When making a home for your hamster, it is important to cover the floor of the cage, not only to provide bedding but also to absorb it's urine. However, there are a few things to be remembered when buying bedding material for your hamster.
Using cloth like towels or small blankets is not a great idea. This is because it will become dirty rather quickly. Also, hamsters when sleeping like to burrow their heads and cloth will not be comfortable. The chances are that they will bite and tear the cloth.
Most common option is wood shavings. While being soft it is also porous and absorbent. Some people prefer sawdust, but the problem with sawdust is it can cause allergic sneezing.
Pet shops sell bedding material, but remember that any material which under damp conditions becomes moldy like corn cobs can cause a lot of problems for the hamster. Another problem with corn cobs is, hamsters sometime eat the corn cobs which swells up once it comes in contact with the moisture inside the hamster's stomach, causing distension and pain.
Having studied similar options, the most popular of all hamster bedding materials is wood shavings. The most important fact to be remembered is never to use cedar shavings. Wood shavings score high on the list of best hamster bedding materials because of some of its natural properties. Wood has inherent insecticidal properties and hence reduces bacteria growth, deters incidents of fleas and mites. The flip side of this is, the insecticidal properties of wood can itself cause harmful reactions to hamsters. As a result of this confusion, one fact that has emerged is, Cedar wood needs to be avoided as it contains more Phenol than other woods.
Aspen wood shavings are highly recommended. Odor free and absorbent, they will quickly soak up the smell of urine and provide a dry and comfortable bedding option for hamsters. Wood shavings are cheap and can be procured easily.
Based on this confusion, a group of hamster breeders actually conducted an experiment to see which of the following worked best for hamsters – pine shavings, aspen shavings, corncob or wood pellets. To their surprise, the hamsters had no preferences and seemed comfortable with all the bedding material options. Nor did any of the four cause reactions or problems.
Thus, in conclusion, one can safely say that wood shavings are a good choice but in wood shavings the preferred choice is Pine or Aspen and definitely not Cedar.