6 Hamster Bedding Options That Are Safe And Burrow-Friendly

How to find the best hamster bedding for your BFF 🐹

hamster bedding

Your hamster spends most of her time in her cage, so it’s super important to get her the right kind of bedding. Plus, a pet hamster needs bedding to dig and bury things in as if she were in the wild, as well as a place to, ahem, do her business. Hamster bedding should also help keep your hamster warm when it’s cold out.

The best hamster bedding is absorbent, nontoxic and odor-reducing.

“Dust and how bedding compacts and holds up when burrowed in are both tied to your hamster’s safety and should also be considered when shopping for bedding,” Victoria Raechel, a hamster advocate, told The Dodo. We spoke to Raechel for her thoughts on what else to look for when it comes to hamster bedding for your furry friend. Here are our top picks:

Safe hamster bedding options

Safety should always be top of mind when shopping for hamster bedding.

Since hamsters love to burrow, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough bedding (and filling her cage sufficiently). This will also help prevent her from chewing on her cage if she isn’t getting her little burrowing energy out. You’ll want to make sure the bedding fills the entire cage and is ideally at least 10 inches deep, according to Raechel.

Examples of safe hamster bedding include:

Aspen shavings

Aspen is the only safe wood-based bedding that you can use for your hamster. It’s also affordable and absorbent, making it great at controlling odor.

The only downside is aspen sometimes sticks to the fur of certain breeds of hamster (mainly breeds who have long hair), but this doesn’t harm your hamster at all and is easily solved by simply wiping or brushing it off of her.

Paper-based bedding

Paper-based bedding is arguably the most popular and widely used type of hamster bedding. It’s soft and comfortable, and typically comes in a variety of colors so you can make your hamster’s cage her own. When shopping, you’ll want to avoid inked and scented paper beddings, as they contain toxins that can be dangerous for your hamster.

One thing to consider — the softness of paper bedding, while super comfortable, can sometimes make burrowing a little challenging (delicate paper isn’t the most sturdy for burrowing a tunnel). One way to combat this is to include a pre-made tunnel system in your hamster’s cage.

Hemp bedding

Hemp shavings are an excellent hypoallergenic choice for humans and pets who suffer from respiratory problems. The material is soft and comfortable for burrowing (but firm enough to keep burrowed tunnels stable), highly absorbent, generally affordable and good for the environment, and it’s made out of organic material.

What to avoid in hamster bedding

Not all hamster bedding is created equal, so it’s a good idea to make sure you know what to avoid on your hunt for the perfect bedding.

“Anything scented, pine and cedar or unlabelled shavings should be avoided,” Raechel said.

Scented bedding

While the idea of scented bedding might be good for your nose, it’s best to avoid these for your little BFF. Scented bedding actually contains chemicals that can be harmful to your hamster's respiratory system (remember how much burrowing she’d be doing within those chemicals!).

Pine and cedar shavings

Pine and cedar shavings are hard and likely to splinter into sharp pieces, which can hurt your hamster. These are best to avoid altogether.

Fluffy bedding

Giving your hamster that extra-cozy, plush bedding may seem like a good idea; however, the artificial fibers used to make fluffy bedding can harm your hamster — this is especially true if she likes to chew on her bedding since it can be hard for her to digest.

Best hamster bedding

These are some of the best hamster bedding types we found, taking everything into consideration that makes for a safe, comfy and absorbent bedding.

Best overall hamster bedding: Kaytee Clean & Cozy White Bedding

Material: Paper

Highly absorbent, this paper-based bedding absorbs up to six times its weight. It has guaranteed odor control, is chemical-free and you’ll get 100 liters of bedding for an affordable price.

Best runner up: PETSPICK Uber Soft Paper Pet Bedding for Small Animals

Material: Paper

Made from 100 percent all-natural materials, this soft paper bedding is 99.9 percent dust-free and uses zero unsafe chemical additives, controls odors for up to 14 days, and absorbs three times its own weight in liquids. 

Most comfy: Carefresh Small Animal Bedding

Material: Paper

Made with ultra-absorbent, comfy fluff (a natural reclaimed paper fiber that's biodegradable and compostable), this paper bedding is created from raw, natural fibers that give your hamster a super-soft environment. It’s two times more absorbent than shavings, and it suppresses stinky odors for up to 10 days.

Best wood-based: Kaytee Aspen Bedding

Material: Aspen wood shavings

This bedding is made from 100 percent natural wood and contains no scents, dyes or any other chemicals or additives that can harm your hamster. 

Most colorful: Carefresh Special Edition Small Animal Bedding

Material: Paper

Looking to make a colorful statement? This bedding is just as absorbent and safe for your hamster as the other Carefresh products but with a little added vibrancy.

Best hemp: RentACoop Premium Hemp Bedding

Material: Hemp

Made in the USA, this hemp bedding is an affordable, long-lasting choice that you can compost when it’s time to replace! We love how absorbent hemp is, meaning less mess and odor for both you and your pet. 

Keeping his natural instinct to burrow in mind, once you’ve found the bedding that works best for your little friend, you should provide a deep layer of bedding (typically 10 inches or deeper), as mentioned above.

Finding the right hamster bedding for your tiny bestie might take some trial and error, but these tips should help you find bedding your hamster will love.

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