What Happens if a Hamster's Nails Get Too Long?

By Naomi Millburn

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If you own a hamster and rarely pay attention to the state of his nails, change that immediately. Excessively long nails in hamsters can actually be hazardous to the little guys. Thankfully, regular clipping sessions at the veterinarian's office can keep your hammie's nails safe -- and looking pretty swell, too.

What to Look For

If your hamster's nails are too long, it probably will be apparent with a quick look. If you observe that his claws are beginning to twist down below his paws, it means that he needs to get them trimmed, pronto. Hamsters with excessively long nails also often spend a lot of time scratching their bodies while taking care of their grooming needs. Overgrowth is particularly prevalent in elderly hamsters.

Claw Overgrowth

Claw overgrowth is problematic for hamsters for a couple of different reasons. Excessively long claws can easily get stuck onto substrate or other items, for one. This can trigger the splitting apart of the nails, and ultimately painful bleeding. If hamster nails are overly long and experience breakage, that can lead to potential infection, too. Between the possibilities of painful ripping and infection, all things point to the need for regular claw trimming appointments in hammies across the board.

Nail Management

Take action as soon as you see that your hamster's claws are too long. Get your pet to a veterinary appointment immediately and have the doctor trim them. The vet can also show you how to properly do it by yourself at home. Tiny nail clippers that are designed for human infants generally are useful for the task. The vet can offer you a variety of handy tips to make the process go smoother and safer. If you cut your hamster's claws, it's extremely important that you avoid the pink sections close to the nails' foundations, for example. The pink parts are the "quicks," and they're how blood travels to the nails.

Physical Activity and Hamster Nails

Not all hamsters require regular nail trimmings. If your hamster's nails never seem to get inordinately long, don't worry. It just means that the furry cutie gets so much physical activity that he grinds them down all by himself. Coarse and tough surfaces often help with this. Whether your hamster spends a lot of time happily running on his exercise wheel or simply climbing up the little ladders in his enclosure, there's a strong chance that his nails are already receiving the "trimmings" they need so much. Digging around in general often does the trick, too.

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