“When I was around 10-years-old, my 5th grade teacher gave me our class pet – a hamster named Toby – to babysit for the summer. About a week into the summer, Toby vanished from his cage! I’m still not sure how he escaped, but I think he must have eventually gotten hungry because he reappeared in his cage safe and sound!
Small pets like Toby have an uncanny ability to follow their curiosity to unknown places beyond the walls of their habitats. Using their wit and wile, they often find themselves wandering the halls of your house, exposed to all the dangers that come with that territory. To help prevent this dangerous situation, as well as a long and frustrating search and rescue for you and your family, you should make sure you know how to keep your small animal, be it a rat or mouse or hamster, in his cage.
After discovering Toby was an escape artist, I took extra precautions to keep his adventurous spirit in check. These tips should help you do the same!”
Make sure your pet has a proper cage.
Bar Spacing -If you’re keeping your small pet in a wire cage, you need to ensure that the cage has the proper amount of space between the wires. Anything too wide and your furry friend will be able to wriggle its way through! For mice and hamsters, the spacing should be no greater than ¼ inch. For rat cages, this number is ½ inch. Guinea pig, rabbit and ferret cages should not have more than 1 inch of spacing. Using a tank as your small pet’s habitat is one way to keep from worrying about bar spacing.
Keep a Lid On it! –Your small pets may surprise you; no matter how high the sides of their cage or tank are, they always seem to be able to get to the top. For this reason, your cage should always have a lid. But sometimes even this won’t be enough! Many crafty pets (like Toby) can figure ways to pop open a loose lid. You should make sure your lid is very secure and maybe even consider reinforcing it. Keeping a dictionary on top would weigh it down and ensure your pet’s safety.
Check Every Corner – Many small pet cages are complex and have lots of features (tubes, wheels, hideouts, etc.) that could be loose or not secured properly. They could be covering potential escape routes for your small pet. If you have a cage like this, or even have a very simple cage, make sure to check every nook and cranny for potential weaknesses. One common weakness is the door, which can provide an escape route if loose or improperly secured.
Feed your pet carefully! If your small pet’s habitat has a door that is placed at cage floor level, you need to be watchful when opening it for feeding (or any other reason!) Small pets can be very fast and may dart by your hand before you can react.
Keep your pet away from larger animals. If you have cats or dogs as well as small pets, you should be extra careful with your cage! Predators can see your small pets as prey and may try to break into their cages. Even if they don’t catch anything, they can damage the cage and create escape routes.
Educate your children. Kids, much like my ten-year-old self, are often the perfect accomplice to a small pet escape artist. Children wanting to play with a small pet may not understand how easily they can be set free! Be sure to educate your child on keeping your small pet safe inside his home.