What Is The Best Bedding For Your Hamster?

by Hamster Care
what-is-the-best-hamster-bedding

A hamster will use its bedding to make a nest, but it will also carry it around and gnaw on it at times. As a result, the bedding you choose for your hamster must be soft yet safe, as well as made of a digestible and non-porous material.

Finding the best bedding for your hamster is important because you want the material to feel comfortable while also providing a safe and odor-free environment. Also, your hamster is rather picky when it comes to their preferred bedding choice. But never fear as there are plenty of choices available to buy and even make. Here we explain what to consider when looking at hamster bedding and the different materials and textures to use. We also review the top brands currently available on the market:

  • Carefresh small pet bedding
  • Kaytee Clean and Cozy
  • Vitakraft Fresh World

Why do hamsters need bedding?

Hamsters enjoy making nests. It is a safe haven for them where they can curl up and sleep. Their nests keep them warm, provide a familiar scent, and are the ideal place to bury their hoards.

In the wild, a hamster would look for natural resources to build their nest. A Syrian hamster, for example, would seek shelter from the sun and predators by digging and constructing a nest underground. They are well-cossetted and can keep cool here.

Campbell Russian hamsters, on the other hand, spend their days on dry verdant plains and build their nests out of grass and sheep’s wool.

As responsible hamster owners, we must consider our pets’ needs and try to replicate their natural environment as much as possible. Oscar, our Syrian hamster, dislikes fluffy textures and prefers to build his nest out of shredded paper.

Different types of hamster bedding

You will find two types of bedding in your hamster’s cage. There is substrate that lines the bottom of the cage and nesting material that they can use to make a comfortable bed. In this article, we’ll look at the best materials to use for hamster nest bedding.

  • Aspen shavings

Aspen shavings are safe enough to use for hamster bedding. Although this option is cost-effective and natural-looking, it is not particularly comfortable for your hamster. Aspen shavings tend to also be less absorbent than other materials, so odor may become an issue.

  • Plant-based paper fibres

Plant-based paper fibres are highly absorbent so are great at efficiently controlling odors. They are soft and squidgy, and some brands even offer a 99% dust-free option, which is great for your hamster’s health

  • Pelleted wood and paper

Wood and recycled newspaper pellets offer good bedding materials since they don’t scatter and make a mess. They are also more absorbent than normal wood-based shavings. For long-haired hamster owners, pellets are also good as you do not need to worry about their hair getting tangled.

  • Shredded paper

Shredded paper is one of the most common types of hamster bedding materials. This paper-based material consists of long narrow stripes of confetti and can often come in a range of vibrant colors.

Hazardous hamsters bedding materials

While the majority of hamster bedding sold in pet stores is safe to use, you should avoid using pine and cedar shavings. These abrasive materials can splinter and injure your hamster, and the toxic fumes released when your pet soils them can cause nasal and bronchial irritation.

Cotton wool-like bedding made from artificial fibers should also be used with caution because they are difficult for hamsters to digest if they are swallowed by your hamster. You should also be cautious of fragile legs, which can easily become tangled in this fluffy bedding.

How to make your own hamster bedding

Instead of purchasing bags of hamster bedding, why not make your own? This do-it-yourself solution is inexpensive and simple to construct.

You can use a variety of materials, including paper. You can simply shred the paper and insert it as long as it is ink-free and toxic-free. The only disadvantage of using paper is that it is not absorbent and thus will not mask the smell of odors.

Cardboard is slightly more porous and is an excellent way to recycle used toilet paper. You can create an environment for your hamster to burrow and forage through by ripping it into smaller pieces.

Finally, soft tissue paper or kitchen roll, roughly ripped into strips, provides a comfortable nest for your hamster. Just make sure they’re not too tough and can tear easily in case your hamster gets it stuck in their teeth.

When looking for household materials do not be tempted to use:

  • Cat litter – hamsters cannot digest this should they consume it
  • Newspaper – the ink on the pages can give off toxic fumes

How much bedding does a hamster need?

In most cases, providing your hamster with a few handfuls of bedding in addition to their usual substrate, which should be used as a base for digging and lining the cage, is a good idea.

Because our DIY hamster bin cage is modular, we find that putting some bedding in each compartment saves Oscar from having to carry it from compartment to compartment depending on where he decides to nest that day.

How often should you change your hamster’s bedding?

The frequency with which you change the bedding in your hamster’s cage is determined by how many hamsters share a cage, how quickly it becomes soiled, and the material of the bedding you use.

Some products may include labeling and instructions on how frequently the bedding should be changed, but we usually change the bedding whenever we clean our hamster’s cage. This is done every 10-14 days, though we do spot clean specific areas on a daily basis. If odors become a problem, however, you may need to change the bedding more frequently.

Things to consider when purchasing hamster bedding

Your hamster will not care what their bedding looks like, their only concern it how comfortable it is. In order to keep your hamster happy and in good health you should consider the following before purchasing their bedding:

  • Coziness – We all know what it’s like when you sleep in a different bed. Sometimes you fall into a sweet slumber and other times you just cannot get comfy. And it is just the same for our fluffy friends. So please consider the softer and smoother materials, as your hamster will be all the happier for it.
  • Absorption – What goes in must come out and although hamsters only drink around 2-4 teaspoons of water a day (depending on their size and breed), hamsters still urinate. Therefore, you need to choose a bedding that will absorb any excess moisture to avoid any potential hamster health issues, yet still remain comfortable for them to curl up in.
  • Scent – Odor control is another important aspect to consider when choosing your hamster’s bedding. Afterall hamster urine can be quite potent, and the smell of pee can soon permeate a room. A good hamster bedding should not only absorb excess moisture but control the scent at the same time.
  • Safety – Hamsters tend to gnaw away at their bedding because of their ever-growing teeth and some may even store or carry it in their cheek pouches. Although your hamster may not intentionally want to feast on their bedding they may accidentally swallow pieces here and there. This is why it is crucial to choose a product that is safe and non-toxic.

Reviews of the best bedding for your hamster

Most hamster bedding sold in pet stores is designed with all of the above factors in mind. The top three brands available for purchase are reviewed below.

Carefresh small pet bedding

Key features:

  • Made with natural fibers
  • Odor formula helps to keep urine smells away
  • 2X more absorbent than wood shavings
  • 99% Dust-free
  • Available in a number of bedding bag sizes

Carefresh has a number of products and colors to choose from but are a great brand in that they make hamster bedding from reclaimed natural fibers. The bedding itself is light and pillowy soft and 99.9% dust-free.

What we particularly like about the Carefresh bedding is its ability to keep smells to a minimum. Our cage is in the lounge so we need it stay clean for as long as possible and the Carefresh formula can limit ammonia smells for up to 10 days. Another great thing about this bedding is that the individual pieces of material are small, making it easier for Oscar to carry.

Pros:

  • Great odor control
  • Comfortable
  • Cost-effective
  • Made from a biodegradable and compostable material

Cons:

  • Quality of material can sometimes vary from bag to bag due to the nature of the raw materials
Kaytee Clean and Cozy

Key features:

  • 2X more absorbent than wood shavings
  • 99% Dust-free
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Expandable materials to hold moisture

Kaytee clean and cozy are the rival brand to Carefresh and offer affordable hamster bedding in a range of colours, sizes, and scents. Made from long-fibre recycled paper it has twice the absorbency of normal pine shavings and is 99.9% dust-free.

The bedding itself is soft and fluffy and comes in a number of different scents, including lavender, to mask any unwanted smells.

Pros:

  • Holds up to 4X its weight in liquid
  • Dust-free to maintain cleanliness
  • Expandable and ultra-absorbent

Cons:

  • Although the choice of colors are great, some dark shades make it difficult to spot clean
Vitakraft Fresh World
bedding-for-your-hamster-3

Key features:

  • Made from 100% recyclable material
  • 99% Dust-free
  • Unique odor blocking material

Vitakraft uses a baking-soda free formula that rapidly absorbs and locks in moisture allowing it to control odors for up to 14 days. Not only that but it is 99.5% dust free! And it’s not only good for your hamster’s health but is great for the environment as it is made from 100% recycled paper fiber.

Pros:

  • Holds up to 3X its weight in liquid
  • Dust-free to maintain cleanliness
  • Ultra-absorbent

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive than other brands

Whatever option you choose for your hamster’s bedding, please make sure that you monitor them closely within the first few days to ensure that they have adjusted well to their new materials.

Conclusion

If you want to provide your hamster with a relaxing haven, try to select one that is similar to their natural habitat. This can be homemade or purchased from a store, as long as it is safe, comfortable, and absorbent.

If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on food, toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!

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By HamsterCareTip.Com

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