Hamsters wriggle and move around a lot, so they’re easy to drop and sometimes unexpectedly jump out of their owners’ hands without considering the consequences.
Hamsters can fall 25 cm (10 inches) without getting hurt. Survival depends on the hamster’s condition, the point of impact, and the surface type. A bad fall can cause broken bones, internal injuries, or paralysis.
Due to their diminutive size and relative strength, hamsters can survive terminal velocity, which means they’re more likely to survive a greater fall than a much larger mammal.
When holding your hamster, ensure a firm grip and remain close to the ground.
What Happens if You Drop a Hamster?
Hamsters are curious animals that love to explore their surroundings. They also like to jump, sometimes leaping out of their owners’ hands to escape when they feel scared or threatened.
Unfortunately, because their survival instincts are so strong, hamsters don’t consider where they’ll land before jumping, even if they’re far from the ground.
Also, hamsters have poor eyesight and can’t see what’s below them very well. Their only thought is getting away from the threat, so they act on this instinct.
It’s difficult to tell what will happen if you drop a hamster because each environment is different.
If you drop a hamster from only a few inches off the ground, it likely won’t get a cut or scrape. Similarly, your hamster will fare better if you have a carpet, cushion, or soft surface to break the fall.
However, dropping your hamster from several feet can lead to sprained or broken limbs, so your hamster may struggle to walk on its back legs. If your hamster hits its head, the chances of neurological issues arising immediately or as it ages increase.
What To Do if You Drop a Hamster
There are certain steps you should take after your hamster has a fall:
Once your hamster’s dropped to the ground, you must act fast to prevent it from running away and hiding somewhere you can’t get to it.
At the same time, assess it for any signs of injury, such as blood or strange-looking limbs.
Even if your hamster looks okay physically, it’s not necessarily healthy. If you suspect your hamster’s hurt, take it to a vet for assessment and treatment.
Your hamster won’t want to be touched, but handling will likely worsen the issue.
If you need to move your hamster, consider wearing gloves, as your pet may try to bite you due to its pain. Just be sure not to drop your hamster again and grip it firmly without squeezing it.
Keep Your Hamster Comfortable
While waiting for a vet appointment, make your hamster’s living environment comfortable by providing food and water. Keep its room quiet and restrict children and pets from having access.
Your hamster will be wary of predators at this point, so its stress levels will already be heightened. Your vet will advise on what you can do to aid your hamster’s recovery.
Does It Hurt Hamsters If They Fall?
A common question amongst owners is, “are hamsters okay if they fall?”
In a safe and controlled environment with no threats or dangers, hamsters assess the risks of a jump, even though they can’t see very well. This means they’re unlikely to hurt themselves if they fall because they won’t jump if they deem the distance too great.
However, hamsters have small, delicate limbs. As sentient creatures, they feel pain. While they may not become seriously injured from a fall, they can still feel the impact.
Falls commonly result in sprains, damaged nails, broken bones, and chipped teeth, which are painful.
How To Tell If Your Hamster Is Injured?
Companion Animal describes how hamsters hide their pain to protect themselves from predators. As a result, it can be difficult to determine whether your pet hamster hurt itself.
By the time you’ve realized your hamster’s been harmed by its fall, it could be too late to do anything. That said, there are ways to tell when a hamster’s injured. The most common signs of injury are:
- Reluctance to use a limb
- Hind leg paralysis
- Labored breathing
- Loss of appetite or anorexia
- Unexpected aggression
- Sleeping more often
- Squeaks or cries of pain
Even if these symptoms don’t appear immediately, keep an eye on your hamster in case some of them start to show after the fall.
Do Hamsters Die if You Drop Them?
You’re likely wondering: will dropping a hamster kill it? Whether or not a fall is fatal depends on:
- The height of the fall
- The floor’s surface
- Whether there’s anything to cushion the fall
- How the hamster lands
- The hamster’s health and condition when it falls
If the drop’s too high or the floor’s surface is too hard, your hamster could die.
It may not be killed immediately from the impact. Still, it’s at risk of long-term injuries, such as internal bleeding or an undetected broken limb that could cause the hamster to eventually succumb.
There are other factors to consider, such as whether there are any obstacles for the hamster to hit on the way down. For example, furniture or accessories break your hamster’s fall or worsen the impact.
Can Hamsters Jump Down?
Hamsters are excellent jumpers that are most likely to leap when escaping predators or trying to break free from their cage.
For example, they also jump when playing in the sand. They’ll jump to reach a toy or treat hung from the cage roof, which is an excellent form of entertainment and mental stimulation.
Their leaping abilities mean they can jump down, which is when they’re most likely to harm themselves. They also leap from their owners’ hands, which can be problematic if held up too high.
Younger hamsters are likelier to jump down than older, less active animals with less energy. Even small dwarf hamsters can jump an impressive distance, despite their tiny stature.
Syrians don’t jump so much as they get older. Male Syrians are calmer than females, who go into heat and develop behavioral changes every four days.
Can Hamsters Survive Terminal Velocity?
Terminal velocity is the maximum velocity or speed that an object can achieve as it falls through a gas or fluid. Because hamsters are so small and light, they can survive falls that larger mammals can’t.
Small things hit the ground with lower terminal velocity than bigger creatures. An average-sized person falling from 300 ft would reach approximately 90 mph, while hamsters would reach 30 mph.
The science behind terminal velocity means that the smaller the creature, the more likely it’ll survive a higher drop. For example, a beetle could fall off a tall building and escape unharmed.
Hamsters are also proportionately stronger due to their size. That said, hamsters are still at risk of hurting themselves, especially if they fall awkwardly or hit something hard on the way down.
How High Can a Dwarf Hamster Fall and Survive?
Dwarf hamsters are smaller than Syrians, so they’re more fragile. Hamsters can jump and safely land from an average height of approximately 25 cm (10 inches).
Most cages and tanks are much higher than this due to being on sideboards and other tall furniture pieces, so be careful when getting your hamster out of its cage to prevent a fall.
Similarly, they shouldn’t have any platforms or additional levels too high off the ground. If they are, you can pile soft bedding directly underneath to break the fall and prevent your hamster from hurting itself.
There’s also a difference between a dwarf hamster falling due to being dropped or leaping out of your hands. A leap provides additional force and momentum, which could tip the balance between your hamster hurting itself and being okay.
Hamsters are high-energy pets, which means there’s a high risk of accidents caused by falls. Your pet shouldn’t develop any life-changing injuries as long as you carefully handle your hamster and remain close to the ground when playing with it.