Tips to Find a Lost Hamster, Gerbil or Other Small Pets

It’s not uncommon for a small pet to get lost inside your home. Finding a lost hamster, gerbil, rat or another small animal can be rather difficult, especially if you have other animals inside the home. What’s more, the rodent’s inclination to chew can result in damage to electrical cords and wiring (along with injury to the animal!)

Small animals can get loose if their cage is compromised. A faulty door latch can result in an escape. Alternatively, many pocket pets get loose when their cage is knocked onto the floor by a larger pet like a dog or cat.

When you first discover that your hamster, gerbil or other small animal is missing, it’s important to secure other household pets so they don’t pose a danger to the lost pocket pet. Therefore, secure your cats and dogs in a bathroom, spare bedroom or kennel. Carefully inspect the room before placing your dogs and cats inside, to prevent shutting them in a room with the missing rodent.

Also, place the pet’s cage on the floor and leave it open. In many instances, the lost pet will return home on his own!

Next, inspect the room where the pet’s cage is located. There’s a good chance your friend is somewhere nearby. Check the following locations:

  • under and behind dressers and desks;
  • under and behind bookshelves and other furniture;
  • in the closet;
  • under the bed;
  • behind and under appliances; and
  • other nooks and crannies, like the small area below your baseboard heating panels.

Use extreme caution when moving large appliances, as you risk injuring your pet if he’s hiding beneath the appliance. Use a flashlight and mirror to inspect the area beneath and behind appliances.

If a cursory check does not lead you to your pet, a more thorough inspection of your home will be required. One strategy involves using your pet’s nose to your advantage. Put your dog on a leash and walk him through the home. Walk the dog around the perimeter of the room and carefully watch his body language. When the dog smells the lost pet, there’s a good chance he’ll show a major change in body language — he’ll appear alert and very interested in a specific area. He’ll sniff the area with lots of enthusiasm.

Cats can also be used to help you find your pet, but it’s a bit more difficult. I recommend closing the cat in a room with you. Lead the pet around the room using a kitty wand or teaser toy. Every few feet, pause your play for a minute or so and let your cat observe his surroundings. If the small pet is nearby, there’s a good chance the cat will smell him or her. The cat should be drawn to the pet’s hiding spot.

Of course, if you use your other pets to help you find a lot pocket pet, you must use extreme caution to avoid a situation where the larger pet injures the smaller one!

If you still haven’t found the lost pet after a thorough inspection of the home, you can set up feeding stations throughout the house. Place a bowl of food, water, and some yummy treats at the center of a piece of newspaper. Sprinkle flour on the newspaper (or skip the newspaper entirely if you have tile or hardwood flooring.) The pet’s footprints will be captured in the flour.

Close all interior doors so the pet will be trapped in the room where he or she is hiding. Place a towel under the door to prevent the pet from squeezing under the space.

Check the feeding stations every few hours for signs of your missing pet. Once you find signs of a feeding station visit, you can place the pet’s cage in that room and leave it open. Many hamsters, gerbils, rats and other rodents will be inclined to return home on their own. Additionally, scour that room in an attempt to identify the animal’s hiding spot.

If you have hardwood or tile floors, you can spread more flour on the floor, so you’ll be able to capture the rodent’s footprints as he comes and goes from the feeding station.

Finding a lost rodent can take a bit of patience, but there’s a good chance your little friend will find his way home soon!

See our related articles for tips for finding a lost reptile and what to do if you lose a dog or cat.

Photo Source: Rob Owen-Wahl on

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Mia Carter is a professional journalist and animal lover. Her furry family members include 6 dogs and 12 cats. She is also a feral cat colony caretaker. Carter specializes in pet training and special needs pet care. All of her animals have special needs such as paralysis, blindness, deafness and FIV, just to name a few. She also serves as a pet foster parent and she actively rehabilitates and rescues local strays and feral kittens.

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