Hamster Bedding: What are the best options?

hamsters in bed

If you have a hamster at home, you will definitely need to choose the right bedding for its habitat.

There are lots of different options to choose from, so selecting the right one can seem difficult.

This article will provide you with the information necessary to care for your hamster properly.

Why the Proper Bedding is so Important

The material that you choose for your hamster’s bedding is important for numerous reasons. You need to focus on choosing a type of bedding that is going to be comfortable for them to walk and rest on. 

If your hamster is constantly uncomfortable, they will become stressed. This can significantly shorten their lifespan.

Substrate vs. Bedding

There is a big difference between substrate and bedding when it comes to a hamster’s habitat. The substrate is the material that covers the bottom of the cage, while the bedding is only put in certain areas for your hamster to sleep on.

You can use the same material for both the substrate and sleeping areas of your hamster’s habitat, but you need to choose carefully.

Materials to Avoid

There are certain materials that you should absolutely avoid using in your hamster’s habitat, including:

  • Wood shavings: A lot of people use wood shavings as bedding for their hamster, but this material doesn’t do a good job of masking unpleasant aromas. If you don’t want your hamster’s cage to stink, you should avoid this material.
  • Cat litter: It’s also not a good idea to use cat litter, as it will make your hamster uncomfortable all the time. This can take quite a serious toll on their mental and physical health.
  • Hemp: It might be tempting to buy hemp bedding if you are looking for a “green” option, but it is quite expensive. The cost of this material can quickly add up, so you’ll want to keep that in mind.
  • Wood pulp: This is another option that tends to be quite expensive and isn’t in everyone’s budget.
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hamster bedding

Is Sawdust a Good Hamster Bedding Option?

Sawdust is a very popular choice for hamster bedding, but there is a lot that you will need to learn about it before making a decision. The fact is that this material has a tendency to collect dust fairly quickly.

The dustier this material gets, the more likely your hamster is to have an allergic reaction. If enough dust accumulates on the sawdust, they could actually develop breathing problems. There are, however, dust-free varieties of sawdust that you can purchase.

One of the best things about sawdust is that it is generally very cheap. This material can be quite abrasive and has been known to irritate the skin of hamsters. Overall, it is not a good choice for hamster bedding.

Wood Shavings

As we mentioned above, wood shavings are not great for concealing the odor of your hamster’s scents. It is fairly cheap and widely available in pet stores, which are two big plusses. This material is also soft and perfectly safe for these animals. It is pretty durable as well, though you’ll need to change it out regularly.

It is not a good idea to use cedar or pine wood shavings in your hamster’s habitat. These materials can cause skin irritation and even injuries due to how sharp they tend to be.

Recycled Paper

There are quite a few benefits to using recycled paper in your hamster’s cage. This material is very soft and is unlikely to cause your hamster any discomfort or irritation whatsoever. It is also very cheap and doesn’t have a strong scent, which is good.

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One of the drawbacks associated with using recycled paper as hamster bedding is that it is not readily available in all pet stores. This material will also not last nearly as long as some other materials, which you will need to consider.

Wood Pulp

Wood pulp is another common material that is used as hamster bedding. It is perfect if you have a dwarf hamster, and the best choice for masking unpleasant odors. This material also tends to last for a while, which is definitely a plus.

One of the only drawbacks of choosing wood pulp for your hamster’s bedding is that it costs quite a bit more than other materials. You will need to take a look at your budget to find out if this is a viable option.

sleeping hamster

Hamster Bedding Tips

There are certain tips that you should follow when it comes to your hamsters bedding.

1. Change it out Regularly

It is important that you change out your hamster’s bedding once every week. This will help to keep their habitat clean and minimize the risk of infection and disease.

2. Make sure it’s thick enough

The bedding in your hamster’s cage should at 1-2 inches thick. If the material is too thin, they will be uncomfortable.

3. Look online for deals

If you want to save all the money you can on hamster bedding, take the time to browse the web. This will allow you to get what you need at the lowest possible price.


  • The substrate of your hamster’s cage is the material that covers the entire bottom, whereas the bedding is just the material it sleeps on.
  • You can use the same material for the substrate and bedding in your hamster’s cage, but choose carefully.
  • Certain wood shavings and cat litter are not recommended as materials for hamster bedding.
  • Recycled paper makes for a good hamster bedding material—it is soft, inexpensive and non-abrasive.
  • While wood pulp is also a good material to use in your hamster’s cage, it is quite expensive.
  • Make certain that you change out your hamster’s bedding completely once every week.
  • Your hamster’s bedding should be at least an inch thick to keep them comfortable.
  • The material you choose for your hamster’s bedding is important for their mental and physical health. It can have a major impact on how long they end up living.
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