One thing that becomes evident when you own a hamster is that they love to burrow down into their bedding.
They are nocturnal animals, so you will likely not see very much of your pet during the day. But some pet parents are concerned that using too much bedding could do more harm than good.
So, can a hamster have too much bedding? You cannot put too much bedding into a hamster cage. Hamsters like to burrow in their bedding as it makes them feel safe. You will likely need to use different types of bedding and despite what most people believe, more is definitely better in this case.
But choosing the right amount and even the correct type of bedding for your hamster does require some thought.
Fortunately, I have put together this short guide on hamster bedding and the best way to create a safe space for your pet.
How Much Is Too Much Bedding?
Bedding (sometimes known as substrate) is any material that you use to line the hamster cage – this serves more than one purpose.
Hamsters will burrow into their bedding, so it is crucial that you provide something soft and comfortable for your pet.
However, the bedding also serves as a way of soaking up moisture and odors, so having something absorbent is also a must.
A lot of pet owners worry that they might use too much bedding and that this could cause harm to the hamster or even serve as a way to suffocate them.
But this is not the case.
When they are in the wild, hamsters will burrow underground; they are built to withstand the lower levels of oxygen that you might find under the earth.
For this reason, burrowing underneath a few inches of substrate is not going to cause them any difficulty breathing.
Contrary to what most people believe, it is important to use good quality bedding and lots of it.
Many pet owners will fill the bottom of their hamster cage with around three inches of bedding, but you can (and should) double this amount and still find that the hamster is entirely safe.
The reason that your hamster needs a lot of bedding is that these small creatures like to burrow.
When they are sleeping during the day, you will notice that your furry friend disappears under the bedding; in the wild, this burrowing keeps them safe from predators while they sleep.
For this reason, it is also important to provide your pet with something other than simply shavings on the base of the cage. You should provide some sort of nesting material that your pet will love to snuggle up in.
Once your hamster wakes up, he will have lots of fun digging tunnels, so giving them plenty of bedding to do that is nothing but a good thing.
In fact, if you do not provide enough bedding for your pet, this can serve as a way of making your hamster feel very uncomfortable and insecure.
Furthermore, the bedding that you spread across the floor of the cage will prevent odors.
Hamsters can be quite stinky if their enclosure is not kept clean and hygienic, but you won’t need to change the entire bedding daily.
Your pet will usually pee in one location, and the bedding will absorb this; you can simply scoop this wet portion out daily and clean the entire cage once every few weeks.
What Kind Of Bedding Should I Use?
So, we know that you cannot put too much bedding into your hamster cage, but it is also vital to understand what types of bedding are suitable for these sweet little animals.
For the base of the cage, you will need to use something light and absorbent.
In days gone by, many pet owners would use cedar shavings or pine bedding owing to the fact that they were so affordable.
However, we know now that these types of beddings can contain irritants that can upset the respiratory system of the hamster.
Since hamsters are such delicate creatures, problems like this could be fatal.
That being said, a lot of people do like the idea of using wood shavings, so if this is something you prefer, you should opt for Aspen wood shavings (Amazon, #CommissionsEarned), which is far safer and will do the same job.
There is also the option to purchase hamster pellets for the bedding, and these are a popular option and are safe for your pet.
However, if you want to save money, there is no reason why you cannot use shredded paper.
This is a viable option, but it is worth remembering that this may not be as absorbent as bedding that has been specifically designed for hamsters and will likely need changing more frequently.
As I mentioned, it is also essential that you provide some kind of nesting material, and using Timothy hay is one of the best ideas.
A lot of people make the mistake of using scraps of fabric for the bedding, but this is not a good idea.
Similarly, you should avoid using cardboard shreds as this can be uncomfortable for your pet.
Will Bedding Interfere With My Hamsters Food?
One of the first things that we think of as humans when setting up a home for our pets is to avoid placing the food source near the area where the hamster will urinate.
Of course, if you notice that your hamster uses one specific corner for toileting, you will want to place their food bowl in the opposite corner.
However, even when using large amounts of bedding, you will notice that your hamster often buries her food near her toileting area. This can seem a little odd, but for them, it’s perfectly normal.
In the wild, hamsters need a way to ward off competition from taking their food; how do they do it? They pee on it.
This means that providing a good amount of bedding will give your hamster plenty of places to hide her food.
Do hamsters like a lot of bedding?
Hamsters will be happy with large amounts of bedding. It is known that if there is not enough, this can cause distress to the animal. In the wild, hamsters naturally burrow, and when keeping them as a pet, this needs to be replicated as closely as possible.
How do I change my hamster’s bedding?
When it comes to changing your hamster’s bedding, you will need to do more than merely remove the old bedding and replace it with fresh bedding. Once every few weeks (depending on the size of your hamster’s cage), you should completely empty the cage, having placed your hamster somewhere that he or she will be safe, and use soap and warm water to clean the cage thoroughly. This will prevent odor and will stop bacteria from building up and potentially causing harm to your pet. It’s important however that you don’t do a full cage clean too often as this can be very stressful for your hamster.
Is it OK to put a blanket over a hamster?
You may be concerned that it is too cold for your hamster, especially if you live in a colder climate. It might not be sufficient to cover the cage with a blanket, but folding one and placing it underneath the cage will provide a good level of insulation.