You love your pet hamster and want to ensure that it stays healthy for as long as possible. For this reason, you do your best to care for it and treat it well.
Sometimes things can go wrong with hamsters despite your best efforts. Many hamster owners have encountered issues where their pet’s back legs stop working suddenly.
Is your hamster dragging its hind legs, or is it otherwise having problems using its back legs as normal? What could be the cause of this?
Continue reading on to learn about the reasons why a hamster’s back legs will stop working. You’ll also get information about potential treatments.
There Are Two Potential Issues
There are two potential issues that can cause issues with the back legs of a hamster. One is known as cage paralysis and another is known as hind limb paralysis.
These problems are similar in many ways. It’s just the causes of the issues that differ between the two.
Below, you’ll get information about each of these problems. It’ll help you to learn about what’s going on so that you can try to help your hamster.
This is a serious issue that you don’t want to ignore. Getting the knowledge that you need now is important for your furry companion.
What Causes Cage Paralysis?
Cage paralysis is generally caused by hamsters being forced to live in small environments. It’s possible that your hamster is living in a cage that is much too small.
In this situation, the hamster might not be able to exercise properly. Exercise is crucial for hamsters because they need to stay in top physical condition.
When hamsters can’t move around and exercise well, they’re going to gain weight. A hamster might become obese due to not getting enough exercise and still eating a normal (or excess) amount of food.
Of course, feeding a pet hamster too much could also exacerbate the issue. Even so, the main concern is the lack of exercise and the lack of sufficient space.
It’s crucial to ensure that hamsters have enough room to thrive in your home. You need to buy a hamster cage that is large enough for the hamster that you purchased.
You might want to do some research about the appropriate cage size based on the type of hamster that you own. This will allow you to keep your hamster in a cage that will suit its needs.
Cage size is definitely important to avoid cage paralysis issues. Hamsters that live in cages that are too small might experience severe muscle and bone degeneration.
Sometimes, hamsters with cage paralysis won’t even be able to move any longer. A hamster in such a sorry state is unlikely to survive.
Can Cage Paralysis Be Treated?
The best treatment for cage paralysis is early detection of the problem. If you catch the issue as early as you can, you might be able to take steps to fix things.
If you see that the hamster is having problems, you will want to buy a larger cage right away. Try to give the hamster more space, so it can move around properly.
Put more toys in the cage so the hamster will be encouraged to exercise. Give the hamster tunnels to crawl through, a hamster wheel to run around in, and other such toys that encourage it to move around and use its legs.
Not allowing the hamster to get cage paralysis is the best thing you can do. It’s also said that vitamin supplements can really help hamsters out.
Some hamster owners choose to give their hamsters vitamin D and vitamin E supplements in their food. This can help them to better absorb calcium and generally keep them healthy.
Hopefully, your hamster will turn things around if you make the necessary changes. It can be hard if the hamster is very overweight, though.
What Causes Hind Limb Paralysis?
Hind limb paralysis is generally caused by some type of injury. It could be that your hamster suffered a spinal cord injury that caused the nerves that lead to the legs to stop functioning.
Another potential cause of this type of paralysis is a bacterial infection. A specific type of bacterial infection known as Campylobacteriosis has been known to cause hamsters to experience hind limb paralysis.
Finally, the condition can be caused by genetics. Your hamster might have a hereditary trait that caused it to have its hind legs to become paralyzed.
This is a hereditary trait that sometimes gets passed down to males. It’s an unfortunate thing that can make it very hard for your hamster to live a normal life.
In the case of bacterial infection, sometimes the hamster’s immune system will fight the infection. It’s not always easy to determine what the cause of hind limb paralysis is, but it’ll be one of the three causes mentioned above.
Hamsters that can’t use their back legs will have a tough time doing much at all. The hamster might be able to get around by dragging its legs, but the poor little pet might be suffering.
Can Hind Limb Paralysis Be Treated?
Whether hind limb paralysis is treatable or not depends on the cause. Sometimes the condition is treatable, but it might not be depending on what’s wrong.
When a hamster is infected, you can treat it the same way you would when it has wet tail disease. You can talk to a veterinarian about this and come up with a good treatment plan.
Hamsters that have been injured can get better over time with the right treatment. Often, vets will give injured hamsters anti-inflammatory medications to get the swelling to go down and prevent further injury to soft tissues.
It’s also common to give hamsters painkillers to help them cope with the pain. A hamster that has been injured can make a full recovery and regain the use of its hind legs depending on how well things go.
However, hamsters that have been severely injured might not recover at all. The paralysis could be permanent.
Hamsters with hereditary hind limb paralysis won’t get better either. This is unfortunate, but you might want to think of euthanizing the hamster.
Most who deal with tough situations like this will talk to a veterinarian about how to proceed. Depending on how bad things are for the hamster, a vet might recommend euthanasia as the kindest option.
It can be hard to hear something like this when you’re attached to your pet hamster. However, it might come down to having to make a choice to put a hamster that is suffering down.
What Could Cause a Hamster to Get Injured?
There are many things that could cause a hamster to get injured. A spinal cord injury could occur if a hamster is dropped from a significant height.
For instance, you could drop the hamster when you’re trying to pick it up. This could wind up causing the hamster to get really hurt and cause irreversible damage.
It’s an important reason to remember to handle your hamster very carefully. You must be sure not to drop or otherwise injure the hamster when handling it.
Some hamsters might get injured by fighting, too. Hamsters might fight other hamsters, or a hamster could get out of its cage and get hurt by another household pet.
Keep in mind that hamsters are fairly vulnerable animals. They’re prey animals that aren’t built to survive against larger and more imposing animals.
Hopefully, your hamster will never have to worry about such a problem. It’s still worth knowing that a hamster could get seriously injured by fighting a larger animal if it doesn’t get killed outright.
Certain toys that are set up in bad ways could hurt the hamster as well. You don’t want the hamster to fall from a high height or otherwise injure itself.
Put some thought into the way that you position toys in the cage. Also, be sure to buy good toys for the hamster that you know are made with high-quality materials.
It’s unlikely that an injury while playing would cause this type of paralysis, but it could happen if you have the toys set up in an unusual way. Now that you know this, you can do your best to make wise choices.
You’ve learned that there are two different types of paralysis that hamsters might have to deal with related to the hind legs. Cage paralysis occurs when a hamster doesn’t get enough exercise.
This happens when hamsters are living in cages that are too small. Your hamster will get overweight if it doesn’t get enough exercise.
Solving this issue is easy enough since you can give the hamster more room and try to get it to play. If a hamster gets enough exercise and lives in a cage that is large enough, cage paralysis won’t be an issue.
Hind leg paralysis can be more complex. This can be caused by infection, injury, and genetics. Depending on what causes the hind leg paralysis, it might not be possible to treat the condition.
In some cases, hamsters might need to be euthanized. Hopefully, your hamster has a treatable problem so that it can get better soon enough.
Should any of your friends have hamsters with these issues, you can tell them what you learned today. It should help them to look out for their hamsters and avoid common situations that cause hamsters to develop cage paralysis.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.