Tracking a stray hamster
June 17, 2009 3:48 PM   Subscribe

My son's hamster escaped outside. Does anyone know the best means for tracking him down? I'm heading to the store now to buy a small hav-a-heart trap. If out in the wild (or a suburban neighborhood), will hamsters stay within a small radius or wander and wander looking for a suitable shelter/food?
posted by robverb to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
before i moved into my house it was unoccupied and a neighborhood kid lost her hamster playing with it in the front yard. several weeks later i found it, very unhappy but still alive, in my basement. i would guess from this that the hamster will find the nearest place to hide and wants to be underground.
posted by geos at 4:08 PM on June 17, 2009

You could try putting a tube from a roll of paper towels out in the yard. Little rodents really like hanging out in them, and you can check it from time to time and see if the little guy has discovered it.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:12 PM on June 17, 2009

If out in the wild (or a suburban neighborhood), will hamsters stay within a small radius or wander and wander looking for a suitable shelter/food?

If out in a suburban neighborhood, I would expect a hamster to run off and get munched on by a dog or cat. For your kid's sake I would make a good-faith effort at finding it (pile of hamster food?) but the chances are pretty grim.
Don't buy another and tell your son it's the same one, though: A kid I knew had that one pulled on him and when the original hamster showed up after a few months under the floorboards, the gig was up- besides, it's not exactly the most respectful way to handle it.
Good luck!
posted by dunkadunc at 5:18 PM on June 17, 2009

if he's still alive he probably hasn't gone very far...and i don't see why the regular hamster trap methods wouldn't work outside, except maybe if you have a lot of birds or other wildlife around... what we did whenever our hamster got loose was take the empty coleman cooler (the kind with the lid that slides down) and place something against the outside that the hamster could climb (a toilet paper tube, a pile of books). put a blob of peanut butter inside the cooler, on a spoon, for example. or some carrots. now you just have to sit and wait. the idea is that he'll be able to climb in but not back out, as the sides are too slippery.

and do let us know if you find it.
posted by janepanic at 5:28 PM on June 17, 2009

I used to have an odometer on my hamster wheel (Campbell's dwarf) and it regularly clocked three miles a night. However, the chances of your Hammie successfully getting three miles away outside are slim.

We lost several hamsters in the house and they would always eventually return to their cage if I put it on the ground filled with fresh bedding, food and water. Because hamsters have terrible eyesight, put it right up against the nearest wall were he was last seen: hamsters tend to stick to edges. Since the cage is going outside, I'd check it often to make sure the local mice/rat population (who also enjoy traveling along edges and eating hamster food) haven't moved in.
posted by jamaro at 5:50 PM on June 17, 2009

Good news folks, Bandit found his way into the garage and is now safe and sound in his habitat. Thanks to everyone who responded.
posted by robverb at 6:44 PM on June 17, 2009 [15 favorites]

Hurray! A happy ending!
posted by OolooKitty at 9:49 PM on June 17, 2009

posted by mokeydraws at 7:34 AM on June 18, 2009

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