Did you know you need two types of hamster bedding? Yup, for your hamster to be truly happy you are going to need the kind that covers the bottom of the cage and a softer kind that your hamster will use to make a snuggly bed in his sleeping area.
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Let's talk about the kind of litter you want to cover the bottom of your hamsters cage first. The main job of this type of bedding is to absorb urine and keep it from smelling. A smelly cage is bad for you and worse for your hamster!
The good news is that your hamster won't piddle all over the place. Most hamsters tend to pee in the corners of their cage. If you're lucky, they'll use the same corner all the time making "spot cleaning" really easy!
This bedding also gives your hamster something to dig thru and hide things in. Lastly, you know how hamsters love to burrow and make tunnels, this bedding can give them something to tunnel into.
The Best Hamster Bedding Ever!
Hands down the best hamster bedding is Carefresh! We don't make this statement lightly. Read on and you'll see we've really looked deeply at a ton of different hamster bedding options before coming to this conclusion.
You'll love Carefresh because it's great as a bedding AND nesting material. In addition to that it is...
- Free of inks, dyes, clay or chemicals
- Made from reclaimed materials
- Phenol free
- Super absorbent
- Great at controlling odors
- Sanitized for your pets safety
- Not easily scattered
- Great for burrowing
Carefresh is made from reclaimed pulp (the stuff that the paper industry throws away) so it's an environmentally sound purchase. And you can compost it too! Just be sure to let it age 120 days according to these guidelines.
Let's face it, the reason you need hamster bedding is to soak up your hammie's pee so you aren't having to get into his cage and wipe it up every hour, right? This stuff soaks up urine (and water dish spills) like nothing else we've seen. It'll absorb three times more liquid than wood shavings!
Speaking of hamster pee... it stinks! Carefresh helps with that too. Lab tests have shown that it suppresses ammonia odor (the stinky stuff in urine) for a full 10 days.
Now we know YOU won't let your hamsters cage go that long between cleanings, will you? But it's nice to know that your hamster bedding is gonna work as hard as you do to keep your hammies cage clean and smelling good!
On top of all those reasons for loving Carefresh it is soft enough to work for both your hamster bedding and nesting material. Win, win for you and your hamster. And it comes in a bunch of cool colors! Check it out. Natural, Pink, Blue and Confetti.
Wood Shavings For Hamster Bedding
For a long time the most popular thing to use for hamster bedding has been wood shavings or saw dust. They are easy to find, inexpensive and smell good to you. The thing is, most of them are NOT good for your hamster. In fact some of them are downright dangerous and can seriously harm or kill your hamster.
Let's learn more about the dangerous ones...
Pine & Cedar Shavings
Though these types of litter are easy to find, pine and cedar wood shavings are NOT safe to put into your hamsters cage! The thing that makes them smell good to us (pine resin) contains a chemical called phenol which will damage your hamsters lungs and liver. Never use these types of bedding even if you see "hamster bedding" listed on the bag!
Never, EVER use sawdust as a bedding material for your hamster. Even if you know for sure it comes from a hard wood tree it is way too dusty and will harm your hamsters lungs. If it's pine or cedar saw dust you have all the bad chemicals (Phenol's) PLUS the danger from the dust getting into your hamsters lungs. BAD! Sawdust Is NOT Hamster Bedding!
Pro Tip: Before you totally give up on the idea of using wood shavings for hamster bedding there are a couple of good, safe options. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each.
Aspen shavings are easy to find in most pet stores or you can get them shipped right to your door by Amazon. Heck, you can even save up to %15 on them with their "Subscribe'n Save" program! They smell nice and clean and nothing about them is dangerous to your pet hamster.
Your hamster will love them because they will be able to burrow thru them making tunnels and dens. Sadly, they are not very absorbent so they don't do a really good job at controlling urine odor and mess. So you'll have to clean the cage more often. However, they are rather inexpensive.
Mostly used in labs, these are small hardwood shavings (renewably sourced aspen and/or maple) that are just a size or two larger than sawdust. In pet stores and now on Amazon these are marketed to folks who keep reptiles so don't be turned off by the packaging. They work well as hamster bedding, too.
Sani-chips are odorless and virtually dust free because after they are dried they go thru a screening process. They absorb odors and liquids really well and clump a lot like cat litter so you can clean out just the corners where your hamster pees between complete cage cleanings.
The downside to sani-chips is they DO NOT HOLD A BURROW! Your hamster will not be able to make burrows thru them at all. So you'll have to give them alternatives for this activity. Also, they scatter like crazy so you'll be vacuuming a lot if you have your hamster in a wire cage.
Wood Pellets For Hamster Bedding
When it comes to liquid absorption wood pellets win, hands down. In fact, wood pellets absorb so well they are often used in horse stalls! We doubt your hammie will pee that much but if you like the idea of using a wood product for your hamster bedding material why not give wood pellets a try.
The ones that are easiest for the average hamster owner to find are usually sold as kitty litters. Don't be turned off by this, many hamster lovers have reported good results with them too.
Wood pellet bedding is usually made from pine. Unlike pine wood shavings used for animal litter, the process of forming it into pellets gets rid of the dangerous phenols so your hamster shouldn't have any trouble with pine pellets.
If you want the absorbency of wood pellets but are leery of those made of pine, we have been able to source two wood pellet bedding products for hamsters that is made exclusively from Aspen wood. One is called Aspen Supreme Pellets and the other is Gentle Touch and you can learn more about it right here.
Paper Pellets For Hamster Bedding
Paper pellets tend to be a bit harsh on your hamsters feet. If you decide to use paper pellets as your hamster bedding be sure to look for a the new softer versions of this type of pellet bedding or LIGHTLY mist them with water right after you put them into your hamsters cage.
Paper pellets are nontoxic, biodegradable and don't scatter easily. The downside is they don't control odor as well as the wood pellets do and they tend to be a tad dusty. This seems to vary from batch to batch. It's our guess is that this has to do with how much they get knocked around between the factory and your hamsters cage.
Fresh News Post Consumer Paper Pellet Cat Litter, 12-PoundShow Me ThisPurina Yesterday's News Unscented Cat Litter - 30 lb. BagShow Me ThisSo Phresh Paper Pellet Small Animal Litter, 20 lbs.Show Me This
PRO TIP: Never line your hamsters cage with newspapers. It makes TERRIBLE hamster bedding because it is NOT absorbent. It does NOT control smells and the ink will rub off all over your hamsters fur! YUCK!
Grass, Grain & Other Hamster Bedding Options
Corn Cob Litter
Corn Cob is an OK hamster bedding material. It's decently absorbent, soft on your hamsters feet, inexpensive and great for burrowing. The down side is it tends to mold easily once wet. So if your hamster lives in an aquarium and you are using corn cob bedding you'll need to be diligent about changing out the litter.
Kaytee Kay Kob Bedding for Birds, 8-PoundShow Me ThisLitterMaid Premium Clumping Corn Cob Litter, 9-PoundShow Me ThiseCOTRITION Natural Corn Cob Bedding for Small Animals, 10-Liter (P-84155)Show Me This
Critter Country is a pellet type litter made from winter wheat grass. It absorbs and controls odor well. This pellet type hamster bedding is odor and dust free out of the bag. It's made without any chemicals and is heat treated so it's free of any insects, mold or fungus. 100% biodegradable. Feel free to toss used litter into your compost pile!
Ok, this one is just so odd we had to include it. Clumping litter made from tofu. The manufacturer claims it absorbs three times as much liquid as clay. Cat owners report that their kitties often nibble on this litter. If your hamster has issues with the paper or wood type beddings why not give this a try?
Hamster Nesting Material
Now let's talk about the second kind of bedding your hamster needs to make his cage a happy home. That's his or her nesting material! This is the bedding he's going to gather up and stuff into whatever he uses for his hamster house or bed.
Getting their special snuggly space "just right" is something your hamster really enjoys doing and will spend HOURS at it. So be sure to give them plenty of materials to shred up and stuff into all the little nooks and crannies of their chosen spot.
As we already mentioned if you are using Carefresh hamster bedding, your hamster will happily use this litter to line his hamster house. If you are using any of the other choices on this page adding a nesting material to your hamsters cage is a REQUIREMENT not a luxury. Your hammie needs this, so don't skip it.
Luckily some of the best choices for nesting materials are things you most likely already have around your home.
All of those make wonderful hamster nesting materials. Hamsters also like timothy hay and sometimes blank copy paper (no ink) that's gone thru a strip type shredder are enjoyed as well.
While you're at the pet store or shopping on Amazon you'll see products calling themselves "nesting materials" that look all puffy and soft. We don't recommend you spend your money on these items.
Here's why, the long fibers can cause all kinds of problems. Your hammy can get it stuck in his cheek pouches or wound around his feet. And if he should actually eat any it can cause serious trouble in his intestines and even kill him.
The same goes for coconut fiber (which is sharp and can cut hamster feet), cotton balls, fabric, felt, batting and polyester stuffing. These items do not belong in your hamsters cage. Ever!
Pin This For Later!
Now you know what to give your hamster so he can make his bed or hamster house all snugly and warm. And what to use on the floor of your hamsters cage to keep it clean and smelling good even though it doubles as his potty. Remember, both kinds of hamster bedding are required to keep your tiny fur ball healthy and happy.