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Old 06-03-2020, 09:21 AM   #1
Jadetooth
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Default How to tell if bedding is suitable if it doesn't say what wood?

I use Kaytee Clean and Cosy as my main bedding, but someone gave me their leftover bedding after their hamster passed away.

It looks like wood shavings but doesn't say what wood it is. It claims it's for equestrian or small animal... It doesn't say the wood origin.

I am very anti-waste so keen to use it if possible. Was thinking of doing half the cage with it (away from the house) until it is used up.

What do you think?
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Old 06-03-2020, 09:51 AM   #2
Nesquik
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Default Re: How to tell if bedding is suitable if it doesn't say what wood?

Hello. I personally would stay away from wood shavings if I don't know what type of wood it is just because I don't want to risk my hamster developing a respiratory issue. Aspen is known for being safe for hamsters because of its soft texture so that is an option if you want to mix it with your current bedding. Make sure that bedding is aspen if not and you really want to use it make sure that it has no strong odors and does not have sharp wooden parts in it. Hope that helps
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Old 06-03-2020, 11:30 AM   #3
Ria P
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Default Re: How to tell if bedding is suitable if it doesn't say what wood?

I use Kaytee too but also use woodshavings in the play pen and transport boxes. Never had any issues.
I'd put the woodshavings into a digging box or tray then see what happens. Easily removed shoud they cause an allergic reaction which i don't think is that likely.
Two of my hamsters have connected cages, one with Kaytee and one with woodshavings plus a little Kaytee in heaps.
They use both and sometimes chose to dig and sleep in the woodshavings.

I wouldn't sleep in a bed with fleas that makes me itch or sneeze......
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Old 06-03-2020, 12:54 PM   #4
AmityvilleHams
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Default Re: How to tell if bedding is suitable if it doesn't say what wood?

You could try to compost the wood shavings or give them to someone else who can compost them, but you should never use unknown wood shavings for small pets in general. It is a massive safety risk and the benefit of reducing waste is not worth the safety and welfare of your hamster.

It's also worth noting that there are definitely brands out there marketed towards horses and small animals which don't declare wood species but contain harmful species. Snowflake brand shavings, for example, include cedar which we should all know by now is absolutely unacceptable for small pet usage as it is extremely harmful to their health.

ETA there are also toys sold for hamsters and other small pets which also end up getting labelled as cedar in one place or another. I believe an example was a Niteangel tunnel toy, but we should also always be certain of wood species in relation to toys and not just substrate. Just because it's sold for a certain pet doesn't mean it's 100% safe!

Last edited by AmityvilleHams; 06-03-2020 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 06-03-2020, 03:17 PM   #5
EmmaAndChester
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Default Re: How to tell if bedding is suitable if it doesn't say what wood?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AmityvilleHams View Post
It's also worth noting that there are definitely brands out there marketed towards horses and small animals which don't declare wood species but contain harmful species. Snowflake brand shavings, for example, include cedar which we should all know by now is absolutely unacceptable for small pet usage as it is extremely harmful to their health.
How did you find out the composition of snowflake bedding? I'm curious if it's been stated somewhere and I've missed it haha. I contacted them directly, but they haven't responded yet. I've seen some claim it's cedar "because some of the shavings are red"... but, that's not very accurate. Fir is also red. Yes, fir is also not safe - but I've noticed a common trend with beddings that contain fir, usually only contain 25-30% with the remainder typically being made of spruce, a safe softwood... so overall, phenol levels of fir are diluted, less concentrated, and therefore safe (like Chipsi Classic, for example - it's 70-75% spruce, with the remainder being fir - hence safe).

Anyways; OP: Best not to use unlabelled softwood shavings. The only safe softwood is spruce. But the issue is that physical appearance wise, it looks like pine. Even kiln-dried pine is not safe (not that we can say anyway, due to lack of longterm studies). I would compost it or something as mentioned... i wouldn't recommend risking it, personally.
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Old 06-03-2020, 03:46 PM   #6
AmityvilleHams
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Default Re: How to tell if bedding is suitable if it doesn't say what wood?

Quote:
Originally Posted by EmmaAndChester View Post
How did you find out the composition of snowflake bedding? I'm curious if it's been stated somewhere and I've missed it haha. I contacted them directly, but they haven't responded yet.

Anyways; OP: Best not to use unlabelled softwood shavings. The only safe softwood is spruce. But the issue is that physical appearance wise, it looks like pine. Even kiln-dried pine is not safe (not that we can say anyway, due to lack of longterm studies). I would compost it or something as mentioned... i wouldn't recommend risking it, personally.
I had to contact the manufacturer to get that information. The products are made up of a combination of pine, spruce, and cedar.

The debate on the safety of pine including kiln dried will probably never end, even if we did have more detailed scientific studies done to further validate all the arguments against pine. Scientifically, you cannot remove the things that make pine unsuitable. Kiln drying does not remove all moisture(you can never have moisture free wood) and the temperatures also don't get anywhere near high enough to even possibly remove the harmful components(not just phenols, but it would be a lengthy post if I had to go into detail).
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Old 06-03-2020, 03:55 PM   #7
EmmaAndChester
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Default Re: How to tell if bedding is suitable if it doesn't say what wood?

Ah, that's a shame. I was really hoping it would be spruce/fir mix (with the bulk of the shavings being spruce, like chipsi) to give folk more bedding options. Odd that they've included cedar! It's just not common for European brands to incorporate, at least it would seem.

I've been doing a lot of research on beddings myself lately, too. The only real concern there really is with Pine is phenol levels, from my research at least. Abietic acid is constantly brought up as an argument, but it's a flawed one IMO. Abietic acid allergy is fairly uncommon - in the quantity that it would be present in softwood, especially softwood that has undergone further resin removal it likely occurs as <1%. You'd probably have a better chance at winning the lotto than having a problem directly related to the abietic acid present in the bedding haha. I'm not sure what other arguments could be used against it; the only arguments i've ever heard are 1) phenols & 2) abietic acid (<which is blown up, if you ask me).

There are a couple handful of longterm studies on pine that show no ill effects, but not enough to convince me of it's safety level. It's the phenol levels that are my concern: even when heat treated, they don't go down - at least not when treated at temps of 100-200C. Best to err on the side of caution with it, best approach I think!
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Old 06-03-2020, 04:30 PM   #8
AmityvilleHams
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Default Re: How to tell if bedding is suitable if it doesn't say what wood?

I don't think that there would be any temperature used to fully remove all phenols from wood. You can't have 0% moisture wood for various reasons(even if somehow achieved it would never last permanently), and based on evidence from others kiln dried wood does still end up having a pine scent - phenols definitely aren't ever fully removed although many people do keep this myth going!
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Old 06-03-2020, 05:14 PM   #9
EmmaAndChester
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Default Re: How to tell if bedding is suitable if it doesn't say what wood?

Oh of course, but it would be interesting to know on that basis that phenols are only a concern when they're highly concentrated - so, if at a certain temp most were eradicated, then that would be good enough. Like spruce; it's a softwood, so naturally has phenols... but the phenols have been scientifically demonstrated to be so low than they are of no health concern. I do agree that kiln drying doesn't make a product safer; or at least we don't know that it does. i think this belief that kiln-dried pine is automatically safe stems from most people believing that the Germans use kiln-dried pine... but they don't; they use spruce, or majority spruce beddings.

Anyways haha; didn't meant to drag this off topic, I'll stop!
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