Hamster nails are often taken care of on their own. All of my past hamsters have cared for their own nails without any assistance. Chip however, was the only one that had issues with his nail length. Recently, his nails were growing really long, so I actually had to cut them. For many hamsters, their nails will never be a problem, but some have fast-growing nails. Dwarf hamsters’ nails actually grow faster than a Syrian’s so there is a bigger chance of nail problems in dwarfs. For my experience with Chip’s nails, see Chip Updates ~ Hailey’s Hamsters (haileyshamsters.com).

Preventing Overgrown Nails

There are three main methods to filing down hamster nails or preventing them from growing too long:

Sand bath

The most common and easiest method is using a sand bath. When hamsters have a sand bath in their cage, they are given not only the opportunity to clean the oils from their coat, but they can also file their nails when digging and bathing. The grains in a sand bath are rough, so when hamsters drag their nails through it while digging, they are naturally filed down. A sand bath also has multiple benefits, and isn’t harmful, so I recommend a sand bath for every cage. Many hamsters will also use the sand bath as a litterbox, so make sure to clean it as needed.

Sandpaper Wheel

This is a similar solution to the sand bath because it also uses grains of sand to file down a hamster’s nails. Some brands of hamster wheels already have a sandpaper-like running surface. This has both pros and cons to it. For example, it can file down nails to keep them a good length, but it can also irritate the hamster’s paws when their nails are too short. The DIY version of this is putting an actual piece of sandpaper on the wheel track. This is temporary, but it can still irritate a hamster’s foot. If you choose to use this method, make sure to keep an eye on your hamster when they are on their wheel and make sure it doesn’t irritate their paws.


The rock method is easy, but doesn’t always give results. For this strategy, find a few rough rocks outside that are big enough that the hamster can stand on it. Make sure they can’t fit it in their cheek pouches! To sanitize the rock, there are a couple options. You could put it in the oven to kill bacteria or you could boil water and pout it in their. Make sure you don’t use and chemicals on the rock because it can absorb them and expose your hamster to them. You can also go to a craft store, or pet store to find some already pet safe rocks. Once your rocks are prepared, place them in high- traffic areas of the cage like under the water bottle. Remember, don’t be surprised if this doesn’t provide big results.

Clipping Hamster Nails

Clipping hamster nails is a difficult and stressful task, so it should be a last resort. A hamster’s nails are too long if they curl sideways or downwards. Many of the filing methods won’t work once it is too late, so make sure there is always a way for hamsters to take care of their nails on their own, before they become a problem. Because cutting a hamster’s nails is stressful and sometimes dangerous, for some people it may be best to bring the hamster to a vet. However, if you feel up to the task, here are the steps:

Step 1: Prep

Prepare a small playpen for your hamster so they can’t run away or get lost. Make sure you have some treats on hand to reward your hamster and you may want to have a larger treat, like a cucumber, so they can’t pouch it immediately. If your hamster isn’t tame, you may also want gloves so they don’t bite. Just in case, its nice to have some cornstarch and paper towels on hand to stop bleeding if you accidentally cut the hamster’s nail too short. For the clippers themselves, I used baby nail clippers which are a good size and handy. You can also find small cat nail clippers or nail clippers specifically made for hamsters or rodents.

Step 2: Positions

Once you have all your materials, think about how you may hold your hamster to conquer this task. For Chip’s front paws, I held him in one hand with my thumb around his neck and shoulders. Then, I gently held on of his front paws between my index and middle fingers. For his back feet, I put him in a sideways mug and gave him a cucumber. His leg was sticking out the side while he was eating the cucumber so his paw was accessible. These positions worked for me, but something else may work better for you. Experiment with what you and your hamster are comfortable with. You may want to find someone to help you so they can hold the hamster while you trim, or vice versa.

Step 3: Trimming

When you find a successful position where the hamster’s nails are accessible, it’s time to trim. Depending on your hamster’s coloring, when you look at the nail, there may be a visible line of where the quick ends and the excess nail begins. That line is a marker of around where you should cut. Make sure you don’t cut past that line because the quick has nerves and blood flow. If you accidently cut too much, try dabbing some cornstarch on the nail to stop the bleeding. If your hamster has dark fur on their paws, they will have darker nails and it will be more difficult to see where to cut.

Good Luck!

Any questions? ⬇Please leave a comment if you need help or advice!⬇

Hi! My name is Hailey and I created this blog as a place for me to post my knowledge, advice, experiences, and interest.

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