With hamsters being the most commonly kept pet rodent in the world we often see people reaching out for help with some of the random behaviors that hamsters display on a daily basis.
One of these common behaviors that seems to confuse a large number of people is when a hamster is eating their bedding and we have noticed more and more people reaching out and asking about this over the last month or two.
As the popularity of hamsters is already so high and more and more people add a pet hamster to their family each month, we decided that we wanted to publish this article on the topic going over exactly why you may be seeing a hamster eating bedding in its cage.
We are hoping that this article is going to be able to help as many of our readers as possible who keep a pet hamster as well as anyone who is considering getting a pet hamster in the future better understand the behavior.
Is It Normal for A Hamster to Eat Its Bedding?
Although it is not normal for a hamster to eat its bedding, it can be normal for a hamster to stuff its cheek pouches with bedding in order to move the bedding to a new location.
A hamster eating its bedding is not a behavior that you should be concerned about and in most cases, it is nothing to worry about at all as the hamster rarely swallows the bedding.
There are however a small number of cases where a hamster eating its bedding can be a sign of an underlying health issue so if you are concerned we would always recommend taking your hamster to the vet for a checkup just to be on the safe side.
Why Do Hamsters Eat Bedding?
In the wild, hamsters are known to build nests out of soft materials such as grass, leaves, and other bedding type materials.
As your pet hamster is domesticated, it does not have the same access to these materials in the wild and so it may try to recreate its natural habitat by gathering material from its cage to make a nest.
You may put your hamsters bedding in the perfect location in its cage but with hamsters being hamsters, it may choose to move its bedding to a less ideal location that is prefers for whatever reason.
Due to their instincts being to store the bedding in their cheek pouches to move suitable materials over large distances, your hamster then appears to “eat” its bedding as it gets ready to move it to where it wants the bedding to be.
Is It Ok for My Hamster to Eat Bedding?
A hamster eating its bedding is generally a harmless behavior but there are a few reasons why you might not want your hamster to do it.
The first reason is that when a hamster eats its bedding, there is a small chance that the bedding could get caught in the hamsters cheek pouches or even get caught in its throat and cause an obstruction.
Although this is rare, it is something that you should be aware of and if you are concerned we would recommend taking your hamster to the vet for a checkup.
The second reason why you might not want your hamster to eat its bedding is that it can make a bit of a mess in the cage.
If your hamster is eating its bedding and then moving it to another location, you may find bedding scattered around the cage which is not ideal.
The third reason why you might not want your hamster to eat its bedding is that it can be a sign of an underlying health issue.
If your hamster is eating its bedding more than usual or if it appears to be swallowing the bedding, this can be a sign of stress or an underlying health issue such as gastrointestinal issues.
If you are concerned, we would recommend taking your hamster to the vet for a checkup.
How Do I Stop My Hamster from Eating Her Bedding?
If you are concerned about your hamster eating its bedding, there are a few things that you can do to try and stop the behavior.
The first thing that you can do is to make sure that there is plenty of hay available for your hamster to build a nest with.
You can also try giving your hamster some soft toys or materials such as toilet paper rolls that it can use to build a nest with.
If your hamster is still eating its bedding, you can try giving it a small amount of vegetable oil on its food which will make the bedding less appealing to eat.
You can also try adding some shredded paper to the bedding which will make it more difficult for your hamster to gather up and store in its cheek pouches.
If you have tried all of these things and your hamster is still eating its bedding, we would recommend taking your hamster to the vet for a checkup just to rule out any underlying health issues.
Alternative Nesting Materials!
There are a number of nesting material alternatives that you can usually use with your hamster that are much better options than the standard bedding options but there can be some overlap between them.
Here is a short list of some alternatives that you may be able to use in your hamsters cage:-
- Soft Toys.
- Toilet Paper Rolls.
- Shredded Paper.
That brings our article to an end.
We hope that we have been able to help you that your hamster is usually not actually eating its bedding but trying to make a nest with it.
We know that this can look strange and it can worry even experienced hamster owners but for the most part, it can be totally normal and nothing to worry about.