How to Choose the Best Bedding for Hamsters - A 2023 Guide

by Joshua Paulson

How to Choose the best bedding for hamsters (1)


Having a pet hamster is great, but you need to ensure favorable conditions for your critter across the board. Appropriate bedding is especially important. It helps keep your furry friend healthy and comfortable by recreating their natural habitat.

Read on to learn more about the significance of bedding and how to select the best bedding for hamsters.

Why Is Hamster Bedding Important?

There are many factors you need to fine-tune to provide a wholesome natural environment for your hamster. Safe bedding should be your priority for several reasons: 

  • It keeps them comfortable. 
  • It lets them burrow. 
  • It enables them to store food and hide from perceived predators. 

Types of Safe Hamster Bedding

Your priority when choosing a suitable surface for your pet is to find a safe and comfortable type of bedding. Here are the most popular options.

Aspen Bedding

Hamster on aspen bedding

Hamster owners who need a durable yet affordable bedding solution should look no further than aspen shavings. Unlike many other wood shavings, aspen is perfectly fine for your curious creature. If they eat the bedding accidentally, they shouldn't have any health problems. 

Another great thing about this bedding material is its odorless nature. It doesn't have any pungent smells, meaning it can fit into your house without overpowering the room. On top of that, aspen shavings trap bad smells caused by your hamster due to their absorbent structure. 

To properly prepare and store this animal bedding, consider mixing it with a paper substrate. Sometimes, you don't need to do any mixing because the hamster will burrow its way through the layers, leaving comfortable bedding behind. 

Paper-Based Bedding

Hamster on paper based bedding

Paper-based bedding is also a type of hamster bedding you can consider. Affordability-wise, this might be the best bedding for hamsters because you can use many kinds of paper. It's also biodegradable, making it a long-term sustainable solution. 

Just make sure it's soft and doesn't have any harmful chemicals or dyes. If you opt for shredded paper, be sure it doesn't have any edges. 

Hemp Bedding

Hemp bedding for small pets

No discussion about good bedding for hamsters is complete without hemp bedding. The biggest perk of this layer of bedding is that it's durable. It can withstand intense digging and running by even the most active critter. 

Then there's the absorbent nature of this material. It easily soaks up ammonia, making it a powerful ally when reducing bad smells. 

Like paper, hemp is biodegradable. You also don't need a lot of it to create suitable bedding, which is why it's a budget-friendly alternative. 

Toilet Paper

Hamster on toilet paper

Speaking of budget-friendly alternatives, toilet paper is a worthy candidate, especially soft paper bedding. It's affordable and doesn't hurt your pet hamster if it doesn't have artificial dyes and chemicals. However, use it as a temporary solution or in combination with other types of hamster bedding because it doesn't absorb odors as effectively.  

Soft Hay

Hamster on soft hay

Hay is a popular choice too. But not just any hay – only soft hay is appropriate for your tiny friends. So, trim or remove any sharp pieces to maximize comfort. 

While hay can be a solid hamster bedding option, it's yet another temporary solution. Combine it with others to compensate for its low absorption. 

Soft Granule

Continuing the rundown of the best hamster nesting materials are soft granule blends. They're superior to some other bedding types since they're nutritious. Providing your pet with lots of protein and fiber, they help keep the critter safe and healthy. On top of that, soft granules are safe because they don't contain artificial substances. 

DIY Bedding

Buying bedding for Syrian hamster pets or other types of hamsters is the easy way out. However, you might want to have some fun with the bedding by crafting a DIY layer. 

Many materials are available,  but most pet owners opt for paper-based types of bedding. Toilet paper and paper towels usually top the list of affordable and practical solutions. Shred them into tiny bits and distribute them all over the cage to revamp your hamster's home. And don't forget - paper with chemicals and artificial colors is a no-go. 

Hamster on wood shavings

Unsafe Hamster Bedding

You can find safe bedding for hamsters pretty much on any corner. Still,  the selection of unsafe products is just as vast. These materials are bad for your pet, as they're generally uncomfortable and can trigger many health conditions. 

Scented Bedding

Covering up the natural scent of your hamster's home is important, but you shouldn't do so with scented bedding. The smells are too strong for the critters, leading to respiratory issues.

Furthermore, if you're looking for the best bedding for hamsters with allergies, don't experiment with scented products. The chemicals often exacerbate your pet's allergies. 

Pine and Cedar

Pine and cedar shavings are two of the most popular hamster beddings. They're relatively inexpensive, which is why many pet owners prefer these materials. 

However, you should avoid cedar and pine for several reasons. Primarily, they have sharp edges, which can severely injure the animal. The shavings may also contain aromatic compounds that can contribute to liver and respiratory problems, even if kiln-dried.

Fluffy Bedding

Fluffy bedding sounds perfectly safe. While it's soft, it's typically made up of artificial compounds, which can lead to digestive blockages. Plus, fluffy white bedding isn't good for burrowing because it's notorious for entanglement issues. 


Entanglement isn't exclusive to fluffy bedding. Another type of bedding that can trap your hamster is sawdust since it's very fine. Moreover, the dusty nature of this bedding may clog your pet's airways and cause other respiratory conditions.

Cat Litter

Any hamster burrows for hours on end at night, which is why it needs the perfect nesting material. Cat litter isn't one of them. It's too hard for hamster bedding, keeping them from maneuvering the cage easily. To make matters worse, indigestion can make allergies flare up, block the intestine, and even cause death. 


As previously mentioned, artificial colors and compounds must be avoided if you opt for paper. This means newspapers can't be considered one of the best bedding for hamsters. They're chock-full of these harmful compounds. 

Still, plain newspapers without inks might be fine. 


Finally, steer clear of various fabrics when preparing your hamster bedding. Materials like cotton, polyester, and wool have threads, which can prevent your pet from digesting food. Additionally, they may have artificial colors, causing more health issues. 

One fabric that may be safe to use is fleece. Unlike most other solutions, it doesn't unravel when chewed on, meaning there are no threads that can hurt the hamster's stomach. 

Bedding Preparation and Maintenance

Hamster on wood shavings(2)

Take the following tips to prepare and maintain your hamster's bedding: 

  • Set up the bedding according to the manufacturer's instructions. If it's a DIY solution, mix some unscented, plain paper with water and distribute it evenly across the cage. 
  • For daily spot cleaning, remove any soiled or wet bedding and clean the water and food bowls. 
  • Replace all bedding every one to two weeks and scour the cage with a hamster-friendly cleaner (e.g., antibacterial dish soap). Rinse and dry the place thoroughly. 
  • Combine the bedding with cardboard boxes, tubes, and other convenient objects for hamsters to hide. 
  • Install soft branches or other gnawing items to help the hamster trim their teeth. 

Factors to Consider When Buying Hamster Bedding

These factors should drive your decision to buy or not to buy a hamster bedding: 

  • Type of material – Natural materials are better than artificial bedding because they're safe to eat. 
  • Odor control – The bedding should absorb bad smells, but it shouldn't be scented. 
  • Cost and value – Aspen shavings and granule blends are more durable than paper, providing excellent value for the money. 
  • Amount of bedding for a cage – On average, the bedding should be 10 inches deep to allow your hamster to burrow comfortably. 

Embrace Ultimate Comfort: Your Hamster Deserves the Best!

When choosing the best bedding for hamsters, natural materials should be your go-to option. Aspen is the most versatile and durable solution, but you can also consider hemp, hay, and granule blends. Paper-based bedding is viable, too, but make sure it's unscented and free from faux colors. 

Finding good bedding is essential, but don't forget - creating the perfect habitat isn't just about that. You also need other components, such as a top-rated Syrian hamster cage (if you have a Syrian hamster) with a hamster wheel and hamster tank topper. Quality Cage can deliver all those items. We have provided countless pets with first-class hamster supplies,  and we can do the same for your furry friend. 


What should you not use for hamster bedding?

You shouldn't use cedar, pine, fluffy bedding, cat litter, sawdust, and artificial paper. 

Do hamsters like wood shavings for bedding?

Yes. Hamsters like wood shavings for bedding. They're particularly fond of aspen shavings due to their comfortable texture. 

What should hamster bedding be made of?

Hamster bedding should be made of natural materials, such as aspen and hemp. 

Do hamsters like colored bedding?

No. Colored bedding is dangerous for hamsters because it can result in digestive problems and allergies should they consume it.

How often should you change hamster bedding?

You should change hamster bedding at least once or twice every two weeks.


Have Questions About Hamster Beddings and care?

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Author: Joshua Paulson and Quality Cage Team
Josh is the owner and CEO at Quality Cage Crafters since 2015. During his time at Quality Cage Crafters he has been able to learn from tens of thousands of pet owners and pet educators. He blends his ambition for manufacturing and passion for animal care to create solutions for pet owners, breeders, animal rescues, and zoos. He has brought together a team of great animal lovers to create high quality pet care content for the Quality Cage Crafters audience.

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