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Hamster Bedding Alternative Materials: 7 Great Ideas For Cheap Bedding

Here are 7 Great Ideas for cheap bedding for your hamster. We take a look at some great Hamster Bedding Alternative Materials that you can use safely and inexpensively to keep your hamster happy, warm and cozy.

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Hamsters live in the dry, rocky areas and deserts of China and Syria naturally. In these places, they are exposed to temperatures which fluctuate between hot and cold frequently. This is a big part of the reason hamsters are so fuzzy. When it is cold, their plush coat helps keep them toasty. 

In the heat, hamsters will retreat into burrows and dens. They fill these nooks they have created with natural materials, to make them warm, secure and cozy.

This is one of the habits that hamsters have retained instinctually. It is very important to the little guys to have their own home, which they fill to the brim with bedding they find comfy. 

To mimic this habitat for hamsters in captivity, there are many hamster bedding materials out there. There are materials that are store-bought, and ones that can be homemade. Plenty are also cost-effective. For cheap bedding, following are 7 great ideas. 

No Time To Make Alternative Bedding?

Here are some shop-bought favorite hamster beddings that we use daily. All are eco-friendly, inexpensive and easier if you’re lazy like me!

$14.16
$19.99
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7 new from $14.16
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1 new from $39.99
1 used from $39.19
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$16.49
$21.99
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9 new from $16.49
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$18.99
$19.99
in stock
1 new from $18.99
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Last updated on November 19, 2019 08:23

1. Craft Cheap Hamster Bedding Out of Papers

Paper can make a fine hamster bedding choice. Brown paper bags are probably your best option, as they are one of the softest papers out there. Unused computer paper also works. The brown paper used in packages is also effective. 

Turn the paper into small pieces, whether by hand or with a paper shredder for the task. 

Something to be aware of with paper is the presence of ink. Be careful not to use paper with any sort of ink, permanent marker or the like. Ink is often toxic, especially to small animals like hamsters. Sometimes hamsters will ingest pieces of their bedding, so this poses a risk. Use completely clean paper only. 

Should you opt for paper for your hamster bedding, it will get dirty rather quickly, so you must remember to change it out frequently. Luckily paper is pretty cheap and easy to come by. This is what makes it a popular choice for many. 

2. Make Very Soft and Cost-Effective Hamster Bedding Out of Tissues

Tissues are very soft since they are generally used on the sensitive nose area. This can make them a great candidate for a hamster bedding material. 

Tissues are not only soft, but they are also absorbent too and can make short work of urine. With tissues, what you must look out for are scents. Some tissues have fragrances. These may be pleasant to us, but the chemicals can cause hamsters breathing difficulty.

Hamsters inevitably consume some bedding, so the chemicals pose further risk. 

3. Cellulose Fiber Hamster Bedding is an Investment in Longevity

Another fine hamster bedding material is cellulose fiber. This fiber is considerably pricier than some of the other options out there. The price is due to the exceptional material quality and longevity.

Cellulose fiber hamster bedding may cost more than, say, wood shavings or tissue, but will also last twice as long, which means you will not have to switch it out as frequently. 

When picking out cellulose fiber bedding, make sure to avoid inks, scents or dyes. Inks and dyes are toxic, and the chemicals in scents can cause hamsters breathing difficulty. 

Cellulose fiber can absorb up to three times its own weight. This makes it highly effective at cleaning up urine, water spills and the like. The result is an exceptionally clean and odor-free hamster cage. Along with this, cellulose fiber is incredibly soft, and your hamster will find it a luxury. 

4. Plant-Based Paper Fiber Bedding is Thrifty

While ordinary paper can make okay hamster bedding, there is also paper hamster bedding made specially. Store-bought, quality paper hamster bedding is said to be particularly soft, as well as very absorbent when it comes to urine, water spills and the like. 

This can also make a highly affordable choice compared to cellulose fiber and some other alternatives. 

A big plus of plant-based paper fiber bedding is that it is allergy-friendly. Paper also contains little to no dust or other particles. Good paper hamster bedding will absorb liquids even more effectively than wood shavings and can last for up to 10 days. 

5. Aspen Wood Shavings are an affordable Hamster Bedding Material

Wood can be a good choice of hamster bedding material for some. Aspen wood is recommended, as it is softer and less dusty than many other wood shaving types. 

When it comes to using aspen shavings as a hamster bedding alternative, make sure they are of a decent quality. 

Avoid shavings that are rough in texture, or dusty. These will not be as comfortable for your hamster, and can even cause breathing difficulty. 

aspen wood shavings for hamster bedding
Aspen wood shavings are perfect for hamster bedding

Never obtain aspen shavings at a lumberyard or the like. These are not treated for bugs or mites, which are clearly unhygienic and can put your hamster at risk. 

Rather, source your aspen shavings from your local (or online) pet store. Choose a brand of at least middling quality. Even at pet stores, as far as texture and dust go, there is some variation in quality. Use your best judgment, and maybe even consider looking at reviews before your ultimate purchase. 

People opt for aspen wood shavings in particular due to their natural appearance, moderate absorbance, and fairly good odor control ability. 

What’re the cons of wood shavings?

The primary con with aspen wood shavings is that they must be changed out every few days. Some do not consider this to be too much of a problem due to the affordability of aspen wood shavings, which can even be bought in bulk. 

Another small issue is that shavings can be a bit clingy, and can follow your hamster into the house. A way to counteract this is making sure your hamster is shaving-free and clean before they explore. 

6. Paper Pulp is a Cheap and Fun to Make Hamster Bedding Idea

Like paper shreddings, as its name implies, paper pulp is made up of paper bits. The difference is that there are more steps, and the type of paper needed differs. 

hamster in bedding
Making your own hamster bedding is simple and cost-effective

For example, while construction paper would make thick, rough pieces if left in shreds, for creating paper pulp it can make the perfect medium. Simply make sure to use white paper that is free of inks. Some suggest to use newspaper; never do this. Newspaper is chock-full of ink. 

  1. Shred or tear the paper to bits, then add hot water; a warm temperature will help the paper dissolve more quickly.
  2. Leave this sitting overnight, or for 8-12 hours.
  3. Blend the resulting mixture until it is nice and pulpy.
  4. Use one of various methods to allow it to dry. Paper pulp is absorbent because it is dense, so it makes a sound choice.

7. Some Opt to Make a Custom Hamster Bedding Mix

There are those who opt to make a custom hamster bedding mix. Most of the time, these mixes are a combination of store-bought and homemade ingredients. Cellulose fiber and aspen shavings, for example. 

The idea of this is typically to make a more expensive material (in this case, cellulose fiber) last for a greater amount of time. Or, you may wish to combine the positive aspects of two bedding materials to make one you favor more. Feel free to experiment with mixes.

This can be a cost-effective way to utilize fancier materials while still incorporating affordability. 

There are also some hamster bedding alternatives that make very bad ideas. Some can, at worst, cause real health issues, like digestive troubles and breathing difficulties. At best, they are simply very uncomfortable or fail at eliminating odor completely. 

Following are some of the hamster bedding materials recommended to avoid problems, and you will see why! 

Hamster Bedding Materials To Avoid

Hamsters can choke or become entangled in bedding that is fluffy 

While quality cellulose fiber bedding can be okay, avoid other hamster bedding varieties that are fluffy. Hamsters are tiny fellows, and their delicate limbs can become entangled and stuck. 

Worse, hamsters have a hard time digesting materials such as this. Avoid most fluff-based hamster bedding entirely! 

As Hamster bedding corn cobs work very poorly 

Corn cob bedding is far too tempting for hamsters to consume. Not only is this a bad habit, but your hamster will find the corn cobs hard to digest, too. This can result in serious issues with their tummy.

This is likely due in part to corn hulls (which refer to the shell on the outside of the kernel), as these are impossible for most creatures to digest successfully. While larger animals take little harm, small ones may suffer from GI compaction and the like. 

As if this weren’t enough to dissuade you, corn cobs are also awful at absorbing liquids and odors. As hamster bedding, corn cobs are useless, virtually. 

Scented bedding is unhealthy for Hamsters 

All too many hamster bedding brands contain scents. This sounds like a nice idea, as cages can at times become stinky, and these scents are more pleasant to us comparatively.

Unfortunately, these scents are made up of chemicals, which, to hamsters, are toxic. Should your hamster inhale these chemicals, they will likely develop breathing problems. 

The best method for making your cage odor-free is simply keeping it tidy. Scents may mask odors, but they do nothing for hygiene. Rather, use hamster-safe bedding and replace it as soon as necessary. 

Never leave fresh vegetables or the like to rot; once your hamster has had a bit of time to eat, dispose of these accordingly. All of this will help keep your hamster cage odor-free, in a hamster-safe way. 

Cat litter is a dangerous Hamster bedding choice 

There are many, many issues with using cat litter for hamsters. As bedding, it works terribly. Not only is litter uncomfortable, but it is also very risky. For one, hamsters have serious trouble digesting litter pieces, unsurprisingly. 

Litter is also often full of chemicals, and, compared to other hamster bedding materials, awfully dusty. 

Using cat litter for hamster bedding is inhumane when all is said and done. There are plenty of other equally affordable options which are actually safe and will make your hamster happy. 

Newspaper is printed with lots of ink which is toxic to Hamsters 

Since paper with even a bit of print is recommended to be avoided, it should come as no surprise that newspaper is even riskier. Each page is printed with loads of ink. This ink is toxic to anybody, but most will not be going out of their way to eat it. 

Hamsters, of course, will nibble most anything; their bedding especially. This means that the paper you use must completely toxin-free. There should not be any permanent marker, or pen, and certainly not the highly pigmented and toxic inks that are found in newspapers. 

best hamster bedding

Never use cedar or pine wood shavings for Hamster bedding 

Unlike aspen, cedar and pine are harder woods, and prone to breaking off into sharp little bits. These can all too easily become splinters for your hamster, poking tender areas like their eyes, nose and paws. 

Cedar and pine are also prone to being dusty. Sharp dust in the lungs of a hamster is sure to affect them harmfully. 

Poisonous odors can come off these wood types when they come in contact with urine. What is the point of a hamster bedding that becomes toxic when it does its job? There is none. Instead, give the much more ideal aspen wood shavings a try. 

F.A.Q

  • Do Hamsters need bedding? Yes, all hamsters need bedding for a number of reasons. Firstly, to keep their cage looking and smelling nice as the bedding absorbs bodily fluids. Secondly, they like to burrow in the bedding to sleep and feel safe.
  • Can hamsters eat their bedding? They will chew their bedding to help maintain healthy teeth but don’t eat their bedding as part of their diet.
  • Is toilet paper good bedding for hamsters? Toilet paper will simply not absorb enough liquids or reduce smells.
  • How deep should the bedding be for hamsters? 8-15″ is perfect for most species of hamster. Some require deeper bedding to burrow in but the average hamster is fine in 12″ of bedding.
  • Are wood shavings good for hamster bedding? Some types of softwood are harmful to their delicate respiratory systems, this includes pine and cedar. Aspen wood chippings are perfect.

Conclusion: Best Hamster Bedding Alternatives

You now have the knowledge necessary to provide your hamster with bedding that is comfortable, effective, and safe, as well as affordable!

Feel free to try out different hamster bedding types, to see what suits you and your hamster best individually. Maybe even try a mix. There are many nice options and plenty of ways to keep your hamster hygienic and cozy!

We hope we have given you some extra options for Hamster Bedding Materials. Keeping any pet, even small pets like hamsters can add financial strain onto your weekly budget. There’s no harm in looking for suitable and in some cases better options than shop-bought.

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