Head Trauma in Small Mammals

Head trauma can be defined as a blunt or penetrating injury occurring to the head. In small mammals it may occur due to a variety of causes, the most common of which is falling from a height. Other causes include blunt trauma (such as being stepped on) or animal fights.

Brain dysfunction may be the result of concussion, swelling, bruising, laceration, fractures, compression or bleeding.

What to Watch For

If you suspect that your pet has suffered head trauma observe him for the following:


Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize head trauma and determine its severity. A complete medical history and physical examination are important parts of the initial diagnosis of head trauma. Tests and procedures that your veterinarian may wish to perform include:


The treatment of head trauma will depend upon the cause and magnitude of the injury.

Specific treatment for head trauma involves various medications. These medications may be feasible for little critters and is most often used in ferrets and rabbits. Some side effects may occur due to the metabolism and gastrointestinal tract of rodents and rabbits.

Home Care and Prevention

Head trauma is a life-threatening emergency. If you suspect that your pet has suffered head trauma, take him to your veterinarian for evaluation as soon as possible.

While you are waiting for your pet to be examined, keep him warm, hold his head elevated or level with the rest of the body and minimize pressure on his neck, head or back.

Be careful when handling your pet to avoid being bitten. Your pet may not be aware of what he is doing and could inadvertently injure you.

Little critters are particularly prone to injury by being stepped on, rolled on with a rocking chair or caught in a recliner. Do not allow young children to handle small pets unsupervised.