Like all pet rodents, hamsters must be supplied with good high quality, protected beddings and substrates. Nevertheless, when selecting one of the best bedding sort to provide our pets, we have to keep in mind the actual wants of the species.
This text was co-written with Beri Instone, small rodent wrangler extraordinaire (and custodian of many hamsters).
Substrate is the bedding materials we put within the base of the cage for our pets to reside on and dig in. For a lot of frequent pet rodents like mice, rats and guinea pigs, the primary factor we’ve got to consider is absorbency of urine. Nevertheless, within the wild, hamsters are tailored to reside in dry, desert areas which suggests their our bodies use water very effectively; they don’t make a number of pee, and their poos are dry pellets.
For hamster substrates crucial factor to think about is how the fabric will enrich the pet’s life, and supply them with the chance to get pleasure from pure behaviours. Within the wild hamsters create complicated burrow methods underground, and so offering a set-up full of supplies that permit them mimic that, with out the burrows collapsing, is essential.
Animals that don’t pee a lot have one other benefit, and that’s that their bedding doesn’t want altering each week. That signifies that bedding sorts that could be too costly for big and enthusiastically peeing animals like rats could be a sensible and reasonably priced possibility for a hamster cage, regardless of the deep depths of substrate required for burrowing.
Good substrate choices for hamsters embody…
Paper and cardboard bedding
Paper bedding choices are very reasonably priced for hamsters, and are good and gentle for them to work together with (they’re extra delicate to texture than different rodents). The drawback is as a result of paper is so gentle, any tunnels a hamster makes are prone to collapse. So, it’s best to combine it with one other kind of substrate with a distinct texture. You will need to select a paper bedding that’s not dusty, and is unscented. A complementary bedding is cardboard squares or strips. These are heavier than paper, however have higher construction for holding tunnels – if Beri had to decide on a single bedding for her hamsters, she’d select cardboard strips.
Warmth-treated wooden shavings
Wooden shavings have a nasty fame in rodent conserving, as a result of uncooked softwood shavings might be dusty and include chemical compounds that irritate rodents’ delicate respiratory methods. Nevertheless, heat-treated and dirt extracted wooden shavings, initially developed for horses, are more and more out there and may make an excellent substrate possibility. Longhaired Syrian hamsters can typically have points with the coarse edges of shavings getting caught of their coats, however for almost all of hamsters, protected shavings are lightweight for the animal to dig in, however maintain collectively structurally, permitting burrows and tunnels to be created.
That is turning into a extra widespread substrate possibility, because it permits for a extra naturalistic set-up. Nevertheless, it is very important be aware that the majority coir (which is bought for gardening and reptile-keeping) is moist within the bag, which is detrimental to hamster well being. Due to this fact, if utilizing this, it is very important dry the fabric out correctly earlier than placing it within the cage. A combination of dry coir and protected shavings can work properly to create a substrate with plenty of engagement for the hamster.
Utilizing multiple substrate is the easiest way to create a digging atmosphere that may present good construction for burrows and textural curiosity for enrichment.
Hamsters like to dig – it is a crucial behaviour for them and it’s important that their cage set-up permits them loads of digging alternatives. Ideally, they need to be capable of dig anyplace of their cage base, but when it isn’t attainable to make that substrate deep sufficient, then they’ll additionally want a particular digging space.
How do you inform if the substrate is deep sufficient? Think about three hamsters stacked on high of one another. Might you bury them within the substrate? If that’s the case, it’s deep sufficient. If the highest imaginary hamster would stick out, you want a digging space.
There are three completely different choices for making a digging space. What all of them have in frequent is that they want a good-sized footprint, so the hamster can tunnel horizontally in addition to vertically.
- Present a deeper digging field within the cage, just like a rat digging field, however with hamster acceptable depth and substrate.
- Sectioning off among the base of the habitat and have it very full at one finish. That is best to do in a tank, however if in case you have a barred cage and not using a deep sufficient base, it’s attainable to repair vinyl flooring or corrugated plastic onto the bars to include the substrate.
- Offering a ‘booster’ on high of the primary substrate within the type of long-strand dust-free hay/ straw.
After all, there is no such thing as a cause to not go to city and do all three. A superb sized cage can have a important base with areas of various substrate thickness, boosters of hay, straw, paper strips, and in addition a digging field larger up within the cage.
Hamsters create 3D nests, usually with a correct tunnel entrance (think about a heat igloo). Some folks favor to provide hamsters inflexible beds full of bedding in the best way you may with different species. Nevertheless, it’s really higher and extra pure to provide your hamster an enormous pile of nesting materials to create their very own nest. Having that management over their nest area makes them really feel safer of their environment. Offering some synthetic mattress choices is ok, however don’t be shocked if the hamster doesn’t use them for sleeping in.
Hamsters are very clear and customarily can retain the identical nesting materials for months as they don’t wee and poo in it. Once you do change their bedding materials, or if you’re going to deconstruct the nest to examine for meals that’s been hoarded, then save among the previous nesting materials and return it to the cage with the brand new. Their mattress/ nest is essential for hamster psychological wellbeing so don’t disturb their beds too usually as it is going to stress them out.
What are one of the best supplies for hamster nesting?
We wish substances that may permit huge igloo / volcano nests to be constructed. Meaning lengthy strips of bedding moderately than brief / closely chopped up fragments. Beri likes utilizing lengthy newspaper strips, hay, and safebed for hamsters. Utilizing a combination of nesting supplies is healthier than only one, because it supplies extra enrichment for the hamster, permitting them to make selections and assemble extra complicated buildings.
Hamsters are clear animals and can pee and poo in a single nook of their cage. Some hamsters might be litter educated to your alternative of location, however the majority favor to choose their very own place. As hamsters don’t pee or poo of their mattress, it’s doubtless that they may select a location close to to their nest (nobody desires to go far when getting off the bed to wee!). Many hamsters favor to rest room in a semi-enclosed location so a bit of home with no flooring may give them emotions of privateness whereas nonetheless being straightforward for the proprietor to scrub.
It’s essential to bear in mind the place your hamster likes to rest room while you clear and structure the cage in order that one space is persistently the bathroom. That makes spot cleansing the world a lot simpler and reduces the general cage cleansing wanted.
Probably the most absorbent litter is paper cat litter, which is really useful for species like rats and mice. Nevertheless, some hamsters will keep away from it as a result of it’s too onerous and blocky. One possibility is to place the paper litter underneath a layer of their regular substrate, however they could favor a distinct materials altogether. Choices embody sand, gentle paper substrates, or possibly a little bit of high-quality chopped straw. These are clearly much less absorbent than paper cat litters, however that is much less of a problem with hamsters as they solely produce a bit of urine.
Hamsters don’t wash by licking themselves as this wastes treasured water (that is considered one of their variations to being a desert species). As an alternative, to scrub their fur and pores and skin they’ve sand baths. This stops pores and skin oils (each their very own, and any human ones from dealing with) making their coats greasy and retains them fluffy and wholesome. You’ll be able to inform hamsters that don’t have entry to sand simply from photographs and preliminary dealing with. Offering entry to a sand bathtub is vitally essential to hamster welfare, however it’s one thing that’s often ignored.
Some folks don’t like to provide sand baths within the cage as a result of hamsters will typically use them as litter trays. In case your hamster will get common free vary you may give every day entry to a sand bathtub of their free-range space as an alternative, but it surely’s greatest care observe to offer 24/7 entry to sand within the cage. Exterior entry must be for at the least half-hour day by day, so offering this could turn out to be fairly labour intensive.
The only possibility is to offer two sand baths in several components of the cage. That means if the hamster does resolve to pee and poo in a single, it is going to hold the opposite for bathing. Hamsters have good hygiene and gained’t combine the 2 up.
It’s essential to make use of precise sand and never mud. The most affordable means to do that is to purchase sand bought as youngsters’s play sand, and bake some in a bread tin within the oven to evaporate water however watch out, sizzling sand could be very sizzling – don’t contact it! For a less complicated however costlier possibility, many petshops now promote chinchilla sand.
To offer the sand within the cage, there are numerous choices, together with sand bathtub containers bought in pet outlets. One of the simplest ways is to part off a little bit of the cage base and have a sandy space for strolling in. Excessive sided baking trays will help include the sand and cease it getting dispersed by means of the remainder of the substrate. If that’s not sensible then massive dog bowls can work. For one thing extra enclosed, a aspect opening glass cookie jar is sweet, though some species of hamsters may have a picket bridge within the entrance to assist them get out and in.
How usually must you clear a hamster cage?
Hamsters don’t must be cleaned out fairly often. An moral minimal cage dimension of 4000 cm sq (620 sq inches) might be simply left for a month, if bathroom areas are spot cleaned as wanted. Setups which might be larger nonetheless can final 3-6 months between cleanouts relying on particulars of the scale and structure. Nevertheless, if a cage is to be left that lengthy between cleans, it is very important usually examine it to ensure it’s okay (e.g. there is no such thing as a rotting meals, any damp corners are eliminated, that there are not any issues with stashes / caching behaviour and so forth.).
When the cage is absolutely cleaned, it’s essential to depart at the least ¼ of previous substrate to sprinkle again across the cage. This retains the hamster’s residence smelling acquainted to them, and stops them getting burdened.
When cleansing the cage, and even checking it over, be sure you first take away the hamster to a safe service to ensure they don’t get burdened or escape.
So, there are our preferences for hamster substrates, based mostly on Beri’s analysis and years of expertise. If in case you have a query, tell us within the feedback!