While methane hydrates (MHs) can be present in various forms in deep seabeds or permafrost regions, this paper deals with MH-bearing sediments (MHBS) where the MH has formed bonds between sand grains. A bond model based on experimentally validated contact laws for cemented granules is introduced to describe the mechanical behavior of the MH bonds. The model parameters were derived from measured values of temperature, water pressure and MH density. Bond width and thickness adopted for each bond of the MHBS were selected based on the degree of MH saturation. The model was implemented into a 2D distinct element method code. A series of numerical biaxial standard compression tests were carried out for various degrees of MH saturation. A comparison with available experimental data shows that the model can effectively capture the essential features of the mechanical behavior of MHBS for a wide range of levels of hydrate saturation under drained and undrained conditions. In addition, the analyses presented here shed light on the following: (1) the relationship between level of cementation and debonding mechanisms taking place at the microscopic level and the observed macro-mechanical behavior of MHBS and (2) the relationship between spatial distribution of bond breakages and contact force chains with the observed strength, dilatancy and deformability of the samples. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.