NEWS
04/19/2018 15:53 EDT | Updated 04/19/2018 16:54 EDT

Mr. Nibbles' Tiny Paw Amputated After P.E.I. Hamster Wheel Mishap

The vet had to fashion special equipment because he only weighs 50 grams.

A dwarf hamster named "Mr. Nibbles" receives a treat after waking up from surgery at the New Perth Animal Hospital in New Perth, P.E.I. in this undated handout photo.
New Perth Animal Hospital/Canadian Press
A dwarf hamster named "Mr. Nibbles" receives a treat after waking up from surgery at the New Perth Animal Hospital in New Perth, P.E.I. in this undated handout photo.

NEW PERTH, P.E.I. — A veterinarian in Prince Edward Island successfully operated on her smallest patient ever earlier this week — a 50-gram dwarf hamster named Mr. Nibbles.

"Somebody was asking me, 'How big is 50 grams? Is it the size of a walnut?'" Dr. Claudia Lister said Thursday in an interview from the New Perth Animal Hospital. "I said, 'More like two cotton balls.'"

Mr. Nibbles had injured his paw on his hamster wheel, and needed an amputation.

Lister carefully researched the right anesthetic dosage to successful carry the furry critter through the surgery.

New Perth Animal Hospital/Canadian Press
A dwarf hamster named "Mr. Nibbles" receives oxygen before being anesthetized at the New Perth Animal Hospital in New Perth, P.E.I. in this undated handout photo.

Mr. Nibbles' small size made him especially vulnerable to over-medication. Lister consulted veterinary journals and the Facebook group "Veterinary Anesthesia Nerds."

Lister had to fashion special equipment, adjusting a dental dam to fit a small-animal cone around the hamster. She also used magnifying glasses to ensure accuracy.

The precautions paid off.

Within two minutes of the surgery, Mr. Nibbles was nibbling away at a treat presented by his happy owner, the daughter of one of Lister's employees.

The hamster is expected to make a full recovery. He's already walking on his three remaining paws.

"I guess he's the star," said Lister.

New Perth Animal Hospital/Canadian Press
A dwarf hamster named "Mr. Nibbles" has surgery on his leg at the New Perth Animal Hospital in New Perth, P.E.I. in this undated handout photo.

The veterinarian opened her first clinic in 1976. Since then, she's removed fish hooks from animal windpipes, performed eye surgery on beloved pups, and repaired the joint of a swan's leg.

She said some skeptics wondered whether operating on a creature with such a short lifespan was worth the effort. But Lister said it's always a good feeling to return any animal, large or small, to its home in a healthy condition.

"Other people might judge and say, 'Well, you know, a hamster perhaps doesn't warrant surgery.' But this is a little tiny living being that gives his owner quite a little bit of joy," she said. "He's got quite a little bit of personality."