There are a few things to consider when you choose substrates for your hamster’s enclosure: What to use for the main substrate and how much of it do you need? How many other substrates do you want to use? How are you going to contain the different substrates?
Most people choose a main substrate that you can buy in bulk relatively cheap. As a result, Allspan and Chipsi Classic are the most popular choices. No matter what, ensure the wood shavings are Aspen, Birch, or Spruce; these are safe for hamsters. Wood shavings are a great choice because of their natural properties. Once wood shavings are compacted, it is easy for hamsters to build burrows.
Store: Pet Mania
In store and free delivery
Composition: 100% Spruce
In store and Click & Collect
Composition: 70%-75% Spruce
Paper based bedding is also a great option as a main substrate. While not as cheap as wood shavings, it can be a good choice if wood shavings cause allergic reactions in either hamster or owner. Compacted paper bedding holds tunnels and burrow systems well. Paper based bedding is soft and is very suitable for nesting material. It can sometimes be available in different colours but we advise using white or a light colour if possible as it will be easier to spot soiled bedding.
The Importance of Sand
Sand is a necessary substrate for hamsters. They use sand to keep their coats clean. Dwarf hamsters use it more often than Syrians; they roll around in their sand bath when they feel the need to. Syrians prefer to dig or kick it up into their fur.
As hamsters shouldn’t get their coat wet, it’s very important to provide a sand bath in a hamster’s enclosure.
Make sure to buy sand and not dust. Sand that is too fine and dusty can also cause respiratory problems. Most reptile sand is suitable to use, as well as the sand found at Rodipet and GetZoo.
An alternative sand to buy is children’s play sand, this can be bought cheaper in larger quantities. Play sand must be baked for an hour at 180*C and then put through a sieve to take out any larger particles. Allow it to cool completely before adding it to a hamster enclosure.
Minimum amount of sand to provide:
Winter White: 600sqcm
There are a few types of bedding that should be avoided because they can cause respiratory problems for your hamster; pine and cedar wood shavings are high in phenols, this is what makes them harmful. Scented bedding is also dangerous for hamsters due to the chemicals used to create the scent.
Wood pellets are another unsuitable form of bedding. Although they are not dangerous for hamsters, they do not hold burrows, making them redundant as a substrate.
Structural Support for burrows
Small Animal Grass