Our hamster’s health is of paramount importance to us. Thoughts about their health should guide our every move when it comes to our beloved pets, they are simply too fragile to ignore their health! We’ve talked about illnesses on this blog before – but what about overgrown nails? Many people ask if you need to trim hamster claws. After all, we need to trim our own nails! The answer is that you should only trim your hamster’s nails if they are overgrown, this is a rare event!
In this article, we will be looking at how to trim hamster claws and when you should be doing it. We’ll be giving you the best advice possible in this task, which can be quite hard for you to do! Hopefully, by the end of it, you will know exactly what to do if your hamster’s nails are overgrown.
Do you need to trim hamster claws?
Our hamsters have naturally sharp claws, this is completely normal! These evolved for our pets to be able to find food and dig holes in the wild. You shouldn’t need to trim hamster clawsin any normal situation, it can stunt their growth and stress them out! However, in the case of overgrown nails, there can be an exception. This can be the case when it comes to old hamsters. They aren’t as active which means that they don’t get the same opportunities to wear down their claws as they would normally do. This means that the responsibility for doing it falls to you!
You can normally tell when you need to trim your hamster’s nails. They will start to curve on themselves due to their length and they may turn yellow. They will also begin to look cracked and broken as maintenance on them becomes harder and harder for your hamster. Your hamster may also find it harder to climb, dig and walk around due to their nails. The claws are also more likely to hurt you due to how sharp they are. It should be fairly clear when they are in need of a bit of a trim!
Should you take them to a vet?
Vets can absolutely deal with this issue, but it is also an issue that you can deal with on your own. If you don’t feel confident doing it yourself then you should absolutely take them to a vet that deals with hamsters. The vet will know how to do it and can even give you tips so that you know what to do next time. A vet will know the right way to hold the hamster and will have the proper tools to do the task.
Don’t take this to mean that you can’t do it yourself though. You absolutely can and we will be showing you how to do this next. Just remember that the vet is always there for these problems!
How to cut a hamster’s claws
There’s quite a few steps you need to go through to trim your hamster’s nails. We’ll go through all of them now! Hamster nails are long naturally, so make sure you need to do this first.
Making your hamster comfortable
Before you begin the process of trimming your hamster claws, you need to ensure that they are tame and actually feel comfortable with you picking them up and trimming their nails. You have no hope of being able to trim their nails if they don’t feel comfortable around you, and you might get a little bite for your troubles! Check out our guide on hamster handling and ensure that they are sufficiently tamed first! They need to be sufficiently tamed so that you can hold them on their side.
Hold your hamster in a comfortable position which also gives you access to their nails. Make sure it is comfortable or your hamster won’t hesitate to get out of it! Give him treats to encourage him to stay in this position and train them to stay in that position for a few days. Start holding their feet so that they feel comfortable with you doing so. Stroke his feet and give him a treat! You can use this time to figure out if your hamster’s nails really are long!
Acquiring the supplies
You obviously need the correct supplies for this task! The most important thing here is the lighting, you need to ensure that you have a good view of your hamster’s claws at all times! If you don’t then you might make horrible mistakes. You can easily use usual human nail clippers for this task. As a contingency we recommend styptic powder, this will stop bleeding if you cut the nail badly.
Trimming the nails
First, you need to pick up your hamster. Do it as we have stated before, you should have trained them so that they feel comfortable in the position that you put them in. Don’t hold them too tight as they may struggle and make it harder for you to trim their nails.
The most important thing is to know how much nail to cut off. What you want to avoid is cutting to the vein as this will cause pain for the hamster and will result in them bleeding. You should be able to tell where this area is as it will be redder. Once you have identified where to cut, simply clip the nail. Give your hamster a treat if they are frightened, this has the added effect of keeping them still. Make sure that you quickly trim the nail, don’t hesitate halfway through. This could lead to injury for your hamster as they could quickly pull away.
If you did a good job, and if your hamster is happy, continue with the rest of the nails. Please don’t continue if your pet is unhappy or squirming as you could injure them. Take a break and come back to it later. Give them a treat after it is all over to help them associate it with good things. Once you have finished, watch their nails for a few days to see if they are sore or bleeding.
If you have accidentally cut your hamster’s nail too much, let them calm down before applying the styptic powder. If you don’t have that then wash the area with wet cotton wool to reduce the chance of infection. If the area looks infected then take them to a vet and explain the situation.
Natural ways to trim hamster nails
There’s plenty of natural ways that hamster’s use to trim their nails. This means that there are plenty of things that you can do to help them. Here are some of the best ways to give your hamster an opportunity to trim their nails.
Let them dig!
One of the best ways to naturally trim your pet’s nails is to give them opportunities to dig. Consider getting them a sandbath or increase the amount of floor that they have in their cage. This means that they will have plenty of chances to dig and explore their natural habitat! It will also help with filing their nails.
Place rocks in their cage
Rocks for hamster nails can be a great way of giving your pet something to file their nails on. We recommend getting one from a pet store and not from outside, this is because of the natural bacteria that can be on a rock from the outside. Place it in the cage and it will immediately get your hamster’s interest! Try to get a flat rock that won’t tip over and injure your hamster. These rocks are a source of cold and can help with regulating your hamster’s temperature as well! Don’t use anything like sandpaper as it can hurt your hamster’s feet.
Give them great treats
Treats can be a great way of filing your hamster’s nails. Give them something they have to work for, such as a hanging treat that they have to grab onto with their nails! This will help reduce the chances of them becoming overgrown.
So we have looked at: how to tell if your hamster’s nails are overgrown, how to trim your hamster’s nails and how to help them file them naturally. You need to make sure that your hamster is comfortable enough to be held before you attempt this task, that is extremely important. If you don’t then you could injure both your hamster and the trust that your pet has towards you. Be extremely careful and always consider going to a doctor if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself! Remember that hamsters are not as low maintenance as you may think, they always need help!
Have you trimmed your pet’s nails before? Got any tips? Let us know in the comments!