Is Aspen Safe?
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We don't yet know.  We do have concerns that some hamsters are not tolerating Aspen well.

We are hearing increased reports of problems in hamsters which are potentially related to the use of Aspen bedding.  These reports are coming from throughout the United States and Canada, and they represent multiple lines and species of hamsters as well as different sources of Aspen.  We know of no scientific studies which would clearly indicate the reasons for these potential problems.  We ask that anyone with scientific studies related to Aspen bedding and potential problems e-mail the reference to calhamassoc@hotmail.com

Until we gather more information, we are asking everyone to evaluate whether their animals are showing symptoms and encourage them to consider switching beddings if the circumstances warrant it.  Carefresh and other paper-based beddings seem to resolve the symptoms very rapidly.

Symptoms found in Syrians, Campbells, and Winter White Dwarf Hamsters
* Increase drinking and urination
* Fur loss most noticeable on the belly and on the inside of the hind legs but also seen on the back, around the ears, and in other places
* General thinning of fur
* Decreased activity associated with shift to Aspen from another bedding

Syrians seem more likely to die within days or weeks after showing these symptoms.  The Dwarf Hamsters seem to be able to survive and multiply for generations in spite of these symptoms.  This information is clearly preliminary, and we will update this page as we learn more.

Our biggest concern with publicizing these symptoms is that these are also the symptoms associated with many other health problems.  Please consider other bedding options if your animals show mild cases of any of these symptoms, but please seek prompt veterinary assistance if the symptoms are severe or continue after switching beddings.  Increased wetting and urination symptoms as well as decreased activity problems typically disappear within a day or two.  In cases of fur loss, it may take a couple of weeks for the fur to re-grow.

Possible other causes for these symptoms

Increased drinking and urination
* Diabetes particularly in the Campbells
* Infection including but not limited to Urinary Tract Infection
* Kidney problems

Fur loss and/or thinning fur
* Old age
* Mites
* Allergies to food or other non-bedding items
* Decreased health or dietary problems
* Stress

Decreased activity
* Old age
* Most any other illness or stressor