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Old 03-18-2018, 02:24 AM   #1
Newborn Pup
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 1
Default Suitable substrate


Recently joined after purchasing our first syrian hamster. I have been looking on the site since, looking at some very informative threads.

I have previous experience keeping fancy rats and I have been surprised at the similarities which are required when keeping hamsters - cage size, stimulation, substrates etc.

Which leads me to my question. Our LPS advised me to buy wood shavings which I now know to be wrong and in most cases unsuitable for hamsters. Reading different threads it seems people use equine bedding (I used to with my rats. It was cardboard strips/squares, but can't remember the name) and Megazorb and Aubiose are names which have featured regularly. Both are readily available at a local equine shop, but I'd like to know which is more suited to a Syrian hamster? People have said that Megazorb can be dusty.

Ashley 😊
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Old 03-19-2018, 03:15 AM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: North of England
Posts: 19,858
Default Re: Suitable substrate

Hi. Popular ones on here are Fitch (recycled food grade paper) which is sold in bulk. And hemp bedding from Zooplus - also sold in bulk. Aubiose is hemp bedding too - different brands are preferred by different people - I think the Zooplus one is supposed to be better quality/less dusty.

I get the 10kg bag of Fitch and it lasts me ages. The 20kg works out much cheaper but it is big and needs to be stored indoors so it doesn't get damp and get mould spores etc.

I can't seem to get onto the zooplus site at the moment, but have a look - it's

I think you're right it's very similar to keeping rats. The main differences are hamsters don't do well with tall cages - they need more floor space and less height - they aren't good climbers and can get seriously injured climbing and then falling. Also fleece and hammocks etc that rats have, aren't good for hamsters who tend to chew things for nesting material and can get blocked pouches or digestive blockages from chewing fabric.

Basically - good floor space, good depth of substrate (for digging and burrowing an they like moving it around and building mountains sometimes) a good sized house that's dark inside for building a large nest - they are very particular about their nest and hoard (often under the nest) so best not to throw those away unless they are pee'd on, and then always replace the hoard with new food in the same place and put a big pile of torn up strips of plain white toilet paper out somewhere in the cage so they can rebuild the nest. That's the safest nesting material and they tend to pouch it and take it to the nest. They like Fitch for that too as it's soft and will use both sometimes.

A house is best open underneath and sat on top of the substrate. A shoebox or house wiht lift off roof is good. You cut the base out of the shoe box and cut a hole for a door and use the lid as a lift off roof. So you can check inside without having to take the house out, so their nest doesn't fall apart. If the house is big enough - eg shoe box size, they will often move their pee corner inside it and you can put a litter tray inside the house. Otherwise they tend to choose a corner of the cage as a toilet and you can put a litter tray there. Most people use chinchilla bathing sand in the litter tray. If you put it in the right place they tend to use it, but they will only use it if you put it in their chosen pee place! Keeps the cage clean and you just empty it every 5 days or so.

Also some kind of level or shelf to sit under or on and that can also be useful for putting heavier items on or they can burrow under heavy items and get squashed.

Toys with chains aren't good either as hamsters can end up hanging by a broken leg. Actually rat sized toys are ideal for syrian hamsters. Most toys sold for hamsters are only big enough for small dwarf hamsters. Any openings or tunnels need to be at least 6cm in diameter. I use rat tunnels and rat sputniks for our syrian.
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Old 03-19-2018, 09:06 AM   #3
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Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Bath, UK
Posts: 3,525
Default Re: Suitable substrate

I use Megazorb for my Chinese and aside from a one off bag, I've not had any problems with it but other people, particularly those with asthma have not been able to use it because of dust.

Some members here use Finacard, which is probably what you'll have used with your rats. You can order direct from the company that produces it: Finacard, Quality Animal Products
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