Q. My daughter was given a hamster for Christmas that she adores, but she was handling him and he slipped out of her grasp. Luckily, he was not injured and she managed to grab him before he made a dash for it. If she's not so lucky next time, how can we catch him? Julliene, via e-mail
A. As one of the smallest pets we keep, hamsters are tricky creatures to catch and one of their favourite hobbies is trying to escape.
Check his cage and make sure it's secure. This is the first line of defence. The second tip is to always shut the door of the room in which the hamster is living. This way, if he escapes, you will have only one room to search, instead of the whole house.
If the unthinkable happens, you need to move quickly. Secure any other pets in the house, especially dogs and cats. On the first night, put the cage on the floor with the door open. He may just return home. Hamsters are nocturnal so they move around at night. This is the best time to catch them. They like warm, dark places, so start looking under the furniture, behind bookcases, in shoes, bags.
If you cannot find him or he doesn't return home, you may have to consider trapping him. Get a pile of books and make them into steps, place a ruler on the top of the steps and a bucket underneath. For the hamster's safety, put bedding at the bottom to cushion his fall. Sprinkle his favourite treat on the steps, on the ruler and put lots in the bucket. I suggest sunflower seeds. Hopefully he will follow the trail and end up in the bucket.
As a back-up plan, if he doesn't go for this, sieve flour around the area so that you can see where he's coming from.
And as a last resort, you may have to purchase a humane mouse trap (which doesn't in any way hurt the animal). Put his favourite treats in, place it along the wall and he'll probably run in there. Check every hour.
Good luck and with any luck you will never have to use these tips!
Remember that if an animal shows signs of distress or discomfort an early visit to the vet is always recommended