Whitney is a hamster parent. She hates to see her furry friends suffer and enjoys educating others of best husbandry practices.
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.
BooBoo Dolly on August 17, 2020:
Guys, in case the article wasn't clear:
Seriah on July 11, 2020:
so my hamster escaped it’s cage nn jumped off the dresser and she can’t walk on her leg anymore but she’s still running on her wheel what should I do
Rashad on July 02, 2020:
So my hamster is draging its leg
kikki on April 13, 2020:
my hamster broke his leg two days ago now hes walking on it is that bad?
Ina on April 05, 2020:
My hamster leg is swollen and begin to have abscess. Can't I treated my hamster at home?? Why??
Answers? on March 25, 2020:
All the vets around are closed due to coronavirus. So what am I supposed to do with my hamster? She is limping due to a fight with my other hamster.
Aleeza joy on February 08, 2020:
My hamsters has a broken leg from fighting a nother hamster do i took the one who was fighting out and it has other family id just 4 of them any tips on what to do i cant take the tube out so but tge wheel is
frances yozawitz on December 22, 2019:
I have a hamster when I was little.
Ava on November 26, 2019:
They say to use 'common sense ' when they say to remove all wheels etc . Then say to only have a plastic one.Did anyone else spot this?
However thank you for the advice and hopefully my hamster gets better.
kim on November 09, 2019:
my two dwarf hamsters have been fighting for a week now and this particular time i puked him up out of his cage and his leg was facing different directions every time he walked my family can not afford to bring him to the vet i have my other one in a aquarium wi all his needs i don't know what to do please can someone help and give me advice
Mariah Haring on October 08, 2019:
Someone please tell me what I should do
Mariah Haring on October 08, 2019:
So I had made a bun cage for my hampster and she chewed through it and I woke up and my dog was attacking her and I feel like it’s all my fault and now her leg looks like it’s bent in half what should I do please someone help.!
LunatheHamster on August 04, 2019:
I’m scared I dropped my hamster and she has ignored me for the last 5 days
Olivia on May 02, 2019:
my hamster was one time like whole day sleeping and maybe she is sick?
Debbie guest on November 05, 2018:
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
Olly on October 03, 2018:
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
Maddie Geelhoed on July 21, 2018:
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?
Frances yozawitz on June 13, 2018:
I Hope that the hamster is doing better.
beatrix on April 05, 2018:
Belinda on December 26, 2017:
My hamster has a wet tail and is limping all the time what cane I do?
jackelin interiano on December 25, 2017:
How do I notice if my hamster is scared of me?
isa on November 04, 2017:
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
Jadavion Deleon on September 03, 2017:
What your phone number
Dominic Jarrett on March 30, 2017:
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
Angeli Viola on December 20, 2016:
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?
Guest on September 03, 2016:
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
Delanie on April 13, 2016:
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??
Millipede on February 18, 2014:
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
hayhay ola on January 26, 2013:
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
Lauren on July 25, 2012:
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?
Guest on June 11, 2012:
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....
Yasmine on April 29, 2012:
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
maria on April 14, 2012:
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
Nicki on April 03, 2012:
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
Me on March 17, 2012:
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
Guest on February 02, 2012:
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.
kylee on September 25, 2011:
thanks this helped my sis a lot her hamters foot got caught in the wire cage door
Xim on September 21, 2011:
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!
arby roxanne on July 04, 2011:
i brought my hamster to a vet and was advised to take ascorbic acid (vitamin C)... isn't it harmful for my hamhams?
Lollypop on March 03, 2011:
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 ?? :(
Ricky on November 01, 2010:
As a general rule, most land animals should not be put under water when sick :)
Sika on July 31, 2010:
My hamster is lying in one corner not moving much or not drinking and eating much its eyes are closed what should i do??
Whitney (author) from Georgia on June 30, 2010:
Do not put hamsters under water. You should take her to the vet ASAP
dinasha on June 30, 2010:
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?