How to Choose Hamster Bedding

Are you tired of the lingering smell that comes with being a hamster owner? Perhaps you are seeking a more safe and environmentally friendly option for your furry friend? In any case, it is a responsible idea to periodically assess the materials you use in your hamster cage to see if there is room for improvement.

Reassessing also helps you stay up to date with what is newly available in the hamster bedding market. It also ensures that you get the best value for your dollar and raise a healthy and safe hamster.

You can be overwhelmed by the numerous small animal bedding options in the pet store. Unfortunately, there are available products on shelves that are not always the best for your hampster. Therefore, we have put together a quick guide to get you started.

Factors to Consider:


Hamsters are burrowing animals. They are at their happiest when they can deep dive and create burrowed nests under the substrate in their enclosures. Studies find that hamsters with small amounts of bedding in their habitats exhibit higher frustration levels. This frustration leads to wire and cage chewing and more time anxiously running on a hamster wheel.

The best way to ensure that your hamster can happily burrow is by providing amble nesting materials. Providing deep layers of various materials will ensure that your furry buddy stays comfortable and entertained for hours.


Hamster bedding should be an absorbent material, not only for the health of your pet but for your own sake. Some hamsters are “potty trained” to eliminate in a specific area of their cage, but this takes time and training. If you have an untrained pet, it is best to use an absorbent substrate. Absorbent bedding keeps their living space dry and reduces smells.


Hamsters are known to “pouch” bedding materials in their cheeks to move it around and build their nests. Consequently, hamsters will often ingest portions of the bedding left in their cheeks. Therefore, you should only select bedding that is safe and easily digestible.

The best way to determine if bedding is safe for ingestion is by placing a small portion into a bowl of water. Then, watch what happens. You only want to select water-soluble bedding that will disintegrate in the water in a reasonably short time. This experiment will let you know whether the material will digest easily.

Safe Bedding Options:

Aspen Shavings

Aspen wood shavings are the only genuinely safe wood option available for small pet bedding. Aspen shavings made from softwood do not contain sharp edges that could harm your hamster when burrowing or pouching the material.

Aspen also does not have the same toxins that many other various kinds of wood carry. It is an affordable option, but the drawback is that pet owners complain the aspen shavings get stuck in thick fur. Though this is not a health concern, it is more cleaning for you.

Paper Fiber

Paper-based bedding is arguably the most popular and widely available option for hamster bedding. Many owners enjoy the affordable pricing and fun colors that are available on the market. You must be cautious, though, to select a brand that is toxic-ink-free. For instance, shredded newspaper is not safe for your pet to inhale and ingest.

One available option is shredded toilet paper or paper towels, but this option requires more regular cleaning because of low absorption.

Timothy Hay

Hay is an excellent substrate option for hamsters that tend to ingest large amounts of bedding. It is safe because timothy hay is an ingredient in many hamster foods and treats. Though it has no nutritional value for your pet, it is safe to digest. However, owners must carefully consider hay selections because some variations can be more stiff or sharp than others.

Italian Hemp Bedding

The newest option on the hamster bedding market is Italian Hemp. These shavings are an excellent hypoallergenic choice for humans and pets who suffer from respiratory problems. Hemp is soft and comfortable for burrowing, is highly absorbent, affordable, and excellent for the environment.

Types of Bedding to Avoid:

Scented Bedding

Highly scented bedding can overwhelm your hamster, as they have a very sensitive sense of smell. It is like living in a perfume factory for small animals and is not suitable for their health.

Cat Litters

Using cat litter at the base of a hamster cage, layered under another burrowing option is okay for your hamster. But, you must be sure to use a dust, clumping, and scent-free version. Some pet owners opt to line the bottom of the habitat with litter for absorbency purposes. But owners should not use litter as the lone substrate.

Pine and Cedar Shavings 

Many wood shavings, mainly pine and cedar, are highly toxic to your small pet. These types release toxic fumes that are dangerous to hamster’s livers and respiratory systems. They can cause disease or even be fatal.

Artificial Fibers

Artificial fibers such as unraveling fabrics are soft and comfortable but not safe for your pet hamster. If your pet ingests these fabrics, they can untangle in their digestive systems and cause internal issues. The only material argued o be safe is fleece because it does not unravel or break into strands.

We Provide the Best Hamster Bedding

At Canapa Oro, we are pet owners that want the best for our four-legged friends, just as you do. You should be able to choose affordable hampster bedding that works. Every hampster deserves to live in an eco-friendly environment where you do not have to gag from the stench. If you have more questions about how to choose hampster bedding, call us at 866-322-5989.