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Hamster Bedding – The Good and the Bad


Posted June 4, 2012 by

What is the Best Hamster Bedding?

There are dozens of different kinds of hamster bedding out there, but what is the best hamster bedding?  Some of the bedding out there is great for your furry little hamster, but some kinds are just downright terrible for keeping a hamster happy and healthy.  This article aims to narrow down a few of the best bedding types, and to reveal some of the bad bedding that may be harmful to your hamster.  So without further ado, here we go!

The Good Hamster Bedding

hamster bedding for baby hamstersIf you have to use a bedding made out of wood chips, aspen is the way to go.  Aspen shavings do not usually contain harmful chemicals, and the shavings are good at catching and masking odors.  The oils and saps from aspen trees are significantly lower and less harmful to your hamster than other wooden beddings such as cedar or pine.  The good thing about aspen hamster bedding is that it is widely available, cheap, and isn’t detrimental to your hamster’s health.

Another great bedding to use, and my personal favorite, is Carefresh hamster bedding.  It’s made out of biodegradable and earth-friendly wood pulp.  The odor absorbing capacity of this bedding is nothing short of amazing.  Finally a bedding has been released that lets you miss a day of cleaning the cage without regretting it later (from the smell).  Your little hamster will love this stuff, as well.  It’s lightweight and soft, so your hamster can easily burrow in it without hurting his feet or ventral side.  It used to be where you could only get Carefresh bedding in gray, but now they are offering many different colors, which is nice.  If you can get your hands on this stuff, buy it.  You won’t regret it!

Note:  Hamsters like to build nests to sleep in.  In order to make them even happier than they would be with just regular bedding, add in some bits of crinkled up paper (plain with no ink), a few pieces of straw, and maybe some pieces of cardboard.  They’ll use these materials to build a happy home for themselves.

The Bad Hamster Bedding

Now that we’ve gone over the best hamster bedding types, let’s talk about the bad ones.  A popular and widely available hamster bedding is the kind made of cedar or pine shavings.  This hamster bedding is pretty bad for hamsters because a lot of cedar and pine has chemicals sprayed onto it which can make your little hamster sick, and we don’t want that!  Also, the wood can sometimes lead to abrasions and cuts on the hamster’s feet.  These cuts can then lead to infections – not good!

Another bad hamster bedding choice is recycled newspapers.  If you are in a pinch, and really need some sort of bedding in a hurry, then newspaper will probably be okay.  The problem is that, in the long term, hamsters may ingest some of the inks from the newspaper pieces and get sick.

Final Notes

To sum it all up, the best hamster bedding is probably the Carefresh wood pulp kind (it’s typically gray and fluffy in appearance, like balls of soft paper), and the worst would be either cedar or pine chips.  If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading and good luck with your hamster!  Don’t forget to check out our hamster care sheet while you’re here!



Corey is the primary author and editor on Critterhub. With over 20 years of pet care experience, his interests lie mostly in aquaria and herpetology. Corey has a degree in Biology, and has completed many research projects involving herpetology and other animals.



    i love your sight, I’ve been researching hamster bedding because I’ve had many hammies die under strange conditions (like cancerous lumps?????) that i want to make sure my current hammy lives and is super healthy.

    i had bought from Petco (who i love I’m not trying to knock them)”Plant Petco Paper Bedding” (i have pics too) of on the back it clearly states

    “WARNING: this product contains wood dust known to the state of California to cause cancer.”

    i freaked out and threw it all out and now am on the hunt for better beddings.


      Thanks for the comment, Renee.

      Yes, it does seem like a lot of hamsters end up succumbing to cancers. I can’t believe that a widely marketed bedding product would have that disclaimer on it!

      I highly recommend the Carefresh hamster bedding. Give it a shot!

      Take care,


    can i use paper shreedings from like a bank because my mother cleans a bank and she always has a lot of paper shreddings. (my dad has a farm and he uses it for the cows bedding) .thax katie :)
    p.s.i love this web site i do critter care at my school and we have to do a report on an animal and i picked hamsters and i need ANSWERS!


      Hi Katie,

      Thanks for reading! To answer your question – Yes it should be fine to use shredded paper. Try to use shredded papers that do not have a lot of stuff printed on them though. Paper is fine, but a ton of ink isn’t. :)

      Take care,


    This is a great article! And i am buying my hamster litter accordingly. But i am curious if the Colors line that Carefresh has out contains any dyes or additives that i should worry about or if its just as safe as the natural colored stuff


      Excellent question.

      Yes, the colored varieties of Carefresh bedding are dyed. If memory serves me right, they use vegetable-based dyes – so they should theoretically be perfectly safe.


    I’v had a hamster and used the Care Fresh, i’v had the hamster for about 2 1/2 years, one day it started to shake and twitch A LOT. About two days later it died. I don’t know what happened, I took care of it and gave it the best life possible it had a ball, wheel, huge cage, tons of tunnels,and I always took it out of its cage every day.


      :( Sorry to hear that. Hamster health can definitely be a bit finicky. Hamsters usually only live around that long in captivity though, so you definitely didn’t do anything wrong.


    My daughter just got 2 Robo dwarf hamsters and we’ve been using the Carefresh bedding. But there is a horrible odor coming from their home. My husband says it smells like dirty socks LOL !! Not sure if it’s a urine smell since this is our first time having hamters.
    Everyone seems to say that Carefresh helps with odors, but I’m not finding that is the case.
    Any ideas would be appreciated !!!


      Dirty socks smell? Hm… Not sure what that could be. I haven’t had issues with Carefresh smelling bad. I wish I could help. Sorry. :(

    Ana MM

    Hello. I have a hamster since sunday and I’m not sure if I have the adequated bedding… Do you know the brand Chipsi? (
    Is that good or bad?
    Help me please :s


      I haven’t used Chipsi myself, but I did look it up to check it out. It appears that Chipsi is made of small wooden granules (fir and spruce). I believe (don’t quote me on this…) that those woods are softwoods and could contain some harmful chemicals.

      To be on the side of caution, I would recommend either another bedding or doing more research online to see if it is safe or not.

      As a side note, I don’t think that granular hamster beddings (such as the Chipsi one I saw) are ideal.

      Thanks for reading and good luck!


    hello. i was wondering about hemp as a litter. i have a 15 kilo sack from my rabbit who recently passed. is there anything harmful that you can think of in your experience? thank you.


      I don’t think that hemp bedding would be bad for hamsters, but I don’t have any direct experience with it to really offer my advice.

      Theoretically, it should be fine to use.


    Hi i really need some help: brought my daughter a lovely little hamster henry for her birthday had a lovely nature and carefresh is good and we used it all the time. saturday 8th june he became unwell and rushed him down the vets. the vet was great and spent time sorting medicine for the little fella said he had a blockage and felt the fluffy bedding may be the cause i was furious we always used pets at home but unfortunately we ran out and in my haste i picked up a bag of wilkinson viscose fluffy bedding.So i began to search about this bedding and came across reviews on it was very bad news for hampsters and was taken of shelves but now they have put in back in their shops, I have not contacted them yet as i want as much proof as possible. Last night our little fella died and i did ask the vet to do an autopsy but sadly due to the length of hours he been dead not advisable so now i want to some how get this bedding tested(this i need help) so i can put forward a good case to wilkinson and stop others dying and the kids who get so upset he was only 7 months old.
    many thanks


      I’m unfamiliar with that kind of bedding. If it is the type that is similar to cotton wool in texture, then it is definitely bad for hamsters. There are many documented accounts on various forums across the internet of the cotton-wool-type bedding hurting hamsters.

      If it is a paper based bedding, then it is probably fine for hamsters.

      I’m sorry to hear your story. I wish you luck with any hamsters you may have in the future.


    Since we have a small farm and have hay readily available for other animals, could I use that for bedding for hamsters? Right now we have Bahaya (sp) in the barn. Sometimes we carry clover.


    Can i use toilet papers? I thought about shredding them and put under my hamster, because i have just bought a new cage andd i have no money right now.. :L


    Hi, is it okay to use mayfield compressed shavings for my syrian? they dont have a type of wood but it says they can be used for all small animals and he will have other bedding for his house and ripped up toilet roll :) thanks


    Help! I’ve Just tipped the dirty sawdust into the bin and realised I don’t have any fresh stuff! I have some soft bedding but can I substitute newspaper for the shavings as a temporary measure till we get more shavings?


    Thanx for all the useful info :)

    I was wondering if it is okay to alternate between hamster beddings? So if I used paper shreddings for a week and then wood chips for another week would that bother my hamster? Should I just stick to one of them?

    Also, is there a best bedding to use for summer or winter?

    Sara jones

    Hi. I’m preparing for the arrival of a Syrian hamster. I’m just wondering how to prepare the bed in terms of materials and layers. I’ve purchased done care fresh bedding. Do I need to put a later of tissue in the bottom of the cage first or something on top of the carefresh?? Any information is greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks . Sara

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