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Can your hamster’s bed cause illness or death?

Can your hamster’s bed cause illness or death?

Hamster cages are often sold with starter kits that may or may not contain bedding. Whether you’re a good hamster person or just got one, checking the position of the bed can save you some serious trouble. This article explains the bedding materials that hamster care professionals recommend, which they think are dangerous, and how to maintain good cage hygiene. This can help you choose the right products and establish a healthy hygiene routine.

Bedding the experts love

It is important to make sure that the bedding cannot injure the eyes, ears and body on the outside or the gastrointestinal tract on the inside if it is chewed or swallowed. A roundup of animal care charities that publish advice on caring for hamsters reveals much agreement about what is good to put in the cage. Sawdust (1) is recommended, along with timothy hay, aspen shavings, shredded paper, hamster pellet bedding (2, 3, 4). Kitchen paper is also suitable for bedding, provided it is pure white (1, 5). While these should be fine, some other materials pose a major hazard.

Bedding that experts say you should never use

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

How to keep everything healthy clean

Remove soiled bedding and feces daily, along with any discarded food items. Move your hamster to a safe playpen once a week and remove all bedding from the cage into the garbage bag. Some experts say that in addition to using mild soap and hot water, you can also ask your vet for a hamster-safe disinfectant to properly clean the entire cage, including all bars, tunnels, and other items inside. Change the bedding by putting in some of the old materials to give it a familiar feel.

It can be terribly distressing for your hamster to become ill or even die from gastrointestinal obstruction from eating the wrong type of litter. Checking before putting anything in the cage is easy and supplies are readily available from pet stores. After reading this, you should feel more confident about shopping at pet stores for the right bed for your little darling.

This article is written with a sample of expert opinions and as a review it can never replace the advice of a qualified professional veterinarian. Please consult your veterinarian with any concerns about your hamster’s well-being, as needs vary by breed, age, health, and individual animals. Thank you so much.


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

2. ASPCA. Care of hamsters [online].

3. ASPCA. Hamster care 411 [online].

4. LIGHTNESS. The EASE Guide to Hamster Care [online].

5. PDSA. Golden hamsters – a suitable environment [online].

6. National Hamster Society. We are getting ready to start [online].

#hamsters #bed #illness #death

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