Could Your Hamster’s Bedding Cause Illness Or Death?



Hamster cages are often sold alongside starter packs which may or may not contain bedding. Whether you are an old hand with hamsters or have just got one, checking the bedding situation could save you from some serious problems. This article explains bedding materials hamster care experts recommend, the ones they think are dangerous and how to keep good hygiene in the cage. This can help you choose the right products and establish a healthy hygiene routine.

Bedding The Experts Like

It’s important to make sure bedding can’t injure their eyes, ears and body outside or gastro-intestinal tract inside if they chew or swallow it. A round up of animal care charities who publish advice on hamster care reveals much agreement on what is good to put in the cage. Sawdust is recommended (1), along with timothy hay, aspen shavings, shredded paper, hamster pellet style bedding (2, 3, 4). Kitchen paper is also OK for bedding providing it’s in plain white (1, 5). Whilst these should be fine, some other materials present great danger.

Bedding The Experts Say Never To Use

This is an interesting list, as it contains items you might think would be lovely and cosy for your little pet. NEVER use synthetic fluffy, other fluffy, fabric or wool bedding, including cotton wool (4, 6) as they can chew it and severely harm their pouches or insides. DON’T use cedar or pine chips or shavings as they are associated with poisonous fumes (2, 4). Even the humble newspaper or recycling household paper or card printed with inks can be poisonous to hamsters (1, 4, and 5). Once you’ve established what you’re putting in there is safe, stick to a good cleaning schedule to keep it fresh.

How To Keep It All Healthily Clean

Remove soiled bedding and droppings daily, along with any discarded food items. Move your hamster to a safe play pen once a week and remove all the bedding from the cage into household garbage sack. Some experts say to use mild soap and hot water, you may also want to ask you vet for a hamster safe disinfectant to properly clean the entire cage, including any bars, tunnels and other items inside. Replace the bedding, putting a little of the old materials in to give it a familiar feel.

It can be terribly distressing to have your hamster suffer illness or even die from gastro-intestinal blockage due to eating the wrong type of bedding. Checking before you put anything in the cage is easy and supplies are readily available from pet stores. By reading this, you should feel more confident to shop at pet stores for suitable bedding for your little loved one.

This article is written with a sample of expert opinions and as an overview, it can never replace a qualified professional vet’s advice. Please consult your vet for any concerns about your hamster’s welfare, as needs vary by breed, age, health status and individual animals. Many thanks.


1. RSPCA. Pet Care – Hamsters. [online].

2. ASPCA. Hamster Care [online].

3. ASPCA. Hamster Care The 411 [online].

4. EASE. The EASE Guide To caring For Hamsters [online].

5. PDSA. Golden Hamsters – A Suitable Environment [online].

6. National Hamster Society. Getting Started [online].


Source by Jonathon Boyd

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