A hamster will use its bedding to make a nest, but it will also move it around and sometimes chew on it.
So, the bedding you choose for your hamster needs to be soft and safe, made of something it can eat and that doesn’t have pores.
Like Goldilocks, who couldn’t find a comfortable bed in the house of the three bears, you may find that your hamster is picky about what they like to sleep on.
But don’t worry, because you can buy or make a lot of different things. Here, we talk about what to look for in hamster bedding and what kinds of materials and textures to use.
We also talk about the best brands on the market right now.
- Why do hamsters need bedding?
- Different types of hamster bedding
- Hazardous hamsters bedding materials
- How to make your own hamster bedding
- How much bedding does a hamster need?
- How often should you change your hamster’s bedding?
- Things to consider when purchasing hamster bedding
- HOW THICK SHOULD THE BEDDING BE? HOW MUCH BEDDING DO I GIVE MY HAMSTER?
- BEDDING TIPS
Why do hamsters need bedding?
Hamsters like to build nests. It is a safe place for them to curl up and go to sleep. Their nests keep them warm, smell like home, and are a great place to hide their treasures.
In the wild, a hamster would look for natural things to use to build its nest.
For example, a Syrian hamster, which comes from the desert, would dig and build a nest underground to get out of the sun and away from predators.
Here, they’re well cared for and can stay cool.
Campbell Russian hamsters, on the other hand, spend their whole lives on dry, green plains. To make their nests, they use grass and sheep’s wool.
As responsible hamster owners, we should think about what our pets need and try to make their environment as close as possible to what it would be in the wild.
Our Syrian hamster Oscar is not a fan of fluffy textures and as such prefers to create his nest using shredded paper.
Different types of hamster bedding
There are two different kinds of bedding in your hamster’s cage. There is the substrate, which lines the bottom of the cage, and the nesting material, which they can use to make a comfortable bed.
Here, we look at the best things you can use to make the nest for your hamster.
Aspen shavings can be used to make a bed for a hamster.
Even though this option is cheap and looks natural, your hamster won’t be very comfortable in it.
Aspen shavings also don’t absorb water, as well as other materials, do, so they may start to smell.
Plant-Based Paper Fibres
Paper made from plant fibers is very good at controlling smells because it can soak up a lot.
Some brands even have a version that is 99 percent dust-free, which is great for your hamster’s health.
Pelleted Wood and Paper
Wood pellets and pellets made from recycled newspapers are good bedding materials because they don’t get everywhere and make a mess.
They also soak up water better than regular wood shavings.
Pellets are also good for people who have hamsters with long hair because you don’t have to worry about their hair getting tangled.
One of the most common things that hamsters sleep on is shredded paper.
This piece of paper is made of long, thin strips of confetti, and it often comes in a wide range of bright colors.
Hazardous hamsters bedding materials
Most of the hamster bedding you can buy at pet stores is safe to use, but you should avoid pine and cedar shavings.
These rough materials can splinter and hurt your hamster, and the toxic fumes they give off when your pet pees on them can make his nose and lungs hurt.
Artificial fibers that look like cotton wool but aren’t should also be used with care because they are hard for hamsters to digest if they eat them.
Also, watch out for fragile legs, which can get hurt easily if they get caught in this fluffy bedding.
How to make your own hamster bedding
If you don’t want to buy bags of hamster bedding, you could also make your own. This can be a cheap and easy solution you can make yourself.
You can use a lot of different things, including paper.
You can just shred the paper and put it in as long as it doesn’t have any ink or chemicals on it.
The only bad thing about using paper is that it doesn’t absorb smells, so it won’t cover them up.
Cardboard is a bit more porous than paper, and it’s a great way to recycle your old toilet paper rolls.
When torn into smaller pieces, you can make a place for your hamster to burrow and look for food.
Lastly, soft tissue paper or kitchen roll torn into rough strips can be used to make a cozy nest for your hamster.
Just make sure they aren’t too strong and can be torn easily in case your hamster gets stuck in its teeth.
When looking for things for the house, don’t be tempted to:
- Cat litter – if hamsters eat this, they won’t be able to digest it.
- The ink on the pages of a newspaper can give off dangerous fumes.
How much bedding does a hamster need?
Most of the time, it’s a good idea to give your hamster a few handfuls of bedding in addition to their usual substrate, which should be used as a base for digging and to line the cage.
Since our DIY hamster bin cage is made up of separate sections, we find it helpful to put some bedding in each one.
This way, Oscar doesn’t have to move it around depending on where he wants to nest that day.
How often should you change your hamster’s bedding?
How often you change the bedding in your hamster’s cage depends on how many live there, how fast it gets dirty, and what kind of bedding you use.
Some products’ labels and instructions may say how often the bedding should be changed, but when we clean our hamster’s cage, we usually change the bedding.
This is done every 10 to 14 days, but we clean certain areas every day.
If, on the other hand, smells start to bother you, you may need to change the bedding more often.
Things to consider when purchasing hamster bedding
Your hamster won’t care about how their bedding looks; all they care about is how comfortable it is.
Before you buy your hamster’s bedding, you should think about the following things to keep it happy and healthy:
Coziness: Everyone knows how it feels to sleep in a new bed. Sometimes you fall asleep easily, and sometimes you can’t get comfortable. And the same goes for our soft friends. So please think about the softer and smoother materials, which will make your hamster happier.
Absorption: What goes in must come out, and even though hamsters only drink 2-4 teaspoons of water a day (depending on their size and breed), they still urinate. So, to keep your hamster healthy and prevent health problems, you should choose bedding that can soak up any extra moisture but is still soft enough for them to curl up in.
Scent – Odor control is another important aspect to consider when choosing your hamster’s bedding. After all 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.
HOW THICK SHOULD THE BEDDING BE? HOW MUCH BEDDING DO I GIVE MY HAMSTER?
The bedding for your hamster should cover the whole cage and give it plenty of room to burrow. The better the bed, the deeper it should be.
Fun fact: The depth of the bedding in hamster cages made in the German style can go up to 50 cm!
Research done by the University of Berne’s Vetsuisse Faculty’s Division of Animal Housing and Welfare has shown that Syrian hamsters do better in cages with deep bedding (at least 40 cm deep).
Hamsters who lived in cages with less bedding were more likely to chew on wires and use their running wheels more.
As long as the hamster’s cage is the right size and the bedding is deep enough, there will be less smell. This is especially helpful if your hamster isn’t potty trained.
Some beddings, especially those made of paper, can get “dusty.” A good way to fix this is to use a hand-held sieve to sort through small amounts of bedding at a time before putting it in your hamster’s cage. Pour your dusty bedding into a netted laundry bag and give it a good shake to sort through a lot of it at once. Please do this outside or somewhere else where the mess will be easy to clean up.
In some places, it is recommended to freeze the bedding to kill any harmful bugs that might be hiding in it. Even though hamsters aren’t common in Singapore, if you do freeze your hamster’s bedding, make sure to let it thaw out completely before putting it in its cage. You wouldn’t want it to catch a cold.
We suggest making a special place for your hamster to dig inside the cage. This would give your hamster a place to burrow and “deep dive” that is all it is own.
Try adding layers of bedding to your hamster’s cage slowly over time to build a mountain-like structure for the bedding.
Even though hamsters don’t need soft hay for nutrition, you can give it to them as extra bedding and nesting material. Make sure the hay is soft, as sharp or hard pieces could hurt your hamsters if they try to eat them.
There are different colors of hamster bedding, but the HSS says that white is the best choice. This is because it makes it easy to see “potty spots,” which makes cleaning easier and helps potty training go more smoothly.
Most of the HSS-approved bedding brands in Singapore that are mentioned in this article, like Kaytee Clean & Cozy, Carefresh, and Oxbow Pure Comfort, have white bedding that doesn’t have any scent.
DECORATE WITH NAPKINS
There are a lot of fun colors and patterns on party napkins, and by chance, they also make great decorations for a hamster cage. Try spicing up your hamster’s cage with one or two-party napkins. You can find them at reasonable prices in most party stores and home/furniture stores like Ikea. Shred them into smaller pieces so your hamster can work with them more easily.
As a pet owner, it’s your job to make sure your pet is safe, and hamsters have some unique needs:
- Make sure there are no sharp edges in your hamster’s home.
- The door or top of the habitat should close tightly so that your hamster can’t push it open and get out.
- Every door should open outward.
- If you use a tank with a screen cover or plastic top, make sure the top fits tightly over the sides so your hamster can’t get out.
- If the home your hamster lives in is made of plastic, make sure there are no sharp edges that it could chew through.
If you want to provide your hamster with a comfortable haven in which to relax, then try to choose one that replicates its natural habitat.
This can be homemade, or store-bought as long as it is safe, comfortable, and absorbent.