Did you know that some species of wild hamsters, including the Dwarf hamster, live in small colonies? However, others such as the Syrian hamster, are fiercely territorial and live alone – only socializing to breed.
Wild hamsters are nocturnal – sleeping during the day in a network of underground tunnels and burrows lined with soft grasses and other materials scavenged from their environment. Although wild hamsters exist in many countries, their habitat is primarily desert or sparse rocky areas.
These environments endure extreme temperature variations; ranging from scorching hot to bitterly cold in a short space of time. That’s one reason wild hamsters such as the Roborovski burrow underground and have very dense, insulating fur that you don’t see in domestic breeds.
To keep your pet hamster happy in its new home, we’ve put together this buying guide to help you find the perfect bedding for your pampered pet!
3. Carefresh Complete Pet Bedding (50L)
Carefresh Complete Pet Bedding comprises raw natural paper fiber that’s obtained directly from its source. The bedding is dust-free, so your hamster won’t develop the respiratory problems that some wood-based bedding products cause.
The bedding is super-soft – thanks to the manufacturer’s patented Comfyfluff additive, providing your pet with a luxurious, pillowy bed that it can snuggle down into.
Carefresh Complete’s odor control formula means that your hamster’s cage will stay smelling fresh for up to 10 days. Also, the bedding is twice as absorbent as wood shavings, and it’s easy to clean too. That’s going to save you time and money!
- More absorbent than wood shavings
- Odor control formula
- Variable batch quality
- Expensive compared to similar products
2. Kaytee Clean & Cozy Scented Small Animal Bedding
Kaytee Clean & Cozy Scented bedding is made from recycled paper.
The dust-extraction process used in the production of the bedding means that it’s 99.9% dust-free, which is extremely important for hamsters. This bedding is also twice as absorbent as wood shavings, so you won’t need to use as much or change the material as frequently.
Kaytee Clean & Cozy doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals, although it does come in four different scents, including Lavender, Tahitian Vanilla, Summer Storm, and Apple Spice.
Not all hamsters (and their owners) appreciate a pleasant fragrance in their cage! Luckily, there’s also an unscented, original version of this bedding that you could use instead.
All varieties of Kaytee Clean & Cozy come with an odor control guarantee.
- 99.9% dust-free
- Odor control
- Pleasant scent
- More absorbent than wood shavings
- Scent doesn’t last long
- Bedding gets soggy and smelly very quickly
1. Vitakraft Fresh World Strength Crumble Bedding
Vitakraft Fresh World Crumble bedding is made in the U.S.A. from 100% recycled paper. The bedding is non-toxic, easy to clean up, and is 99.5% dust-free – creating a clean and healthy habitat for your hamster.
The super-soft crumbles absorb three times their weight in liquid and their odor-blocker formula rapidly absorbs and controls smells for up to 14 days. When opened, the bale of Crumble bedding fluffs up and expands.
That means you won’t need to use much to create a super-soft, comfy bed for your pet. And that will save you a lot of money in the long run!
Vitakraft Crumble bedding is odorless and does not contain baking soda or bleach, which some cheaper paper bedding does. The material used to create the crumbles is sourced through PaperGator – a recycling program that supports community organizations and schools.
When it comes to disposing of soiled bedding, simply add it to your garden compost bin and recycle it!
- 99.5% dust-free
- 14-day odor control formula
- Highly absorbent
- Variable batch quality
- Some batches are very dusty
Hamster Bedding – Materials to Avoid
So, now you know what hamster bedding you should be looking for, let’s talk about bedding that you should avoid.
- Pine and Cedar Wood Shavings
Some pet stores sell pine bedding for hamsters. However, we don’t recommend that you use pine or cedar wood shavings as bedding material for your hamster.
Hardwood shavings such as those derived from cedar and pine woods tend to be very abrasive and spiky – often containing sharp splinters that could injure your hamster’s delicate feet and skin. Also, hardwood shavings can react to the chemicals contained in your hamster’s urine; creating toxic fumes that could cause breathing problems for your pet.
- Fluffy, Fibrous Bedding
Many pet stores supply fluffy, fibrous bedding for small animals. Although this bedding material looks soft and comfy, it contains artificial fibers that can cause digestive problems if eaten.
Also, the fibers tend to be very difficult to break, so there’s a danger that your pet’s feet and legs could become entangled in the bedding as it moves around its cage, leading to serious injury.
- Cat Litter
Although it’s absorbent and often made from dust-free recycled paper or wood, cat litter is not a suitable bedding material for hamsters. That’s because cat litter pellets are often mistaken for food and eaten by hamsters. That can cause dehydration and constipation – both severe health issues in hamsters.
Although it may be tempting to use shredded newspapers and magazines as bedding for your hamster, that’s not advisable. Heavily processed paper such as that used to produce newspapers, glossy magazines, flyers, and the likes can contain toxic chemicals that could be dangerous to your hamster.
Always read the product label on any hamster bedding before you use it to be sure that the material is safe and suitable for your pet.
Be especially careful if you choose a wood shavings product. Aspen shavings make good hamster bedding because they are soft, but you should never use a product that contains derivatives from a hardwood like cedar or pine.
Hamster Bedding Safety Checks
Now that you’ve chosen the ideal, safe, comfy bedding for your hamster, you need to make it the perfect bed.
Some local pet stores and small pet supplier outlets have a relatively small turnover of stock compared with the likes of Amazon and other large retailers. That means your pack of hamster bedding could have been sitting on a shelf or in a warehouse for weeks or months.
For that reason, you must carefully check any bedding before you add it to your pet’s cage.
- Check the packaging for damage
Look for damage to the packaging. If the sealed plastic holding the bale of bedding is split or has holes in it, the contents could be damp or may contain insects, including mites.
Once you’ve opened the bale, smell the bedding inside. It should not smell of damp or mold.
If the bedding is hard and difficult to spread, it’s most likely been exposed to water. Never use bedding that is moldy or solid; that could lead to respiratory problems for your pet.
- Preventing mites and other insects
Hamsters are vulnerable to attack by mites and other insect parasites which can cause skin and allergy problems for your pet. Sometimes, open bedding bales can attract a population of these pests, which could find their way into your hamster’s cage, hidden in the bedding.
To be on the safe side, place the portion of bedding you’re going to use into a sealed plastic bag and put it in your freezer for a couple of days. Freezing the bedding will kill any insects that may be living in it, and the bedding will be safe to use.
Once 48 hours have elapsed, allow the bedding to defrost and return to room temperature. Now, you can use the safe bedding to create a cozy nest for your pet.