The Best Hamster Bedding

Hamsterpal Team | October 4, 2019 | Vet approved content learn more
a hamster with some hamster bedding

Hamsters are animals that love to burrow into the ground and build themselves nests. Even domestic hamsters still hold their natural urges to burrow. Burrowing allows them to find a place they feel warm, safe and secure; this is where bedding comes in.

Whether you’re a new hamster owner or have had them for a long time, you need to make sure you have excellent quality bedding. In this article, we’ve rounded up what we feel to be some of the best hamster bedding around.

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Best Hamster Bedding

A good bedding needs to be absorbent, good at controlling odors and made from a hamster friendly material. We’ve rounded up some excellent examples of hamster bedding that we believe hold all of these qualities and more.

Here’s a list of the 5 best hamster bedding products that you and your hamster will love.

Carefresh Small Animal Bedding

This bedding is made from recycled paper, so you can feel comfortable that you are doing your part in preserving the planet. It can absorb up to three times its weight in liquid, so it will keep your pet’s cage nice and dry. It has a special ingredient which helps keep down unwanted odors, helping keep your pet’s environment nice and fresh.

If you are sensitive to dust, the good news is that Carefresh Small Animal Bedding is virtually dust-free. You can compost this bedding once it’s used, making it a sensible choice for the environment. It has a mid-brown color which is helpful if you are going for a more natural-looking environment for your pet.

Kaytee Clean & Cozy Small Animal Bedding

This ultra-absorbent bedding is made from virtually dust-free paper which soaks up liquid like a sponge, leaving your hamster’s environment clean and dry. This FDA approved paper bedding is comfortable and fluffy, and is great for making burrows and for nesting.

It is specially designed to ensure that your hamster’s cage stays fresh and clean smelling, easy to use and highly absorbent. The white coloring looks very fresh when contrasted with bright and colorful plastic cages and toys.

Kaytee Clean & Cozy Natural Small Animal Bedding

The environment is important to everyone; this all-natural bedding is recyclable back to the earth, making it very environmentally friendly. It is formulated to be ultra-absorbent and very low in dust, so great for owners with allergies.

Kayte Clean and Cozy Natural Small Animal Bedding works to reduce unpleasant smells. A pleasant light brown color makes this a good choice for the pet owner who favors a natural look in his or her hamster’s home.

Kaytee Clean & Cozy Forage Fun Small Animal Vegetable Garden Bedding

This small animal bedding is a real stand out amongst the offerings we review here. It comes complete with the cutest chewy dried carrot snacks which are mixed in with the bedding, encouraging your pet to seek through the bedding finding the treats.

This is fun to watch and offers really intriguing and enjoyable exercise for your little friend. This bedding is made from paper and will suck up as much as six times its own weight in liquid. Very low dust, and great at keeping unwanted odors from your pet’s cage; this bedding scores highly on a lot of key points.

Oxbow Pure Comfort Small Animal Bedding

Ultra-high absorbance is the key feature of this bedding, which claims to be able to absorb liquid up to eight times its own weight. It’s made from virgin paper, so there is no fear of contamination from inks, and it’s good at eliminating the inevitable odors that come with small pets.

Fluffy and comfortable, hygienic and soft, this bedding will encourage your hamster to tunnel and nest to his heart’s content. An attractive natural tan color completes the picture.

What You Need To Know About Hamster Bedding

hamster bedding guide

So now you’ve had a chance to look at some high-quality bedding for hamsters, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about hamster bedding.

Why do hamsters need bedding?

In their natural environment, hamsters live in tunnels and burrows. Here they rest, hide, sleep and move from place to place in safety.

It’s very natural then for them to delve and burrow, and it’s something they need to be able to do if they are going to feel happy, relaxed, and safe.

Remember that your job is to provide them with an environment which, as far as possible, replicates their wild home- one of the ‘five freedoms’ is ‘freedom to demonstrate natural behaviours’, and since this includes burrowing, one of the key elements for hamster health is a good deep layer of appropriate bedding.

How deep should bedding be?

Two to three inches is enough for most situations. This will give your hamster plenty of room for tunneling. Also, if you happen to live somewhere cold, this depth will keep him or her very warm and cozy when sleeping or resting.

Will bedding make a mess?

All good hamster cages should have a solid tray at the bottom to allow for bedding, and to ensure that small feet don’t get caught up in wires. Generally, they allow for two inches of bedding. If you want to add more you might have to adapt your cage by putting in an inch or two of solid siding above the tray are to prevent spillage.

Some kinds of bedding, especially those with little added pieces of color might spill over anyway, but for the dedicated pet owner this isn’t a big problem. Most of these beddings are dust-free, which reduce mess whilst clearing out.

What about smells and moisture?

A clean hamster cage will not smell bad at all. You might detect just a little whiff of animal perhaps, but nothing particularly unpleasant. Most commercial bedding is designed to trap and eliminate odors, so provided you clean regularly, it shouldn’t be a problem.

The same goes for moisture; hamster urine will be soaked up in bedding as will spills from water containers. Remember you should never spray your animal cage with air freshener, this can be very dangerous for your hamster’s health. If the cage smells, clean it.

Can I make my own bedding?

We often suggest do it yourself solutions here, bearing in mind that some people have limited money to spend. In this case, though, there really is no good safe option for bedding but to buy something ready-made. This way, you can be sure that your pet won’t be in contact with dangerous substances. For example, printer ink on newspapers, and that the texture is safe and comfortable for his or her delicate body.

If you do decide to make your own bedding (which we don’t recommend) maybe in an emergency; choose paper which has not been printed on. Tear these up and make sure you have that all important two inches at least of depth.

What should I look for when choosing bedding?

There are several features which are equally important. Firstly, you want bedding which is absorbent; the more absorbent the bedding the better. Absorbency is generally shown as being able to absorb a certain number of times of its own weight in liquid. Obviously, the greater the amount that it can absorb, the more comfortable the bedding is going to be.

  • Bedding should be dust free: most good bedding is 99% dust free, this matters because too much dust could harm your hamster, giving him breathing problems. Also, many humans prefer not to be exposed to too much dust. It also makes less mess, making cleaning out that bit easier for you.
  • Odor-eliminating ability is also key: although frequent cleaning, including spot cleaning of toilet areas between the main clean up helps a great deal too. Most good brands will help reduce odors.

Texture and color may seem to be cosmetic, but you want your bedding to be attractive to look at and to fit well with the style of your hamster’s residence. Plain bedding in white or brown makes it easy to see if your hamster has an injury or illness – blood and runny poop will show up clearly. There are many hamster bedding brands out there offering colors and even scents. Generally, we believe simple brown or white bedding to be perfectly adequate for your pet, although it’s fun to have a change to something bright sometimes.

Is there anything I need to do if I change bedding types?

As always when you make any changes to your hamster’s way of life, introduce things gradually. So if you decide to change brands, start by mixing the old brand and the new, gradually increasing the amount of the new bedding brand until you reach 100%. This way you can check for any negative reactions in your pet, and take action quickly if the new bedding isn’t to his liking.

What should I avoid when it comes to hamster bedding?

There are some well-meaning pet store owners who will suggest all kinds of things to use as bedding. Here is a list of items which you really should avoid.

Cat litter

On the face of it, this might seem like a good idea, maybe as a base under bedding. But hamsters put everything into their mouths to check out what it is, and eating cat litter could do serious damage. Definitely avoid this.

Wood shavings

Some woods are actually poisonous to your pet, and should be avoided at all costs, for example, pine and cedar, which can cause liver and breathing issues. Wood shavings aren’t the best when it comes to absorption of liquids, in fact, they don’t absorb liquids at all. If you use wood shavings, the cage will need to be cleaned out every day – quite a chore.

Wood shavings also have sharp edges which can damage your pet. Only consider this if you have a free source of good hardwood shavings, and are prepared to do a lot of cleaning work.

Hay and straw

It would seem that these are nice and natural, but the danger is that they may contain hidden pests such as mites and other insects, which you don’t really want to introduce into your hamster’s life. Straw is cleaner as a rule, but can have sharp ends which can injure sensitive eyes in particular. Hay and straw are also dusty and may contain allergens.

Shredded paper

Paper which had been printed with ink is a definite no-no, as it can contain poisons for your pet. Clean, unprinted paper is ok, although it isn’t as absorbent as ready-made bedding, and it can be very dusty.

Cotton, cotton wool, felt, polyester, coconut

All of these materials should be avoided as they will cause real problems if your hamster gets these into his digestive system. Remember that hammies put absolutely anything and everything into their mouth, it’s how they explore their world.

Conclusion

Hamsters are pets that love to burrow in their natural environment. Domestically they still love to, but need somewhere safe to do so. Providing your hamster with fresh, clean, suitable bedding will make for a happy pet and a happy owner.

We worked with Dr Joanna Woodnutt to make sure this content is worthy of vet approval. You can find more about the Hamsterpal team and how we strive to make high-quality content here.