Signs and Treatment of Broken Legs in Hamsters
Hamsters are usually pretty resilient. You're not really going to see a broken bone very often, but when it happens, it can be scary for you and your little guy. Broken legs aren't as big of a concern with larger animals because vets can easily bandage and splint large limbs. Hamsters' limbs are quite small, however, which can make the treatment process more difficult.
Generally, a broken limb is treated by letting the hamster relax and settle down so that their body can heal on its own
Common Causes of Broken Bones in Hamsters
There can be numerous different causes of a broken limb, but the more common causes can include:
- Getting the leg caught in a wire wheel
- fighting with another hamster
- scuffling with a cat or dog
- Jumping off a ledge, bed, couch, etc that was too high off the ground
- Accidental injury caused by a child
- being kicked accidentally while in a roll-around ball
Signs of a Broken Leg in a Hamster
Each hamster will be a little different, but you'll find that the most common signs that your hamster has broken a bone are going to include at least one, if not more of the following:
- Limping and not using the affected leg
- Laying on one side
- moving slowly or not moving
- Bone poking through the skin
- Dragging one foot
- Total or partial paralyzation
Broken Bone Treatment
If you think that your hamster may have a broken leg, you want to carefully examine him and then immediately take him to the vet. Generally, there's not much that the vet will be able to do because it's not like a human or dog breaking a leg—the vet likely won't be able to wrap it up with a splint.
The vet may, however, prescribe an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, or pain medicine to prevent infection and relieve some of the pain.
You want to remove the wheel, ladders, and toys in the cage, as well as block any tunnels. You don't want the hamster to put any more strain on the leg than he has to. If you have a wire cage, consider just putting the hamster in an aquarium until the leg has healed to prevent him from climbing on the bars and wires. If you're able to, lower the water bottle so that the hamster doesn't have to try so hard to get a drink. If the hamster is housed with other hamsters, move him to his own cage until the leg has healed or the hamster has chewed it off.
For light or mild breaks, it should only take about 2 weeks to heal, but if the break was severe and the bone was outside of the skin, it may take longer. Sometimes, hamsters will chew off broken limbs. If you notice any complications while healing, such as the hamster completely dragging the leg, go back to the vet because you want to avoid an infection as best as you can.
The limb may not heal straight, and the hamster may have a limp, but a limp or a crooked leg won't affect the hamster long-term.
Broken Bone Prevention
The best way to treat a broken bone is to prevent one. You want to make sure to carefully handle your pet hamster. You want to be on the floor, bed, couch, or sitting down somewhere; this way if the hamster tries to jump the surface isn't too far away- as long as you're holding the hamster over the bed or couch not over the floor while you're sitting down.
Do not leave your hamster unattended because they have very poor eyesight and will jump even if the floor is several feet away.
If you have young children, don't let them handle the hamster unattended, as they can hurt the hamster by accident.
Make sure that you have a plastic wheel for the hamster versus one that is made of wire. The wire wheels are dangerous because while running, the hamster can get his feet caught in the wires and break the leg.
Use common sense.
The image above shows another hamster who has been bandaged from a broken leg.
This broken bone was caused by hamster aggression. Generally, the two male hamsters were kept separate, but one of the cages was accidentally left open, and the hamster climbed to the other cage, where the enclosed hamster bit the one and then pulled the leg. The hamster with the broken limb possibly jerked backward which caused most of the damage to the limb.
The bandage is essentially like an ACE bandage. It is made of a chew-deterrent wrap to keep the body at a natural splint. The broken arm is bandaged within the wrap so that it is immobilized. The bandage is large so that the hamster cannot remove it, but it's just right to keep the broken leg from moving around.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.