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Gerbils & Hamsters/pet hamster escaped


Hi Sheila,

On Saturday night, January 31st, like many times, I let Ebony, my 9 month old baby black bear hamster out of her cage and let her run loose in my apartment.  She decided to explore my kitchen and investage a hole in my wall, which she already knew was there.  After about half an hour, I noticed that she wasn't playing with any of her toys and she didn't come to me when I told her that it was time to go to bed, which, again, she has also done on several occasions.  I moved her cage from a table and placed it on the floor, with food inside, and left the side door open so that she could have easy access to food and water. I know she was still in my apartment because I had to put a half full cup of food in her cage, I purposely didn't fill her dish full because I didn't want her taking too much food because I assume there could be mice and other wild rodents around too.  Over a week later, my dad leant me a live squirrel trap and on the 11th day, she was in it.  She was caught on Wednesday, February 11.  It is now Monday, and Ebony still won't voluntarily come out of her cage when I'm holding her ball next to the door, tonight I picked her up and held her in one hand, instead of her running up my arm to sit on my shoulder, she quickly climbed back into her cage.  When she is awake, she just sits on a shelf in her cage instead of running around like she used to.  I'm afraid that Ebony is depressed.  I have already put in a work order to have that hole filled, once it's filled, I will put her cage in the middle of a 50 foot playpen that I made for her. Is there anything else I can do in the meantime to help cheer her up?  I talk and pet her every night, but I don't think that I should pick her up again until after she is happier again.

Hi Jinene

Thanks for your question - I'm really glad that you found Ebony.

I have had a similar problem - one of my hamsters kept escaping and when I returned her to her cage (which was fairly basic) she seemed depressed and didn't want to come out of her nest. I moved her to a bigger cage and put in lots of hanging climbing frames etc - she was a different hamster after that and was much more like her old self.

Clearly Ebony has an adventure side to her so it wouldn't do any harm with making sure she has lots to do. is it possible to fit some toys/climbing frames etc in her cage so that she has something new to explore while you are waiting for the hole to be fixed?

I hope she gets back to her old self soon.


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Sheila Adby


Syrian hamsters are my specialty, however, I have kept Campbells,Winter Whites and gerbils in the past. I can advise on most subjects associated with hamsters, including housing, bedding, feeding, handling, new borns and catching escapees. I have had some experience of various health problems with hamsters and can offer my opinion and advice on basic health issues, however I am not a qualified vet and therefore cannot recommend drugs etc. My website is


I have been keeping hamsters and other small animals for more than 12 years. My favourites are Syrian hamsters and I foster litters and 'difficult' hamsters for a rescue centre. My job is to tame hamsters ready for re-homing, which is extremely rewarding. I also enjoy looking after new litters and raising the pups. I have co-written a book on hamsters with my local vet and have a website:

Hamsters in Sickness and in Health - Sheila Adby and Dan O'Neill ISBN186163218-5 (Capall Bann Publishing)

Educated to A Level standard in the UK.

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