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Old 01-21-2020, 12:55 PM   #1
Hamster Pup
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Scotland
Posts: 97
Default Substrate

As I'm currently between hamsters and am planning a new home for a new furry friend (in the Detolf) I'd really love some ideas. I'm planning a deep area of substrate, and wondered what the best substrate to use is for the purposes of tunnelling and burrowing. I suppose the sawdust I have been using will just fall in on itself if hammies tunnel through it? Is paper best, or hemp (which I've read absorbs ammonia) or aspen?

Secondly, I want to section off the deep substrate area so that there are areas for other activities, and wondered what I could use to effectively do this. What do you folk use? I could use large pebbles, but would I need to boil them first? Or my other half could build a wooden barrier to hold it in place.

Can anyone offer me some advice, please?
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Old 01-21-2020, 07:16 PM   #2
Newborn Pup
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Canada
Posts: 42
Default Re: Substrate

Aspen or paper bedding is best. Actual sawdust is a bad idea as it can cause respritory issues. I have read some quesrionable things about hemp though I'm not sure on it. I personally like paper the best.

As for the rocks absolutely do not boil or bake them. They can explode in high temps. Just rinsing them off should be fine. I know using those wooden bendy bridges turned on their sides can catch and break toes. Honestly I just use cardboard.
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Old 01-21-2020, 09:52 PM   #3
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Location: Wales UK
Posts: 23,536
Default Re: Substrate

I find paper substrate like Kaytee clean & cosy holds tunnels well, hemp bedding works well too or you can combine them.
Some people mix hay in with the substrate which can work well, hay is fine but you do need to remove any sharp pieces before use & it's best to freeze it for about a week or at least 48hrs.
A wooden barrier would be best for keeping the deep substrate in one section, be very careful about putting anything like large pebbles in the cage as they can potentially hurt your ham.
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Old 01-22-2020, 12:10 AM   #4
Hamster Pup
Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 92
Default Re: Substrate

I use Carefresh substrate and it works really well for my hammy! As for the second question, you could buy those wooden bendy bridges and use that maybe?
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Old 01-22-2020, 04:55 AM   #5
Hamster Pup
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Scotland
Posts: 97
Default Re: Substrate

Thanks for all this excellent advice. I didn't know that rocks could explode if boiled! I didn't actually mean "sawdust" but more "wood shavings". However, I will look into paper substrate options. OH is going to make lid/s for the Detolf, so I'm sure he could knock together some kind of wooden barrier too. Failing that, I will experiment with cardboard.
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Old 01-22-2020, 05:23 AM   #6
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Join Date: May 2019
Posts: 671
Default Re: Substrate

Yes rocks can explode, depends what type of rocks they are. Don't ask me which ones explode, I am not that much of an expert! I have boiled and scrubbed and soaked all my rocks that I have put in my hamsters cages, no explosions.
Personally I wouldn't stack rocks up in a cage, as I would be concerned that they got knocked over and landed on a hamster. I know lots of people use bendy bridges on their sides, but the problem with that is sometimes they have big gaps in between and it has been known for hamsters paws to get stuck in these and hurt themselves, badly. A wooden barrier or cardboard may be the best way to go,oh I just had an idea, what about a chew mat or 2 as a barrier.. i will post a link

I use megazorb and my hamsters like to tunnel in that, you may want to mix it with some other substrate though.
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Old 01-22-2020, 07:24 AM   #7
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Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 486
Default Re: Substrate

Kaytee Clean and Cozy seems to be my hamsters' favourite. They love to tunnel in it and it holds the tunnel shape well without collapsing.

Haha yes, I've seen rocks/pebbles explode is quite spectacular. I'd avoid using irregularly shaped rocks that one finds outdoors as they may well have insects living in tiny crevices that could be a problem for your hamster and without being able to boil or completely clean them this would be a problem.

If you want to use stones, I'd be more inclined to suggest getting some pond pebbles from a garden centre and scrubbing these then soaking in very hot (not boiling!) water for a while.
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Old 01-22-2020, 09:46 AM   #8
Hamster Pup
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Scotland
Posts: 97
Default Re: Substrate

Many thanks again for the feedback. I've ordered the Kaytee Clean and Cozy (I haven't seen anything but woodshavings in our only local garden centre-cum-pet shop).
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