Hamsters are adorable and fairly independent pets in the United States of America, but they do have complex needs that need to be attended to almost daily. However, this doesn’t mean that you can never leave your hamster alone.
You can leave your hamster alone for about three to four days as long as you ensure that its food, water, entertainment, and living environment needs are met. If you have to be away for longer, you should have a pet sitter check in on your hamster or arrange pet boarding.
In this article, I’ll explore pet boarding or pet sitter options when you have to leave for longer than a few days. I’ll also go into how you can prepare to leave your hamster alone if you’re going out on vacation or for work, so read on!
What Do You Do With Your Hamster When You Go on Vacation?
The steps you need to take to ensure your hamster’s safety while you’re going away depend primarily on how long you’ll be gone.
If you’re going on vacation for more than a few days, you should arrange for pet boarding, a pet sitter, or a friend to come and check on your hamster to provide food, water, and clean the cage. However, you can leave your hamster alone if you’re going to be out only for three or four days.
Pet boarding services ensure that the animals are fed fresh food daily, which is important as hamsters can get ill from stale food. Boarding houses that host small or ‘pocket’ animals also have specialized areas to be in a calm and safe environment.
Pet boarding services for hamsters range from $15 – $19 per night, depending on your pet’s location and requirements.
Arrange a Pet Sitter
If you don’t think that moving your hamster to boarding would be the best fit, then you can arrange for a pet sitter to come in to check in on your hamster, refresh the food dish, check the water bottles and clean the cage.
This way, you can ensure that your pet is safe and looked after without stressing them out with a location change.
If you can’t manage a pet sitter, you should at least have a friend come and check in on your hamster every few days or so to ensure that your hamster is unharmed and to clean out the cage.
You’ll need to ensure that the food is prepared and easily accessible and that you have enough water bottles so your sitter can switch them out easily. You should also clean the cage and your hamster’s bedding before you leave.
If you have a friend check in on your hamster every few days or so, ensure that your hamster has everything it needs to be self-sufficient for a few days. This means leaving your pet with a sufficient supply of food, a lot of water, and a large enough cage that the lack of regular cleaning won’t affect their health.
Below I’ll elaborate on what you need to arrange so your hamster can be left alone for a few days.
Read How To Take Care of a Hamster
Leaving Your Hamster Completely Alone
As I’ve mentioned earlier in this article, you should only leave your hamster completely alone for about three to four days.
If you have to be away for longer, you absolutely should have someone check in on your hamster to clean the change, swap out the food, and ensure your pet is as healthy as you left it. Sick animals shouldn’t be left alone at all as their health will need to be closely monitored.
Whether you’re leaving your pet alone for a few days or having a friend check-in, here’s everything you have to arrange to ensure your hamster is self-sufficient during this time:
Since hamsters need regular water changes, you’ll have to ensure that your hamster’s cage has a number of water bottles with valveless sipper tubes. These bottles should be secured to your hamster’s cage with velcro or a stand rather than DIY cardboard tubes that can be easily knocked down.
In your absence, a knocked down water bottle can result in a dirty, wet, moldy cage, all of which are unhealthy living conditions for your hamster.
Ensure that the bottles have no leaks, holes, mineral deposit plugs, bubbles, or hair before you fix them onto the cage. Your best bet is a no-drip water bottle such as the Choco Nose Hamster Water Bottle (available on Amazon.com) which can be screwed or nailed on securely, unlike most other water bottles.
Read What Fruits Can Hamsters Eat
Hamsters do best with a pelleted diet rather than a mix of seeds and pellets. When leaving your hamster alone, it’s best to feed them a dry diet from a feeder attached to a dish rather than trying to incorporate any fresh food that’ll spoil in a day.
The feeder should be large enough to accommodate enough pellets for the days that you’ll be away. You can use two feeders if the cage has room for them. You can also consider making your own with a plastic bottle, but be sure to sand down any edges that could cut your pet.
If you stay away for longer than four days and have a friend check-in, you can prepare some fresh vegetables for your hamster and ask your friend or pet sitter to feed it to your pet when they visit.
They should stay long enough to ensure that your hamster has eaten its fill and remove the remaining greens from the food dish so it doesn’t get moldy.
Hamsters need to be exercised regularly, so make sure your cage has a wheel. If you can manage it, you should have two wheels if one falls over, gets buried, or gets dirty.
Another way to ensure that your hamster has sufficient exercise is to get a multi-level cage that it can run around and explore in, filled with tubes and small boxes to investigate.
Hamsters are great burrowers and love to dig, so give your hamster a thick layer of bedding to dig through while you’re away. You should also ensure that your hamster has plenty of chew toys like wooden chew blocks.
Cage and Cleaning
Clean your hamster’s cage fully before you leave, and if you’re planning on being away for longer than a week, you should change your hamster’s bedding as well.
Keep some of the old bedding to ensure that the hamster can still smell himself in the bedding. You can also consider keeping some tissue paper on, close to your skin, for a few days before you leave, and add that paper to your hamster’s bedding or burrowing material. The tissue paper will carry your scent and help your hamster deal with the stress of not seeing or being handled by you.
A large cage will ensure that even if the cage gets a little soiled, it won’t adversely affect your hamster’s health.
Read How Long Does a Hamster Live
Do Hamsters Miss Their Owners?
Older hamsters who have lived with their owners for a while do miss their owners when they’re gone and will be more affectionate when they return. Younger hamsters need to be handled daily and risk forgetting their owners if they’re left alone for too long.
Avoid leaving your hamster alone for too long if you’ve just brought it home. If a young hamster is left alone without handling, you’ll have to re-establish trust all over again.
You can leave your hamster alone for about three to four days as long as you ensure that its cage is clean and there’s plenty of fresh water and food available.
If you’re staying away for longer than a few days, you should consider a boarding service for small animals, a pet sitter, or at the very least a friend who can come and check in on your hamster every few days to refresh the food and water and clean out the cage.
Related Hamster articles:
- Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Babies
- Why Did My Hamster Die?
- What Does a Dead Hamster Look Like?
- Why Is My Hamster Shaking a Lot
- Why Is My Hamster Biting the Cage
- How To Tell if a Hamster Is Pregnant
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