Every pet owner knows the struggle of leaving a pet alone when going for a vacation. When trying to find advise online all you hear is ‘NEVER leave your pet alone!‘. Although it is not far away from truth with other mammalian pets, that is not the case with hamsters.
Of course, when we are talking a long vacation lasting 2 weeks, then leaving your pet alone is not an option. A hamster left alone without owner’s attention can become untamed again. Not to mention the risks of running out of water and food.
However, if you are going away for a weekend, then maybe leaving a hamster alone is not a big deal? We all know that hiring a pet sitter can be quite costly. Also, you don’t want your pet to feel nervous around a new person.
So, is it possible to leave a hamster alone for a weekend?
Hamsters store their food, so you can leave them unattended for a very short period of time, like a weekend. Instead of eating food all at once, hamsters ration their food. Provide the adequate amount of water and you can leave a hamster alone for a weekend.
In this blog post you will find out what you need to do prior to leaving a hamster alone for a weekend. You will also learn where you can leave your hamster when you go on a holiday.
How to take care of a hamster when on vacation?
Ideally someone should come in and check on your pet. Ask someone from your friends or family. You also want to make sure that your hamster is familiar with the person to avoid stress. However, if it is not possible, with the proper planning and prep you can leave a hamster alone for a weekend.
Step 1 – Fill the food dish as usual
If you are going away for a weekend, then fill the food dish as you would normally do. Make sure NOT to include perishable foods. If the food is about to go bad, then your hamster will eat it all on the first day. Hamsters only store non-perishable food stuff.
When going away it is a good idea to fill the food dish with seeds, grains and nuts. I would personally stay away from putting any veggies or treats. I usually go for 1 heaped teaspoon of mixed seeds, grains, nuts or hamster pellets.
Step 2 – Refill water bottles
That should be self-explanatory. However, I would advise getting a bigger water bottle than usual to make sure that your pet has adequate water supply. Alternatively, you can add a second water bottle. It is not a surprise that a hamster can knock over a water bottle.
Also, you need to double check that the water bottle doesn’t jam up or get blocked. On the other hand, a water bottle can start dripping until is it completely empty. That is why it is important to have a backup water bottle in the cage. Be prepared so that your pet stays safe and you can enjoy your holiday.
Step 3 – No deep cleaning before leaving
Many owners underestimate the importance of deep cleaning a hamster’s cage. And I am not talking about cleaning it thoroughly every week. It can actually make the cage smell worse. Deep cleaning the cage right before you leave can make your pet stressed.
If you are worried that during the weekend your hamster will stink up the room, you are wrong. Changing the bedding is also not a good idea as you will discard the food that your pet stores. Alternatively, you need to scatter some food inside the cage to keep your pet busy.
I put together a guide which tells you exactly what to do to get rid of hamster smell in your room. Before leaving for a weekend I normally just spot clean the cage. It is also a good idea to use a cage liner under the bedding for leak proof protection and odor control.
Step 4 – Secure the cage
I have heard many stories where hamsters managed to escape when the owner was away. Make sure that you lock the cage before leaving. A sneaky pet can manage to get the cage open if it is not locked. It is really dangerous if your pet locks itself out of it.
A cage should also be secure from your other pets. It is critical that other animals can’t have access to the cage when you are away. That is why I close the door to the room where hamster’s cage is located. Out of all rodents hamsters are solitary animals and prefer spending time on their own.
Where can I leave my hamster when I go on holiday?
- Friend’s/family member’s/neighbor’s house
- Board hamster with a vet/pet shop/breeder/animal shelter
- Hire an animal sitter
If taking a hamster with you for a trip is not possible, then the best scenario would be asking a friend or a family member to come in to check on your pet. I always leave a note of the pet’s food, water and bedding requirements. Also, make sure to put down your vet’s telephone number.
Always leave the supplies near the cage, so these are easy to find. Instruct a person on how to clean the cage. It is also a good idea to demonstrate how you are doing it, so they don’t lose your furry friend or make it scared. If you are going away for less than two weeks, just ask them to clean the damp corners.