Hamsters are known for their burrowing. So if you have a hamster cage, you will need bedding material that lets your hamster burrow and make a nest in which he or she can sleep. Of course, bedding material has another use – that’s to absorb the urine that your hamster will produce. You’ll need about 2 inches (5 cm) of bedding material at the bottom of your hamster cage.
Below are recommendations for the different types of hamster bedding material:
GOOD to use:
Wood shavings: Aspen: If you like the look and feel of wood, Aspen shavings are a good choice for your hamster bedding. They have decent absorbency and are very inexpensive, especially compared to a product like Carefresh. The only negative is that some packages can have a lot of dust in them. So when you first use Aspen, check to see if your hamster is sneezing.
Carefresh: Very popular in the U.S. A cellulose based product that has a soft texture and good absorbency. It comes in many different sizes and can be found in most pet stores. If you live in the U.K. it will be pricey, so try the alternate – Magazorb.
Megazorb: Available primarily in the U.K., this is a dried wood pulp product originally used for horses. The dust has been extracted and it has been sterilized. It is soft to the touch and has good absorbency.
Meadow hay: If the hay is natural and does not contain chemicals, this can be a safe bedding material.
OK to Use
Shredded paper such as paper towels or white tissues: Soft and usually non-toxic. But after your hamster urinates a few times on the shredded paper, it will become very wet. This means you will have to change it quite often.
Shredded cardboard: May be non-toxic, but if not finely shredded can have sharp edges that are not good for tiny hamster feet. Finacard, a U.K. based product, is supposed to be finely shredded.
NOT GOOD to Use
Wood shavings: pine or cedar: Often contain phenols. These are chemicals that can affect your hamster’s health – namely, liver or respiratory problems.
Wood: Sawdust. Much too fine. As your hamster runs and burrows it will kick up a lot of wood dust that can irritate your hamster’s lungs.
Newspapers: Newspaper contains ink. Inks contain chemicals that can be harmful to your hamster.
Corn cobs: These tend to deteriorate quickly and get moldy. If you hamster then chews on the moldy cobs, it can get sick.
Cat litter: Very rough for a hamster’s feet. Additionally, like sawdust, cat litter often has a lot of dust in it which your hamster can then breathe in, resulting in respiratory problems.
Fabric: It may be soft, but will be tempting to your hamster to eat. This is not good for the hamster’s digestive system. Also, as fabric shreds, your hamster’s feet can get caught in it.
To learn about other items that should go inside your hamster cage, click here.