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Old 03-14-2019, 05:29 PM   #1
halloumi
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Default Do you freeze your hamster food?

I have discovered in recent years, the internet is suggesting to freeze hamster food for up to 4 days in the freezer when you get a new bag, in order to stop any bugs from hatching. This is a great discovery for me, even though I never had any issues previously when I owned hamsters about a decade ago.

However, I have also seen some horror stories about carefresh, and other types of bedding/cage flooring containing mites/bugs.

For starters, I am confused by mites and their lifespan: can they survive in a sealed bag of bedding for weeks with no source of food/blood? If not, then if I were to purchase bedding months prior to intending to use it, would any mites that are difficult to see be dead? I have seen suggestions that mites live on hamsters all the time, and during times of stress, etc., they overgrow. So does anyone here believe bedding is a source of mites, or just a correlation?

Furthermore, many owners suggest freezing new bedding too. I am fortunate to have large space in my freezer, so this would be possible. However, for those of you which cannot spare room for bedding, have you ever encountered any mites or bugs in bedding? And where do you live? I am trying to figure out how rare this is, if it is merely a conspiracy when the bugs/mites came from elsewhere, and whether me living in the UK makes it more/less likely than other areas of the world.


We are, of course, getting much warmer summers, and this definitely makes me more aware of the food bugs hatching, for one thing.

I may take a chance and not freeze bedding, depending on responses. My OCD (actually diagnosed, I don't use it as a punchline) means that when I am going to freeze hamster food, it will need to be a new, unopened bag, placed in its own tupperwear container in my freezer to avoid contamination with my own food!

I am aware that sometimes freezing doesn't do the job in some examples I've read online. This may be to do with the freezer not getting cold enough, or it not being in there long enough at that essential temperature? Factoring in opening and closing the door, I would probably like to leave the food in there for about 5 days just to be sure. Then, transferring it to an airtight container (can I do this immediately? Provided the bag is fully sealed in the freezer, there is no moisture on the food that needs it to be aired out before kept in an airtight container, right?)

Also in regards to bugs being attracted to a hamster's cage, how often do you clean out their food stash in their house? Is it stressful to them to do it every 2 days or so?

Sorry for the long ramble, I am just very curious and want to do anything possible to prevent food bugs/mites!
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:42 PM   #2
cypher
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Default Re: Do you freeze your hamster food?

I think mites in substate are pretty rare, I have heard of people who suspected mites came from substrate but it's not something I've ever had a problem with, I've never frozen substrate & it's not something I worry about.

I do freeze all my hamster food mix, any dried plant material like leaves or flowers, cork & wooden items that go in the cage. Although you may not see any mites, weevils, moths etc there is the possibility of eggs being hidden & freezing should prevent any problems with that.
I freeze mine for at least a week, I usually buy more than one bag of food & the ones I'm not using just stay in the freezer until needed.
You do need to put it into a plastic box of some sort & most importantly keep it in the box until completely defrosted so no moisture gets into the food as it's defrosting.

Messing with their food hoard is stressful for them, you really shouldn't remove it unless it has got wet food like veg in it or has been peed on. Bugs are unlikely to be attracted into the cage by the stash as it's usually pretty well hidden away.
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:05 PM   #3
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Do you freeze your hamster food?

Yes I freeze all hamster food! For a week. Because I did get an outbreak of bugs - food moths. From moth eggs that apparently are quite common in pet foods (virtually microscopic) and hatch out if it's warm enough. If you freeze the food for a week it kills any moth eggs (and any other possible bugs). Works a treat. But give it a full week. Never had any issues since.

I also think you don't get mites from bedding - it is probably just that people who have had hamsters with mites have had to freeze the bedding.

If you freeze the food you won't have any problems. I use Fitch substrate and buy it in a 10kg bag - it's recycled food grade paper - never had any issues whatsoever.

I think with any substrate if it's stored in a place where it could get damp - eg an unheated place like a garage - then anything could "grow" mould etc and that can encourage bugs in. So as long as it's stored in the house you'd be fine.

I even freeze any bark wood items for a week before using them, just in case, and the same with cork items. And also hay - now that has got a reputation for possibly having mites in so if you use any hay or items with hay on them, it's a good idea to freeze them.

With food I tend to get two bags - freeze them both, then get one out after a week (it defrosts in a couple of hours) and leave the other one in the freezer. Then when the first one runs out I get the one out of the freezer and order a new one which then goes in the freezer Same with any hamster treats etc - any food that has been stored in a pet store basically.

Treats like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are ok if they're human grade ones from the supermarket.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:44 PM   #4
cypher
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Default Re: Do you freeze your hamster food?

I freeze sunflower & pumpkin seeds too, & other seeds as I don't use shelled ones from the supermarket I use all seeds in the shell so bird food ones or others sold for hamsters.

The one thing I don't freeze is mealworms or other freeze dried insects, as far as I'm aware you shouldn't refreeze food & they've already been frozen.
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Last edited by cypher; 03-14-2019 at 11:54 PM. Reason: forgot something!
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Old 03-15-2019, 12:28 AM   #5
halloumi
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Default Re: Do you freeze your hamster food?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cypher View Post

I do freeze all my hamster food mix, any dried plant material like leaves or flowers, cork & wooden items that go in the cage. Although you may not see any mites, weevils, moths etc there is the possibility of eggs being hidden & freezing should prevent any problems with that.
I freeze mine for at least a week, I usually buy more than one bag of food & the ones I'm not using just stay in the freezer until needed.
You do need to put it into a plastic box of some sort & most importantly keep it in the box until completely defrosted so no moisture gets into the food as it's defrosting.

Messing with their food hoard is stressful for them, you really shouldn't remove it unless it has got wet food like veg in it or has been peed on. Bugs are unlikely to be attracted into the cage by the stash as it's usually pretty well hidden away.
Ah, so if I were to get a large Tupperware container for my freezer, in general I should just put anything high-risk in there for freezing. And as you say, just take the box out and leave it completely shut for maybe 3-4 days to ensure it doesn’t get wet. I’d be nervous about how they’ve turned out, but will be sure to keep it shut hehe Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity7000 View Post
Yes I freeze all hamster food! For a week. Because I did get an outbreak of bugs - food moths. From moth eggs that apparently are quite common in pet foods (virtually microscopic) and hatch out if it's warm enough. If you freeze the food for a week it kills any moth eggs (and any other possible bugs). Works a treat. But give it a full week. Never had any issues since.

I also think you don't get mites from bedding - it is probably just that people who have had hamsters with mites have had to freeze the bedding.

If you freeze the food you won't have any problems. I use Fitch substrate and buy it in a 10kg bag - it's recycled food grade paper - never had any issues whatsoever.

I think with any substrate if it's stored in a place where it could get damp - eg an unheated place like a garage - then anything could "grow" mould etc and that can encourage bugs in. So as long as it's stored in the house you'd be fine.

I even freeze any bark wood items for a week before using them, just in case, and the same with cork items. And also hay - now that has got a reputation for possibly having mites in so if you use any hay or items with hay on them, it's a good idea to freeze them.

With food I tend to get two bags - freeze them both, then get one out after a week (it defrosts in a couple of hours) and leave the other one in the freezer. Then when the first one runs out I get the one out of the freezer and order a new one which then goes in the freezer Same with any hamster treats etc - any food that has been stored in a pet store basically.

Treats like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are ok if they're human grade ones from the supermarket.
Ah clever - food grade bedding sounds wonderful to me hahah. So my breeder is going to give me a small bag of her hamster mix to go home with, maybe when the litter is born i’ll pop down and buy a bag off her. So I can freeze it for a week and have it defrosted and ready for when the hamster comes home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cypher View Post
I freeze sunflower & pumpkin seeds too, & other seeds as I don't use shelled ones from the supermarket I use all seeds in the shell so bird food ones or others sold for hamsters.

The one thing I don't freeze is mealworms or other freeze dried insects, as far as I'm aware you shouldn't refreeze food & they've already been frozen.
Okay! So besides freezedried insects and such, I am fine to be freezing wood toys (any other toys high-risk besides what cypher said?), food, all hamster treats and edibles? But there’s no real need for bedding to be frozen
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Old 03-15-2019, 02:40 AM   #6
alpacassei
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Default Re: Do you freeze your hamster food?

I’ll admit I don’t freeze my hamster foods or substrates but I’ve never had an issue with bugs coming from them
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Old 03-15-2019, 10:23 AM   #7
Waddells
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Default Re: Do you freeze your hamster food?

I freeze mine for a week, too. I'm a birdkeeper mostly and several years ago I got an infestation of moths that I STILL can't totally get rid of, though it's way better now. I transitioned the birds off seed and onto pellets, and the hamster mix goes straight into the freezer when I get it.

What about lab blocks? I wonder if I should be freezing those too.

If it helps, I live somewhere you can NOT leave flour/cornmeal/rice/spices out without it getting full of weevils or beetles. I have had the terrible experience of cooking dinner and not noticing until I went to take a bite that the spices I used were full of beetles
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Old 03-15-2019, 03:09 PM   #8
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Do you freeze your hamster food?

I had a moth infestation for months! Drove me bonkers - in the food cupboards and everywhere - I had a bag of opened hamster food in a kitchen cupboard. Ugh never again - so everything goes in the freezer and no problems since. After it’s out of the freezer I empty the bag of hamster mix into a lock and lock box. So if any critter did survive I’d see them before taking the lid off - but that is belt and braces - nothing has survived freezing. But the lock and lock boxes are completely airtight and keep the food fresh. Dry hamster mix and treats are fine to freeze.
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Old 03-15-2019, 04:06 PM   #9
halloumi
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Default Re: Do you freeze your hamster food?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity7000 View Post
I had a moth infestation for months! Drove me bonkers - in the food cupboards and everywhere - I had a bag of opened hamster food in a kitchen cupboard. Ugh never again - so everything goes in the freezer and no problems since. After its out of the freezer I empty the bag of hamster mix into a lock and lock box. So if any critter did survive Id see them before taking the lid off - but that is belt and braces - nothing has survived freezing. But the lock and lock boxes are completely airtight and keep the food fresh. Dry hamster mix and treats are fine to freeze.
I can imagine how frustrating it would be to get rid of an infestation, I will definitely want to prevent where possible! So you can immediately transfer the frozen food straight out of the freezer into an airtight container, so they won't be wet/icy at all because they were kept in an airtight packet, right?
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Old 03-15-2019, 04:55 PM   #10
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Do you freeze your hamster food?

Sorry no - I let it defrost first but it takes very little time really, the dry food. About a couple of hours - then put it in the lock and lock box - it doesn't seem to get wet in the packet even when defrosting.
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