Choosing the Right Substrate for Your Pocket Pet

Are you considering getting a cute pet hamster, gerbil, rabbit, mouse, or Guinea pig? All of these little pets need a proper habitat in order to thrive. Getting your little guy a suitable cage is one of the most important things you can do for his health and well-being. Choosing the cage is step one, and making sure your little buddy has plenty of room will go a long way towards keeping him happy and healthy. Once you’ve got a cage picked out, you’ll need to add substrate. Below, your local veterinarian Upper Arlington discusses substrates for pocket pets.


Aspen is suitable for use as a substrate for small animals. Just make sure that your family and pets aren’t allergic to it!

Shredded Paper

You can use shredded paper as a substrate for your pocket pet. The main drawback with paper is that it won’t absorb odors, so your pet’s cage could get stinky fast. Make sure to use only paper that hasn’t been printed, as ink can be very dangerous to small animals.


Hemp has a good texture. It may be a bit on the pricey side, however, and may not be available at your local pet store. Small hamsters love digging through hemp substrate.

Paper Pellet

Another suitable option for substrate are paper pellets. Paper has the benefit of being very absorbent. It may be difficult for some pets to burrow through it, however, and can be a bit expensive.

What To Avoid

Pine and cedar substrates should never be used for small animals, as it can be toxic to little lungs. You should also avoid clumping kitty litter, as this can make your furball very sick if he accidentally eats any of it. Corncob bedding can also be problematic if ingested, so you may want to avoid using that as well.

Once you’ve chosen a substrate, you’ll need to also add some bedding or nesting material. Plain shredded tissue paper or toilet paper is a popular choice. Don’t use anything that tends to clump or tear off in threads, as your pet could ingest it or get entangled in it.

Do you have any questions about caring for your pocket pet? As your local veterinary clinic Upper Arlington, we are here to help. Please contact us if there is any way we can be of assistance.