Knowing where a hamster is most likely to hide when it escapes gives you the best chance of finding it. Hamsters prefer enclosed spaces that are quiet, dark, and warm, with easy access to food and water.
Favorite hiding places for hamsters are behind and inside furniture, behind skirting boards, in piles of clothing, and inside boxes. Also, hamsters hide in shoes, blankets, and backpacks.
Hamsters rarely come out from hiding unless they’re lured out or caught. You can do this using its favorite treats or setting up a hamster-safe bucket trap.
Where Do Hamsters Like To Hide When They Escape?
Escaped hamsters hide where it’s dark, quiet, and warm. Their preferred hiding spot should keep them safe from predators while providing access to food and water. Other features include:
- Enclosed spot. Hamsters feel safer in confined spaces, so they’ll find a hidden place they can use as a base to search for food and water.
- Space alongside a wall. Hamsters won’t live out in the open. Instead, they’ll gravitate toward vertical walls where it’s safer and more secure.
- Bedding. According to Nature Protocols, hamsters search for nesting materials.
If a hamster can find all these things, it’ll live there until its owner locates it and returns it to its cage.
Here’s where you’re most likely to find an escaped hamster:
Under the Couch
If you keep a hamster in the living room, the first place to look is under the couch.
As mentioned, hamsters are drawn to dark spaces where they feel safe and secure. They may not stay under a couch for long, but that’s where they’ll go until they figure out where to head next.
Inside the Couch
Some hamsters prefer to chew their way into couches rather than hide underneath them. Here, they have a better chance of remaining hidden from view and staying warm.
So, you’ll likely find a horde of food and hear scratching when you sit on the sofa. This is your hamster making itself comfortable and settling down for the long haul.
Under the Bed
People store many items under the bed, including clothes and boxes.
Hamsters like cluttered spaces, so the more you have under your bed, the more likely it’ll stay there. Also, the hamster will be harder to spot, so you must move all items to locate them.
Dressers, cupboards, and wardrobes aren’t usually flush to the wall, giving hamsters enough space behind them to hide and remain undetected.
It’s also difficult to reach hamsters that have made a home behind furniture, particularly if there isn’t a gap underneath them.
Behind Skirting Boards
Dwarf hamsters can get behind skirting boards with a large enough gap.
Once they’re in the wall, they can’t get out without removing the skirting board. You’ll hear the hamster scuttling around as if it’s within the walls, spending most of its time there.
Drawers make a warm, cozy, and safe hiding spot for hamsters.
Hamsters get into drawers by crawling into them through gaps behind the furniture. While hamsters aren’t natural climbers, they can scale structures with enough furniture to hold onto.
Storage boxes, including cardboard ones, are similar in shape and size to enclosures, making hamsters feel safe and secure. Hamsters can chew through cardboard and plastic, so they check all boxes.
Piles of Clothes
Hamsters burrow into clothing, satisfying their instincts and giving them a warm place to sleep. Hamsters are also drawn to drawers filled with clothes and will be comfortable underneath the pile.
Like a pile of clothes, a blanket makes a warm and cozy nest that hamsters can burrow into. Like clothes, hamsters chew blankets to pieces to make a comfortable nest.
Larder or Pantry
Hamsters are grazers, eating lots of food throughout the day and night. Wild hamsters create their burrows as close to a food source as possible to always have something to eat.
According to Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals, hamsters store grains in their underground burrows and eat every two hours.
They eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, making a larder or pantry the ideal hiding spot.
In homes that don’t have a warm, dark larder or pantry, escaped hamsters will nestle themselves in a dark spot within the kitchen. This is likely to be behind cupboards or furniture up against the wall.
At night, when it’s quiet, they’ll search for food, eating any crumbs. While this isn’t enough to sustain them in the long term, they’ll go further afield to find food when nobody is about.
Cushions and Pillowcases
Cushions and pillowcases offer an enclosed space and provide warmth and darkness throughout the daylight hours. Many hamsters chew through them, destroying them.
Radiators provide warmth, which is why hamsters get behind them to hide. If the area becomes too hot, the hamster will move somewhere cooler but may return to warm up.
Bookcases are quiet, dark, and not frequently used. Hamsters chew through books, using the paper for nesting material. Gnawing through books also wears down hamsters’ ever-growing teeth.
Slightly less common, hamsters can find themselves escaping to shelves.
This is possible if their cages are on a raised platform, like a sideboard, and they can reach them and climb up. Hamsters can hurt themselves by falling from significant heights and will need rescuing.
Hamsters will get inside open bags and backpacks and may even chew through the fabric to get inside. This is more likely if you’ve recently had food in your bag, as your hamster can smell it.
Some hamsters make their way into shoes, curling up at the toes where it’s enclosed and safe.
Tame hamsters may even be drawn to their owners’ shoes because they smell like unique pheromones. If your hamster has escaped, check inside your shoes before you slip them on.
Hamsters will hide behind appliances, such as a fridge or oven, if it’s dark and quiet enough.
Annoyingly, hamsters are hard to reach in these areas, which can be dangerous due to how often these appliances are used. They may also get inside appliances if there’s a large enough entry point.
This hiding spot is less likely if you don’t have tubes. However, if you do, the hamster will nestle inside to find safety and warmth.
Hamsters find comfort and security in enclosed spaces, which a cardboard tube provides. Check inside any tubes you have before moving them or throwing them away.
Hamsters have a natural urge to dig, as it provides mental stimulation, and they dig to create burrows. Hamsters enjoy digging soil, so they’ll make a comfortable nest in any large plant pots they can access.
How Do Hamsters Escape From Their Cages?
There are several methods by which hamsters escape. The easiest and most common way is for them to run away while you’re playing with them.
Hamsters jump from their owner’s hands and hide out of reach.
Hamsters can forcibly escape their cages. They do this by chewing through them, which is more common when made from wood or cardboard or climbing their way out.
If you forget to put the lid back on or leave the door open, it can escape from its cage by using larger accessories to stand and climb on. Faulty cages can also be to blame.
Will a Hamster Come Back if It Escapes?
Whether a hamster comes back or not depends on its personality.
As mentioned, hamsters that can find everything they need from a hiding spot may be happy enough to live out their days in their new home. Others enjoy exploring the wider environment and will eventually find their way back to their cages by chance.
Homes with predators and children are loud, hectic, and stressful. Hamsters that don’t feel safe will be more inclined to return to their cages. However, depending on where the cage is located, they’ll need a helping hand to get back into them.
Because hamsters are prey animals, most will tuck themselves away, refusing to come out. This means they won’t come back until their owners lay a trap.
Some owners catch their escaped hamsters while they wander around the house.
How To Lure a Hamster Out of Hiding
If there’s no sign of a missing hamster, the chances are it has created a new home, so you’ll need to resort to using hamster-safe methods to lure it out. There are several things you can use to do this:
- Food. Hamsters won’t have access to as much food while in hiding, so leave out some food.
- Water. Hamsters can only survive for 3-4 days without water, so leave out a small bowl of water.
- Toys. Leave out toys from the hamster’s enclosure. Not only will it want to play, but its unique scent will be all over them.
Be careful with leaving out food, as the hamster will likely pouch it and return it to its nest.
Leave a pre-counted amount of food in the room you suspect the hamster is in and monitor how much disappears. Using a night cam will help you locate your hamster.
Bucket traps are an effective way to catch a lost hamster.
To make one, gather the following:
- A tall bucket.
- Thin boxes or books.
- Tasty, strong-smelling treats, such as peanut butter or fruit.
- Cucumber for hydration.
- A clean tea towel.
Then follow these steps:
- Fold the tea towel and put it in the bottom of the bucket. This will break your hamster’s fall once it enters the bucket.
- Put some cucumber and your chosen treats on the tea towel.
- Place the boxes or books next to the bucket. The aim is to create steps that your hamster can climb.
- Check the bucket occasionally to see if your hamster has fallen in. This may take hours or even days.
Once you have your hamster, check for injuries.
Box or Net
If the bucket trap doesn’t work, try using a box or net.
A fishing net is preferred because you can use the handle to stand further away from the hamster, giving you a greater chance of catching it.
However, if you don’t have one, you could use a small box instead. Position it over your hamster and carefully bring it down, covering it completely.
Slide a piece of paper or something similar underneath and move the hamster to its enclosure.
Humane Mouse Trap
A painless mouse trap means you don’t have to exert energy to catch the hamster. This method works well for hamsters who refuse to come out while you’re around.
A humane mouse trap won’t harm or kill the hamster because it has a gate at one end set to fall once it walks through it and steps on the lever. To set one up, follow these steps:
- Position the trap around the spot where you think your hamster has escaped.
- Place some food inside the trap, like peanut butter or fresh fruit.
- Frequently check the trap to see if the hamster has been caught.
Humane mouse traps are reusable, so they’re handy if a hamster decides to escape again.
Don’t panic if your hamster escapes, as it won’t have gone far, but it may have tucked itself away. Check the areas in the hamster’s room and listen out for any noises the hamster makes.