How Far Hamsters Can Fall And Be Alright: Fall Height Guide

How Far Hamsters Can Fall And Be Alright

If you are reading this post, there is a good chance you are doing so because your hamster has fallen out of your hands or off of a platform of some kind. You are likely worried about your little pet and would like the reassurance that your hamster will be okay. 

How far can a hamster fall and be alright? The distance from which a hamster can fall and be okay will depend on a variety of factors, but generally, a hamster can fall at least 10-12” without injury. While they will almost certainly survive a fall at this height, they can often fall at a distance of 3 feet or more and be perfectly okay.

Because a hamster’s outcome from a fall will depend on a number of factors, it is important to know the signs of concern to watch for post-fall and how you can prevent a dangerous fall in the future.

How Far Can Hamsters Safely Fall? Factors To Consider

There are a few factors that will affect the distance from which a hamster can fall without serious injury. These factors include:

  • How the hamster lands – one of the determining factors related to the outcome of a fall will be the position in which the hamster lands. If a hamster falls from a distance of 36 inches and lands on his feet, he is much more likely to survive the fall than if he were to land on his head. 
  • The health of the hamster – the health, condition, and age of a hamster will have an effect on his injury risk as well. A hamster who is not in prime health may be at a greater risk of suffering an injury than a healthy hamster. A young hamster may also be better able to recover from an injury than an elderly hamster.
  • The surface on which the hamster lands – another factor involved in fall outcomes will be the surface on which the hamster lands. A hamster who falls 36 inches and lands on a mattress will have a better chance of surviving the fall than a hamster who falls from the same height onto a tile or concrete floor.

Why Hamsters Are Susceptible To Falling

If you have a pet hamster, there is a good chance that your hamster has fallen a time or two. There are a few reasons hamsters are so susceptible to suffering falls: their poor eyesight, their tendency to flee, and their quick feet.

Hamsters have very poor eyesight and almost no depth perception. It is believed that a hamster is only able to focus about 12 inches in front of him. While they can detect motion beyond that point, they are unable to see clearly the object in question.

Their poor eyesight, coupled with their almost complete lack of depth perception, is a significant aspect in their fall risk. A hamster who is sitting in your hands will not have the ability to accurately assess the height from which they will fall should they walk right out of your hands. 

Lacking the depth perception required to appropriately assess risk becomes a particular danger for a prey animal with the natural tendency to flee at the first sign of a threat. The world is a threatening place for a prey animal the size of a hamster, and they are likely to flee without first considering the (fall) risk of running away. 

To add one more element to the mix, hamsters are also extremely quick and agile. The only real defense that a hamster has against a predator in the wild is its ability to flee.

Syrian hamsters are known to run as fast as 6 miles per hour – an astounding fact when considering the tiny legs of a rodent. You may set your hamster down on your desk for no more than a moment, and in that moment, he may disappear… right off the edge of the desk.

Danger Signs To Watch For After A Hamster Falls

If your hamster has fallen from a significant height, resist the urge to immediately pick them up. Instead of touching them, watch them closely to see how they will recover.

It is not uncommon for a hamster to freeze for a few seconds after falling – this is usually the result of being disoriented. Remember, a hamster’s eyesight is really quite poor – your hamster may not have known they were at risk of falling until they had landed. This will be confusing, and they may need a moment to reorient themselves.

Once your hamster recovers their senses, there are a few signs of danger to watch for:

  • Visible injury – of course, the most obvious signs of an injury will visible to you right away. If a leg is broken, it may be bent at an awkward angle. You may also notice blood, especially if the hamster fell onto a hard or jagged surface. 
  • Limping – even if you do not see an obvious fracture or sprain, you should assume that your hamster is injured if they are limping or refusing to bear weight on one of their legs. 
  • Dragging of the back legs – if your hamster runs away from the fall site but is not able to use its back legs, this may indicate a spinal injury. Partial paralysis can cause an animal to drag the back legs behind them when moving.
  • Walking in circles – if your hamster is inexplicably walking in small circles after a significant fall, it may have a neurological injury. 
  • Hesitating to move – moving less than normal may also be indicative of an injury. A hamster who is in pain will not want to move around, as the activity will exacerbate the pain.

Remember, a prey animal has a natural tendency to try to hide pain. Predators will take advantage of a prey animal in less-than-optimal shape, and a hamster will not want to let the world know that she is in a poor state. Keeping this in mind, you know that if you can detect a hamster is in pain, it is significant enough that your hamster cannot hide it.

Always call your veterinarian if you are concerned your hamster has been injured in a fall. Some injuries are treatable. More serious injuries may not be treatable but may be causing your hamster significant pain and suffering – if this is the case, it is best to talk to your veterinarian about your options.

Hamster Fall Prevention

Falls happen, but there are measures that you can take to keep your hamster safe. The best way to prevent your hamster from falling from a significant distance is to avoid placing him in a precarious position in the first place.

If you are cleaning out your hamster’s cage, don’t take him out of the cage and place him on the table your cage is sitting on, even if for a moment. Do not leave him unattended on your bed, a bench, or the coffee table. And while it may be tempting to get a perfect selfie with your pet – do not let her sit on your shoulder. 

Another way to keep your hamster safe is to use proper handling techniques. When you initially pick your hamster up, let him climb into your (two) cupped hands and fold them upward before leaving the cage. You do not want to tightly fold your hands so that he cannot move (or breathe!), but you do want to hold him securely enough so that 1) he feels secure, and 2) he is prevented from wriggling out of your hands. Do not pick your hamster up with one hand, and do not hold your hands out flat while he is sitting on them.

If your hamster is especially wiggly and quick, you may want to pick him up using something other than your hands. You might choose to use a coffee mug or a similarly shaped object.

Place that in your hamster’s enclosure (with a treat inside if your pet is hesitant) and pick up the mug once he has climbed inside. You can even loosely place a hand over the top of the mug for extra security. 

Hamsters Are Resiliant

While almost all hamsters will have at least a fall or two, most of them will be just fine – hamsters are resilient animals and are quick to recover from falls of 1-3 feet in height.

Of course, the best way to ensure your hamster survives a fall is to avoid placing him in a dangerous situation in the first place – after all, a hamster is quite likely to avoid fall injury if he is never more than a few feet off of the ground.

If getting him in and out of his enclosure is the point of concern for you, you can either use the coffee mug method, or you can pick up his cage and place it on the floor (this works best with a smaller, dwarf-sized enclosure, of course). The bottom line, while hamsters are likely to survive mild falls, it is always best to avoid the fall in the first place. 

You can learn more about owning and caring for hamsters in my articles below or by going here!

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