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Hamster Bedding

Goodnight, Sleep Tight! Useful Info About Hamster Bedding

The bedding material meant for pet hamsters must be safe and comfortable. This PetPonder article provides some information about the materials used for this purpose.
Sonia Nair
Last Updated: Mar 6, 2018
Hamsters are very popular as pets, as they are comparatively inexpensive and easy to keep. These fluffy little animals are also loved for their small size and antics. There are numerous products that are specially meant for hamsters. Hamster bedding is one such product that is included in the starter packs, or is sold separately. Sawdust or wood shavings are commonly used as a cheap bedding for hamsters. Even paper towels, soft clothes, and cotton, are used as bedding materials for these animals. Choosing a bedding for hamsters was not a cause of concern, with a wide range of materials available in the market. However, nowadays, it is strongly contended that some of these materials are harmful for hamsters.
Safety Concerns
As mentioned above, various materials are used as bedding for hamsters. The most popular among them are sawdust, wood shavings, paper towels, soft cotton, and cloth. All these materials are easily available, cheap, and serve the purpose of bedding for these small, furry animals. However, now hamster owners are caught in a dilemma, with safety concerns looming over the use of some of these materials.
  • It is contended that the insecticidal chemicals (like phenols) in woods pose a risk of respiratory problems, cancer, and liver damage in hamsters. Newspapers and other printed papers or cards can be toxic to hamsters, as they contain ink.
  • Some of the bedding material, like wool and fluffy/cellulose, may cause choking in hamsters. Ingestion of the material may cause pouch infections and blockages in the intestine. The fine fibers of the bedding may get entangled with the hamsters' limbs and cause injury.
  • Cloth bedding may not be comfortable for hamsters, as these animals like to burrow their heads, while sleeping. They may tear the cloth, and this can be harmful, if they ingest pieces of torn cloth. Otherwise too, torn clothes can cause injuries to their limbs.

However, there is no substantial evidence to prove these contentions, and the debate is still going on. On the safer side, you can opt for alternatives, which are both comfortable and safer.
Safer Alternatives
Even though, there is a wide range of hamster bedding materials to choose from, nothing is considered perfect. You have to find out the right one, which does not pose any health risk. Another factor to be considered is comfort. It has been observed that the perfect material for hamster bedding is shredded paper; provided, it is unscented, not dyed, and not printed. Paper does not entangle the limbs; and dissolves easily, if ingested. Shredded toilet paper or paper towels can make a perfect and cheap bedding for hamsters. Another option is hay, which should not be moldy, muddy, or dusty. You have to avoid straw, as it has sharp edges, that can cause harm to hamsters.
When it comes to commercial hamster bedding, there are many options, like megazorb (a dried wood fiber pulp, which is dried, sterilized, and dust extracted), carefresh (also a wood pulp bedding material), aspen wood shavings (safer alternative to cedar and pine wood shavings), finacard (finely shredded, dust extracted cardboard bedding), etc. You can choose one that is best suited for your hamster. Compare the prices and the advantages of each material. Whatever material you choose, you have to wash the cage and change the bedding on a regular basis (preferably, once a week). In case your hamster is ill, you have to clean the cage and accessories more often.