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Old 10-13-2013, 03:42 PM   #1
lenarenee
Hamster Pup
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: western U.S.
Posts: 89
Default Safe digging box

I've been trying to find a safe material for digging boxes for our two hamsters.
Most play sand is silica, which is considered unsafe for children (carcinogenic).
Sand that contains tremolite is also unsafe.

Yes, it can take years of exposure to create a problem in humans, but considering how genetically restricted the pet hamster population is, and how tiny they are, I make the assumption that hamster are far, far more susceptible to any exposure.

Since my Syrian, Tonka, found the cat's litter box to be great fun (Luckily, it was fresh and new that day!), I think I'm going to try using aquarium gravel for his box - it's only a little bigger in size than the cat litter.

For the Robo, we've tried the chinchilla sand, which he shows little interest in.
We've also tried ground coconut husk, which they like to sit in, but very little digging. Maybe it's more difficult to move/dig for their little paws.

Are there any other ideas that you all have tried? Does anyone see any possible problems with using aquarium gravel?

Thanks!
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Old 10-13-2013, 03:46 PM   #2
Kiki_3173
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Location: Florida
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Default Re: Safe digging box

I've just used ground coconut husk for my Syrian and Chinchilla Sand for my dwarf and Chinese hams. I don't know about aquarium gravel...what if they ingest it or get it into their pouch?
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Old 10-13-2013, 04:14 PM   #3
lenarenee
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Default Re: Safe digging box

That's a very good question Kiki.

What do you think about the coconut husk so far?

Whether it's sand, gravel or coconut husk, I guess any of it has the possibility of being eaten, or pouched.

My first thought, is that gravel is far less likely to stick their fur or feet for accidental ingestion or grooming. What do you think?

*sigh*. Perhaps I just worry too much, but we adore our little critters, and since we're new to hamsters, are trying to learn all we can!
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Old 10-13-2013, 04:19 PM   #4
BrainGirl
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Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
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Default Re: Safe digging box

Most aquarium gravel is coated in epoxy. Not sure if that would be good for a hamster if they chewed at it. I like Boxo because it's soft and light, or better still, that shredded crinkled kraft paper EcoBedding. It holds it's shape and allows deep burrowing. Timmy loves it!

I have coconut husk but I've found that it compacts easily and when Peach tried digging in it it just got thrown everywhere, didn't make nice tunnels at all.
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Old 10-13-2013, 04:28 PM   #5
Kiki_3173
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Default Re: Safe digging box

Quote:
Originally Posted by lenarenee View Post
That's a very good question Kiki.

What do you think about the coconut husk so far?

Whether it's sand, gravel or coconut husk, I guess any of it has the possibility of being eaten, or pouched.

My first thought, is that gravel is far less likely to stick their fur or feet for accidental ingestion or grooming. What do you think?

*sigh*. Perhaps I just worry too much, but we adore our little critters, and since we're new to hamsters, are trying to learn all we can!
I completely understand wanting to provide your hams a fantastic environment filled with enrichment. Don't fret...we all have been there doing the same research. Darwin really likes the coconut husk. Makes a mess of it (kicks it everywhere), but he likes to dig in it, so I leave it in his cage. I bury peanuts in the shell in it. It does stick to his bum fur & feet, but eventually comes off as he be bops around his cage. He really didn't take too well to the Chinchilla sand. He just would use it as a litter box & that's all. I say try both...see what your ham prefers. They'll show/tell you what they like lol.

If you are looking for burrowing, then I agree with Braingirl...Boxo substrate is really good for that.
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Old 10-13-2013, 06:39 PM   #6
lenarenee
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Location: western U.S.
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Default Re: Safe digging box

Epoxy?! Why would aquarium gravel need that? The little fishies in their natural
habitat don't need it!!

I am so going to try the Boxo or Fibercore! You say it holds it's shape - I think the little hammies would love that!

Hmmm....going to have to get BIGGER boxes....so they can actually use their own tunnel to travel through!!

Thank you so much!
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Old 10-13-2013, 09:06 PM   #7
BrainGirl
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Default Re: Safe digging box

According to my fish-expert friend, unless you're really sure what kind of rock you're putting in your aquarium you run the risk of things leaching out of it and poisoning your fish. Some gravel is obviously coated in order to colour it but even the natural gravel has a clear-coat I'm afraid.

I did consider putting a small dish of either pea gravel (from garden centres, it's not coated!) or even small marbles in my hammies' cage, just for the different textural interest, but then I worried about the stones rolling and pinching little toes. I may get large rocks to put in the cage, both smooth and rough, that they can't move though.
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:26 PM   #8
BrainGirl
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Default Re: Safe digging box

Oh, and I feel I should add that if your Timmy is a longhair and the EcoBedding seems to "comb" out his fur every time he moves through it. Everything else got stuck in his hair but this makes him look beautiful
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Old 07-26-2019, 06:46 AM   #9
kjalbaine
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Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 6
Default Re: Safe digging box

Is EcoEarth bedding safe to use in a dig box? And can I put mealworms in there for my Syrian hamster to dig for? I haven’t given him mealworms yet but thought I heard its a good snack to give them. Any advice?
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