm in diameter.
- The Syrian hamster, which is the biggest of them all, needs a wheel that is 28 cm in diameter.
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My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more