Jun 092010
 

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.

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Aug 102009
 

What are the most important things that should be inside hamster cages? When your hamster is living in his or her cage you want to be sure they have everything they need to run, eat, sleep and give you hours of viewing pleasure. To do this, you need:

  • Bedding
  • Water bottle or dish
  • Exercise wheel
  • Toys
  • Food bowl

This article focuses on bedding and water bottles. Inside Hamster Cages: Exercise Wheel, Toys, Food discusses the other items.

Bedding

You will need to cover the base of your hamster cage with a bedding material. Hamsters need bedding material to:

  • Burrow and dig, because that’s their nature.
  • Make a nest in which to sleep
  • Absorb their urine

For these reasons, you need to provide them with deep bedding of at least 2 inches (5 cm). Make sure the hamster bedding is non-toxic and digestible.

Bedding materials include:

  • Wood shavings
    • Aspen wood shavings: Recommended
    • Pine or cedar wood shavings: Not recommended. Contains phenols which can cause your hamster to have liver or respiratory problems.
  • Paper-based materials: Recommended as they are absorbent and non-toxic. A typical brand is Carefresh.
  • Meadow hay: Recommended as long as it was not sprayed with chemicals.
  • Shredded paper, such as paper towels or plain paper: OK. It is soft, but does not absorb your hamster’s urine very well and will become very soggy. If you use shredded paper be prepared to change it quite a bit.
  • Shredded cardboard: OK, but may be rough and uncomfortable for your hamster.
  • Shredded newspaper or any other paper with ink on it: Not recommended. The inks can be harmful to your hamster.
  • Corn cobs: Not recommended. They can get moldy or get eaten, both of which are dangerous for your hamster.
  • Ordinary cat litter: Not recommended. It has too much dust and is too rough for your hamster’s feet.
  • Cotton-based materials, such as fabrics: Not recommended. Not safe because a hamster might eat it and it tends to get caught in hamster toes.

Water Bottle or Bowl

You have two options for making sure your hamster has enough water to drink.

Water Bowl

A water bowl is less expensive than a water bottle. If you use a water bowl or dish in your hamster cage, be sure it is:

  • Small, so it doesn’t take up a lot of room in the cage.
  • Made of a heavy material that your hammy can’t tip over.
  • Made of material your hamster can’t chew on, such as ceramic or stainless steel.

The big disadvantage of a water bowl is that your hamster is likely to kick bedding material into it, meaning you will spend a lot of time taking it out of the cage, cleaning it, and refilling it.

Water Bottle

You’ll find many different water bottles designed especially for hamsters. They are typically made of break-resistant plastic, a screw top, and a metal drinking tube, with a ball bearing in the tip.

Since bottles hang upside down, the ball bearing lets your hamster drink without letting the water leak out.

You should hang your water bottle outside the cage with only the drinking tube sticking into the cage. Then use a metal guard hanger to prevent your hamster from chewing on the plastic parts of the water bottle.

Glass water bottles are not recommended as they can break.

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