For first-timers, seeing their hamster eating its bedding is utterly strange, and it should be. What makes them frown is the concern that their hamster might fall sick.
What they don’t understand is that hamsters don’t eat their bedding because they are hungry. Instead, what appears as eating is a common behavior in hamsters called pouching.
In the following paragraphs, we will answer some of the questions that might pop up in your head about hamsters munching on their bedding.
What Is Pouching?
The cheeks of hamsters are like pouches. Hamsters use their cheeks to transport stuff from one place to another, and bedding isn’t an exception. Hamsters make nests, and bedding is the perfect material. So, don’t be afraid the next time you see a hamster stuffing its cheeks with bedding.
However, as a responsible owner, you must ensure the bedding they chew isn’t necessarily toxic. Your hamster’s bedding should be water soluble and free of all kinds of toxins.
A good example of poisonous bedding is cedar and pine shavings. Also, ensure the bedding isn’t scented in any way because that, too, can be toxic for your little furry friend.
Kinds of Bedding that Are Harmful to Your Hamster
Beddings that are fluffy or fleecy contain certain fibers harmful to your hamsters. These fibers can get stuck in a hamster’s mouth, choking. The fibers in fluffy bedding can also tangle your hamster, thus constricting it.
As discussed above, some people use wood shavings as bedding for their hamsters. The splinters from wood shavings can affect your hamster’s skin, which can be painful. Wood also contains certain oils that can harm a hamster’s skin and lungs.
Not all woods are dangerous for hamsters. If you must use wood shavings, refrain from using cider and pine. You can use Aspen instead. Aspen is soft, absorbs water well, and doesn’t contain any oils.
Cat litter seems like a convenient option, but it isn’t. The problem with cat litter is that it cannot be digested, and if your hamster digests some, it will end up having digestive issues.
The paper used in magazines and newspapers may not be too harmful. However, those pages are covered in ink, which is toxic for your hamster.
Swallowing a piece of those pages can present your hamster with serious health issues.
Scented bedding is filled with chemicals that are harmful to hamsters. The good news is that hamsters are not fond of strong scents.
However, there is no one size fits all approach. Hamsters are good at surprising, and before you catch your hamster munching on some scented bedding, you might as well exercise caution.
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How Often Should You Change Your Hamster’s Bedding?
A general rule of thumb is that a hamster’s bedding should be changed weekly. However, don’t hesitate to change your hamster’s bedding daily if it is dirty.
Not only should you remove the soiled bedding, but you should also remove any food crumbs. Food goes bad with time, and decaying food can make your pet really sick if ingested.
When caring for your pets, hygiene should be your number one priority. As a responsible pet owner, it is your job to provide them with a neat and clean living environment without interfering too much with their lifestyle.
Can You Use Toilet Paper?
Yes, toilet paper can be used as bedding for your hamster. First of all, toilet paper is soft, and it is soluble in water.
Moreover, even if your hamster eats and digests toilet paper, no harm will be done. While toilet paper is harmless, some types of toilet paper are insoluble and also contain harmful chemicals.
Never make the mistake of using colored toilet paper and ones that have a strong artificial scent. If you want toilet paper or any other kind of tissue paper for your hamster, always opt for soft white tissue paper without any smell and color.
The only problem with toilet paper is that it becomes mushy when the hamster urinates.
Is Fabric Good Enough?
There are several reasons why the fabric is never a good idea to use as bedding for your hamster. The threats and the cotton used in the cloth are synthetic.
Like the fibers we have just discussed, the frayed ends of fabric can entangle a hamster, thus damaging their tiny limbs and suffocating them.
The fabric should only be used when you are 100% sure it is made of pure wool or cotton. You must also check the label on your bedding and ensure that the stitching, sewing, and binding are removed. Ideally, it is in your best interest to avoid fabric altogether.
What About Cotton Balls?
Cotton balls seem viable, but it is better to steer clear. The primary reason cotton balls aren’t the right bedding material is that they are indigestible.
Even if a hamster pouches some cotton, the likelihood is high that the hamster will digest some cotton, which can cause digestive issues.
Moreover, if your hamster doesn’t digest cotton, its limbs can always be tangled. Hamsters are delicate animals and do not have the strength to break free. Therefore, it is better to opt for safer options.
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Best Bedding Options for Hamsters
Shaved wood is one of the most popular bedding options for hamsters. First of all, wood shavings are soft, and they are also affordable.
If you get a bigger bag, you can fetch some good value. However, as discussed above, cedar and pine aren’t the right bedding options for bedding. These are hard, and their splinters can harm your hamster.
Aspen is a good bedding option, and while it is not the softest of all bedding materials, it can always be mixed with other soft bedding materials.
Moreover, Aspen doesn’t have any chemicals or oils. Furthermore, aspen wood is processed to remove debris and dirt that can injure your hamster.
Shredded paper is another safe bedding option for your hamster. However, if you opt for shredded paper, always choose the paper free of color and ink. You can either use plain paper or paper towels.
The good news is that hamsters like digging into piles of soft shredded paper. On the flip side, using the traditional form will get smelly and dirty quicker than other materials, and you will have to clean it repeatedly.
If you cannot find shredded paper, you can choose a bed made of paper fiber. First, the material is natural, and second, it is far more absorbent than bedding made of traditional wood.
Paper litter is not only soft and comfortable for the hamster, but it also has anti-odor properties. These properties allow this material to suppress ammonia’s stench for more than a week.
Best Hamster Bedding Brands in 2022
The number one hamster bedding brand in 2022 is the Carefresh L0405. It is suitable for hamsters and rats, chinchillas, and guinea pigs. This bedding is made of reclaimed fiber, and therefore, it offers a variety of benefits. Unlike their competing brands, the yarns used in this bedding are soft and much more effective.
This bedding is absorbent, and it also offers amazing anti-odor properties. Unlike other materials, the Carefresh L0405 doesn’t crumble.
As a result, cleaning this bedding becomes much easier. The only downside is that the material can be too heavy for hamsters that like to dig and burrow.
Next up, we have the Kaytee 100037607. This product is affordable for hamster owners that are tight on their budget.
Moreover, besides being cheaper on the wallet, this bedding material is 10 times more absorbent than wood. The reason is that this bedding is made of real paper.
Also, this bedding is completely dust-free, making it easier not to worry about cleaning now and then.
Furthermore, this bedding is available in different types and colors, depending upon the age and nature of your hamster.
However, unlike other high-quality beddings, this bedding doesn’t fight the odor problem to a great extent.
Therefore, you must deal with an awful stench when the bedding gets older. As a result, you will change the bedding more often than expected.
Small Pet Select Natural Paper Bedding
Lastly, we have the Small Pet Select Natural Paper Bedding. This bedding is famous for three reasons. First, it is made of food-grade paper, making it perfectly safe for your hamster.
Secondly, it makes it easier for your hamster to burrow. Lastly, it doesn’t contain harmful contaminants that may be dangerous to your hamster.
However, there are some downsides. For example, this bedding is expensive and doesn’t fight odor well. As a result, you will replace it from time to time, thus exceeding the cost beyond your budget.
As we have discussed, hamsters are delicate animals. They aren’t as strong as other wild beasts. They need to be handled with care, which also includes their bedding.
The bedding you choose for your little friend should be soft, easy to dig through, absorbent, and must have the ability to mask the odor. Lastly, check your affordability before settling for a bedding option.
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My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more