Sick Hamsters: Signs and Treatment of Hamsters With Broken Bones

Updated on June 21, 2018
Almost never going to see a vet bandage a hamster broken leg
Almost never going to see a vet bandage a hamster broken leg

Hamser Broken Leg

Hamsters are usually pretty resilient, and 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 the vet can easily bandage and splint the limb, but with a hamster, the limbs are already so small.

The picture to the right is a surprising picture, as it's just not common. This particular hamster ran into a cat, and his tibia was broken. The hamster's owner was married to a Vet Tech at a feline veterinary hospital, where they bandaged the hamster as such.

Generally, a broken limb is treated by letting the hamster relax and settle down, which the body naturally heals the bone.

Causes of Broken Bones

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
  • Fight with another hamster
  • Scuffle with a cat or dog
  • Jumping off a ledge, bed, couch, etc that was too high off the ground
  • Accidentally injury caused by a child
  • Accidentally kicking the hamster while in a roll around ball

Signs of a Broken Bone

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 signs.

  • Limping and not using the leg
  • Laying on one side
  • Slow moving or unable to move
  • Bone poking the skin
  • Dragging one foot
  • Totally or partially paralysed

Treatment for a Broken Bone

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 just won't be able to wrap it up with a splint.

But, the vet may prescribe and antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, or pain medicine to prevent infection and aid in the pain.

You want to remove the wheel, ladders, and toys in the cage, as well as blocking 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 hamster 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, if the hamster doesn't chew off the limb first. 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.

Prevent a Broken Bone

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

The picture to the right 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 backwards which caused most of the damage to the limb.

The bandage in this case 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.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a specialized reptile veterinarian.

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.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Debbie guest 

        5 weeks ago

        Hi i am so worried i dont know if my hamster as a sprain or broken leg i can jst see something isnt right cant get into vet till tomorrow . I jst dont understand how he done it

      • profile image

        Olly 

        2 months ago

        Thank you. I'm still I'm the process of fixing my hamster up, and trying to determine if he has a sprain or broken leg

      • profile image

        Maddie Geelhoed 

        4 months ago

        my hamster has a broken arm not a broken leg and he can't really eat or walk (he can barely walk 3 inches) what should I do?

      • profile image

        Frances yozawitz 

        6 months ago

        I Hope that the hamster is doing better.

      • profile image

        beatrix 

        8 months ago

        so sad

      • profile image

        Belinda 

        11 months ago

        My hamster has a wet tail and is limping all the time what cane I do?

      • profile image

        jackelin interiano 

        11 months ago

        How do I notice if my hamster is scared of me?

      • profile image

        isa 

        13 months ago

        yesterday my hamster broke her leg it was my accsident I felt alful right now shes sleeping her leg is nt healed yet.but I love her

      • profile image

        Jadavion Deleon 

        15 months ago

        What your phone number

      • profile image

        Dominic Jarrett 

        20 months ago

        My hamster go his hand stuck in his cage we got him loose but then the next day we noticed it was skinned and his arm was swollen I could see the bone on his finger

      • profile image

        Angeli Viola 

        24 months ago

        Hello, can someone help me please? my hamster has this ceramic cup which I used for her house, I only tilted the cup sideways so that she could sleep inside the cup, she really loves sleeping there, then awhile ago I was cleaning the cage then accidentally I somehow flipped the cup upside down, the edge of the cup went flat on her arm...now she can't move it and I really feel bad about it, her arm looks like it's been folded into half, what should I do?

      • profile image

        Guest 

        2 years ago

        I dont have a vet for the long weekend what should i do if my dwarf hamster broke her foot to keep her from hurting it more besides what is sugested until i can get her in on tuesday if they have an opening

      • profile image

        Delanie 

        2 years ago

        I came home to my hamster dragging both of his back legs, I looked on Google and they said cage paralysis but he has a cage big enough for a rat and I clean his cage once a week. I called the quakertown emergency vet and they said we have to make an appointment witch they don't have an open one for about a week. I've called 4 emergency vets in our area and nobody is helping me, I'm freaking out and no one is helping us at all. I just really hope he isn't paralyzed. What should I do in the mean time??

      • profile image

        Millipede 

        4 years ago

        Hey my hamster has a kind of giant blood blister of some sort and he doesn't seem to notice but it is really bad

      • profile image

        hayhay ola 

        5 years ago

        hayhay dropped her hammster on the flore and the hamster looked like she was dead but when we put her in her cage she looked better ??? what should i do

      • profile image

        Lauren 

        6 years ago

        my hamster trapped her leg in the cage door yesterday and it was bleeding and the fur is all gone. i looked her over today and the leg is greyish and the claws are red. what should i do?

      • profile image

        Guest 

        6 years ago

        My Hamster Broke His Leg He Is Dragging It I Don't Know If My Nephew And Kicked The Ball While He Was In It, Him Fighting With Another Hamster, Or Him Getting Caught In The Wire Of His Cage. But He Is Already In A Cage By His Self He Can Reach His Water And Food. I Check On Him Everyday About 6 Times If Needed. He Was Not Able To Move Or Kick His Little Leg,But He Kicking Just A Little So That's Good....

      • profile image

        Yasmine 

        6 years ago

        my hamster isn't moving his right leg and its freaking me out. it seems he doesn't feel a thing in his leg should i leave or do something its either broken or dead but i hope it doesn't effect anything else on him. what is wrong with him

      • profile image

        maria 

        6 years ago

        my hamster sits in coner and just sleep. everyday when i get home shes always in her wheel but she isn't and also i think she broke her leg because she drags it what should i do

      • profile image

        Nicki 

        6 years ago

        My hamster ate my robe then started acting funny... Shes sitting in the corner of her cage and won't eat or drink... And the other day she got out and somehow fell in the toilet (LOL) and idk if shes sick from eating or maybe she got water in her lungs... idk what to do HELP

      • profile image

        Me 

        6 years ago

        My hamster, broke his leg for sure and I think he shattered his ribs cause they don't feel the same on th two sides. Also his head has a huge lump on top and his head is going bald. But the vet won't deal with hamster and I don't know what to do. I already put him by himself and gave him his food and water beside him. It has been a few weeks and he is the same. He also make really loud noices

      • profile image

        Guest 

        6 years ago

        My hamster, Carmel, jumped off the third floor of her hamster cage. She is now dragging her leg and limping. At first, she kept falling over. I'm not sure if that is still an issue, because all she's doing is sleeping. I've read that they can die from pain, or not eating and drinking from the pain. I have another hamster in the cage with her, Hershey. Hershey is being a great little nurse, but some websites say I should separate them until Carmel is healed. Is that necessary. I'm not even sure if it's a broken leg. I'm very scared for my little hamster's life and happiness. What should I do to help her. I've already removed bathing sand.

      • profile image

        kylee 

        7 years ago

        thanks this helped my sis a lot her hamters foot got caught in the wire cage door

      • profile image

        Xim 

        7 years ago

        My youngest daughter has a chinese hamster (MILO) and yesterday she realized that it was dragging its back leg, so we took him to the Vet and he said that Milo indeed had a broken limb and said that the only solution was to amputate....to me this did not sound as a "solution", so today we are seeing someone else who can hopefully help Milo..... so last night at home there was a lot of crying and worrying. If anyone can help or give me some suggestions that would be great. Thank you!

      • profile image

        arby roxanne 

        7 years ago

        i brought my hamster to a vet and was advised to take ascorbic acid (vitamin C)... isn't it harmful for my hamhams?

      • profile image

        Lollypop 

        7 years ago

        My hamster was half in half out of his bed and I picked the bed up not realising and now he is limping on his foot funny , but he is still walking and trying to use his wheel (plastic).wat shall I do because I am really worried and he isn't that old ?? :(

      • profile image

        Ricky 

        8 years ago

        As a general rule, most land animals should not be put under water when sick :)

      • profile image

        Sika 

        8 years ago

        My hamster is lying in one corner not moving much or not drinking and eating much its eyes are closed what should i do??

      • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR

        Whitney 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        Do not put hamsters under water. You should take her to the vet ASAP

      • profile image

        dinasha 

        8 years ago

        my hamster fall and it almost died but i put it under cold water it was not waking up i put it under cold water it started moving i put it in a box but i did not put the top i put the 3 babies in it to make it jolly and then i put the mother in but she did not drink milk she is the oldest her name is yasmin then she went to the conner and sleept she did not eat and she did not drink water. i think one of her bones is broke because one of her sides is flat and the other is fat what should i do ? what should i do to see if one of her sides is broken?

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