In addition to being a safe place for your hamster to dig and burrow into for warmth, bedding does double duty as your hamster’s bathroom, too. It’s an essential element for your hamster’s cage, so what can you do if you run out and don’t have anywhere nearby to buy more?
Take heart: there are several safe and effective DIY hamster bedding options that you likely have in your home right now. Read on to discover novel ways of preparing common household items, transforming them into cost-effective alternatives to store-bought hamster bedding, as well as some alternatives you absolutely must not use.
Hamster Bedding Alternatives
1. Shredded Cardboard
One of the simplest and most readily available options for replacing your hamster’s bedding, shredded cardboard, can come from any plain boxes you receive in the mail. While you can start the shredding process with scissors, we recommend finishing it by hand to avoid leaving any sharp edges. Discard any cardboard that’s laminated or processed with ink and remove all labels before shredding.
2. Shredded Paper
Any unbleached source of paper that hasn’t been printed on can be a great source of hamster bedding. In a pinch, feel free to shred up toilet paper, paper towels, or napkins to create a soft and absorbent bedding for your pet. In our home, we keep extra napkins from takeout or delivery orders to have on hand in case we run out of bedding.
Good quality, fresh hay should already be a regular part of your hamster’s diet. But you may not have noticed that once it’s been out for a few days, most hammies will turn their nose up at the “stale” hay. This is perfectly fine, as you can easily end up saving it and reusing it as a source of bedding when in need.
4. Paper Pulp
If you’re ready for a bigger and more time-consuming project that will give you all the hamster bedding you could possibly need, making your own paper pulp can be a significant cost-saver. Watch this video from Victoria Raechel on YouTube for a full breakdown on how to make your own DIY hamster bedding.
A common, everyday newspaper should be used as a last resort for hamster bedding, as the ink can easily rub off on their fur and cause irritation. It’s unlikely to cause any serious problems —or at least no more serious than if your hamster had to go without bedding—but should not be used any longer than absolutely necessary.
What NOT to Use for Hamster Bedding
Three less common household items should not be used for hamster bedding, under any circumstance. These are:
How to Choose Safe Bedding for Your Hamster
Hamsters rely on a generous layer of bedding in their cage for most daily activities. From using the bathroom to hiding their food, to burrowing and creating warm spots for the winter, you’ll see your hamster interact with its bedding at every hour of the day.
That’s why you’ll need to look for the following three qualities in any material you choose to use for hamster bedding:
With just a small application of extra time, thought, and effort, you can easily prepare a wide variety of alternatives for your hamster’s bedding. Because it’s so essential to their health and happiness, we recommend always having a backup plan that will keep your hamster’s cage fresh, clean, and sanitary. And with the options on this list, you should be fully prepared to do so!
Featured Image Credit: Martin Javorek, Pixabay