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Old 03-19-2010, 02:28 PM
Squirrel Factor Squirrel Factor is offline
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 2,025
Default Safe litter and bedding for Squirrels & Chipmunks

Suggestions online from Care of Captive Rodents - Choosing Bedding for Your Pet Rodent
By: Huey & Dewey (our pet Guinea Pigs)

This address has been edited for the specific needs of tree squirrels,
and notations in brackets, and/or in dark red added in where appropriate.


The right type and quantity of bedding or substrate is very important for rodents. Rodents
use their bedding to help keep their nests clean by absorbing urine, to provide them with
insulation to help themselves and their young keep warm enough, and for cover to make
themselves feel secure. If they are breeding they will also need the right type of bedding to
make a cozy nest for their young.

Some squirrels enjoy a small rodent bed, much like a smaller version of a cat bed. Try to find
one stuffed in cotton, not polyfill, or foam, as both of these synthetics are not good for squirrel
if they should decide to chew the bed apart.
(For nestboxes, or beds, lightweight fleece fabric
with the loose decorative edge stitching removed, cut up in 4 inch squares is well accepted for
bedding in their nestbox. It is washable, (use non-scented biodegradable mild soap only, and no
fabric softener) Cotton baby receiving blankets are perfect sized to line a bid, or provide cover
to make them feel safe, as well as comfortable.

Don't ever buy cedar or pine bedding for a rodent (or most other pets) even though these types of
bedding do help mask odors, as the volatile oils in the wood can damage the rodent's lungs, skin,
and eyes. This is especially true forrats and gerbils, which seem especially sensitive to pine oils
Sawdust of any type is a bad choice, as it causes allergies in a lot of animals. Other types of wood
shavings (such as the often used aspen) are okay to use, and chip-like litter made from reprocessed
paper is also recommended, as it is both non-toxic and environmentally sound. (Good for catch trays
beneath the cage bottom.)

Litter made from corn cobs is often used for large birds, but it isn't very suitable for rodents as it
doesn't absorb urine well, and is not moldable or comfortable enough for rodent nests. Hay (or straw)
is too stiff and sharp for bedding for most small animals as they can injure their eyes when burrowing
in it.

If you have access to old (clean, not moldy or dusty) newspapers that are printed with the
soy-based non-toxic inks that some environmentally-conscious newspapers use these days, shredded
newspaper will make your rodents happy. Don't use paper that has been scented, the scented papers
may be toxic or at least cause allergies.

Do not use toilet paper and/or paper towels for bedding, as they are far too absorbant for nests,
drying out the eyes till they stick closed. it can be used below the cage in a catch tray below the cage
to help absorb urine and feces. Do not use stiff printing paper as it has sharp edges which can cut.

Your rodents will probably appreciate clean empty toilet paper or paper towel cores, and will happily
shred the paper, hide and play in the cores, and eventually convert it all to bedding by themselves.

Many people who keep a number of rodents add things such as boxes and pipes so that the animals can
burrow in the bedding without having all their tunnels collapse on them.(Cardboard please, not plastics,
as ingesting the latter can be hazardous to their health.)

The important points in choosing bedding for your rodent cage is to learn what your species prefers
in type and depth of bedding, to make sure that whatever you use is non-toxic and to keep it as clean
as possible to help prevent disease. Whatever bedding you choose to use, it must always be kept dry.
The cage itself should be washed every time you change the bedding, and disinfected with a well-diluted
bleach solution at least every two months, more often if you have more animals in the cage. Rinse the cage
after the disinfectant has been on it for a few minutes, and dry itthoroughly, preferably in the sun, for
at least twenty minutes before adding more bedding and returning your pets to their primary cage.

One important consideration when cleaning the cage is that many types of rodents will kill and eat their
babies if the babies have been handled by people, perhaps because their instincts are triggered by odor.
If you must move baby rodents to clean the cage, try touching the young only with clean gloves or a few
tissues, and for as short a time as possible.

Last edited by Squirrel Factor : 03-22-2010 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 03-22-2010, 07:21 PM
Chiptastics Chiptastics is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 68

Awesome article!! Thanks for posting it =D

My chippies love old newspaper, computer paper (blank), Carefresh bedding and now old sock bits.
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Old 03-22-2010, 08:16 PM
Squirrel Factor Squirrel Factor is offline
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Posts: 2,025

Yes, the man who wrote the article had allot of insight on this topic. My part is in red. Speaking of old sock, taking a paper towel cardboard roll cut in half, and put it in an old sock, and tie a knot on the end makes for a fun and inexpensive toy they cannot rip the innerds out of. I love t watch them play attack it!

I must admit I would be worried about a squirrel or chipmunk getting a paper cut to the eye with computer paper, since it has very sharp edges. Under the cage of course it doesn't matter. Best to stick with your first and most absorbant choice, newspaper.

Last edited by Squirrel Factor : 03-22-2010 at 10:26 PM.
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Old 03-23-2010, 02:11 AM
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Midnight Midnight is offline
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Thank you, I'll have to make one or 3 for the kids..
"If you sit, watch and listen you will learn" .
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Old 03-23-2010, 11:45 AM
Squirrel Factor Squirrel Factor is offline
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Best do three if you don't want a wadd of squirrels all on one!!!

On second thought, I would pay good money to see that!

P.S. Make sure you to use socks that don't have loops in the fabric like toweling does, so they don't get stuck on it.

Last edited by Squirrel Factor : 03-23-2010 at 11:49 AM.
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Old 03-23-2010, 12:32 PM
steven eugene squirrel steven eugene squirrel is offline
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Posts: 3,134

but squirrels can and will chew through most material. if they want to get into that tube then they will chew their way in. i know from experience. i also know that it is possible for gerbils and flying squirrels and even guinea pigs to get caught in those cardboard tubes. i know about the sock but the sock will not prevent a mischievous critter from getting into the tube,

i do use the dust free, scent free kitty litter in the tray beneath the cage. it is seperated by wire mesh so they are not in direct contact with it.

also i have the nesting boxes for my squirrels. made of wood, but one of them managed to chew a hole through the back and pull stuffing out. (i suspect this was my eastern grey trying to steal nuts from his roommates.)

but i will say that this information about not using cedar or pine is probably one of the reasons my guinea pig elvis lived as long as he did. 7 and 1/2 years.
R.I.P. elvis
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Old 03-23-2010, 01:12 PM
Squirrel Factor Squirrel Factor is offline
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Very true SES, nothing does prevent them from getting inside if they want to, and that is why this toy works so well, for there is only a cardboard tube inside which is harmless to them to chew on and tear apart, not the polyfill, or foam in most stuffed pet toys have. If a chippy can get stuck in one like other smaller burrowing rodents, then I wouldn't give them one, but I have had not had this problem with adult tree squirrels, as they are too large to get inside a cardboard tube to hide in it. Our W as I recall tried to bury a nut in one, not the one in the sock though, and for a second it was on her head, but then off just as fast, as she just pulled it off. I liked them because when they get torn apart, or dirty you just throw them out and make a new one out of materials that are safely recycled for this purpose.

I do agree with you that the litter being under the cage not in it as this author seemed to imply to the contrary, good point!

Last edited by Squirrel Factor : 03-23-2010 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 03-23-2010, 05:21 PM
Chiptastics Chiptastics is offline
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Posts: 68

Ooooh, that's a good point. I tend to rip them up into small pieces so there aren't any rough edges, so I never thought of it that way. I'll switch over to pure newspaper. Can't be too safe!

I also recently found new a pet bedding in a store that is rather like those scrunched up accordion-style papers found in gift bags, but it's a pet safe one. The girls love taking mouthfuls of that into their box.

As far as cardboard/toilet paper tubes go for chipmunks mine cannot fit into them. Only a wrapping paper tube has enough room for them (which Poet loves). I never had any issues with someone getting stuck, though.
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Old 03-23-2010, 09:14 PM
Squirrel Factor Squirrel Factor is offline
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Spoken like a very wise and loving 'chommie', that is Chipmunk Mommie!

When sharing info it is for the sake of the pet and the owner that loves them, always!

Well if the paper towel tubes aren't a hazard for your chipmunks, then great! Just cut a paper towel core to length about 3/4 the length of your chipsters. I found strangely that with one of our squirrels it took two weeks for them to acknowledge what I put in as toy, to be so. Our other girl went for them right away. It may have been for reason of the one tht didn't had an nose injury that made her non releasable, couldn't smell a nut right behind her own butt, whereas the other went for them like she had nut radar!

In anycase, if your chippies don't go for it right away, don't worry, just wait, they will, if they don't just rip them up for nesting material that is. If they play with them, do try to get some video of it to share here, we would all love to see it, especially me! I sure miss seeing that as I used to with our squirrels; they so loved to roll and fighty bite them, kicking, and then they would just stop to take a breath and go back right at it again and again. My oldest girl liked to flip over empty cereal boxes, it was such a hoot. She would rip the colored paper off and bury nuts in them, and pounce on them. Do you give your chippies empty cereal boxes?

Last edited by Squirrel Factor : 03-23-2010 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 03-23-2010, 10:12 PM
Chiptastics Chiptastics is offline
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The girls never seem to know what I'm putting in is for their enjoyment, usually. Some exceptions are when I put a new hanging basket into Luci's cage (one of the best things you can buy for $7) she jumped right into the basket BEFORE it was all the way in the cage. She loves that thing.

My chippies LOVE them, although they prefer the Lucky Charms ones specifically. Right now Charlie is pretty much living inside an Apple Jacks box. Poet refuses anything but his tube and log (he's such an artist). Michy has refused to use her latest box (cranky pants). And Luci has a muffin box. I think that last one is fitting.
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