Choosing And Using Hamster Litter
Having the right hamster litter is one of the key things to be taken into account when a hamster is about to become the newest household pet. Obviously the critter needs the right shelter, something that gives it room to roam and provides security as well. Food and water are of course are necessities. Having the right hamster litter need not be addressed immediately, but it is an important item as far as hamster hygiene is concerned.
Litter Is Not The Same As Bedding - First of all, don't confuse hamster litter with hamster bedding. Some don't make any distinction between the two, believing that hamster bedding is all that is necessary. With some pets, having a separate litter dish makes no sense, as they go whenever and wherever it suits them, so the bottom of the cage has to be cleaned out frequently, with bedding or substrate being periodically totally replaced.
Hamster bedding needs to be replaced periodically for health and hygiene reasons. But the hamster will not mess up its bedding any more than it needs to, and certainly not any where it normally will rest or sleep. The hamster will normally pee in the same place every time, which makes potty training a good deal easier. It will poop anywhere it feels like however, but poop can be picked up and will not foul the bedding as quickly as will urine.
An Ashtray May Work - You don't necessarily have to put out money for a special hamster litter box, especially if you have an old glass ashtray lying around. A saucer will work, but an ashtray that has a steep rim will usually work better, as the litter material will tend to stay where it belongs. It's important however to choose a litter container that doesn't require the hamster to have to climb up to get into. It won't. With a little ingenuity, one can arrange a litter pan that is easy for the hamster to access but at the same time holds its contents fairly well.
Hamster litter training, or potty training, usually involves little more than observing where the hamster has chosen to do its duty, then placing the litter pan at the same location. Once the hamster starts using it, which will probably be right away, the training is done. It can help to place some soiled bedding in the litter pan to start with to give the hamster an extra clue as to what the litter pan is for.
Special hamster litter can be purchased in some pet stores, but bedding material can also be used, especially material that is somewhat absorbent. It's advisable however not to use the same exact material for the litter pan as is used for the bedding.
Poop Management Still Needed - The hamster is still going to poop in the bedding, though probably not where it sleeps or nests. But the poop can for the most part be picked up with fingers or a spoon, and transferred to the litter box. While a hamster litter box may have to be removed and new litter added every few days, in using one the bedding will not have to be changed nearly as often, and the hamster will have a much cleaner living environment.
As with the hamster bedding, hamster litter should be somewhat absorbent and for the most part dust free to avoid respiratory problems. There are some who indicate cedar shavings are acceptable as they tend to keep insects away, but most hamster experts feel that cedar and other aromatic or oily woods can adversely affect the hamster's health. Hardwood shavings or kiln dried pine shavings are usually preferred for use as bedding or litter.