Hamsters are great escape artists! Cage doors need to close firmly. If your hamster does escape, here's how to safely catch them and return them home. There are a number of ways, and which way you choose may depend on circumstances.

The best known way, that works, is the bucket trap.

Bucket Trap

You need a bucket, a pile of books, a 12" ruler (if you don't have one use any small piece of wood or stiff cardboard), a small towel and some tasty food like cucumber or cheese, plus hamster treats.

If you know which room the hamster is in, close all the doors, set up the bucket trap in the middle of the room, turn the lights out and go to bed.

1) You put the small towel in the bottom of the bucket
2) Make shallow steps up to the top of the bucket with books (it can take quite a lot of books to make the steps shallow and easy to climb).
3) When the top book is level with, or just over, the height of the bucket, place the ruler on the top book so it's partly over the bucket - about half way ideally but balanced so the ruler won't fall in.
4) Scatter small treats (like sunflower seeds) or hamster foodon the floor just in front of the books and going up the steps to the ruler.
5) On the ruler, place a smelly tasty treat - a small piece of cheese and/or cucumber - at the far end of the ruler (the end suspended over the bucket). You might need to adjust the ruler balance at this point so it still stays in place with the weight of the treat on the end.
6) Turn out the lights, go to bed and wait.

The hamster ends up in the bucket (the ruler tips in when they go to get the smelly treat), This can often happen shortly after you've turned the lights out, so stay awake for a while - you might hear the clatter as the ruler tips into the bucket.

Retrieved hamster! This method invariably works, providing the hamster is not trapped somewhere.

The Cage Method

An escaped hamster usually wants to go back to its familiar smelling nest and hoard. So make that easy for them. This method is a good way of getting them back in the cage but you need to then go back downstairs and close the cage door.

You place their hamster cage on the floor either in the middle of the room or near to where you think they are. This might not be easy with large cages or tanks. It should be fine with a large cage if someone can help you! A note about tanks later. This is another reason cages with front opening doors are good!

Leave the cage door open. Provide some kind of ramp up to the cage door - maybe a long tube or a ladder from the cage. Again sprinkle some treats or food in a bit of a trail to the ladder or tube and up the ladder and tube and a smelly treat just inside the cage (cucumber or cheese again). Turn the lights out and go to bed.

The difficulty with this method is, you don't know if or when the hamster is back in the cage (unless you have a nightcam and can watch on your phone then nip down and close the cage door). If you don't have a nightcam then wait half an hour or so and go back to see if the hamster is back in the cage. If not then wait till morning and hope they're back in the cage and asleep in their nest. They do like to get back to their nest to sleep.

Note about tanks: These are big and heavy and it's probably not practical to lift them onto the floor. So take some substrate and a bit of their nest out of the tank and put them in another enclosure - either another small cage if you have one, or a box with a tube or ladder leading up to it. Or rely on the bucket trap.

The Tube method

This works well if you know vaguely where the hamster is (eg under a cupboard or behind the kitchen units). Something like a large rat tube works well or any tube the hamster is familiar with. Just place a bit of cucumber at one end and place the other end near to where the hamster is. This usually tempts the hamster into the tube. The trick then is getting your hands over both ends of the tube before the hamster runs back out of the tube again. Usually they are busy noshing so you can manage it.

The Listening Method

If you have no idea which room the hamster is in or where they are, and the bucket trap hasn't worked on the first occasion. Listen. Listen for scratching or scuffling noises. Going from room to room. Sometimes hamsters will just be sitting there in the room enjoying the freedom. Other times they may be under or behind something. Listen till you've established which room they're in then set up the bucket trap in that room with the doors closed to the room.

In the worst case scenario, if the scratching is in a wall for example, or under floorboards, and the hamster has got up behind plasterboard via a hole - or down through a hole. Try putting some food near the hole. In the hope they can get out the way they went in. Try calling their name as well. If the food is gone next day then you know they can get out so do the cage method near the hole the following night. If it's under floorboards, put some rope down the hole and weigh it down at the floor end with some food next to the hole - in the hope they will climb out. Use the cage method as well - ie cage near the hole.

If the hamster hasn't taken any food and you know where the scratching noise is, then it may be a case of cutting a hole in the plasterboard or taking a floorboard up!

Hamstercam or Nightcam

This can be very helpful with an escaped hamster and also entertaining at other times. Put one on your Christmas list! They are not that expensive. It's just a small indoor security camera that records all night and saves to an sd card - it links with your phone via wifi, so wherever you are, you can see what the camera is recording on your phone. So you can sit in bed and see what your hamster gets up to after the lights are out. Or just watch the recording next day and save clips of the video.

Littlelf camera