How to find a lost hamster

A lost hamster looking up a table leg
(Image credit: Getty)

They may look like butter wouldn’t melt, but these pocket pets are master escape artists, which is why knowing how to find a lost hamster is a trick well worth having up your sleeve if you’re the proud pet parent of one of these clever cuties. 

Even if you’ve invested in the best hamster cage that makes getting out of Fort Knox look like child's play, the chances are if there’s a way to escape, your little Houdini hamster will find it!

While their small size can make locating them tricky, the good news is that if your hammy has broken free of their abode, there are plenty of great tips that can help make tracking them down a lot easier. 

Below, we talk you through a range of helpful ideas that will have your pocket pet back home and playing with their hamster toys in the safety and security of their cage before you know it. Ready to find your mischievous forever friend? Let’s do this!

1. Do a thorough sweep of their cage

We know, that sounds ridiculous, right? But remember that hamsters are small creatures with a natural love of burrowing, so it’s quite possible they could be hiding under a mound of shredded newspaper or have tucked themselves away inside their toy tunnel.

Even if you don’t find your hammy at home when you go looking, depending on the materials that you’ve used to construct the flooring of their cage, you may find they’ve left behind a little Hansel and Gretel like trail that will at least let you know which direction they set off in. 

2. Check your furniture and appliances

Once you’ve checked the cage and found it empty, it’s time to start getting up close and personal with your furniture and appliances. Look under those couches and beds, search that bookcase, open up those cabinets, closets and drawers, and check behind any warm and cozy appliances like washers, dryers, and heaters.

We recommend you do all of this with a flashlight, as some of those spaces can look very dark to the naked eye and your hamster could be easy to miss. And do take care when moving furniture and appliances and putting them back in their place, you don’t want to accidentally squash your furry friend!

3. Inspect clothing and personal items

Hamsters aren’t called pocket pets for nothing, so you’ll want to do a thorough check of all your clothing, backpacks and handbags to make sure they’re not hiding a little stowaway. 

Digging and burrowing are two of your hammy’s favorite things, so it makes sense that they’d take an open backpack as an invitation to climb right on in there. The chances of this happening increase ten-fold if you tend to be someone who stashes nuts and seeds in there for on-the-go snacks. 

A hamster eating crumbs at night

(Image credit: Getty)

4. Make sure to hamster hunt at night

Hamsters are nocturnal, which means they’re far more active during the night than they are during the day. To give yourself the best chance of locating your little runaway, look for them once darkness has fallen when they’re most likely to be moving about. 

5. Don’t forget the treats

If you’re anything like us, the one thing that would likely to get you to come out of hiding is food, so laying a tasty trap for your hammy is a good way to lure them out from their secret spot. 

These little guys are particularly fond of sunflower seeds, so pop pre-counted piles around the house and check them in the morning. If you notice they’re only missing from a particular room, you will have narrowed down your search considerably!

6. Track their movements 

Another helpful way to halve your search area is to dig around in your baking drawer and use any flour or cornstarch you have to help you track your little one’s movements.

Sprinkle one of these around the seed piles you’ve created and your hamster will step in the white powder and leave footprints in the direction they’ve headed off in after eating the seeds. 

7. Foil your floor

Believe it or not, there’s nothing quite like some strategically placed aluminum foil to help you quickly and easily locate your hammy within your home. Simply lie sheets down around your house and as they walk or run across it, you’ll hear the rustling noise and be able to get them safely and securely stowed back in their cage where they belong.

Give your hammy a helping hand by leaving their cage door open

Finally, while it may sound obvious, one of the best things you can do is to leave the door of your hamsters cage open so that it’s easy for them to come home. Hamsters are curious little creatures, so they’ll often disappear off exploring if given half the chance,  but they’re also highly likely to make their way back to their cage once they’ve finished their adventure. Leave the door to their cage open and you may find they’re soon back where they belong. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.