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Gerbils & Hamsters/Repeat escape hamster


Hi Shelia,
Little oreo's cage sits on its own table.  Every day, she paces back and forth in front of her door so I had assumed she wanted me to interact with her.  I would open the door and she would crawl into my hand, run up my arm.  After a little while, I let her play with me on that table.  Often she would run into the inside part of my elbow, I thought she was just being cuddly.

I live in a supportive housing building, and depend on staff to clean her cage.  Three of the staff are so frightened of hamsters that before they come into my room, I have to cover her cage with a couch cover.  I keep it in a ball on the floor (which my cat thinks is her bed). I tried draping the cover over just the table, then put her cage on top, but Oreo quickly discovered that she can easily climb down it.  It wasn't too hard to get her, I just called her, she came right to me, I bent down as much as I could and scooped her up.  She didn't even try to wiggle away.  I took the cover out from under her cage, but the next night, during play time, she purposely jumped off the table and she proved to be much harder to catch.  I completely trust my cat with her, but my back is way too sore to be bending down trying to find her.  Is there a better way for me to interact with her?

Hi Jinene

Sorry for not replying sooner.

The problem with hamsters is that they all want to escape!  I've known hamsters to climb up curtains or get through the tiniest of spaces. If you leave the door to her cage open or leave her unattended outside the cage she will make a run for it.  Sometimes they come back or are easy to find, other times they aren't.  I've had loads of escapees over the years - when I used to keep a lot of hamsters their cages were on shelves up the wall in my  living room.  One hamster managed to get out of her cage, climb down from a great height and then spent the night digging in my various plant pots before settling down behind the TV.  Another hamster got out somehow, climbed the stairs, climbed up the towel that was on the side of the bath - go to the toilet in the bath, then climb back out again!!! I only realised what was happening when I heard a rustling sound on the landing outside my bedroom door and was shocked to find my hamster sitting there on the floor!

I think they are very inquisitive creatures and love nosing around. Some also get bored in captivity. The main thing is to make sure Oreo has lots to do in her cage.  If there's room try fitting a climbing frame in their or similar and swap it around every now and again with something different.

I'm sure she would also like some sort of interaction with you, but I think that if you do get her out you need to make sure you are with her all the time so there's no chance she can escape or your cat can get to her before you do. It sounds as though you have a really good relationship with her - the fact that she came when you called her.  She obviously feels comfortable with you and recognises your voice.  I often sit with my hamsters on the sofa and let them explore - just bringing them back if they start to wander off.

I'm afraid there is no easy answer to your question as every hamster behaves differently.


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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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