How Long Can A Lost Hamster Survive?

A lost hamster on a lawn

Hamsters make wonderful pets thanks to their small size and reasonable price; plus, they are the epitome of cute. The only problem is that they are the Houdini’s of the pet world and may try to make a great escape now and again.

In general, a lost hamster can survive for around three to four days from the time of its last meal. Whether or not your pet finds a water source will hugely influence how long they can survive, with some resourceful animals returning weeks after they initially went missing. Other factors such as environment and health status also come into play.

Continue reading to discover why hamsters like to escape from their cages, how long they can survive in your home, and the best ways to find them and return them to a safe space.

Why Do Hamsters Try To Escape?

Your hamster may try to escape from its cage if it is feeling grumpy, overwhelmed, or agitated by the people or environment that surround it. Common causes for hamsters trying to escape include too small cages or intimidation from children or other pets.

It is easy for your hamster to feel intimidated. While they will enjoy children’s attention briefly, continuous playing will lead them to exhaustion. With hamsters, it’s essential to provide a sufficient amount of space and alone time to afford them significant rest.

How Big Should My Hamster’s Cage Be?

If your guinea pig could talk, they would tell you that bigger is better when it comes to the size of their cage. Dwarf hamsters need at least 2,800 sq cm of unbroken floor space with a cage around 70cm x 40cm. Syrian hamsters require at least 4,000 sq cm of unbroken floor space with a cage around 80cm x 50cm.

When purchasing a new cage, you may find the multilevel cages visually appearing with an array of tunnels and tubes that will be fun for your little one. However, providing them with unbroken floor space is far more critical than giving them a gimmicky cage that looks good.

The unbroken floor space is so important because it provides your hamster with ample room to run around and adequately stretch their legs.

You can never have too much space for your hamster when it comes to cage sizes. A hamster with ample space is likely to have significantly better physical and mental health, and they are less likely to try an escape from their surroundings. Furthermore, several studies have proven this hypothesis by proving that the larger the cage, the happier the guinea pig.

How Long Can A Lost Hamster Survive?

How long a lost hamster can survive comes down to several factors such as their age, health, environment, access to food or water, and whether there are pets or any other risk factors present.

In general, a hamster can survive for 3-4 days after they have last eaten.

How Long Can My Hamster Survive Without Food?

Hamsters can live for around 3-4 days without any food.

How Long Can My Hamster Survive Without Water?

In contrast to many small pets who will not survive more than 24 hours without water, this hardy little creature may survive for a few days without drinking. The specific amount of time your hamster can live without water depends on their age and general health.

If your hamster finds a water source, dampness, or moisture build-up (such as condensation) during their escape, you may find that they survive for longer than average. While these sources may not be ideal for their health, they are better than your hamster having no fluids.

In contrast, if your hamster is ill, it is likely to become sick very quickly if it cannot access freshwater. Moreover, any hamster will struggle without water during a hot, dry summer.

How Do Hamsters Escape From Their Cages?

Hamsters often escape from their cages, and there are several ways they do it. Thanks to their intelligence, these pocket-sized pets can learn how to open the cage door by themselves.

At other times, you will find that a hamster will gnaw at the bars, gradually creating its own escape route like a grand prison break. This is made particularly easy for these creatures if you have something like a cage attachment that is not adequately secured.

And then, of course, there is the time when you forget to shut the door, and your pet seizes its chance for a grand adventure.

Either way, there is a reasonable chance that your hamster may escape its cage. The important thing is not to panic; instead, hatch a plan to successfully find your little pet and return them to their cage.

If My Hamster Escapes, What Should I Do?

If you notice that your hamster has escaped, don’t panic. These furry little creatures have a reputation for being excellent escape artists, and, likely, they have not gotten far. Your immediate action should be to search the cage and surrounding area thoroughly.

If you cannot find them, inform anyone in the vicinity that they are missing and, if possible, move any other pets (such as cats or dogs) into one room of the house where you don’t think your hamster is likely to be.

Finally, try to entice your little pet using an open cage, water, and a selection of their favorite snacks.

Where Is My Escaped Hamster Most Likely To Be?

Hamsters love to explore and find the perfect place to curl up. They also enjoy snuggling beneath soft materials, so there are plenty of spaces in your home where these little creatures could end up.

Check for everyday items that your hamster could crawl into, such as shoes, boxes, or blankets. Many pets love boxes as they provide a safe and comfortable hiding space or enclosure.

If there are shoe boxes or similar items in your apartment, this would be a favorite for your hamster, so they’re well worth checking. Similarly, they will happily make a home inside furniture, including sofas, beds, or dressers.

In addition, hamsters are not scared of the dark, so you may also find them lingering in closets and basements. You will want to thoroughly check these areas with a torch to search for your missing hamster.

Furthermore, you may find that the scents and products in your bathroom are enough to attract these little creatures. Imagine being the size of a hamster and wandering into a human bathroom – it would feel like a ginormous science laboratory.

Your guinea pig could have curled up anywhere in your home, but some places are more likely than others. Start with these, and you’ll raise your chances of finding the little critter promptly.

What If My Hamster Goes Outside?

It’s best to locate your hamster as quickly as possible to prevent them from getting into the outside world. Here, many dangers surround them, particularly predator animals, to whom they could quickly fall victim.

If your hamster does make it outside, the best chance you have is to set a humane trap that does not allow other animals access to your pet. Havahart traps are handy, but you’ll need to check regularly for any signs of your hamster:

How Can I Entice My Hamster To Return To Their Cage?

You can leave your hamster’s cage open with some food and water on offer, but this isn’t always the best way to capture your little pet – primarily because if they can get into the cage to eat, then they can get back out of the cage when they’re finished.

A better solution may be to set a (safe) trap for them. Try perching a bucket against a set of makeshift steps and place a highly odorous treat inside (such as broccoli or apple) to entice them. Pet owners refer to this as the humane bucket trap, and it is one of the most effective ways to catch your little pet:

Other scents that may work well to attract your hamster include peanuts, peanut butter, and cheese.

What Should I Do When My Hamster Returns Home?

When your hamster returns, try to give them a little bit of space, remembering that this has been a huge (and potentially frightening) experience. Don’t punish them, as you’ll only increase their urge to escape.

At the same time, don’t overdo it with love and affection either. Alone time is vital to your hamster, and after such a big adventure, it may be wise to allow them a few days to adjust to their usual surroundings.

What Should I Do If I Can’t Find My Hamster?

If your search through familiar hiding places is fruitless, you’ll need to apply a different method.

  1. Start at your hamster’s cage and thoroughly search the area.
  2. Increase the perimeter from your hamster’s cage a couple of feet at a time.
  3. Check each area thoroughly. This means looking underneath and even inside cabinets and furnishings. Look for small open spaces or holes which your hamster could have escaped through. 
  4. Moreover, look for any holes in the walls or floor that could lead your hamster to a different area of your home.

If all else fails, keep their cage open and leave freshwater, food, and snacks out for them to enjoy. When they tire of their grand adventure and become hungry and thirsty, you may find that they return to the cage of their own accord.

Final Thoughts

It is not uncommon for a pet hamster to do a disappearing act, and many owners report their pocket-sized pets missing for several days before returning to their cage. If your hamster does go missing, it’s best to find it as quickly as possible.

These tiny creatures are vulnerable to various environmental factors, especially if they manage to make it outside of your home. Importantly, don’t panic, be thorough in your search, and leave an array of odorous treats to entice your hamster to its home.

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