Hamster bedding is an extremely important topic, just as it is for human bedding! We love to buy ourselves expensive beds and mattresses to help us sleep, so we should want the same quality for our hamster! Hamsters love to sleep, mostly during the day, so making them comfortable whilst they are sleeping should be the priority of any new hamster owner. There’s a lot of confusion around this topic though, people ask what you can use for hamster bedding because there are so many options! Newspaper, paper, toilet paper, and more! People also wonder how often should you change hamster bedding.
This guide will help with all of that! It’s our intention for this to be a mega-guide for hamster bedding care. We will take you through the different types of bedding, how often you should clean it, and how thick it should be! As well as many other questions that require answers! Read on for more!
Acceptable forms of hamster bedding
There’s plenty of acceptable forms of hamster bedding that your hamster will love! Some of these are homemade and some of them you can buy at home!
So, can you use newspaper for hamster beds? Of course, the main question is here if newspaper ink is safe for hamsters. A lot of us may look at newspaper ink and think that it is automatically a toxic substance for our lovely pets. The good news is, newspaper is perfectly safe for hamster beds! Newspaper ink is now made from materials that are completely safe for our lovely pet.
The bad news is, we still don’t recommend it. Newspaper ink can rub off on to your hamster and dirty their fur. If you have newspaper that doesn’t contain ink, such as a blank page, this is fine! The paper itself is completely fine for your pet. There’s plenty of other bedding that is better though.
Another object that could be suitable for hamster bedding is shredded paper. Many people ask if you can use shredded paper for hamster bedding because it is something that we always have around the house! The good news is that shredded paper is absolutely safe for hamsters and you can use it! You can shred it yourself or use a shredder to do the job for you. Just make sure that it is in small pieces so that your hamster can easily manoeuvre it into their house.
Shredded paper does have some disadvantages though. Hamsters often go to the toilet where they sleep and shredded paper has no odour control. This means that your hamster cage could start smelling fairly quickly unless you replace the bedding very frequently. Shredded paper is also not very absorbent which increases the risk of odours and rancid urine. We recommend shredded paper, but only when combined with another bedding to supplement it!
You can shred the paper yourself or buy it from pet stores. Local pet stores in your country are likely to have commercial shredded paper which is extremely cheap! It can be good cheap bedding if you are on a budget, just make sure to replace it constantly.
Toilet paper can be fantastic home-made bedding for your hamster. It’s softer than shredded paper so it is likely to be more comfortable for your hamster as well. There are no toxic substances contained within the toilet paper and it is completely safe for your hamster. We absolutely recommend this! Shred the toilet paper yourself by tearing it into around 5 pieces and just place in the middle of the cage. Your hamster will do the rest! They will pouch it and move it to their bed!
Toilet paper is a lot more absorbent than shredded paper, that’s because it is designed to be absorbent! This means that there will be no problems with rancid urine and you will be able to keep the bedding in the cage for longer. When it comes to odour control, it really does depend on the type of toilet paper you get. You can get normal toilet paper, which doesn’t have much odour control, or you can get special aroma infused toilet paper! You can get this in most supermarkets. Get a subtle smell due to your hamster’s sensitive nose.
Overall, we completely recommend toilet paper as a form of bedding for your pet. It is absorbent and cheap, it’s also extremely soft! Put it in the middle of the cage and let your hamster decide where to put it! If you have a new hamster, consider putting the toilet paper near you for a while. This means that your scent will be on it, and your hamster will get used to your scent!
Aspen is one of the best things that you can do for your hamster’s bedding! We recommend it absolutely. Aspen shavings are made from shredded wood which is non-toxic for hamsters, this means that it is completely safe for hamsters! It is dust-free, which means that the shavings won’t irritate your hamster’s eyes as other wood shavings do.
Aspen shavings are quite cheap, so you can put quite a lot in your cage. This means that your hamster will be able to burrow and create their own dens, just as they do in the wild!
They are more absorbent than the home-made solutions for hamster bedding and Aspen is available in most pet stores! Make sure you get it from a pet store though, other forms of Aspen may not have been treated to protect your pet! We recommend these shavings 100%.
Carefresh is probably the most “premium” form of hamster bedding, if price is no object then we recommend carefresh! It is specially made for our pets which means that it is non-toxic and doesn’t contain dust or anything that could irritate your hamster. We have been using Carefresh for our hamster, Richard, for quite a long time! It costs a lot but it more than makes up for that cost in the sheer quality of it.
Carefresh is extremely absorbent, which means that it will be able to stay in the cage for longer. It also has a wonderful smell that hamster pee will find hard to overcome! Finally, it is soft, very soft! Your hamster will love this bedding because of this. We recommend Carefresh 100% if you are willing to pay extra for it.
Unacceptable forms of hamster bedding
So, we know some of the best hamster bedding but what are some of the unacceptable ones? These can be dangerous for your pet so make sure to avoid them!
Let’s be clear, you should not use cotton bedding for your hamster. Cotton bedding is sold by many pet stores and is seen as a safe hamster bedding that is comfortable for your hamster, but it is not. Cotton bedding cannot be digested by hamsters, this means that if they eat the bedding they could choke and die due to the cotton being present in their system. Hamsters cannot vomit, this means that ingestion of cotton can be incredibly dangerous for them.
Cotton can also easily tangle your hamster’s limbs together. When your pet is sleeping they will often move in their sleep and the cotton can wrap around their limbs. There’s been plenty of cases where hamsters have chewed off their limbs in an attempt to escape the cotton. This has obviously resulted in many of them dying. It is incredibly irresponsible for pet stores to continue to sell these products, but you must not use them. Please do not use cotton wool for hamster bedding.
If you have used cotton before, remove it immediately. If your hamster looks distressed or ill then take them to the vets.
Cedar and Pine shavings
We don’t recommend cedar and pine wood shavings for your hamster’s bed. This is because it can cause respiratory and liver problems. These shavings contain a chemical called phenol which can impact your hamster’s health in many negative ways. It can also hurt your hamster’s eyes and cause allergic reactions. Stay away from them!
There are wood shavings that are appropriate for your hamster. We will go into these later on in this post.
Whilst soil may be what wild hamsters use for their bedding, it isn’t appropriate for our pet hamster friends! Soil that you collect yourself may contain bugs that could hurt your hamster’s health, it can also contain pesticides and chemicals that your pet doesn’t want to ingest! It’s also a breeding ground for bacteria and can introduce new things into your hamster’s cage that it might not be used to
Even commercial soil isn’t good for the bed. It can still grow bacteria and it may still contain pesticides. It also won’t mask the smell of your hamster’s urine. There are plenty of options that are much better than soil, avoid it!
When should you change hamster bedding?
The frequency of changing your hamster’s bedding depends on the type of bedding that you are using!
Homemade bedding, such as paper and newspaper bedding, should be changed every other day. This is because of the lack of odor control and absorbion in these products. You need to change them to ensure that your hamster is healthy and happy! If your hamster’s bedding isn’t changed frequently then they could get illnesses such as wet tail.
Bedding that you buy, such as Carefresh and Aspen, can be changed less frequently. Change the bedding at the same frequency that you clean your hamster’s cage – around once a week. However, if your hamster has an illness such as wet-tail you should be changing it more frequently. This is to prevent your hamster’s illness getting worse.
How to put bedding into the cage
Placing the bedding into the cage is fairly simple, just follow these tips below to improve the experience!
- Ensure that your scent is on the bedding if you have just gotten your hamster. This means your hamster will get used to your smell.
- Ensure that the bedding is free from bugs, pests and any chemicals.
- Consider putting the bedding in just after you have cleaned the cage.
- Place the bedding in the middle of the cage and allow your hamster to determine where to put it.
Conclusion – What can you use for hamster bedding?
As you can see, there’s a lot of possibilities for hamster bedding! Some, such as newspaper or paper, should only be a temporary affair. Whilst cotton wool and pine shavings should be avoided altogether! The best bedding is undoubtedly the bedding that is made for our pets! This is stuff like Carefresh or Aspen, your hamster is guaranteed to love it! Clean the bedding once a week if store-bought, or every other day if you have made it yourself. Follow some of our top tips for placing the bedding in the cage as well!
What bedding do you use? Does your hamster love it? Let us know in the comments!