Why Do Hamsters Stuff Their Cheeks With Bedding?

Have you seen a hamster eat its bedding? It is possible! It can be slightly unnerving to say it, at least the first-ever time you will be experiencing it. You might wonder whether or not this is normal behaviour for your pet.
Why Do Hamsters Stuff Their Cheeks With Bedding

Moreover, you might also worry if this behaviour will make your pet sick. However, in most cases, there is nothing to worry about. It is a completely normal activity for hamsters to eat their bedding and stuff the cheeks up with the same.

So, why do hamsters eat their bedding? Hamsters do NOT eat their bedding in the first place. As a matter of fact, they only stuff the entire nesting or bedding material into their cheeks. One of the major reasons for this behaviour is that hamsters prefer carrying the bedding material in their cheek pouches for transporting it from one location to another. They make use of the material for making a comfortable nest. 

In some cases, hamsters might also go ahead with chewing the bedding. It is also referred to as the substrate. This phenomenon allows these creatures to keep their continually growing teeth in proper check. You should know that it is perfectly normal for these little creatures to stuff the cheeks with bedding material. However, you should also be aware of the fact that some specific bedding materials can be unsafe to be used in the cage of your hammy –whether the hamsters ingest it or not.

An Insight into Hamster Cheek Pouches

There is the presence of cheek pouches on either side of the face of a hamster. These pouches tend to extend from the jaw all the way back to the chin of the animal. The pouches can be regarded as large-sized, empty skin pockets that are present on either side of the hamster’s cheeks. 

It is important to note that check pouches are not unique to only hamsters. They are present in other mammals as well –including squirrels, monkeys, and chipmunks. The cheek pouches that are present in hamsters tend to be quite well-developed. Moreover, these can be used for storing a number of items inside them.

Hamsters make use of the cheek pouches for storing food, bedding, substrate, or almost anything that they might assume is useful for their nests. They might also store items for keeping them and eating at a later point in time. 

In most cases, these interesting creatures make use of the cheek pouches for carrying food to the respective hoard or just for transporting items from one place to another. In a simpler sense, these can be regarded as built-in backpacks situated on the side of the face. 

As such, whenever you observe your hammy stuffing its cheek with bedding, there is usually nothing to worry about. There is no point stopping your pet from doing so or attempting to take bedding out of its mouth. Be assured that your hamster will not be ingesting it. They are only pouching the bedding material, traveling with the same, and emptying the pouches when they reach the desired destination. You should know that hamsters do not tend to eat anything that is not favourable to their taste.

Additional Uses of Cheek Pouches for Hamsters

The cheek pouches in hamsters tend to be highly versatile. There are several amazing things that hamsters are capable of doing with them. 

Mother hamsters having young pups can store the entire litter in the cheek pouches while transporting her babies from one place to another conveniently. Hamsters might consider indulging in such behaviour when they think that the pups might be in danger. Therefore, the mother will instantly stuff up the pups in her cheek pouches as she moves with them from one place to another, regarded as safe. 

The only downside to this behaviour is that the mother will have limited time to do the act. Moreover, she will only be able to move a smaller distance before oxygen runs out of the cheek pouch. Otherwise, her babies will die. 

Another interesting fact that you should know about these little creatures is that wild hamsters are capable of inflating their cheek pouches with air. They then make use of the same for keeping them afloat when they are swimming across waters –typically for escaping a predator. Hamsters only choose to swim when they regard that their life is in danger. 

Safe & Unsafe Hamster Bedding

As hamsters will be stuffing their bedding into the cheek pouches for moving it around, it is imperative for you to ensure that the bedding or substrate material (substrate is the material going onto the floor of the pet’s cage) is safe for these creatures.

There are some substrate materials that could be harmful to the animal even when they might not stuff the same into its cheek pouches. Substrates that you would like to avoid using include wood shavings that are obtained from Cedar or Pine trees. Cedar and Pine are known to feature naturally-occurring Phenol for protecting the trees from getting infested with fungus or eaten by insects. In case your hamster breathes in the harmful chemicals, it could lead to problems with the respiratory system. 

Rather than this, you can think of using Aspen wood shavings or any other paper-based bedding material. It is also a good option to make use of toilet paper. It is a highly common material for hamster bedding because it turns out to be immensely cosy for the animal. Moreover, it is also cost-effective. Ensure that the toilet paper that you are using for your hammy’s bedding is unscented. This is because hamsters tend to have an acute sense of smell. As such, scented bedding material would be overpowering for them.


The chubby cheeks of your hammy might be its cutest characteristic. Keep a check on the items your hammy is stuffing up in its cheek pouch. As a pet owner, you should be cautious that your pet is not stuffing any dangerous item. 

missed something?

a little about me
Hi, im Sofia
Hi, im Sofia

I'm a mother of 2, hamster enthusiast, animal lover, and blogger. I have had five hamsters in my life, each with their own personality!

want to know more?
Join Our Hamster Lovers Mailing List