Hamsters are adorable! They’re little balls of fur with giant eyes and tiny legs that scamper around like mad. The question we are answering in todays hamster blog is ‘do hamsters need bedding?’
Do hamsters need bedding?
I often get asked ‘do hamsters need bedding?’ and the answer is yes they do. Luckily, there are plenty of bedding options for you to choose from that will keep your hamster clean and happy. Here are the best bedding options!
Why do hamsters need bedding?
Hamsters need somewhere to sleep, where they can burrow down and feel safe…In the wild hamsters would make their bedding out of natural substances including grasses and straw. They are burrowers and often make their beds below ground! If you are a hamster owner you will need to provide them with bedding to allow them to display their natural behaviours and replicate thier natural and safe comfortable environment.
What bedding is good (or bad) for hamsters?
The best type of bedding for hamsters is one that is absorbent. Avoid anything that may be toxic! For example, hamster tissue bedding is much better than newspaper which may contain toxins in the print. Other good absorbent types are shredded paper or straw.
Shredded paper: Shredded paper is a good absorbent bedding option and is safe and gentle on your pet. Some hamsters will prefer this substrate to sleep in, while others may prefer to burrow in hay instead.
Tissue: Newspaper contains toxins from the print so is best avoided! Tissue paper is great as long as it is not scented and has not been treated with chemicals that might harm your hamster.
Aspen bedding for hamsters: Aspen bedding is a great option for hamsters as it is soft, comfortable and non-toxic. you can buy it online.
Hay/straw: Avoid hay as the grains may get stuck in the fur and cause irritation to your hamster. Straw is a much better option that is soft and absorbent without causing irritation! However, if you do choose this option ensure the straw is fresh as after a few days it will lose some of its softness.
There are many DIY options for hamster bedding – you can read about them here.
What bedding isn’t good for hamsters?
Don’t use wood chips or sawdust as they are not absorbent and they can actually cause your hamsters to ingest them and choke on them!
Sand or soil: Although they are natural substances, sand or soil may contain harmful substances that can be ingested and harmful to your pet hamster!
Bedding options with wood shavings: Although wood shavings are absorbent, some hamsters may ingest them, or chew them and risk choking, resulting in death. Additionally, many wood shavings are treated with toxic chemicals and are not safe for your pet hamster. As mentioned above, wood shavings are very unforgiving to little paws and toes while foraging for food so should be avoided. If you must use wood shavings, ensure you wash them thoroughly prior to use, removing all traces of chemicals.
Woodchips: Woodchips are not absorbent and can cause your hamster to choke on them. Additionally, many wood chips are treated with toxic chemicals and are best avoided.
Plastic bags: Although plastic bags are soft and make good bedding for a hamster, they are not safe for your pet hamster and can become lodged in their throat, causing your pet to suffocate. Additionally, plastic bags are not absorbent and can become lodged in the hamster’s digestive tract and cause harm or even death.
Wood pellets: Wood pellets are not absorbent and can cause your hamster to choke on them. Additionally, many wood pellets are treated with toxic chemicals and are best avoided.
Can I give my hamster a den or a bed?
You can provide them with a bed or nest and give them the option to use it. However, your hammy may prefer an open area where they are free to burrow into and makes themselves at home! Hamsters will also often sleep together in communal areas too and this normal and healthy behaviour. When foraging for food your hamster may dig a small hole to stow away potential snacks so similar to their wild cousins they create little burrows to sleep in!
You can read more about the best hamster bedding here.