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Old 05-30-2019, 03:34 PM   #1
Jaysephine86
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Join Date: Oct 2018
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Default Behaviour change after an escape

Hi

Our beloved Alan, a Syrian hamster, is behaving differently after his first escape and i was wondering if anyone has experienced similar?

He managed to escape two nights ago, jumping from about four foot high to do so. We found him behind the bath last night; had to remove the panel to get to him and he seemed pretty pleased to be found; he ran straight out to me. The poor thing must have been starving and parched. He was also making some strange grunting/squeaking noises and i was worried he was hurt but nothing else seemed amiss.

Tonight we've been watching and our normally sedate, happy and calm hamster has been running amok!! He's going nuts running around and around his cage. We took him out for a short while but have put him back for now as he's so agitated. We don't want to stress him out more and thought he should have more time to calm down. He's clearly desperate to get back out now he's had a taste of freedom. He's gnawing the bars, jumping off little cage ledges and not eating all the treats we give him. I'm also concerned he's hurt something from the fall perhaps but he's running so quickly it seems unlikely. He's eating some but not everything. And he's still making little grunting noises. He's still not aggressive though. Just frantic.

Has anyone else had this happen after an escape? Is it usual and is it likely they go back to themselves after a while?

I want to take him to the vet to be checked but I'm conscious of not stressing him out even more if i can help it.

Many thanks
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Old 05-31-2019, 08:21 PM   #2
mikatelyn
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Default Re: Behaviour change after an escape

Smokey, a male Syrian, gets pretty riled up after an escape or even a hint of an escape. Usually he's a sweet hamster that I've been able to handle right from the pet store.
The few times he's managed a jailbreak I realized it pretty quickly and caught him within seconds. The longest he's ever been out of an authorized hamster area is about 20 minutes. He gets really zippy and I have trouble holding him after this happens, and when I put him back in his cage he's running all over the place, climbing up on his water bottle and the bars of the cage, sometimes he'll even start chewing the bars. Mind you, he's not a chewer, so it's really unusual for him to start biting the bars.
Usually he'll settle down after maybe 30-60 minutes of leaving him alone.
The time he was out for 20 minutes, he was more energetic for a few days afterwards, to the point where I was afraid he'd jump out of my hands when I went to pick him up out of the cage, so I'd put him in a cup and let him run around the bathtub to blow off some steam. That seems to help.

As far falling goes... Early on when I first got Smokey, he was probably about 3 months old. In the first couple of weeks I had a few episodes where I lost control of where he was while holding him, and he's had a couple of falls from a height of 1-4 feet onto tile. He always landed on his feet, he'd looked stunned for a second, then he'd try to make a run for it. Luckily I always scooped him up in time. I always watched him carefully afterwards, and he continued on eating, drinking, pooping, and scurrying around his cage without any problems.
None of these misadventures seem to have adversely affected him, and he's a very sweet and fairly tame hamster now.
Hope this helps!
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Old 06-01-2019, 05:31 AM   #3
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Behaviour change after an escape

So sorry to hear he has gone a bit bonkers. Is his cage easy to escape from? Depending on what cage he's got, he might need a bigger cage. I've found once you get up to a 100cm cage our Syrians haven't even been bothered about coming out, never mind trying to escape. Although there are some who need even more space than that!

Have a look at the Barney cage on Zooplus - it's a good price, an excellent size for almost any Syrian hamster, and comes with a good sized house for a Syrian hamster - they need something big enough to build a large nest inside, that is open underneath so they can have normal behaviours like bury hoards under their nest. Also a house that is dark inside so they feel secure and have somewhere to retreat.

It may be that getting his cage just right will mean he will settle and enjoy his environment. To have normal behaviours they need enough depth of substrate (no less than 4 to 6" deep). A house big enough and dark inside. Open underneath. Ideally a shelf or platform they can sit on or sit under, that is easily accessible. Some kind of overhead cover so they don't feel exposed in the cage (eg the shelf and floor tunnels/toys) plenty of floor toys such as tubes, tunnels and hidey places so they have variety and places to go and things to do.

Scatter feeding can also help them enjoy their foraging instinct. I do both - put some food in the bowl and scatter some.

You might need to put cushions on the floor round his cage in case he falls from that height again and secure any doors well (peg or bulldog clip?).

Is his wheel big enough? They need a lot of exercise at night and if the wheel is too small he may avoid using it. They need a wheel of about 11" diameter. 8" absolute minimum and that may not be big enough for him.

This is the Barney cage - read the reviews

https://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/small...r_cages/189303
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Old 06-01-2019, 02:20 PM   #4
Jaysephine86
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Default Re: Behaviour change after an escape

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikatelyn View Post
Smokey, a male Syrian, gets pretty riled up after an escape or even a hint of an escape. Usually he's a sweet hamster that I've been able to handle right from the pet store.
The few times he's managed a jailbreak I realized it pretty quickly and caught him within seconds. The longest he's ever been out of an authorized hamster area is about 20 minutes. He gets really zippy and I have trouble holding him after this happens, and when I put him back in his cage he's running all over the place, climbing up on his water bottle and the bars of the cage, sometimes he'll even start chewing the bars. Mind you, he's not a chewer, so it's really unusual for him to start biting the bars.
Usually he'll settle down after maybe 30-60 minutes of leaving him alone.
The time he was out for 20 minutes, he was more energetic for a few days afterwards, to the point where I was afraid he'd jump out of my hands when I went to pick him up out of the cage, so I'd put him in a cup and let him run around the bathtub to blow off some steam. That seems to help.

As far falling goes... Early on when I first got Smokey, he was probably about 3 months old. In the first couple of weeks I had a few episodes where I lost control of where he was while holding him, and he's had a couple of falls from a height of 1-4 feet onto tile. He always landed on his feet, he'd looked stunned for a second, then he'd try to make a run for it. Luckily I always scooped him up in time. I always watched him carefully afterwards, and he continued on eating, drinking, pooping, and scurrying around his cage without any problems.
None of these misadventures seem to have adversely affected him, and he's a very sweet and fairly tame hamster now.
Hope this helps!
Thank you so much for this, it is almost exactly what's happened with Alan and it was helpful to see your experience. I'm happy to report he is a lot better now; i think he was both very stressed and had a taste of freedom and the combined effect was confusion and agitation. He is lots better now but sadly has reverted to flinching when i go to pick him up. I think he'll calm down more though. Fingers crossed!
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Old 06-01-2019, 02:28 PM   #5
Jaysephine86
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Default Re: Behaviour change after an escape

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity7000 View Post
So sorry to hear he has gone a bit bonkers. Is his cage easy to escape from? Depending on what cage he's got, he might need a bigger cage. I've found once you get up to a 100cm cage our Syrians haven't even been bothered about coming out, never mind trying to escape. Although there are some who need even more space than that!

Have a look at the Barney cage on Zooplus - it's a good price, an excellent size for almost any Syrian hamster, and comes with a good sized house for a Syrian hamster - they need something big enough to build a large nest inside, that is open underneath so they can have normal behaviours like bury hoards under their nest. Also a house that is dark inside so they feel secure and have somewhere to retreat.

It may be that getting his cage just right will mean he will settle and enjoy his environment. To have normal behaviours they need enough depth of substrate (no less than 4 to 6" deep). A house big enough and dark inside. Open underneath. Ideally a shelf or platform they can sit on or sit under, that is easily accessible. Some kind of overhead cover so they don't feel exposed in the cage (eg the shelf and floor tunnels/toys) plenty of floor toys such as tubes, tunnels and hidey places so they have variety and places to go and things to do.

Scatter feeding can also help them enjoy their foraging instinct. I do both - put some food in the bowl and scatter some.

You might need to put cushions on the floor round his cage in case he falls from that height again and secure any doors well (peg or bulldog clip?).

Is his wheel big enough? They need a lot of exercise at night and if the wheel is too small he may avoid using it. They need a wheel of about 11" diameter. 8" absolute minimum and that may not be big enough for him.

This is the Barney cage - read the reviews

https://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/small...r_cages/189303
Thank you also for taking the time to reply! Alan has never bothered trying to escape he's always seemed content ; my boyfriend forgot to shut the door one night. Poor guy is still mortified.

Having said that we have been considering a bigger cage now Alan's had a taste of the outside world a cage just seems so mean! Your cage recommendation, looks like a much more fun place for him to live. We suspect his wheel may be a little small (he's a curvy fella) and have ordered him a bigger one so perhaps the cage you suggested would be a better place to put it in. Thank you for your tips!!
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Old 06-02-2019, 10:32 AM   #6
Jaysephine86
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Default Re: Behaviour change after an escape

Serendipity, not sure if you'll see this but just in case: we ordered a new much bigger wheel for Alan and he went nuts for it. He loves it!! Poor thing must have been desperate for a proper run around. We've also ordered the barney cage on your recommendation and i think he'll really like it; we're going to put plenty of extra toys in now that he'll have the room. He's calmer and happier now but i think his escape was a wake up call to give him more space. Thank you again for your help.
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Old 06-02-2019, 11:15 AM   #7
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Behaviour change after an escape

That's excellent news! They do love their wheels and it's much easier to run in the bigger wheels I think he'll love the Barney too. Come on here when you want to move him over - there are ways of doing it to minimise the stress of the change so they settle in quickly. But basically - move everything across without cleaning anything, including all the old bedding (on top of the new as new cage base bigger). And try and keep a similar layout with house and wheel in similar positions etc. I also tend to let them have a play in the new cage, with substrate in and a familiar toy from the old cage, the day before moving them over - that way they've had a chance to adjust and scent it a bit.
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Old 06-02-2019, 11:23 AM   #8
Coco61
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Default Re: Behaviour change after an escape

IMG_0302.JPG

Agree completely with Serendipity. I also have the barney and my Syrians have been quite content in it. Here is my set up except I have changed the wheel for the silent runner which is attached to the bars, not free standing. I use a 2 room Rodipet house so that the roof is a feeding shelf and the barney house is on the barney shelf on the other side. He loves going in there with his treats at feeding time. Grooming takes place underneath the shelf. There is little open space and that is quite deliberate. He chooses when to take an open route or when to go via tunnels etc. Just some ideas.
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Old 06-02-2019, 12:17 PM   #9
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Behaviour change after an escape

I'll add my set ups too for more ideas Changed mine a few times for different hamsters and for an older hamster.

P2040937 resized 650.jpg

P2040939 resized 650.jpg

P7090574.jpg

P5240337.jpg
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Old 06-03-2019, 01:19 AM   #10
Jaysephine86
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Smile Re: Behaviour change after an escape

Thanks both the ideas are really helpful as i get a bit stuck on creativity and i want Alan to have some adventures. Both of your cages look like an amazing adventure playground! I feel so guilty that Alan's not had as much to do.

Just to check: it looks like your floor space is mostly covered with toys/hidey holes. Is that ok to do? I was concerned that we've taken up a lot of space and thought he'd need lots of free space for running, but actually if it's more about hidey places and the wheel is fine for the running then I'll bear that in mind for what to put in!

Will transition carefully as you suggested so Alan's a little less stressed by his big move.
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