Effects of bedding material and running wheel surface on paw wounds in male and female Syrian hamsters

Lab Anim. 2009 Jan;43(1):85-90. doi: 10.1258/la.2008.007088. Epub 2008 Nov 10.


The present study investigated the effects of bedding material (pine shavings versus beta chip) and running wheel surfaces (standard metal bars versus metal bars covered with a plastic mesh) on the occurrence of wounds on the paws of male and female Syrian (golden) hamsters, Mesocricetus auratus. Four groups of 10 males and 10 females were each assigned to one of the following treatments: pine/no mesh, pine/mesh, chips/no mesh and chips/mesh. Each hamster paw was observed at 1-3-day intervals for 60 days. A total of 1-3 wounds, separate in time, developed on the paws (mostly the hind ones) of almost all animals. Wounds appeared as small pinpricks, cuts or scabs, mostly on the palms. Females ran 15% less than males, yet their front paws were more commonly affected and their wounds tended to last longer. Hamsters with plastic mesh inside their wheels took longer to develop wounds but once they appeared, the wounds were larger and lasted longer. Hamsters on pine shavings developed fewer wounds and had more wound-free days. Hamsters kept running at high levels and many wounds did not heal during the study, suggesting a need for veterinary intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Welfare
  • Animals
  • Cricetinae
  • Female
  • Forelimb / injuries*
  • Hindlimb / injuries*
  • Housing, Animal / standards*
  • Male
  • Mesocricetus
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / instrumentation*
  • Running
  • Sex Factors
  • Surface Properties
  • Time Factors
  • Wounds and Injuries / veterinary