Step 2: Using the sand
We're often asked what folks should do with the sand once they've prepared it. It couldn't be simpler! Just toss it in a container (make sure it's one you're okay with your hamster potentially ruining--no family heirlooms!) and pop it in the cage! We suggest using disposable Tupperware-style containers, ceramic pie dishes, or glass baking dishes (this one is our fave!). These are great for the average hamster.
Some hams really like to dig, and end up kicking sand all over their cage! Don't write off sand just yet--get them a different dish. For overachieving hamsters, we highly suggest the Fortiflex Mini Pan. The high sides keep all of the sand in, and the larger sizes offers lots of room for digging and playing. The best part is that the sand won't stick or stain like it does on other plastics! You can buy one from the link above, but it's usually cheapest to find them at your local feed store--just call ahead and ask if they carry them.
Sand is used by many folks as a potty litter for hamsters. There are several products on the market meant the same use, but we prefer children's play sand as it is the most affordable and relatively easy to find. Our hamsters are raised with sand as a potty litter, so they go home already trained to "do their business" wherever you put their litter box--you can take advantage of this by preparing your own sand!
Step 2: Baking the sand
The sand is often very moist inside of its bag. Because of this, it is a breeding ground for bacteria, microbes, and mold as well as a lofty home for some insects. You wouldn't want your ham playing around in damp sand! For these reasons, you're going to need to bake the sand in order to sanitize it, kill any pests living inside, and dry it out for safe use.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees; the high heat makes quick work of getting through the whole bag! Then, open the bag and start scooping it into the pans you're going to use. We suggest these pans or similar heavy duty disposable roasting pans. The deep basin allows you to cook lots of sand at once! Once your oven is loaded up, let the sand cook for 60-90 minutes. Then, take the sand out and allow it to cool thoroughly.
Once the sand is completely cool, pour it into a plastic storage tote and store wherever is convenient!
Step 1: Buying the sand
We use and recommend purchasing plain old children's play sand for your hamster. Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart carry it very inexpensively. The price is typically about $5 for a 50lb bag--this will likely last you the entirety of your hamster's life!
When you're at the store, look for plain children's play sand with no additives or colourants. Here are some examples of what the bag may look like.
Preparing and Using Sand
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