Hamsters spend most of their lives in their enclosures.
However, letting hamsters out of their cage occasionally gives them space to run around and helps them feel more settled when they get back inside.
Many hamsters like being out of their cage as it provides an opportunity to run around and explore. If your hamster enjoys the freedom, let it out at least once a week.
Some hamsters require nightly free-roaming time to prevent stress and boredom. Remove all dangerous items, like wires and toxic plants.
When letting your hamster roam free, seal up all small spaces and supervise your hamster at all times to prevent it from getting hurt or escaping.
Many owners prefer to use a playpen to keep their pet hamsters safely contained.
Do Hamsters Like Being Out of Their Cage?
Hamsters are curious creatures that love exploring new things. However, some hamsters enjoy being out of their cage, while others aren’t so keen. Much depends on their personality and how comfortable they feel in their environment.
While some hamsters enjoy the excitement of being outside their cage, it can be overwhelming for others. As confirmed by PLoS One, hamsters are prey animals, so being out in the open scares them and makes them feel vulnerable to predators. Not only that, but unfamiliar sounds and smells can make them feel anxious.
You can make your hamster feel more comfortable while free-roaming by providing hideouts it can retreat to whenever it feels threatened. Also, ensure that your hamster has access to its toys and exercise wheel. These items will have your hamster’s unique scent on them, enabling your pet to feel more at ease.
Put your hamster straight back into its cage if it seems stressed and agitated. Stress exacerbates pre-existing health conditions and can make your hamster sick. All hamsters need at least 24-48 hours to settle in once they’re in their new home, but after that, you can slowly introduce them to a hamster-proof environment.
Should I Let My Hamster Out of Its Cage?
If your hamster enjoys being outside of its cage, there’s no harm in getting it out to free-roam.
However, you mustn’t remove your hamster from its cage if it seems uncomfortable being outside. This will cause stress and mental discomfort, and it may also cause your hamster to distrust you, harming your bond.
There are several benefits in allowing hamsters to roam outside of their cages, including the following:
While an exercise wheel and large cage measuring at least 80 x 50 cm are both essential, hamsters enjoy having a larger area to run around in.
Hamsters can run between 3-6 mph, but most cages don’t allow them to run at full speed. Providing a space larger than your hamster’s cage gives it the freedom it needs to run, staving off obesity and keeping it healthy.
Hamsters spend their days in the wild escaping predators, building intricate tunnel networks, and foraging for food. They also have extreme weather conditions to contend with.
While you can replicate this by providing deep bedding and scatter-feeding your pet, hamsters get bored quickly in captivity and need plenty of things to do to keep their minds sharp.
Hamsters deal with boredom in extreme ways. As explained by Animal Welfare, they exhibit several self-destructive behaviors, such as:
- Chewing their fur or skin
- Climbing the cage bars (monkey barring)
- Gnawing the cage bars
Your hamster may also become lethargic and sleep more often due to the lack of mental enrichment available.
You’ll be able to clean out your hamster’s enclosure without stressing them out. Cleaning deep burrows is tricky, particularly as hamsters pee, poop, and stash food in them.
There’s no real effective way to clean them without disturbing your hamster while it’s in the cage, so letting your hamster roam allows you to sanitize its living environment while it explores and has fun.
Can I Let My Hamster Roam Free?
You can let your hamster roam free, provided that you’ve created a safe and secure environment. You should avoid giving your hamster the full run of the house.
While Syrian hamsters are slower and less likely to squeeze into cracks, small dwarf species can get into tiny gaps. They’re also fast and often disappear before you’ve even noticed. Given the fact they chew wires and other inedible objects, there’s a high risk of them hurting themselves.
When free-roaming your hamster, follow these steps:
- Block all larger gaps, like the space under drawers and wardrobes. Also, remove any items your hamster could chew.
- If the room’s too hot or cold, put the heating on or open a window for a short time beforehand to achieve a comfortable temperature of 65°F to 75°F.
- Once the temperature’s right, shut all doors/windows to prevent your hamster from escaping or other pets entering.
- Remove or tuck away all wires and plants that your hamster has access to.
- Add an exercise wheel, toys, and hideouts in your hamster’s free-roaming space. You may also need a sand bath if your hamster uses one to pee in.
You’ll want to leave some food, water, and tasty treats for your hamster to drink and nibble on while it explores. If you have several hamsters, you’ll need to let them roam free at different times to prevent conflicts.
How Often Should You Let Your Hamster Out of Its Cage?
There’s no set rule about how much time hamsters need outside of their cage. Allowing your hamster to roam free at least once a week is a good place to start.
However, many hamsters prefer being out much more than this, particularly if they live in a small cage without much enrichment. Other hamsters are satisfied with only coming out a few times a week.
Don’t worry too much about how much free-roaming time your hamster gets, though. If you know you’re going to be away from your hamster for a few days, it’ll be fine to stay in its cage until you’re able to get it back out. Occasional freedom is much better than no freedom at all.
Boredom and stress can’t be solved by free-roaming time alone. Upgrading your hamster’s cage and providing a large wheel is a better way to make your pet happy than allowing it out of its cage.
Can Hamsters Go Outside in the Sun?
Because hamsters are a prey species, they must never be allowed to go outside.
The loud, unfamiliar sounds and shadows from birds circling above will be too overwhelming for your hamster, causing an extreme amount of stress. Plus, if your hamster managed to escape into the wilderness, you’d never get it back.
Not only that, but hamsters don’t cope well with extreme temperatures. Being exposed to direct sunlight causes hamsters to overheat and become dehydrated, even if outdoors for only a short amount of time. Hamsters are also sensitive to bright lights, and sunlight will affect their eyesight.
Letting your hamster out of its cage is a fun and enriching thing to do. Always take the appropriate safety measures beforehand and start slowly to see how your hamster responds to being outside.