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Can Hamsters Have Newspaper As Bedding?

Last Updated on: 24th September 2023, 10:53 pm

Deciding on the right bedding material for a hamster isn’t always easy, especially if you know little about their habits. In truth, hamsters like bedding that can be shredded or torn to suit their needs.

There are bedding materials you should avoid to keep a hamster healthy. Shredded newspaper is one of the most readily available bedding materials, but there’s confusion about whether it’s safe for hamsters.

We’ll examine whether newspaper is a good hamster bedding material, what other non-commercial options are available, and which materials should be avoided entirely.

Can You Put Newspaper in Hamster Cages?

Depending on the type, you can put shredded newspaper in hamster cages as an alternative bedding. There are many kinds of newspaper, and several use slightly different papers and inks.

Certain types of paper are too sharp, while old-fashioned inks can be toxic. So, you should perform some basic checks to ensure it’s the right kind of newspaper and learn how to prepare it for a hamster.

If you intend to line the cage with newspaper to absorb urine and feces, spread the shredded newspaper at the bottom. Then, cover it with bedding materials your hamster likes. This will soak up waste, while the other bedding provides a comfortable layer for a hamster to burrow and play in.

However, proceed with caution if you give the hamster newspaper to shred and use as top-level bedding.

Ensure there are no staples in the pages, as these will poke the hamster and may lead to bleeding. It also presents the risk of infection due to feces, urine, and decaying food.

Does Newspaper Still Contain Dangerous Ink?

In the past, it was inadvisable to give hamsters newspaper as bedding because it often contained toxic, petroleum-based inks.

The ink would be ingested when the hamster chewed on it or bleed into the rest of the bedding after it was soaked with urine, exposing hamsters to harmful base chemicals.

Nowadays, most newspapers have moved away from this kind of ink due to concerns about health, safety, and biodegradability. Now, newspapers use soy-based ink or other biodegradable ink varieties.

Nonetheless, some newspapers still used petroleum-based ink.

According to Sciencing, you can employ scientific methods to determine whether a newspaper’s ink is toxic. Alternatively, you can check the newspaper’s website.

Most established newspapers provide information about the composition of their ink. Avoid it if you see anything indicating the ink is oil-based or petroleum-based.

Will Newspaper Kill My Hamster?

Newspaper printed with soy-based or biodegradable ink is non-toxic to hamsters. Soy-based inks produce fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than oil-based ink, which harms human health.

It can be provided as bedding material for shredding, tearing, chewing, and nesting. Still, you must check for hazards like staples and prepare them for a hamster to use.

Never give a hamster glossy magazine pages or inserts because they’re more likely to use toxic ink. Also, avoid using bleached paper.

If you provide a hamster with inappropriate paper bedding material, many things can go wrong. For example, if you provide bleached, glossy, or petroleum-ink printed paper, it could poison the hamster because a hamster will chew it to tear it into small pieces. 

According to the Journal of the Indian Society of Toxicology, this kind of ink can even be fatal for humans who ingest enough of it. Additionally, a sharp or thick paper may cut or damage a hamster’s gums and mouth. These threats can be eliminated with the right kind of newspaper.  

If you’re concerned that a hamster may have come into contact with newspaper or bedding material that’s poisonous, check for these symptoms:

  • Rapid, shallow breathing.
  • Fatigue.
  • Collapse.
  • Seizures.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Vomiting.

If one or more of these signs manifest, take the hamster to the vet so that they can provide treatment before it becomes sick or dies.

how to use newspaper for hamster bedding

Can Hamsters Eat Newspaper?

A hamster shouldn’t be allowed to eat newspaper. It doesn’t provide any nutritional benefits, can’t be properly digested, and may lead to blockages in the most severe cases.

The good news is that a hamster rarely eats paper unless it has no food and is starving.

Even if you think you’ve seen your hamster eating newspaper, it’s most likely chewing and shredding it. Hamsters do this to rearrange their nesting and bedding material to their liking.

What Is The Best Cheap Hamster Bedding?

There’s a diverse range of hamster bedding, and most are affordable. You can also save money by supplementing store-bought bedding with safe materials at home.

This includes disposable (unbleached) paper towels, biodegradable ink newspapers, and fresh hay.

You can also use straw, but only varieties intended for hamsters. Other types of straw may be too sharp, poking or scratching the hamster, leading to cuts, abrasions, and injuries.  

Dangerous Bedding You Should Never Give a Hamster

Never give a hamster kapok or cotton bedding materials. While these are warm and soft, they aren’t water-soluble. If a hamster accidentally ingests this material, it could cause a blockage or impaction.

Likewise, cotton wool may tangle around hamster limbs and cut off blood circulation. Furthermore, cotton wool doesn’t absorb waste as effectively as other bedding materials.

While you may wish to minimize odors, perfumed bedding may be toxic. Hamsters have sensitive respiratory systems, and the scents in the bedding can be harmful. Instead, opt for odor-control options.

Cat litter can release harmful particles because it’s very dusty, and some varieties contain scents or chemicals. These toxins can be inhaled by hamsters, causing breathing and respiratory issues.

Avoid pine or cedar shavings, as they can cause allergic reactions or be toxic to hamsters. Some manufacturers claim that heat-treating the shavings makes them safe, but it doesn’t remove all toxins.