Hamster bedding is usually in the region of five dollars for a good-sized bag. Although it only needs changing once a week, your hamster will need a lot of bedding in its cage so that it can burrow. This is one of the hamster's natural instincts, and if it can't burrow it will become stressed and unhappy.
There are various types of bedding available, and there things to bear in mind about each of the options.
Hamsters love burrowing into their cosy bedding
What Not To Buy
Wood-based bedding such as pine or cedar shavings is not recommended for hamsters, as the pieces of wood can be quite sharp and abrasive. The wood dust may also cause respiratory problems. The only safe wood-shavings for hamsters are aspen shavings, but even these do not make the most comfortable bedding.
Unnatural, fluffy bedding - this may look snug and cozy, but it can cause problems if your hamster eats it. There is also a chance that your pet will get tangled in it and break a limb in its struggle to escape. It’s best to stick to more natural products.
Newspaper - although this may seem like a sensible and cheap option, the ink of newspapers and magazines can be toxic for hamsters.
Flavoured or scented bedding - as with newspaper, this may seem like a good option, but the chemicals that produce the scent can also be toxic for your hamster.Litters designed for cats and dogs - these are unsuitable, being abrasive and uncomfortable for small animals, and also possibly toxic.
What To Buy
Plant fibre bedding - choose one made from natural plant fibres for maximum comfort. (Note: Synthetic fibres can cause serious problems with digestion, and can prove fatal for your hamster. If there are any warnings on the packets that say the product is indigestible, assume it's toxic and steer clear.)
Paper strips - paper bedding with no ink or dyes is a good, cheap option. The pale or plain white strips can also help you spot when your pet is suffering from health problems, such as a lack of urination or defecation, and bleeding.
Hay - the suitability of hay as bedding depends on what type of hamster you have, specifically how long its hair is. Long-haired hamsters should not be kept in hay, as it is likely to get stuck in their lovely locks. Always opt for hay that’s intended for small mammals, and avoid straw, which is too firm and abrasive for hamsters, and risks damaging the animal's skin and eyes.