How Long Can You Leave a Hamster Alone

Are you leaving town and need to leave your hamster alone? Are you worried about how your furry friend is going to cope? Not to worry. We have the answers you need.

How long can you leave your hamster alone? The answer is forty-eight hours, more or less.  It really depends on your hamster and you. Let’s take a look at what you need to know to ensure your furry pet is safe in your absence.

Things to Consider Before You Leave Your Hamster Alone

When you leave the house for just a few days or even a long weekend, you should make sure your hamster is taken care of and will not have any problems while you are gone. While a pet-sitter is always a good idea, that is not always possible, especially if you need to leave quickly.

That does not mean you should worry about leaving your hamster alone for a short time. With just a little planning and a few precautions, your small furry friend will be safe and healthy when you get back.

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Consider First Your Hamster’s Personality. 

While hamsters are generally solitary animals by nature, once they are tamed, they enjoy human company. However, some species of hamsters bode better than others when left alone. Most species of hamsters like Syrians stay tamed indefinitely.

A few days alone should be no problem for them. Other species like Dwarf hamsters need more regular human interactions to stay tamed. However, you should be fine if you are going to leave them alone for less than a week.

You should also consider the age of your pet. Babies and younger hamsters have less immunity and are still growing.

They will need a little extra food. Hamsters older than two years are approaching old age and may need more attention and care. If your hamster is around two to three years old, they should have no problems being left alone for a few days.

How long you can leave your hamster alone also depends on the hamster itself. If you take your hamster friend out every night for a snack and playtime, they are used to that routine.

When you are gone for a few days, they may be a little stressed, but they should adjust fine. If you are going to be gone longer than two days or so, you might want to think about having a friend or neighbor to come to check on them.

Feeding Your Hamster While You Are Gone

One of the main concerns, when you leave any pet alone for a few days, is food. Hamsters are pretty tough little critters. Reasonably they could survive a few days without food and water and come out okay. However, you should never want to test this theory.

When you are home with your hamster, giving them moist food like bits of fruit and veggies, or maybe some egg or tiny pieces of meat, is fine. Yet, because fresh food like these can turn bad and possibly make your pet sick, you don’t want to leave these foods in your hamster’s dish overnight or for more than a day.

Before you leave, you should make sure you give your hamster a good meal.  High protein foods are best. Avoid food with added sugars.

You should put their food in a bigger bowl or two regular-sized bowls. If you have a larger hamster like a Syrian, a rat-sized food bowl might work best.

When you leave, make sure they have plenty of dried foods like:

  • Seeds
  • Pellets
  • Mealworms

Also, don’t forget that hamsters are hoarders. Your hamster is likely to have a secret stash of goodies hidden in its cage. It wouldn’t hurt to encourage this behavior before you go by offering them extra bits of food they can safely tuck away for emergencies.

Make Sure Your Hamster Has Enough Liquid

Keeping your hamster hydrated is vital for their survival.  While in most circumstances, a healthy hamster can last a day or two without water, it is always a good idea to have plenty of water available.

You should figure on about 0.33 fluid ounces of water per 3.5 ounces of weight per day, depending on the size of your hamster.

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It is also a good idea to keep two filled water bottles in your hamster’s cage. This is not only to ensure your pet has sufficient amounts of water, but also provides a backup if the water bottle leaks or the valve malfunctions.

Hamster Housing While You Are Gone

When you are planning to leave for a few days, your first instinct may be to give your hamster’s cage a good and thorough cleaning. This is not the best idea.

While you always want to keep your hamster cage, remember, hamsters like to hide their food. If you clean out their cage before you leave, you will throw away all their well-hidden food stashes. Not only will this give your little guy some anxiety, but it also eliminates that emergency stockpile.

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Give their cage a quick, regular clean to remove any obvious mess, but then leave it. You may have a bit of a smell when you return, but you will save yourself some worry about your hamster running out of food before you return.

You may also want to consider how escape-proof your hamster’s housing is. You don’t want your pet wandering around and getting into trouble. If your hamster is the Harry Houdini of the rodent world, you will need to check for any means of escape.

One suggestion is to put the cage into the bathtub (put a stopper in the drain). This way, if your escape artist gets out, they have no place to go.

Keeping Your Hamster Comfortable When They Are Alone

Again, what may seem like a normal routine when you leave, may not be the best thing to do when you need to leave your hamster alone.

Most people turn back the heat or air conditioning when they leave their homes. When you are leaving your hamster or really, any pet alone, you want them to stay comfortable.

If a hamster gets too cold, it may get sick, or it might go into hibernation. The ideal temperature for hamsters is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keeping Boredom Away While You Are Gone

Nobody likes to be bored. This applies to hamsters as well.  When you are gone, one of their sources of entertainment is gone as well. To keep your hamster busy, make sure they have plenty of things to play with and explore.

Hamster wheels are, of course, the classic rodent toy. Make sure yours is the right size for your hamster and is safe for them. If you have a wheel already, avoid moving it around before you leave. That will only stress the poor guy more.

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Hamsters love to chew on things. Chewing keeps them busy and also keeps their teeth in good condition.

  • Hide dry treats in small cardboard tubes.
  • Give them wooden chew toys from the pet store.
  • Avoid evergreen trees and anything that has been treated with pesticides if you give them sticks from around your house.

Hamsters love to climb. Ladders are great to keep your little guy busy. Climbing blocks are a good idea as well, especially if there are places for them to hide and explore.

Some owners keep rope toys in their animal’s cages. Your hamster could get its toenails caught in the fibers. If your hamster has rope toys in its cage, it might be a good idea to remove them at least temporarily.

Alternatives to Leaving Your Hamster Alone

You should try to avoid leaving your pet alone for any time longer than forty-eight hours and definitely no longer than a week. While in most cases hamsters do just fine by themselves for a few days, the longer they are left alone, the more trouble they can get into.

If you do find that you will be gone longer than two days, you might want to ask a neighbor or a friend to check in on them.

If you do have someone stop in, you need to list out what needs to be done.

  • Give your pet-sitter a general idea of what sort of behavior to expect. If they are not hamster enthusiasts, they may not want to handle your pet. In that case, having them check to make sure the hamster is healthy will do.
  • Give them a list of what food and how much to provide.
  • Ask them to check the water and change it if needed.

If you are going to be on an extended stay, there are places where you can board your hamster. However, hamsters don’t like change and a different environment may make them anxious.

A pet- sitter is usually the best choice if you can arrange for one.