Can Hamsters Burrow In Aspen?

By Dawn | Hamster Care
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One of the things that a hamster does frequently is burrow. This is a behavior that is vital when they live in the wild and helps them to hide out, stay safe, and explore. 

Even when they are kept in captivity, they will burrow in their bedding; just watch your pet and see how impressive this behavior is. But it does beg the question of what material you should use for them to burrow safely.

So can hamsters burrow in Aspen?  Hamsters can burrow in Aspen as long as you provide at least six inches of the substrate within at least one section of their enclosure.  Although aspen isn’t the softest of substrates, it is non-toxic and highly absorbent.

With this in mind, you’re probably wondering whether you should use Aspen for your hamster and it’s pros and cons.

What is Aspen, And Can I Use It For My Hamster?

Aspen shavings are wood shavings approved for use with small animals such as hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, and rats. 

Unlike some shaved woods that might contain oils or other chemicals, this type is all-natural, much like you might find in the wild. For this reason and many more, it is ideal for lining your pet’s cage.

Aspen is highly-absorbent, so it will soak up any urine or water that is spilled in the hamster’s cage. 

However, it is important to keep in mind that while super-absorbent, Aspen will not deal with odors as well as some other bedding materials, so it may need changing more often than other types of bedding. 

That being said, it is one of the most affordable products for substrate on the market and I personally recommend these Aspen shavings on Amazon (#CommissionsEarned).

But when it comes to burrowing, it could be a case of trial and error. Some hamsters will happily burrow in Aspen. In contrast, others might find it to be irritating. 

This is because Aspen shavings tend to be a little less soft than some other options. The best way to find out whether your pet gets on with Aspen is to try it out; you may find that your hamster loves it. 

If your hamster burrows in Aspen, you might find that the shaving sticks to their fur, and this is more common in long-haired hamsters. 

However, this will not pose a threat to the animal and is nothing to worry about. 

But one of the most crucial things in any bedding material is that it is safe for your hamster. 

You cannot get any other type of wood shaving that is as safe as Aspen. 

When you purchase it from a pet store, it will have been treated to remove any mites or bugs that could be potentially harmful to your pet, but it will contain no chemicals. 

For this reason, it is super important that you do not buy your Aspen shavings from other places such as a wood yard.

Why Do Hamsters Burrow?

In the wild, hamsters are not at the top of the food chain, so one of the main reasons they burrow is to protect themselves from potential predators, particularly while asleep during the day. 

But there are no predators when they are kept in captivity, so why would they still exhibit this behavior when kept as a pet? It’s simple; it’s in their DNA and hamsters haven’t been nearly as domesticated as long as dogs and cats for example.

You cannot take this instinct away from your pet and so it is important to embrace it and provide your hamster with somewhere safe and comfortable to burrow, such as Aspen wood shavings 

How Do I Know If Bedding Is Safe For My Hamster?

New hamster owners, in particular, might find the choice of bedding options for hamsters a little overwhelming. 

But there is a simple method that you can choose to make sure that the type of bedding you have gone for is fit for use in your hamster’s cage. 

Take a small piece of the bedding and place it into a bowl of water. If it is safe for your hamster to burrow in, the bedding will begin to disintegrate.

This is because when your hamster is burrowing, he may accidentally get a piece of bedding in his mouth. 

Furthermore, hamsters are known to pouch bits of bedding to use in their nest. In this case, they may accidentally swallow a piece. 

If the bedding disintegrates, it will be able to safely pass through their system without causing any problems. 

How Deep Should The Aspen Be For Burrowing?

One of the common mistakes made by hamster parents is that they do not supply their pets with enough substrate to burrow in. 

In the wild, hamsters can dig down into the ground over half a meter, so it is clear that they need a fair layer of Aspen to replicate their natural behavior as closely as possible. 

Of course, it is not likely that you will have enough room to layer half a meter of Aspen at the bottom of the cage, but at the same time, sprinkling a light layer over the floor of the cage will not be sufficient.

You should aim to provide your pet with at least six inches of Aspen in at least one section of your cage, as this will allow your hamster to burrow easily. 

However, you could take this up to ten inches if you have the space; your hamster would be more than happy with this.

Related Questions

Is Aspen snake bedding safe for hamsters?

It is perfectly safe to use Snake Aspen shavings in a hamster cage since Aspen shavings that have been designed for snakes are usually a lot softer than the types that have been prepared for rodents.  If your pet finds other varieties a little scratchy or uncomfortable, this could be a great alternative. 

Can hamsters use toilet paper for bedding?

Yes, toilet paper is a feasible option for bedding.  You can use this for bedding in a hamster’s cage, but be mindful to avoid scented products as this could irritate your pet.  However, you might want to  avoid using shredded computer paper or waste paper as these materials aren’t particularly good at absorbing moisture. 

How often should I change my hamster’s bedding?

You should remove soiled bedding every day, using a scoop to remove any bedding that has clumped or is wet. Once every few weeks, it is important that you remove all bedding from the hamster cage and clean it with warm soapy water before filling it with a fresh layer of bedding.  Don’t do a full cage clean out too often though as it is very stressful for your hamster.