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Why is My Hamster Trying to Escape? [7 Reasons to Know]

Are you wondering, “Why is my hamster trying to escape its hamster cage?”

My hamster managed to sneak out of its glass tank a few years ago, so I talked to several small animal experts and vets to solve the issue.

And I’m here to talk about why your pet hamster is making escape attempts and how to stop this unusual behavior.

Just keep reading.

Quick Summary

  • It’s common for hamsters to try to escape their cage when they’re not happy with their enclosure or lack stimulation. 
  • Hamsters are escape artists and can escape from all types of cages if you’re not careful. 
  • You need to keep your hamster happy to prevent it from escaping. 

7 Reasons Why Hamsters Try to Escape Their Cage

Usually, hamsters try to escape because the cage is not up to their satisfaction or something in their environment is bothering them. For some, it’s also due to curiosity and boredom. 

Since losing such a small animal is easy, it’s vital to understand why your hamster is trying to escape and fix what’s wrong to keep your hamster safe.  

So, let’s talk about all the possible reasons for escape attempts! 

#1 Small-sized Cage

Hamsters are tiny, but they need a larger cage with enough space to run, play, and burrow. Keeping your pet in a small enclosure is the main reason for escape attempts because it wants to get out and explore.

hamster in cage, do hamsters need sunlight

According to the Animal Human Society, “For one hamster, a 15-gallon tank minimum is considered standard.” Other experts recommend 24 inches by 12 inches for Syrian hamsters. (1)

#2 Boredom

Like all pets, hamsters need plenty of physical and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. They don’t have an infinite space to explore in the cage, so bored hamsters look for a way out. 

Fortunately, you can provide enrichment in the form of fun hamster toys, hamster wheels, underground tunnels, and bedding, which should keep things interesting for your furry friend.

#3 Curiosity

Hamsters are curious and active animals who often climb the walls or chew the bars when they think something interesting is happening. 

I had a hamster that would run around the cage like crazy while I was cooking in the kitchen and would not calm down until he could check what was happening. 

#4 Not Enough Food

Hamsters love to burrow and hide food all over their cage. And when your furry friend thinks there’s not enough food in the food bowl, it will try to escape.

In general, hamsters need to eat about one to two tablespoons per 24 hours, so ensure you’re feeding it enough to satisfy its hunger and hoarding instinct.

#5 Lack of Chew Toys

As a novice hamster owner, I didn’t know how much hamsters loved to chew. So, I was shocked when I found that my Fluffy had chewed its way out of its cage. 

It turns out hamsters need to grind their teeth because their incisors keep growing and can get dangerously large. 

hamster chewing on cage

When your pet doesn’t have enough chew toys or other suitable material, the cage is the most common object they chew. And once there’s a hole, of course, your hamster will run away. 

#6 Stress

It’s easy to stress a hamster, especially when you bring it to a new home. Noise, bright lights, boredom, and lack of attention can also stress your pet and make it unhappy.

A small cage can also make your hamster stressed, leading to chewing, as seen in this video. 

#7 Too Many Hamsters in One Cage

Hamsters are territorial and solitary animals. They don’t like to share a cage, food, or territory with another pet.

If you have more than one hamster in one cage, one of your pets may be getting bullied and trying to escape from the bully. 

And while some hamster types can learn to live with other hamsters, Syrian and Chinese hamsters need to be alone. 

Now, let’s talk about how hamsters manage to escape from their enclosures. 

READ MORE: Why is My Hamster Biting Me?

How Do Hamsters Escape?

As experts from VCA explain, “Despite their clumsy appearance, hamsters are great escape artists, since they are excellent chewers.”

So, it’s no big deal for hamsters to chew through cardboard/plastic/wood, and they don’t need a big hole to make a run for it.

More importantly, hamsters are good climbers. They can climb out of their tank and disappear if you don’t have a secured top cover. And they can climb walls, as seen in this cute hamster video.

Metal wire cages are also no match for some hamsters because they can squeeze through the bars/wires or chew through the metal.

So, can you do anything to prevent your hamster from escaping? Let’s see! 

How to Stop Hamsters From Trying to Escape

It’s not hard to prevent your hamster from fleeing its enclosure. You just have to keep these simple tips in mind. 

#1 Rearrange the Entire Cage

To keep things interesting for your pet hamster, you can rearrange its water bowl, food bowls, and toys every couple of months.

It will prevent boredom because your hamster will need time to explore its new surroundings. But do overdo it because, according to the PSDA, hamsters don’t do well with sudden changes. (3)

#2 Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation

I often hide treats in the bedding to keep my pet engaged and encourage it to burrow. I also have several types of toys with different textures to keep my hamsters happy.

You can use a playpen and let your furry friend has some fun outside its cage for about 10 minutes a day. But don’t forget to keep an eye out for escape attempts.

And whenever you notice your pet gnawing at the bar, distract it with a toy or a treat. 

#3 Get a Bigger Cage

Most pet store cages are too small, so they’re not spacious enough to keep your hamster comfortable. The bigger the cage, the better.

#4 Avoid Stressors

To keep the hamster happy and stress-free, you should place the cage in a quiet, shaded room with no bright lights or noise. Avoid changing the bedding type unless necessary.

Moreover, it’s best not to use skin products with strong scents and not allow strangers to pick your pet.

#5 Pick the Right Type of Cage

Avoid plastic or wood cages since hamsters will chew through the material. Choose a cage with evenly spaced bars with a distance between the bars of around 0.5 inches. 

An aquarium tank with a mesh cover can also work very well. Just make sure you secure something on the top. 

READ MORE: Do Hamster Bites Hurt?

FAQs

1. How Do You Tell If a Hamster Is Stressed?

hamster with poor eyesight so can hamsters see in the dark

A stressed hamster will appear nervous, climb the wall of its cage, try to escape, or run around in a frenzy. 

2. Will an Escaped Hamster Return to Its Cage?

Some hamsters may return to their cage. You can lure them by leaving the door open and supplying fresh food. 

3. What Are the Signs of a Bored Hamster?

Some bored hamsters will try to escape their cage by claiming the walls or gnawing on the bars. But others will become lethargic and start sleeping more than usual. 

Conclusion

Why is my hamster trying to escape? Hamsters are active creatures and need plenty of space, stimulation, and attention to thrive.

So, when your hamster is unhappy with its enclosure, bored, or stressed, it will try to escape by all possible means. But if you keep your pet happy, it won’t try to flee. 

cute hamster standing on the floor

What do you think about these reasons why hamsters try to escape? Does your pet hamster ever try to escape its cage? Share your experience in the comment section. 

Resources:

1. Hamster care [Internet]. Animal Humane Society. Available from: https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/adoption/hamster-care

2. Owning a Pet Hamster [Internet]. vca_corporate. Available from: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/owning-a-pet-hamster

3. The ideal home for your hamster [Internet]. www.pdsa.org.uk. Available from: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/looking-after-your-pet/small-pets/the-ideal-home-for-your-hamster

Grigorina
Grigorina

Grigorina grew up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped her into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). She has two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but she also feeds her neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them. Follow her on FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM
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