The first thing you should do before buying a pet hamster is to gather as much information about hamsters as you can get. We are writing this blog in the hopes of helping new and even existing hamster owners to keep their hamsters as healthy and as comfy as they can be. We will be talking about the best types of hamster bedding in a bit.
Pet shop owners may not necessarily be knowledgeable when it comes to the right type of bedding to use for hamsters. So, we’ll also discuss the kinds of hamster bedding you should avoid buying.
HOW DEEP THE HAMSTER BEDDING SHOULD BE
Hamsters love to burrow, and the depth rule of the bedding has always been “the deeper, the better”. In the past, we often went for at least 5 inches (13 cm), but we also know that many experienced hamster owners would go between 5-8 in (12-20 cm), especially if you have a Syrian.
Taking that into account, how much bedding do hamsters need? We recommend making the hamster bedding at least 7 in (18 cm) deep or more. With this much bedding, your hamster can burrow or dig deep and create a comfortable and warm sleeping area or can hide their hoarded food.
But make sure there is plenty of space between the top of the bedding and the cage top cover. If your hamster uses the bedding as a footing to reach the ceiling, it might escape or dangle itself on the roof, which is not suitable for them due to falling accidents.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT HAMSTER BEDDING
Straight answer: we want them to live a happy life, free from any harm. If they live in extremely uncomfortable conditions, they may not live as healthily and as long as possible. Of course, as responsible pet owners, we want the best possible experience for our pets. Let’s learn a bit further:
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Instead of making hamsters safe and secure, some types of hamster bedding might harm them. Some may cause painful splinters and wounds to your hamsters which can cause infection. Some may contain harmful substances that may cause them to be sick or, worse, die due to suffocation.
Is scented bedding bad for hamsters? The simple answer is yes. Hamsters have really great sense of smell, any unfamiliar scent can irritate them and even can cause respiratory issues. Even though CareFresh and Kaytee are the two best brands for hamster products, it’s best to stick to unscented ones, especially for hamster bedding and sand bath.
Safe bedding for hamsters could either be made of paper or aspen. It should be unscented, not too fine, and absorbent.
Not everything that glitters is gold; similarly, not everything that seems comfortable provides comfort to your hamsters. Before buying hamster bedding for your hamster, you should ask yourself if you are really providing them with a suitable cage or if you’re harming them.
Easy to find/purchase
You should also consider the best types of hamster bedding available in your place before buying a hamster. As we’ve already established, not because a pet shop sells hamster bedding doesn’t mean that it’s what’s best for your little buddies. Doing your research may save your hamsters from harm’s way.
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Doesn’t have too much scent
Buying hamster bedding that has a pleasant scent is understandable; you don’t want your hamster cage to be smelly. But, not everything we think is helpful. Bedding with a scent has chemicals that might be toxic to hamsters. In addition, the smell they emit might cause your pets breathing problems. Unscented hamster bedding is the safe way to go.
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ARE WOOD SHAVINGS SAFE FOR HAMSTERS
The answer is yes and no. The type of wood plays a big part in this. For example, cedar and pine wood shavings are very unsafe for hamsters, and often, these wood are shaved too fine, which can cause respiratory problems. Aspen shavings are the safest and most recommended for hamsters.
IS PAPER BEDDING GOOD FOR HAMSTERS
Yes, paper bedding is one of the best ones you can use. However, avoid bleached paper and paper that have ink on them. We don’t recommend scented bedding, so you must try out the brand first and see if they are absorbent and have reasonable odour control.
You can even shred toilet paper or kitchen paper rolls as bedding, but those are really bad at odour control and often cost more than bedding made for hamsters.
BEST HAMSTER BEDDING AND SAFE HAMSTER BEDDING
We’ve talked about the importance of choosing the right hamster bedding. Now, we will talk about the different types of bedding that are safe for hamster cages.
Wood shaving – Aspen
Aspen wood shavings are one of the most popular bedding for pets. It is absorbent and ideal for keeping your pet’s cage dry. Also, Aspen wood shavings are relatively inexpensive compared to other brands/types of hamster bedding, so it wouldn’t hurt your pocket that much.
If you decide to use wood shaving, make sure to get one that is not too fine that it’s almost sand-like.
Carefresh Ultra and Colors
One of the most popular hamster bedding brands primarily in the United States, Carefresh Ultra provides excellent absorbency; it can absorb up to 3 times its weight, which is perfect for keeping your hamster’s home dry and easy to maintain. It might be a bit pricy, but the quality speaks for itself.
Carefresh Colors is another product of Carefresh. It has the same absorbent quality and comes in different colours so your hamster cage wouldn’t look boring. It comes in pink, blue, and multi-coloured variants. The dye used to make these bedding colourful is safe for hamsters, making your dream of having a pretty hamster house a reality.
Kaytee Clean and Cozy
Kaytee Clean and Cozy is yet another popular hamster bedding brand out in the market. It is dust-free, soft, and has excellent absorbency too. It is made from plant-based fibres, and it’s a hundred per cent safe. Just be wary of the scented variants; as we’ve discussed earlier, the scented types of beddings aren’t the best for our cuties.
Fitch Paper Bedding
Fitch paper bedding is another widely used pet bedding for many types of pets, including hamsters. It is made from shredded food paper, so it is absorbent and perfectly safe to use. It is also less expensive compared to other brands/types of bedding, if you want to save a few bucks and still have a comfortable home for your hamsters, consider using Fitch paper bedding instead.
Fitch Paper is definitely the best hamster paper bedding on the market.
Niteangel Natural Coco Hamster Bedding
Niteangel finally launched their own coco bedding. This is a great choice especially if you are creating a natural-looking hamster cage. If it’s your first time using this type of hamster bedding, place a medium-sized amount in one corner first and see if your hamster like it.
Paper / Toilet paper
Using paper or toilet paper is a very soft alternative, though, the one we least recommend. Ordinary paper can quickly get wet and damp. It won’t do much to control the odour which can make the cage a bit smelly requiring a change more often, which means buying lots of toilet paper.
However, it can be a temporary solution in case you run out of proper hamster bedding, but it is not something that we recommend for the long term. Also, be sure to use papers that don’t have ink printing, as it can be toxic for your hamsters.
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VERDICT: WHAT IS THE BEST HAMSTER BEDDING
Personally and based on my hamster’s feedback, Aspen, Fitch Paper, and unscented CareFresh or Kaytee bedding are the best hamster bedding you can use. They are safe, absorbent, safe, and very affordable.
WHAT NOT TO USE / UNSAFE BEDDING FOR HAMSTERS
We’ve discussed the best and the safest bedding you can buy for your hamsters. It’s now time to talk about the types of bedding that you should avoid if you want the best for your little babies. Let’s have a look at the list below:
Wood shavings made of pine or cedar
Pine or cedar wood shavings aren’t the ideal types of bedding for your hamsters. Your local pet store may say otherwise, but as we’ve mentioned, they may not always know what’s best for hamsters.
Pine and cedarwood shavings may splinter and wound your hamsters; you don’t want that to happen. Besides, when your hamsters urinate on these types of shavings, it can have a chemical reaction that will produce toxic substances that can harm them.
Many people use sawdust as cage bedding for their hamsters, but we do not recommend it. Hamsters are very active at night, and when they’re running and burrowing here and there, the dust particles will fly into the air, and when they inhaled them, it can cause suffocation.
Many hamster owners are guilty of doing this: using newspaper as bedding. This is a big no. It might be cheap and seem harmless for your hamsters, but the ink in the newspaper contains toxic substances that can make your hamsters ill. If need be, you can use shredded blank paper or even toilet paper, but never newspapers.
As previously discussed, scented bedding may be nice for your nose, but it might not be very nice for your hamsters’ lungs. The chemicals used to make the bedding smell good can harm animals. We recommend using non-scented pet bedding.
Cat litter or other animal litter, or corn cobs
Your hamster’s feet are very delicate and as such, using cat or animal litter isn’t advisable because it can hurt them. On the other hand, corn cobs tend to get mouldy quite quickly, and we all know that moulds have toxins that are harmful, not just to our pets, but also to the owners.
We also don’t recommend using any fabric material as hamster bedding. For one, hamsters chew on almost anything they can get their teeth to, and when the fabric is in their mouth, they may get tempted to ingest it, which can have ill effects on them.
Fabric is also made of thin strings, which can get caught on the hamster’s nails, and this can cause foot injury.
Another reason is that fabric can smell bad so quickly, you will have to clean the cage more frequently as compared to proper hamster bedding.
HOW TO PREPARE THE BEDDING
Hamsters are quite fragile, so we must be sure that the bedding we place on their cage is free from parasites such as mites that can endanger their lives. They may be invisible to our eyes, but they can cause adverse health issues for our hamsters. Let’s learn how to get rid of these microbial pests:
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Kill the mites by freezing the bedding for 48 hours
You can get rid of these parasites by placing their new bedding in a freezer for 48 hours. After this period, you can take the bedding from the freezer and let it defrost. Once defrosted, you can safely use the bedding as the mites and other parasites thriving in them have surely frozen to their demise.
How often to change hamster bedding
You can change your hamster bedding once every two (2) weeks. If you have a huge cage, once a month should do the trick! Just be sure to spot-clean the cage regularly. If they start building a nest out of their bedding, do not remove the whole nest, as it will upset them. Just remove the rotten food, if there is any. You can use our printable task planner to keep track of bedding changes, feeding, and more.
So we’ve talked about the best types of hamster bedding, the bedding that you need to avoid using, how to prepare them, and how often to change them. We hope that this article will help you with your hamster-caring journey!
If there’s anything that you feel we should have discussed, don’t hesitate to leave a comment, question, or suggestion below.