Hamsters make great furry friends, but just like your pet dog, they will want to get out and explore. All creatures need a change of pace and scenery every once in a while. So just how often should you let your little furball out to play?
A hamster should be out of its cage for 20-30 minutes each day in order to get enough exercise. Allowing your hamster enough time outside of their cage helps prevent restlessness and unhappiness.
In the rest of this article, I will discuss how often you should let your hamster out of its cage, how to tell if your hamster is feeling restless, whether or not it’s safe to let your hamster free roam your home, and how to create a safe environment for your hamster to explore.
How Often Should a Hamster Be Let Out of Its Cage?
Hamsters are busy creatures and need plenty of space as well as exercise to remain healthy and happy. This is why it’s recommended that you let your pet hamster out of its cage regularly.
A hamster should be let out of its cage daily for monitored exercise and exploring. Hamsters that get out regularly are generally more happy and healthy.
If you cannot let your hamster out for playtime daily, you should aim for at least for 3-4 days per week. Some exercise is better than no exercise.
It’s important to remember that your hamster may not always want to be handled, and you should NEVER force interactions with your furry friend as this can break any trust your hamster has in you.
You can tell that your hamster doesn’t wish to be handled if:
- They run away to hide when you try to pick them up.
- They bite at you.
- They hiss or growl when you try to take them out.
- They are sleeping.
- They roll onto their backs and narrow their eyes.
If you find your hamster doesn’t want to come out and play, respect its wishes and try again later.
Also, it’s important to note that hamsters are nocturnal creatures and maybe sleepy if approached during the day. So instead, try taking your fuzzball out in the evening when they are more awake.
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How To Tell if Your Hamster Needs Time Out of Their Cage
The more time you allow your hamster to spend time outside their cage, the more they will want to do so. If you pay close attention, you will notice that your tiny hamster is cluing you in when they would like to come out and play.
There are a few ways to tell if your hamster needs time outside of its cage:
- They are chewing on the bars. Bar chewing indicates stress or boredom in hamsters, and if you notice this behavior, it’s a good idea to let your furry friend out for some playtime since this can be a sign your hamster is trying to escape their cage.
- They are restlessly pacing their cage. A significant sign of boredom is your little friend pacing their enclosure over and over.
- Regular loud squeaks or other vocal sounds. If your hamster is squeaking at you, they may be trying to tell you they want out of their cage.
Hamsters are active creatures and require regular exercise to maintain a healthy body and mind. However, when your hamster is stuck in its cage for too long, it can become aggressive and irritable.
A great way to combat this is to:
- Take your hamster out for 20-30 minute playdates daily.
- Make sure that the cage you have for your hamster is 24″ X 12″ (610mm X 305mm) and at least 12″ (305mm) tall.
Regular exercise and having a large enough enclosure for your hamster to roam are great ways to keep your little friend from feeling restless and depressed.
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Should Your Hamster Be Allowed To Free Roam the House?
Now that I have gone over how often your hamster should be let out and for how long, let’s talk about free-roaming and whether it’s a good idea. So is free-roaming safe when it comes to letting your hamster out for exercise?
Hamsters should not be allowed to free roam the house by themselves. They are small and can get into a lot of trouble without supervision. Setting up a playpen or hamster proofing another space is a great way to let your hamster explore safely.
Free-roaming has become quite popular amongst many hamster owners though this form of exercise isn’t necessarily safe. Allowing your hamster to roam a room that you have adequately hamster proofed is acceptable.
However, your pet hamster should never be left on its own to roam such a large space. Hamsters are notorious escape artists and will find the tiniest of spaces to slip into, and you don’t want that!
As a good rule of thumb, you should always supervise your hamster when roaming in a room, regardless of size. While unsupervised play after hamster proofing a room might be tempting, it is not recommended as your hamster might end up lost or even injured.
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Should Hamsters Be Allowed To Roam Outside?
Like any animal or even human, a little fresh air now and again is nice. So is it safe to let your hamster outside? Should they be allowed to roam your backyard?
Hamsters can be allowed to roam outside so long as they are supervised (preferably in a playpen or on a leash), there are no large pets in the vicinity, the temperature is between 65°F-75°F (18°C-24°C), they don’t appear scared, and allowed to stay out for 15-30 minutes.
Hamsters are prey creatures and have very poor eyesight, so taking your hamster outside to roam without constant supervision can be dangerous. If not observed, they can disappear quickly or end up eaten by predators.
This is why it’s always a good idea to take a hamster playpen outside or put your hamster on a leash, though not all hamsters will enjoy being leashed.
If you are looking for a decent playpen for your little friend, I recommend Amakunft’s Transparent Pet Playpen (available on Amazon). This playpen is lightweight, pops open, and is pretty cheap. Plus, your tiny hamster will greatly enjoy being able to soak up some sun safely.
If you opt for a more free roam option such as the hamster leash, I recommend Preferhouse’s Hand-Made Harness Vest and Leash Set (available on Amazon). This little vest is adjustable, and because it’s a vest design, you are far less likely to injure your hamster if you have to pull on the leash.
Suppose you live in a colder climate like Washington, Oregon, or even Alaska, you will want to pay special attention to the temperature outside as hamsters hail from more tropical regions. Hamsters can get cold quickly, so make sure not to take your hamster outside if it’s too cold for them.
Also, if your hamster appears stressed or scared whenever you take them outside, consider introducing hides to their playpen and shortening the length of which they are outside. If your hamster continues to act scared, it may be best to limit roaming to indoors only.
Read How To Pick Up a Hamster When You’re Scared
How To Create a Safe Environment for Your Hamster To Explore
When it comes to taking your hamster out for a play session, it is crucial to ensure the environment is safe and accommodative enough. Without a hamster proofed space, your tiny furball might end up lost, injured or even worse, eaten by predators.
So what exactly is the best way to hamster proof a place for your hamster to roam?
Before we dive into the best free-roaming spaces for your hamster, let’s talk about some of the dangers you’ll need to be on the lookout for.
Danger to keep your hamster away from:
- Larger pets. Big pets such as cats and dogs can stress your hamster out and even harm them if you aren’t careful.
- Outlets. Hamsters are notoriously curious and can easily be electrocuted when trying to stick their paws into electrical outlets; if you are letting your hamster out, it’s best to babyproof all of the outlets.
- Cords. Hamsters are chewers and are likely to chew wires and other bits of plastics.
- Food that has fallen on the floor. Foods that may have fallen on the floor like apple seeds, raw beans, raw potatoes, garlic, and onions can be highly toxic to your hamster.
These tips are essential to keep in mind when hamster proofing a space for your tiny companion.
Setting Up a Hamster Playpen
One of the easiest ways to hamster proof a space for your furry friend to free roam is purchasing a playpen.
Setting up a playpen with new activities, toys, and plenty of space lets your hamster enjoy some exercise while exploring its new surroundings.
In addition, using a playpen is a great way to ensure that your hamster stays where you want them to, effectively eliminating the risks of injury or escape.
Plus, using a playpen is an excellent opportunity to provide enrichment for your pet. You can do this by adding new toys, hides, activities, and hidden treats each time your hamster comes out to play. This will keep your little friend busy and engaged as they explore their new surroundings each time.
Using a Hamster Exercise Ball
A great way to allow your hamster to get some exercise is to purchase a clear exercise ball. This ball allows your hamster to free roam comfortably, thereby reducing the chances of injury.
If you choose the exercise ball method, you should ensure the space is cat or dog free as they can scare your tiny furball. Plus, leaving your hamster alone for even a moment with large pets can result in death for your furry friend.
Hamster exercise balls are relatively easy to use; just ensure the lid is secure before letting your little rodent set out on their big adventure.
As with taking your hamster outside, you will want to watch for signs of distress. Some simply won’t enjoy being trapped in a giant clear orb as they run around the house, while others will seem completely unbothered.
Always use your best judgment when determining if your hamster is actually enjoying itself or just stressing out.
Hamster Proof a Small Room
Last but not least, I will talk about hamster-proofing a small room. While letting your hamster roam a room isn’t recommended, you can allow them to explore the space safely if done right.
How to hamster proof a small room:
- Insert outlet cover into all outlets. Like with small children, you will have to worry about your hamster getting electrocuted and therefore baby/hamster-proof the room accordingly.
- Remove all electrical cords from the room. Hamsters tend to chew cords and wires, which increases the risk of electrocution and wire damage.
- Remove any large pieces of furniture. Hamsters can easily hide in large furniture, and by limiting the number of furniture in a room, you will be well-placed to track where your friend is.
- Check for holes in walls and vents. If there are any holes or vents low down, you should cover these as hamsters are adept at squeezing through small spaces.
- Remove anything your hamster could climb and fall off of. Hamsters will climb and are prone to falling since they don’t take time to think things through.
Once you have hamster-proofed the room, you can fill it with toys, activities, and treats for your hamster to enjoy.
However, just because you have checked over the room for potential hazards to your hamster, it doesn’t mean that you should leave them unsupervised. Your hamster should ALWAYS be supervised when out of its cage.
You may like the following hamster articles:
- Why Is My Hamster Rolling On His Back?
- What Is the Average Weight of a Hamster?
- How To Put a Hamster Out of Its Misery
- Do Hamsters Need a Wheel at Night?
- Male and Female Hamster Difference
Hamsters make excellent pets but, just like cats and dogs, require regular exercise, so it’s essential to take your small pet out of their cage frequently.
The best way to let your hamster out for some exercise each day is by setting up a playpen full of toys and accessories to keep them busy. This will help your hamster get some much-needed exercise and avoid potentially fatal lifestyle diseases.
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