Bedding is the main substrate within the habitat for the hamster to carry out it's natural behaviour, which is to burrow and tunnel.
It is important to use the correct substrate for this zone.
SPECIFIC PAPER BASED BEDDINGS are is recommended.
Some substrates "advised" and sold in shops can be harmful so please ensure that you research here before buying the wrong one.
HOW MUCH BEDDING?
A suitable depth of paper bedding, 30cm or more (minimum 25cm), must be provided for burrowing & tunneling,
in a zone that spans at least 1/3 to 1/2 the size of an average 5000cm2 habitat.
PAPER BASED BEDDINGS:
Paper beddings (unscented) are the SAFEST and the most recommended for hamsters worldwide.
While these may appear to some newbies as expensive, note that they last and stay cleaner far longer than any other substrate. There are also many ways that you can stretch the use further within your hamster’s setup, e.g. by dividing t habitat into sections of other different substrates.
MANUFACTURED & SOLD HERE IN SA
PLEASE SUPPORT LOCAL SMALL BUSINESS!
We are very fortunate to have these reliable businesses & distributors!
Beddings are of a high standard and safe to use.
Delivery can be more convenient via PUDO Lockers or PostNet, and less expensive, than with couriers via commercial online shops that may not afford you any options.
AVAILABLE IN WHITE AND A VARIETY OF COLOURS.
Please check with each manufacturer.
KINDLY NOTE: These beddings are very popular, but the hand-made process takes a while (and often made by one person). It is therefore difficult to build up enough stock to deliver immediately. Loadshedding also has a major impact on production and couriers!
Please allow anything from 10- 21 working days for your order to be ready (depending on schedule & volume of demand).
IMPORTED COMMERCIAL BEDDINGS DISTRIBUTED IN SA
OXBOW PURE COMFORT
HAMSTERS SEEM TO LOVE THIS!
Highly recommended around the world for many years.
Super soft and made with 100% pure, never printed paper.
Highly absorbent (moisture & odour).
Available in White (36L & 72L) and Natural (28L & 56L).
KAYTEE CLEAN N COZY
A highly recommended popular bedding.
HOWEVER, THE SCENTED VARIETIES ARE NOT SAFE.
DO CHECK THE COLOURED BEDDINGS BEFORE PURCHASING,
as these are usually the ones that have been scented.
Any scented substrates irritate the nose and cause respiratory issues.
Latest batches of WHITE Kaytee bedding tend to be very dusty.
Not only noticed by us here in SA, but in other parts of the world too.
May be a good idea to give it a good shake in a laundry net bag.
Apple Spice (scented)
Tahitian Vanilla (scented)
Summer Storm (scented)
CAREFRESH & CHIPSI CAREFRESH
Note: You may detect an unpleasant odour when you open a new/sealed bag (particularly the Natural).
According to the manufacturer and distributor, this is a typical cellulose odour that comes with wood pulp products and is not harmful and usually disappears over time after opening and airing.
This may or may not be unpleasant for your hamster's keen sense of smell, so we suggest that you decompress all, or the amount you're going to need, and air it out for a few days before using.
There was world-wide concern with 2022 batches. Aside from foreign matter present in some bags, the biggest concern was the amount of cases of hamsters developing eye & respiratory infections as a result.
HOWEVER, NEW BATCHES FROM FEB'23 ONWARD ARE GOOD.
Wherever you do decide to buy from, please check with the shop if they are post-Jan'23 stock.
Some bags do tend to be a little dusty, but a good shake in a laundry net bag should get rid of most dust.
Available in a variety of colours and all are unscented.
Not seen very often, but in case you come across them, the bags are only 100g and 300g and therefore, per calculation, works out to be more expensive than the other beddings above.
The Paper Flakes and Paper Shavings are safe, but we don't recommend the Paper Wool as this could pose a tangling risk, and appear to be rather thick which could cause a problem if pouched.
TEMPORARY / EMERGENCY BEDDING
These are not ideally suited as main deep bedding substrates as they may not hold burrows and tunnels, but are certainly safe enough to use if you're in a pinch,
e.g. waiting for your main bedding to arrive, waiting to afford the proper bedding, or to expand your proper bedding for economical reasons.
PAPER NESTING MATERIAL
Nesting Material is made from shredded plain uncoated paper and can be used in your hamster's hide/nest box, as an additional substrate in the habitat, or to create layers in between your paper bedding like a fake hay, or to simply make extra depth by placing it at the bottom of the deep bedding zone.
Natural / Organic
Safe for hamsters and rats
Softer than what it looks in the pics
Lighter weight papers will result in softer bedding, but please check how much dust is produced.
You may need to shake/sift out any excess dust before using.
CROSS-CUT SHREDDED CLEAN PAPER
NEVER USE STRIP SHREDDED OR MICRO-CUT SHREDDED PAPER.
A shredder with a Security Level P3 (200 particles) is best.
You can experiment with different paper types and weights, or a mix of a few types: clean plain uncoated newsprint paper and brown craft paper, cheap serviettes, etc. As long as it is free of ink and glossy coatings. Printing paper (without ink) can also be mixed in, but can be somewhat too hard to use alone.
Strip-shredded paper (Level P1 or 2) can cause paper cuts and tangling issues, particularly where harder papers are used. Micro-cut paper (Level P5 to P7) will be too fine/dusty and can cause respiratory, nasal, and eye problems
1-PLY TOILET PAPER
In desperate times, when you cannot get proper paper bedding in good time, as a temporary measure you may simply shred up lots of 1-Ply toilet paper.
Note: do not use super-soft toilet paper, 2-ply toilet paper, facial tissues, or luxury serviettes/paper towel as these make too much dust when stripped up, which can cause eye and respiratory irritation.
MOST WOOD SHAVINGS ARE NOT HIGHLY RECOMMENDED AS THE MAIN BEDDING,
AND THE TYPICAL PINE SHAVINGS SOLD IN PET SHOPS ARE NOT SAFE AT ALL!
Wood substrates tend to break down and crumble into small particles, whether they are toxic or not, and can cause irritation to the hamster's eyes, nose and respiratory system. Therefore, you will need to change the bedding every week or two, which is very upsetting for the hamster and will also prove to be more expensive than using one of the proper paper beddings.
SOFTWOOD SHAVINGS are generally the worst and usually toxic for hamsters, but the safer HARDWOOD SHAVINGS tend to be abrasive and can cause irritation to the hamster's delicate skin. If you do wish to use a wood substrate as an additional zone, rather use SHREDDED WOOD than shavings, since these will be gentler (not to be confused with sawdust).
UNFORTUNATELY SHREDDED WOOD BEDDING IS NOT THAT EASY TO FIND IN SA.
Mainly sold as "SNAKE BEDDING" in SA.
Please make sure that it is SHREDDED ASPEN and NOT SHAVINGS!
Not always available in SA, and it can be quite pricey.
HOWEVER, please note that there are indications that some hamsters may be having reactions to Aspen (but still no definite proven facts). Updated response from CHA (July 2020):
Kaytee Aspen Shavings appears to be hard shavings and not shredded as it appears on the adverts. We have received reports that it has a strong woody odour. One of our members used it for her rats and ended up at the vet with really bad bouts of sneezing fits.
FOR NOW, WE ARE NOT RECOMMENDING KAYTEE ASPEN.
SHREDDED WHITE BIRCH
Safe to use, since it is a hardwood deciduous tree, but not so easy to find in SA.
If you do find any, make sure that:
it is indeed white birch (some commercial packages claim to be birch when, in fact, they are pine shavings).
it is not a mixture of pine and birch, as many suppliers/shops seem to do.
it is not scented/fragranced.
it is not large shavings.
CHIPSI: SUPER, SNAKE & EXTRA XXL
HEMP HURD / ABIOSE / KENAF
This is a safe spruce, but is more of an additional enrichment substrate
since it does not hold up well for burrowing or tunneling.
This is a safe substrate, but more of an additional enrichment substrate for a zone.
We recommend rather using Chipsi Super, which is softer and more enjoyable.
No longer very easily available in SA (at this stage),
but you can try Mischief Pet Products and Hemporium.
Unfortunately the most commonly available bedding in most pet shops in SA, but must be avoided for hamsters at all costs.
PINE IS A SOFT WOOD & SHAVINGS ARE NOT SAFE to use due to the toxic phenols, which have been proven to cause severe respiratory health problems, skin allergies, and eye infections.
The cost of good bedding is still cheaper than a vet’s bill!
(Kiln drying removes moisture, but does not remove all phenols)
SCENTED & MEDICATED SUBSTRATES
NEVER USE anything scented or medicated, even if the packaging implies that it is derived from “natural" fruits or herbs or what the medication does? These products can be very overpowering in the habitat and irritating to the hamster's sensitive nose - he is unable to escape the hell!
Please don’t do this to your pet.
Lavender, Apple Spice,
Tahitian Vanilla, Summer Storm
Some pet shops will sell you this as bedding for your hamster. You should walk out of that shop! CAT LITTER PELLETS or RABBIT PELLETS are very uncomfortable for little feet, nor does it allow the hamster to burrow & tunnel. It may be fine in a small section of the habitat, but you need to know what wood the cat pellets are made of, or if the rabbit pellets are medicated.
Like pellet bedding, this is also very uncomfortable on the hamster’s feet, nor does it a allow the hamster to burrow & tunnel.
Worse still, corncob often contains mold & spores and, even if not, gets moldy very quickly if it gets wet (from water bottles/bowls or urine). These fungal spores & bacteria pose a huge risk to the hamster’s respiratory system, and may be associated with opportunistic diseases in healthy, non-immunosuppressed animals.
Furthermore, bear in mind that hamsters do nibble on corn/mealies, but it can cause many problems if eaten - aside from causing obesity, corncob can swell in the stomach resulting in immense pain for the hamster.
Please do not even consider using!
NEWSPAPER & PRINTED PAPER
NEWSPAPER: Black ink on newspapers is apparently non-toxic nowadays, but will make your hamster dirty, it can have a strong smell that irritates the nose & eyes, is not very absorbent, nor does it hold tunnels. Colour ink is highly toxic..
MAGAZINES & JUNK MAIL: In addition to toxic colour ink, the glossed paper is also toxic.
BIO-EARTH COMFY BEDDING & NESTING: This is shredded printed paper, which may include any of the above papers and scrap office paper.
COMFY CARE PET BEDDING: This is shredded "office" paper, but unfortunately it includes recycled printed paper too.
STRAW & HAY
Not comfortable at all, not absorbent & stinks, and hazardous.
Your hamster's eyes and body will get poked and scratched.
Urine or any water/moisture will simply wet it and create mold, and those spores and ammonia fumes will result in various health issues.
The HAY that we get in SA has similar problems.
Too rough and uncomfortable on the feet, and too heavy for the hamster to burrow in. The roughness of such products will cause abrasions that can easily become infected, requiring veterinary attention.
Also too rough as potty litter or bathing sand.
(Animal Zone Apricot Kernel bedding is toxic & lethal for hamsters, in case you come across it)
TO BE AVOIDED at all costs! Besides being too fine and dusty, you do not know what kinds of wood the sawdust has been collected from. There will undoubtedly be toxic oils and phenols, as well as splinters. It is incredibly dangerous to use, no matter how convenient or cheap it is!
Recognisable by a pretty rosey colour. These contain even more harmful oils and phenols than pine shavings. Fortunately not very commonly available in SA as pet bedding but, if you ever come across it, DO NOT ever get it for your hamster!
PACKAGINGS & STUFFINGS
WOOD AND/OR PAPER “WOOL”: High entanglement risk.
Some wood wool is apparently made from Aspen in SA but unless you’re absolutely sure, and are going to chop it up nicely and freeze it, DON’T.
Paper Wool packaging may be OK if it’s clean and you’re willing to chop it up nicely and then freeze it.
Either way, there are much easier and safer options than to bother with this.
Other dangerous materials to be avoided include those used for packaging and for stuffing toys, cushions & upholstery.
These will cause intestinal blockages if ingested, and some can be inhaled into the nose and/or lungs.
POLYSTYRENE BALLS OR CHIPS
FABRIC is very risky to use in hamster habitats. Your hamster should never be left unsupervised with wool, fabric, fleece, blankets, towels, or items of clothing.
SAFE INTERNATIONAL COMMERCIAL SUBSTRATES
(NOT ENTIRELY UP-TO-DATE AS NEW BRANDS MAY HAVE ENTERED THE MARKET, & OTHERS MAY HAVE BEEN DISCONTINUED)
Since some people are ordering bedding from overseas, or travelling and bringing these home, we thought it a good idea to put up the international assessment list. Some products may have been discontinued, and there may also be some new ones on the market now, but it should still give you a reasonable idea of what is suitable. (~ courtesy of Hamster Worldwide Care)
ALL THINGS LIVING (Pet Smart)
ASPEN BEDDING HARD WOOD BASED - although there are now indications of some hamsters possibly having bad reactions (see above)
AUBIOSE/Hemp (plant based)
CAREFRESH - UNSCENTED ONLY (paper based)
FIBRE CORE ECO BEDDING (good as added nesting material)
FINACARD / SOFTACARD
FITCH (paper based)
GREEN DREAMZZZ BEDDING (paper) by American Pet
HEALTHY PET CRITTER CARE (Walmart)
HEMP/Aubiose (plant based) (to be mixed with a paper based bedding for burrowing)
KAYTEE CLEAN AND COZY – UNSCENTED ONLY (paper based)
MEGAZORB (virgin wood pulp)
OXBOW PURE COMFORT SMALL ANIMAL BEDDING (Natural)
PETS AT HOME SMALL ANIMAL BEDDING (paper based)
SMALL PET SELECT
SOFTACARD / FINACARD
PELLET / ADDITIONAL SUBSTRATES
BACK 2 NATURE (paper based pellets)
KAYTEE SOFT GRANULE BLEND
UNSUITABLE SUBSTRATES AND BEDDINGS
SCENTED substrates and bedding are now considered harmful to hamsters and their sensitive noses
Substrates and Bedding with ADDITIVES TO CONTROL ODOUR is also now considered harmful to the hamster’s skin and respiratory system.
WOOD BASED substrates where you do not know what wood/s they contain, or if made from known unsafe wood/s.