Hamster Hind Limb Problems

There are two main problems that can affect a hamster’s hind limbs. One is a term called Cage Paralysis and the other is Hind Limb Paralysis. Both have similar symptoms, loss of the use of the back legs to the point where they become stiff and the ill hamster has to  drag its back legs  . One is more serious than the other; that being Hind Limb Paralysis.
hamster

Causes of Cage Paralysis

The main cause of cage paralysis is a lack of exercise due to a small cage or little to no hamster accessories meant for exercise. Another cause of cage paralysis is hamster obesity. If a hamster doesn’t exercise and also  over eats, the hamster can become overweight, inactive and begin muscle and bone degeneration, which can lead to the loss of use to its hind legs. In severe cases, a hamster might not be able to move at all.

Treatment

Early Diagnosis: You can treat your hamster by providing it more space by increasing its hamster habitat with more tunnels, or habitat modules. A daily run on a hamster wheel or in a hamster ball will help keep cage paralysis away. Vitamin supplements, including vitamin D (helps absorb calcium) and E in the food or water can also help keep your hamsters healthy. If you already do provide this type of environment for your hamsters and your hamster still has hind leg problems, there is a chance that it is the more serious type of hamster illness, Hind Limb Paralysis.



Late Diagnosis: Treat the same as above but a full recovery might not be the outcome.

Causes of Hind Limb Paralysis

Hind leg paralysis can be caused by an injury to the spinal cord and nerves leading to the legs, a bacterial infection called Campylobacteriosis* or a hereditary trait found in males that gets passed down from a previous generation. In any case, the hamster can not use it’s back limbs.

*Campylobacteriosis is a spiral-shaped bacteria or infectious disease that causes diarrhea. A hamster’s own immune system can fight off this infection but it will also go after its own nerve tissues since they are similar in chemical makeup.

Treatment

Some cases of hind limb paralysis are treatable but some of the more serious cases can not be treated. You should let a veterinarian make the call to treat or euthanize the disabled hamster. With mild cases of injury or infection, treatments can help for a full recovery. In the case of an injury, painkillers and anti inflammatory can help ease the pain and swelling. In  the case of an infection such as  Campylobacteriosis, treat a hamster for wet tail disease.



10 comments on “Hind Limb Problems
  1. kim says:

    My hamster is almost 3 years old. I checked on her today and her back legs we’re completely paralyzed. She looked extremely bloated and seem to be constipated. 3 days ago she was in her ball running around going up or tunnels completely fine, then 2 days ago all I did with her was feed her and give her fresh water, now today I went to check on her to give her fresh water again and found her like this. She squealed in pain when I went to touch her. She seems not interested in drinking water to help hydrate her. She has no movement in her hind legs, she’s burying her head in her bedding ,she can barely walk and she seems to be breathing funny. Also she seems bloated. I’m not sure if she constipated as well, for there is faeces in the cage. I clean her once a week so I don’t know if any of it is fresh. Is there anything I can do to help her this just happened overnight. I’m worried to many things maybe wrong with her at once. She is so sweet and I can’t stand to see her in pain. I’m not sure she will even make it through the night. Any suggestions?

    • admin says:

      Clean the cage and see if any new dropping show up. It could be a digestion problem caused by a blockage from accidental ingestion of bedding or from improper diet. It could also be something like a parasitic worm or intussusception. See our directory of illnesses to read about those issues. Standard constipation caused by improper diet can be treated by ensuring your hamster drinks more water and try feeding it fruits and veggies high in water content. Parasite will require medication and intussusception will require vet care.

  2. Whitney Zimmerman says:

    My daughters hamster is having hind limb problems. I took him to the vet a week ago Friday where she said he probably had sprained his back leg (only a problem w/ dragging one leg). She gave him Metacam. I had told her that we had taken his wheel out so that he wouldn’t hurt his leg more until it healed. He seemed great the next few days. We put his wheel in his cage for a couple hours, but he didn’t use it so we took it back out. This past Friday, I noticed he was dragging both of his hind legs and is not really eating or drinking. I happened to google back leg paralysis and I saw this page where it states his paralysis could be caused by not getting the proper exercise. At this point, I have put his wheel back in his cage in hopes that he will build up some strength. Do you think he still has a chance or is it to late? My daughter just used the syringe from the medication to give him water…he drank about .15 ml. What else can we do? My daughter and I love this hamster so much. We have both been crying the last hour thinking he’s not going to pull through.

    • admin says:

      We are sorry for the late reply. We were out of the country and had no access to internet. Do you have an update on the health of your hamster?

  3. jasmin says:

    hi, I just got my hamster three days ago and he has not been eating or drinking water like he should also he started dragging his back legs I don’t know what to do to help him

    • admin says:

      First and importantly you need to make sure your hamster stays hydrated. You may need to get a small syringe and hand feed it water. dehydration can be fatal.

      You might want to reach out to the pet store you got your new hamster at and see if they have any other complaints similar to this. It could be a hereditary issue and in that case, the pet store should not be selling these hamsters.

      It also could be due to Campylobacteriosis as described above or an injury like a fall. The first is accompanied by diarrhea.

      Some hamster owners have described observing their hamster for a time have back leg problems but then that they got better on their own. A few thought it might have been due to poor handling of the hamster to the point the little hamster got bruised to the the point of swelling in the back legs. With some time to heal, the hamsters were again able to use their legs.

      If time or any of the treatments found here work, you might want to take the hamster to the vet.

  4. Tracy says:

    My hamster is sleeping 24/7 and I haven’t seen her come out for the past 2 days unless I physically get her out ? When I open her bed her eyes are closed and when she tries opening them they won’t open ?? I mean she hasn’t eaten and has a yellowie discharge from her behind ?? Any idea what it is ??

    • admin says:

      Is your hamster displaying any other issues? At first thought, it sounds like it might have a flu but it’s hard to tell without more information. Regardless, make sure the hamster’s cage is nice and warm and try to get it to drink some water. Dehydration can be a serious problem for hamsters that have diarrhea or wet tail. See this post for more info. Lastly, it may be that your hamster’s eyes are stuck shut. If the eyes have mucus or crust around them, you can use warm water and a soft cloth to help remove it. This could help resolve that issue.

  5. alexandra says:

    i have a hamster that is a male black bear male hamster. it has a pretty large cage with 2 tunnels one that just goes straight up and has a little hut up there and one that leads to a huge wheel for him to explore and run in i also have a normal wheel on the lower level.he has had no falls and has never gotten injured before but just yesterday he would drag his hind legs. He never used them just dragging them behind. His behind became very dirty and we are pretty sure from his waist down he is paralyzed he has gotten no better and it scares me because it looks as if hes getting worse. I gave him some medicine for wet tail today and i hope i did the right thing because i don’t want him to get it, and i heard you have to give it to them ounce you see any sighn of it. I have had 5 hmasters in the pass so i think i am raising them correctly because one lived all the way to 4 years and 6 months. it was actually my very first hamster:). And i just really dont want this hamster to die it means so much to me and my dad got me this one because when i had my last one named sugar it died of wet tail the second day i got it and we got sugar because my other hamster pastalito died because of wet tail and i couldnt treat it fast enought PLEASE HELP!!!!!!

    • admin says:

      I’m very sorry to hear your little hamsters is having problems walking. It’s good you are treating it for wet tail since that can become a more serious problem quickly. How have you been feeding your hamster? It might be that your hamster has weak bones and needs more calcium in its diet. People recommend scrambled eggs and broccoli bits. You might also want to remove the wheel if that might lead to it getting hurt. You can also add a heat pad underneath a part of your cage so it can warm up its joints. Don’t put it inside since it might get gnawed on and cause more problems than good.

      Continue to treat your hamster and observe it to see if anything seems to be getting better. It’s hard to tell but it might be a hereditary thing or metabolic bone disease. A vet can prescribe a thing called metacam to help ease the pain. It’s not always easy to take a hamster to a vet but some of them will not charge as much for such a small pet. Call around to find one that knows about hamsters.

      Best of luck and I hope your hamster gets better soon. Please let us know.

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