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Specific guidance for hamsters when conducting minor procedures without anaesthesia

Hamsters can be restrained relatively easily by cupping in both hands, followed by grasping by the scruff. If the animal appears aggressive, it should first be immobilised by covering its body with one hand, leaving the head exposed. The skin overlying the neck and thorax can then be drawn up between the handler’s fingers and thumb to provide a firm grip of the very extensive scruff. The animal can then be lifted clear of its cage and examined without risk of being bitten. At no stage of the examination procedure should the animal be allowed to run unrestrained on the examination table. Most hamsters appear unable to perceive the drop from the table edge to the floor and may fall and injure themselves.


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The technique for oral dosing described for the mouse can be applied to the hamster. Subcutaneous injection is made into the scruff as for the mouse; however, the very loose skin enables larger volumes to be administered by this route than is possible in other species of similar body size. With the animal restrained, an assistant can extend one hind limb and carry out an intraperitoneal injection into the posterior quadrant of the abdomen. The same method of restraint is suitable for carrying out intramuscular injection into the quadriceps. The hamster has no superficial veins which are suitable for intravenous injection in the conscious animal.

Updated on 12th May 2020

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