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.

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.


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.


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.


57 comments on “Hind Limb Problems

  1. Today I realized that my hamsters two hind legs were not working, he is dragging himself place to place. He sleeps after walking for a minute then wakes up and walks then does the same. He is not bleeding but when I pick him up he makes these noises as if in pain and he has crust around his eyes meaning he was crying. He has not been doing exercise, what can I do to help?😭

  2. I have a hamster and he is paralyzed in his both of his back legs and he is bleeding from his lower areas and I have. A wheel chair and when ever I pick him up he startes to bleed from his private parts and he drags both his back legs behind him and I have no clue what to do help?☹️😰

  3. My son woke me up and told me there was something wrong with one of his hamsters. He bought two female hamsters a few weeks ago and when he left for work he said they were fine but when he checked them before bed the one was motionless, she is breathing normal but almost like she is paralized, I have her some water while I had her in my hand and she moved her front half a little and drank the water but her back legs are just stretched out from under her and limp. We put her back in the cage and when her sister started messing with her she did move some. We seperated the two for now cuz the one just lays there lifeless but she is still breathing well.

  4. I have gerbil and he fell about five feet started to to have a little seger and if read that it was normal for this to happen sometimes so I put him back in his cage and he stopped right away but then I realized that he wasn’t using his back legs and he hasn’t been eating the apples or the razberry and he hasn’t been drinking ether and he still isn’t using his back legs please help! It’s the next day and he hasn’t eaten anything😥

  5. I have Russian dwarf hamsters they are 3 weeks old they where all fine last week now 2 of them have 2 limbs messed up front legs and 1 back leg what could have cause this? No one touches them. Do they get polio?

  6. my hamster popcorn hops, and his back is always arched and he lost his appetite for every thing but sunflower seeds does anyone know what that illness is? if it is an illness

  7. Hi I have a dwarf hamster, she is about 4 mths old , i got her when she was 2 weeks old. This afternoon i was cleaning her cage because i have 3 dwarf hamsters and well i have the 2 girls together and the male seperate. Well i didnt know that she was pregnant again and i caught the other girl hamster her name is cherry fighting with the pregnant one her name is nibbles and i saw she had something in her mouth thats when i saw the baby and its gross but she ate half of it and when i took it from her i checked to see which one had it. It turned out that nibbles was the one pregnant. She must have gotten pregnant when i cleaned thier cages for the first time this month. I took out cherry and left nibbles by herself to see if she had anymore. Well she did but when i came back home from picking up my husband she was twisting and was dragging her two hind legs then would move them a little but would try to stretch and twist at same time. I also noticed that when she drank water from her bottle she would fall alot but still kept drinking. I fear she is sick and her pup might die if she dies. Please help , any advice i really dnt know what to do . i fear that cherry might have hurt her during birth. She looks very uncomfortable.

  8. Hello, mu hamster hot her for stuck in between the bars of her cage, my mom took her foot out fast. I didn’t see any blood. She eats and drink and run just normal, but are dragging her foot, I began to see that we chewed her limb and it so red but still
    Haven’t seen blood, she is still acting fine she eats drink and play, I got her a new cage whiteout bars and a lot of space, I can’t take her to the vet in 2 day cuz they closed. Will she bite her foot off or will it heal?? I don’t know if she broke a bone. PLEAS ITS BEEN A WEEK now whit her injury…

  9. My hamster is 2 yrs old, and he was fine until today, today he is weak, and just keep tourning around, slowly, and he dont eat and drink much, and when I pich him up he was just lying in my hand and he was shaking, what is wrong with him😞

  10. My hamster is 2 yrs old, and he was fine until today, today he is weak, and just keep tourning around, slowly, and he dont eat and drink much, and when I pich him up he was just lying in my hand and he was shaking, what is wrong with him?😞

  11. Hello i have a dwarf hampster named squishy and I’ve had her for about a year and today I noticed her lying down on her side next to her water so I picked her up and put her on my bed to see if she was okay. She started crawling and I noticed she is just dragging one of heroften hind legs and ocasionly using the other one but not very often. I cleaned her cage wile I let her walk around a little and then tried feeding her a sunflower seed because it’s her favorite. She only ate one tiny one so I offered her water and she didn’t take it. I put her back in her cage without the top and she just went back into her little home. She has a wheel bit she hasn’t been using it as much as she used too. Whats wrong with my little baby squishy????

  12. I have a male long haired hamster that we got on 1/30/2016 so he is a young little guy yet. Last night we got him out and let him run around and he was fine. He climbed back into his cage and was walking fine. We went to clean his cages tonight and he is walking on just 3 legs and has one of his back legs up. He was active and climbed through his tube to his other cage without a problem. He has a wheel in one of his cages and plenty of bedding. Any thoughts?

  13. my hamster is about 2 years old and is having problems. I went to check on him and he was just lying there doing nothing. I thought he was asleep but he wasn’t waking up. he finally moved but did not open his eyes. I picked him up and he just layed there in my hands. I tried to give him some apple but it was hard for him to chew. he refused to drink anything. whenever he walked he would fall over. do you think you k ow what’s wrong will him? please help me.

    • It sounds like hibernation. Get him up warm and keep water near him. Wrap him in a towl or wash cloth. That should help. Just keep him warm and hydrated. Took me about 2 hours to where my hamster started to come around. Good luck!

  14. Hello my hamster used to be able to stand on two deer and eat her food, but now she seems to be unable too, I give her a treat to get her to try and stand, but she can’t, she falls back down halfway through, failing. What’s even weirder is that I see her walk and she uses both feet and they seem fine. She even has a large running wheel in her cage and she uses it all the time. And I don’t know if its just because she is overweight, she doesn’t seem so overweight, though she is 6 and 1/2 inches, which is pretty big for a Syrian, which she is. She is a short haired Syrian, please give me your opinion thank you

  15. My hamster is being starting to worry me she is in the corner very still and sort of waddles she isn’t very skinny but not very fat we have a new cage for her which is bigger but still weary tired please help😔

    • How old is your hamster? It’s hard to say what the issue might be. Perhaps your hamster just needs time to get comfortable with the new cage. If the hind limb issues continue, consult a vet.

      • I just bought a hamster yesterday who is 8 weeks old. One of his hind legs is unable to move and he often drags it along. His other leg is fine. I tried to see if his limb was broken but everything seems fine, he’s still very active and eats well. He is able to curl the toes though. Could it be cage paralysis from being in a small cage in the pet shop?

        • It could be a temporary issue or something more serious. I recommend consulting a vet if the issue doesn’t get better sooner than later. If he is eating, drinking and able to get exercise, that’s at least a good thing.

  16. Hi,

    My Romeo,syrian hamster used to be very active,while playing in his cage,suddenly fell downe,not able to move his hands,head,not able to open his right eye,..

    Suggest me..

  17. Hi, my hamster is a few months old and got out of his cage this morning (Oct 19, 2015) while I was not home. My mom found him in the closet with the help of my dog, whom is usually so gentle with the hamster, she (the dog) decided to pick him up, which I think was in terms of helping but I think somehow pinched a nerve or muscle. When I got home later in the afternoon I checked him out and he wasn’t moving his hind legs. My mom noticed he was being odd this morning. He doesn’t have renal dysfunction but his legs just won’t work and I can tell it is causing him great discomfort. If you have any advice for what might be the cause and if I can do anything to help him, please let me know. Thank you so much.

  18. I have a hamster three years old. I woke up this morning and he was all fine, walking perfect. Then, about an hour later my brother inspected that he was not moving his back feet. My mom thought he was dying but he has been fine since we inspected. He is still alive. He is eating and drinking okay and he is able to get around but he is dragging. When my mom fed him fresh food and water he grabbed his bedding and he put it in his mouth and he shook. He can move his right leg but barely and he cannot move his left leg at all. I am worried to death. He has never gotten sick to make me worried. I have had him for 2 years and I am afraid to lose him and I can’t stand to see him like this. I have cried over him. Please help me. Thank you!

  19. I have a littter of baby hamsters and they are 15 days old. I noticed that one was not moving very much and seemed like he might have been dead. The mom didnake the best can´t abandon it but still wanted to care for the little thing. She was actually very upset and stressed about the baby. It also appered to be having labored breahething but squirms a little like they would when they are sleeping. Its hard to explain i´m afraid the mom might eat him if i put him back with the rest but i know the mom will take the best care of it. I´m very worried and don´t want to lose one i´m so proud of the mom its her first litter and they were all healthy up until this point.

  20. We have a hamster about 6 months old. We have her in a ten gallon tank with the water bottle on the side of the glass. She likes climbing on it. Well we left the house and she was fine, when we got home she had gotten her little leg stuck. I got her down and now I’m scared that her leg is broken. Her leg is hairless now and very red, maybe alittle bloody as well and her foot is swollen. I need to know if she can come back from this or if there’s anything we can do to make her more comfortable. As of now she is still eating and drinking. Please help its my daughters and she is so devastated😞

  21. My hamster Ellie is a long haired Syrian. Shes only maybe 6 months old. Shes usually really energetic and responsive and will climb her cage and run in her wheel all night..today I noticed she was being really still in the corner even when I opened the cage and lightly poked her. She has never done this before and was unresponsive almost when I picked her up. Also she peed and pooped in my hand today which she never does either. she seems really weak but I feed her a little amount every night and she drinks plenty of water. She seems to have gotten worse and can hardly use her limbs at all, she fell off her little bridge and literally fell on her face. she is just continuing to stick her face in her bedding and when she trys to move she is dragging. Also she likes the climb and hang from the top of her cage so I’m worried she fell worse than usual maybe when I didn’t see her? She is hardly moving just curls uo with her face down. help!!!!

    • You should consult a vet. I’m not sure we can give you any advice other than trying to make her comfortable. Add lots of warm bedding, clean the cage daily and continue to feed and make her drink plenty of water.

  22. My hampered is almost 1 year old. She has not eaten anything for 1 week. She has a limp on her back left leg, and will not hardly walk on it. She tries to walk on it. I am really worried. She won’t even eat her favorite snack. And she won’t run in her wheel or in her ball.

  23. I have a winter white hamster who is about 11-13 months old. I have noticed that he is having trouble walking as he would fall side ways and he us unable to clean his own back. He is also extremely skinny for some time now and I don’t know why… When I open his cage, he is not responding. He is unable to get up properly and I have not seen him using his
    Running wheel. When he urines, he doesn’t move to another place and continues to remain soaked in his pee…when I pick him up, he is very weak and he doesn’t bite me anymore for some reason. He usually bites me when ever I pick him up. When I touch him, he doesn’t respond and lies sideways… PLEASE HELP I’M SCARED OF LOSING HIM!!!

    • He could have any number of problems. You need to seek an opinion from a vet. It will likely need medication in order for it to get better if he can be helped at all. In the mean time just try to keep him comfy with soft bedding and a warm habitat. If you can, hand feed him to see if he will eat and drink.

    • My hamster is a winter white too.And when I picked him up he used to bite me but now he doesn’t.He falls over too and doesn’t walk as much as he used to.I don’t want to lose him. 🙁

  24. Hello everyone- could anyone give me any advice regarding my Syrian/Golden hamster, Veruca. She is one year and three months old. I read that hamster balls are controversial but I don’t have any stairs, children or other pets. She would also walk into her ball voluntarily and I used this as her source of exercise because she is the largest hamster that I’ve ever seen and never fit on her wheel. She was that large when I adopted her from a rescue when she was six weeks old and she was almost full grown. Two days ago after she spent around twenty minutes in her wheel, she came back to my doorway and I put her back in her cage. Everything seemed well and I had left her a toilet paper cardboard roll stuffed with long strands of toilet paper and I put a snack in the middle. She likes to tear the cardboard apart and also shred the t.p. and spreads it around her bedding. I woke up and it looked like she had a busy night (t.p. shredded and spread about her cage) but then I saw her crawl out of her igloo and she was dragging her hind legs. She had completely lost the use of her hind legs! It didn’t seem like she was in pain and after she finished drinking her water, she went right back to her igloo like nothing had happened. I have been cleaning her up with wipes twice a day and she’ll still take snacks. Although I mentioned that she was the largest hamster that I had ever seen, I did not excessively feed her and I only got her snacks at a place that only sold healthy food. She gets stuff like freeze dried or fresh fruit, romaine lettuce and 1-2 pistachio nuts for snacks. I am unfortunately in between jobs right now so I don’t have the resources to take her to a vet. Does anyone have advice as to what I can do to make her life comfortable? I’ve moved her to a smaller cage so that her water and food are closer to her. I’m going to start using shredded paper towels for her bedding with the exception of her igloo so that it will be easier for her to move about. When I take her out to clean her and just hold her, her upper body is still really strong and once I’m done cleaning her, she’ll crawl and wiggle herself in between my torso and arm which she usually does to nap. I’m afraid that she’ll have problems pooing as when I clean her (sorry, this is really gross) there are times when I have to help her nudge a poo pellet out. Other than that, she’s still very alert and although she can’t come to me when I call her name, I can see her wiggle about in her igloo. It’s really heartbreaking that I’ll never see her sitting on her hind feet looking at me from the corner of her cage anymore. Thank you

  25. My hamster jumped off a fairly high press and lied motionless on the floor when I picked it up and put it back into its cage I realised he wasn’t useing his back legs its been like this all day now and hes a very energetic hamster and hasn’t touched his wheel, I’m worried.

    • You will need to take your injured hamster to the vet. There is a small chance the hamster has swelling in its back and back legs and when it subsides, the hamster might get feeling back in its legs. A more serious condition though, it could have broken bones or nerve damage.

  26. 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?

    • 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.

  27. 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.

    • 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?

    • My hamster has had symptoms for 2 weeks. At first we thought it was a cut near his hind legs, but that healed fine, he can’t stand on his hind legs anymore but doesn’t show pain when I touch his bottom we have given him vitamins but he has showed small improvement but then stopped

  28. 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

    • 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.

  29. 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 ??

    • 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.

  30. 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!!!!!!

    • 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *