"Ban Fluffy Bedding" is the campaign to remove the cotton style nesting material from pet shops worldwide. There is a Facebook page, group and a petition.
Cotton, vegetable/plant fibres, wool and synthetic fluffy bedding is harmful to all species of hamster (And all other animals) in the following ways -
Blockages - The material cannot be digested properly and can cause what seems like constipation.
Respiratory issues - The material can enter the lungs and cause respiratory problems, which is incurable as antibiotics don't remove the substance itself. It is a slow and painful death.
Pouch trapping - It can become lodged in the pouch potentially leading to infection.
Limb trapping - It can also be too harsh to pull apart for small creatures, and when they exit their nest to get food or water, their limbs can become trapped. And with their natural instinct, they pull on it until their limbs can get dislocated. Some people have even reported their pets gnawing their own limbs off to free themselves.
This campaign has resulted in the removal of the Rotastak brand of fluffy bedding from most Pets At Home stores. It has also been completely removed from Pets Corner. We are currently working on removing it from other shops. If you would like to get involved, the best thing to do is write a letter to your local pet shop, or use social network to complain and highlight the dangers listed above and include sources like charities that state not to use it and articles from books.
The manufacturers can often deceive us, as sometimes the packaging is misleading. It may state 'safe' or 'natural', but this doesn't necessarily mean it is. For example below we have the Petlife Safebed 'Paper Wool'. We are lead to believe it is simply paper but the small print states it is plant fibre strands. This is made from the same material as the Rotastak fluffy bedding, and is not digestible and doesn't decompose. The Rotastak fluff was made from vegetable fibres and was the material that gave MelOn a blockage. I also had someone inform me their gerbil had their leg amputated by these strands. I bought this bedding thinking it was paper but they got stuck in TB's pouch and I had to remove it myself.
Paper based bedding is safe. Not paper wool, vegetable fibres or anything mentioned above. When in doubt, don't use it.
Most experienced hamster owners use plain unscented, ripped up pieces of toilet roll as nesting material, you can tear it in to strips and leave it in a pile for the critter to take as much as they need.
The following are some personal stories from people that have been affected -
"This material gave my hamster a breathing problem, I didn't know it was the bedding until they had died. Medicine did nothing and they died in my arms when they were only a year old. I was so upset that I didn't know and wish other people would listen."
"This stuff amputated my baby gerbil's leg when I was a young child. I never touched it since, it is EVIL and very harmful and needs banning now."
"Completely angry my first hamster died from it before I knew it was unsafe"
"I was told by a vet years ago not to use this, can't believe its still on sale."
"My daughters 1 year old Hamster "Cuddles" died yesterday, two days after purchasing Fluffy bedding. He had never had fluffy bedding before, and I thought it looked comfy and practical, so I picked some up.
On Saturday night after putting the bedding into his cage, his tongue got stuck to the bedding. He was frantically pulling on the fluff to get it off but couldn't manage it. His tongue extended very far out and I had to help him remove it.
After that I replaced the bedding with just standard toilet roll (Which he is used to) and he laid down and slept . He was fine Monday morning , sleeping. When my daughter got home from school a few hours later, I went to check on him and noticed he had died.
My daughter is devastated as am I, our hamster was a true little character, with a funny personality. One mistake and he's dead."
"My Syrian hammy died a couple of days ago (I have already been discussing this on hamster central). She became entangled in her bedding, cut off the circulation to her foot and broke her leg in her attempts to escape. She died right at the end of her operation to amputate. I am so upset and feel totally sickened to think of her suffering. I can't believe that this bedding is still being sold."
"A hamster I was babysitting was squeaking which he normally did so didn't pay any notice at first but then started like grizzling.... Turned out he was in his house and has being strangled! Never panicked so much in my life! Thank god I was in the room ! If I had realised my friend used fluffy bedding before hand I would have immediately changed it! I went and bought my friend ten bags of shredded bedding for when she collected him!!!"
"Mama had 17 babies and they are one week old. today i took my first peek at the babies and the fluff has killed several of the babies. one was trapped in it, one got his leg stuck in it and was unable to get to mom to feed, one had it so tight around its neck it died. Now there is one other that had it wrapped around her leg so tight the arm was swollen and had cut into her skin"
"One of my hams when I was little nearly lost his leg from fluffy bedding. It wrapped around and cut the circulation off"
"I've had lots come to my rescue with missing limbs from it getting entangled in fluffy bedding. Others have had impaired respiratory systems form inhaling the fibres that come apart from fluffy bedding."
"I had to cut my sisters hybrid dwarf hamster out of fluffy bedding when I was concerned he was never coming out. I had to cut it away from his feet. He was covered in his own faeces. It wasn't pretty. He survived luckily."
"I initially tried fluffy bedding for my last hamster. We found him with his leg tied up in it, and he couldnt get free. He was very frustrated and we had to entangle it. I certainly wouldn't use it again."
"I went to the cage this morning and could here what i thought was a newborn hamster cry...i thought OMG i've sexed them wrong ( male cage)
So i gave them some food and traets and only 3 out of 4 came out !!
So i went hunting for the 4th...there i found him with the wooly bedding tied round his little front paw..i've freed him from most of it ...his hand red and swollen..."
"Fluffy bedding is my arch enemy!
Before I joined hamster hideout, and started doing serious research online, I had a Syrian hamster. This was two years ago, but it is just as distressing to talk about. If you're sensitive then please do not read this story.
Two years ago on a Sunday afternoon my hamster died. At the time it was unknown why, but since doing a lot of research on the matter, I have come to conclude that the bedding I was using was the culprit.
Tilly was a black bear Syrian hamster, barely 6 months old when I found her in her cage walking limply around in the sawdust. I instantly picked her up, tears streaming from my eyes, desperately calling for my mum.
She was making a croaking sound and lying with her head on my hand, not even enough energy to lift it. I cried and cried, knowing that I couldn't help, and that the vets would be closed.
Three hours later she was gone, lying on my bed next to a cooling hot water bottle with my tears drying on her soft fur. Just before she died, her eyes widened and I looked into them, feeling nothing but guilt and love. Then she was dead.
Now maybe she wasn't meant to be, maybe she would have died 2 months later because of cancer, or kidney failure. But all I know is that that fluffy bedding stole that time from both of us, and I have said this numerous times to pets at home. Because I think it's disgusting that they sell it as safe.
Tilly died so that you may know her story, and not make the same mistake that I did."
"My hamster Monty died from it that's before I knew it was bad and I'd only had him 1 week I was devastated"
"On my birthday I got a Chinese hamster and she lived in a 1.5ft tank (I have learned from my mistakes now) And basically I went to my local pet shop to get some bedding. They advised me to get some fluffy bedding and they said it came in pink so I really wanted it. When I got home I put the fluffy bedding in Lily's Little house and I THOUGHT she really enjoyed it as she was very vocal which she wasn't usually. So later that night I went to check on Lily as I didn't see her all night. When I looked in her little house I saw a blood bath and her tail lying on the floor! She got her tail stuck in the bedding and tried to pull away but instead she ripped her tail of! That night she had an emergency vet appointment and had her back end stitched up and was on drugs for 2 weeks."
On choosing to use it if you haven't had a personal experience: "It's like saying well... i've always played chicken and never got run over. When chicken is actually dangerous and the time you get run over is the time it's too late, too late to change when the victim is dead or severely injured. Why take a chance, play with life. Besides, fancy bedding is a bit of a waste of money anyway when you can rip up bog roll for them" - It's the sad truth that for some, it's too late to change it.
"I had a beautiful cream hammy called honey bee who ingested it and found her dead within the first week of having her.. never touching the stuff again its not worth the risk even buying it"
"I gave my three boys one square pad of the cotton stuff about a week after I brought them home. Well, they seemed to have fun shredding the stuff and making a nest out of it. I fed them and go to bed. The next morning, barely 8 hours later, I look in and find two of the boys dead, with cotton still caught in their teeth. Coincidence? I think not."
"Before the dangers of fluffy bedding were realised one of my hams got it so tightly wrapped around his leg in the night his foot had ballooned to 3 times its size, he had to go to the vets as we could not remove it , the vet managed to but my poor Dad was covered in blood where my ham had bitten him because he was scared he was lucky not to loose his foot ... fluffy bedding just isn't safe not to mention the internal blockages it can cause"
"I didn't know.. this happened to our hamster. Her foot got trapped in it, formed a blood clot and she passed last night. I am so sad and mad. I wish I had known . We read so much before we got them both and this I did not see :("