Bedding is essential for any hamster, but some can be dangerous. One common material that can be extremely dangerous is cotton. Not only can cotton cause choking, it may also lead to intestinal blockage that can slowly kill your pet. The good news is, alternatives to cotton will keep your hamster warm, cozy and safe.
A hamster will play with, chew on and possibly swallow anything you put in his cage. Cotton may seem to be a suitable nesting material, it can cause impaction in the hamster's cheek pouches. If the hamster swallows cotton, he can develop an intestinal blockage that will cause constipation in your pet. If your hamster has ingested cotton, you will need to have your vet treat immediately to save your hamster's life.
Signs of Constipation
Constipation caused by intestinal blockage can make the abdomen swell to the point that it becomes discolored. The hamster may experience abdominal pain, a bulging anus and strained bowel movements. Your vet will do X-rays to determine if the hamster is suffering from intestinal blockage. The hamster will need surgery to remove the portion of the blocked intestine or will need surgery to bypass that portion of the intestine.
Hay is a safe bedding alternative because hamsters can digest it. Your hamster will love munching on hay and using it to make her burrow more comfortable. Add shredded paper and tissue to your hamster's cage, but avoid paper and tissues that have lotions or chemicals such as ink or adhesives. Opt for newspapers printed with soy inks but be cautious: The printers won't be calling you to let you know if they switch ink bases. You can add a donut-style bed to the hamster's cage. You will need to check the bed frequently to make sure the hamster doesn't chew through the fabric to the stuffing.
Don't be fooled by the floss bedding found in pet shops. This is a dangerous bedding material that can cause check impaction and intestinal blockage. The hamster's digestive system cannot break down material, which can cause choking and may tangle around the hamster's limbs or neck. Never use this bedding material in your hamster's cage. By no means is it a safe hamster bedding option.
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Amy Brantley has been a writer since 2006, contributing to numerous online publications. She specializes in business, finance, food, decorating and pets.