4 Best Hamster Bedding/Substrate Options (An Owner’s Opinion)

As a dedicated hamster owner, I’m sure you know how important it is to offer your little one the best bedding out there. So let me help you with that, since I too has to look for the best option for my Teddy when I first got him.

We’ll look at the best hamster bedding options you can find, and compare them by how well they work, how well they absorb waste and smell, and how long they’ll last since that’s a major thing to look out for as well.

And how easy it is to clean it out, since you’re going to need to do that once a week.

hamster bedding

So what kind of bedding do hamsters use ?

Hamsters prefer bedding that’s going to be soft on their feet, easy to tread on, and in a thicker layer so they can dig through it a bit if they suddenly want to.

Your hamster’s bedding should be made of a safe material, not be dusty, and also not smell. Any scented bedding will bother the hammy’s sensitive nose, no matter what the packaging may say.

So we’re going to go through the 4 best options I’ve found for hamster bedding, and discuss each of them in turn. You’ll also find them compared in a handy table as well, so you can get a clearer picture.

As a companion to this article, I recommend you also read up on general info about hamster bedding. You’ll find there info on what bedding materials to avoid, and how to change/clean the bedding when needed.

A comparison of 4 hamster bedding options

You’ll find this table comparing the general usefulness of each bedding type, and anything else that might interest you. Like absorbency, odor control, how long the bag will last, and so on.

After you’re done reading this table, you’ll find each of these beddings discussed in more detail in the rest of the article.

  Kaytee, aspen Small Pet Select, aspen Carefresh, brown paper Carefresh, confetti colored
material aspen aspen recycled paper recycled paper
size 27 lbs/ 12.2 kg 14 lbs/ 6.3 kg 60 liters/ 15 gallons 50 liter/ 13.2 gallons
odor control yes yes yes yes
price on Amazon check here check here check here check here


Aspen bedding for your hamster

Aspen is the number one bedding people use for their hammy, and it’s there for a reason.

Wood shavings, in general, are a great choice for hamsters since they’re very comfortable on their feet, they’re also cheap to find and manufacture, and they’re a natural by-product of woodwork.

As for the best kinds of wood shavings to use, aspen is the best since ti has no definite scent of its own, and is not allergenic.

Cedar and pine though, those should never be used for small rodents like hamsters. Rabbits (and possibly guinea pigs) can stand up to it as well.

But hamsters, with their small size and sensitive noses, are literally crawling all over that bedding, all day and night. Breathing in those scents does not do them good.

As humans, we’re alright since we can handle the natural elements found in those wood types. Hamsters can not.

So, aspen it is. You’re going to find aspen easily enough, since it’s a very common tree in many parts of the world. If you’re somehow unable to find aspen, you can always get paper-based bedding since those are universally available.

Aspen bedding from Kaytee

Back to aspen. This bad boy from Kaytee’s going to last you quite some time. I’m recommending the 8 cubic feet version, so your hammy can have bedding for months on end. Possibly a year.

Really this thing will last a long time, even if your hammy lives in a Detolf.

As weight it should be 27 lbs/12.2 kg of pure aspen shavings, so you’re going to have this bag for a long time. As reference, my Teddy’s  10 lbs/5 kg bag lasts for about 4-5 months.

So, long-lasting it is. I’d venture it can last at least 8 months, if not more, depending on how much you use.

You can check the listing on Amazon for this Kaytee aspen bedding, and read the reviews as well.

Aspen bedding from Small Pet Select

If you’re not very happy with Kaytee, you can try this one. It’s still aspen, so it will be safe for your little hammy.

It’s a smaller size, 14 lbs/ 6.3 kg and this one can last you about half a year.

You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well.

In terms of odor control, aspen is good enough, seeing as it can dry out after it’s been wet. And given how little the hammy pees, I think it’s going to be just fine.

My Teddy uses the corners of his cage as a litter box and they’re always fine by the end of the week when I change his bedding.

This kind of bedding isn’t dusty, as it’s larger than sawdust. It’s actual wood chips, but thinner and softer.

And in terms of price, your investment will be well repaid in time. After all, owning a hamster is not expensive and there’s very little you have to buy often.

Cleaning the cage is easy enough, and using something like a litter scooper is going to help a lot. This bedding is heavier when it gets wet, so keep than in mind when cleaning your hammy’s cage.

Overall, I think aspen is a cheap, safe way to provide your hamster with all the bedding he needs.

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hamster bedding

Simple paper bedding for the hamster

Paper is another option you can try, and it’s about as popular as aspen. Maybe even more so in some places, since this is the kind of bedding usually made of recycled paper.

So you’re being a bit eco-friendly here.

An upside to paper bedding is that you can often choose between different colors, if that’s something that interests you. The one I’m recommending here is a plain brown version, but you can choose a different color.

It’s also the largest size they have, but again you can choose a smaller size if you want.

Paper bedding is available anywhere, everywhere, and so it’s going to be easy to come across. However the same no scent thing applies here as well.

Hamsters are sensitive, so please don’t get your hammy a scented bedding, no matter the material used. This is part of taking care of your hamster.

As for durability and how many uses you can get from paper bedding, it’s going to last you about as much as aspen shavings.

It’s a bit more absorbent than wood, but since it’s made into little fluffy balls it won’t leak everywhere. So I guess you could argue that this kind of bedding would be easier to clean.

It’s lighter than wood shavings, even when wet, so you can’t really compare length of use by weight alone.

Please keep in mind that paper bedding expands when wet, so it’s going to take up more space when the wood shavings after the hammy relieves himself on it.

Which is actually helpful in a way, since you’ll easily notice which corner of the cage is currently soiled, and easily replace it as necessary.

Simple paper bedding from Carefresh

For example the paper bedding I’m recommending here is an 8.5 lb/3.8 kg bag. Or, 60 liters/15 gallons. Sometimes it’s more useful to measure by volume.

Back to the bedding, 8.5 lbs/3.8 kg doesn’t sound as much when compared to the wood shavings we discussed before. But remember that a layer of 1 inch of wood bedding is going to be much heavier than paper bedding of the same thickness.

So again, we can’t really judge by weight.

This means that you’re going to be able to use this bag of paper bedding for months, much more than half a year, depending on how much you use at a time.

You can check the listing on Amazon for this Carefresh paper bedding, and read the reviews as well.

Multicolored paper bedding from Carefresh

This is for you colorful people out there, who want to see your hammy dig through a rainbow.

Paper bedding in all the possible colors, all mixed together. Also a large bag, a 50 liter/13.2 gallons one so you’re going to get a lot of uses from this bedding as well.

Some hammies get 1 inch bedding, some get 4 inches and dig around in that. My Teddy is a runner, and he’s not very impressed by extra-thick bedding. So for him 1 inch is enough (by trial and error).

You’re going to get a lot of uses out of whichever bedding you choose, and also find no odor problem.

You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well.

You can add some dried grass or paper towels as well

Another option, which you can easily mix and match with any of the beddings I was talking about before, is dried grass. This is for the nesting material.

Not thick, stiff hay.

Dried grass, which is much softer on the hamster, and won’t be poking his eyes.

Why give your hamster dried grass ? Mostly because it’s a much softer option than anything else, and it’s very similar to what your hammy would be using in the wild.

Originally, hammies are from desert-like areas. Either very hot – Syrian hamsters – or very cold – Dwarf types – hammies are used to scrounging for things to use as their nesting material.

Dried grass is just the thing, and treading over it all day, every day, is something very familiar to them. They would dig series of tunnels underground, and line them with dried leaves, grass, small twigs and whatever else they could find.

You’ll find dried grass easy enough.

But, if you can’t find any, then simple paper towels will suffice. Unscented, plain white paper towels. Take a few squares, and rip them into ribbons.

Drop them in your hammy’s cage and you’l’l see him start to decorate his home in no time.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found good info here on what kind of bedding to get for your hammy. I know us hamsters seem like tiny creatures who don’t need much. And for the most part we don’t.

But we’re really sensitive about our homes, and it;s where we spend almost all of our time. So I hope you’ll get a good bedding for your hammy, no matter which one you choose.

If you’d like to know more about us hammies, and how to keep us safe and happy, you can read the related articles below.

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