Picking the right kind of bedding for your hamster may be one of the most important choices you can make for the quality of life for your hamster buddy. Avoid pine and cedar wood chips and shavings as these can cause irritation or injury. You should stick to paper without ink or for the best a high quality bedding made specifically for hamsters.
In the wild hamsters like to burrow and build nests for safety and comfort. To make the best home for your pet it is best to try to replicate their natural environment as much as possible. We want something soft, comfortable and that they can burrow into, while avoiding anything toxic or with parts that could be harmful.
Here we will go into all of the best options for your hamsters bedding as well as those bedding that you should avoid at all costs.
what kinds of bedding you should not use.
- Cedar and Pine shavings: These can break into pieces and be sharp enough to cut your hamster. Plus the shavings when mixed with the urine of your hamster can put out toxic fumes which can give your little guy breathing problems
- Cat litter: while this may be ideal for a cat to go to the bathroom, cat litter should never be used for a hamsters home. Hamsters will try to eat it, which they can not digest the pieces
- Newspaper or any paper with ink: The ink can be very toxic to small creatures living in small contained spaces.
- Anything scented: Hamsters have poor eyesight and are reliant upon their sense of smell as their primary sense. The scented bedding while perhaps smelling nice to humans can throw off their navigation as well as causing breathing problems.
- fluffy bedding: This can often be found at pet stores, while it may seem soft and comfortable, hamsters love to chew on things and this kind of bedding is no exception. When they chew it can get wrapped around their teeth and if they swallow it can cause dangerous bowel blockages. Not to mention it can get wrapped around their little legs cutting off their circulation. So please avoid this bedding for your hamsters sake!
Unfortunately some of these bad types of bedding can be found stocked in common pet stores. Sadly remember that just because the hamster bedding can be found in a store does not neccessarily mean its good for your little fellow.
While not the ideal bedding for the long term, you can still use paper for bedding for short periods of time such as when your waiting for your real bedding order to come in. It is important to use non-toxic blank paper that does not have any ink or gloss on it as these can be toxic for hamsters. The paper bedding can work for a little while but it deos not do anything for the smell, so the hamsters cage will start to get very smelly after a while.
How much bedding does a hamster need?
The common recommendations that you find on the internet say that 1 to 3 inches should be enough. We greatly disagree with these numbers however. Hamsters love to burrow its like their life calling, few things bring as much joy to hamster as digging deeply and snuggling into their newly made soft caves. While 3 inches of bedding could be enough for parts of their enclosure, you need to have at least part of the cage have 6 to 10 inches of bedding to allow them to burrow to their little hearts content.
Should you have white or colored bedding
While a colorful bedding may seem prettier to humans, hamsters probably won’t care. It may not be obvious but a plain white bedding gives many advantages and can make a hamster owners life easier. For one it looks more natural to your hamster which helps make them feel safe and loved. Then the second important part is that it can be much easier to clean, any droppings or urine will be easily visible among-st the surrounding white. So that you the owner can simply spot clean and with a small hand spade pick out the soiled bits of bedding.
How often should you clean and replace your hamsters bedding?
The best way to clean your hamsters bedding that we recommend is to spot clean from time to time and replace no more than half of the bedding every 2 to 4 weeks. Many place online recommend that you clean out all the bedding once a week but with this we disagree. Changing out completely a hamsters bedding stress the little ones out a great deal, it takes away the scent of their home which is important to a hamster.
Take a small hand spade and brush, carefully scoop out any soiled parts of their bedding. If your hamster has a plentiful amount of bedding like we recommend then your going to need to dig around a little bit to find any droppings that fell deeper into the bedding. Then for a deeper clean every 2 to 4 weeks take out no more than half of the hamsters bedding, leaving them with a good chunk that still posses their familiar scent.
Our 3 top recommended commercial hamster beddings
Kaytee Clean & Cozy White Small Animal Bedding
This is our number one recommended bedding. Its made from recycled paper, which is good for the environment, but most importantly many hamsters love it. Its long and fluffy just perfect for a hamster to burrow down and make a nest. Dust free and very absorbent plus the clean white texture makes it easy to spot soiled parts for easy cleaning. This is one of the safest commercial bedding for your hamster, which unfortunately cannot be said about all bedding advertised for hamsters
One significant con though is that sometimes you can get a bag where the quality is substandard. If that happens complain and try to return it, but this is a problem with all commercial bedding and most bags of Kaytee clean and cozy are more than up to snuff.
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Carefresh Natural Premium Soft Pet Bedding
Another very good and safe bedding to use for your hamster. A paper based bedding made from recycled pulp from the paper industry turned into a soft burrowable bedding for your hamster. Can absorb up to 3 times its weight in liquid to help keep your fuzzy friends cage nice and dry from urine or any water spills. This bedding is the key competitor for kaytee’s clean and cozy bedding and both beddings are very similiar in form and function.
Just like humans hamsters can have differing preferences so if your hamster is’nt completely happy with kaytee this carefresh bedding is a very good safe alternative.
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Kaytee All Natural Aspen Bedding
While cedar and pine shavings should never be used as bedding for hamsters, processed aspen bedding like the one Kaytee makes are very good for hamsters. Kaytee has processed their aspen to remove and dust or hard chips allowing it to be firm but gentle on a hamsters feet. Some hamsters may prefer its texture to a softer paper based bedding. Of course you can always use this bedding along with a paper based one to add a variety of textures to your hamsters cage.
one of the few types of wood safe for use as hamster bedding is Aspen. Aspen shavings are cheap and will give your hamster cage a natural look. However, aspen shavings are not as soft or absorbent as Carefresh or Kaytee Clean & Cozy. This could mean that your hamster is a bit less comfortable and your cage is a bit more smelly if you choose aspen shavings as a hamster bedding material.
Also, while you may be able to buy aspen in places other than pet stores (carpenters and lumber yards, for example) you should only ever use aspen shavings purchased from a pet store. This is because aspen shavings intended for use in hamster cages will have been specially treated to remove mites and other insects.
Biodegradable this bedding is quite good for the environment, all natural and pet friendly many hamsters would be safe and happy with this bedding.
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