Our campaigning to get fluffy bedding removed from stores was reported in The Mirror, a newspaper with a daily print of around 800,000 and has a further large readership online. For hamsters and their keepers it’s great that the risks of fluffy bedding have made the news. The RSPCA say “Don’t give hamsters nesting materials that separate into thin strands, such as cotton wool or similar ‘fluffy’ bedding products. They can be seriously injured if this gets tangled around their limbs or if it’s swallowed.” Similar advice exists from The RVC, PDSA and Bluecross.
In the UK fluffy bedding for rodents has now been removed from the majority of UK stores, such as B&M, Jollyes, Pets Corner, ASDA and others. Totaling over a thousand retail outlets and protecting many thousands of rodents from harms way.
Our quest to make retailers aware of the dangers of fluffy bedding started with the tragic death of Poppy, a Syrian Hamster. Mark Diner’s hamster Poppy didn’t produce any faeces for 10 days and he booked her in at the vets for an operation to free what he suspected was a blockage, the blockage didn’t even show up on the X-ray, the vet thought it was just constipation and was treating Poppy with laxatives! She was very weak on that day and died whilst waiting for the operation.
After Poppy died Mark asked the vet for a post-mortem and they retrieved a 1-2cm total impaction of fibre from her colon and there was a rupture of her colon, she must have died in agony. He then instructed Cellmark Forensics to collect the fibre, they analysed it and confirmed it was the Kapok product “Rosewood Soft n Safe”.
Mark purchased his hamster Poppy from his local Pets at Home, on that day they recommended the fluffy bedding “Soft n Safe” and also another version of the product called “Play n Bedding Pods”, which are essentially Kapok Pods that contain seeds, which the packaging claims to be edible seeds.
On the day that Mark purchased his hamster and the fluffy bedding, Pets at Home provided Mark with a care guide leaflet “The Pets at Home and RSPCA Guide to Caring for your Syrian Hamster” Where they say they are “Working Together”. Mark read that guide and relied on it’s advice but sadly for Poppy the “Serious Risk” advice against the use of fluffy bedding from the RSPCA’s website wasn’t in the leaflet!
Mark approached The RSPCA with his post-mortem evidence and they sent it to their Science Department, a few weeks passed and he asked The RSPCA what they thought about the post-mortem results. Unfortunately, the Head of Companion Animals at The RSPCA replied to say:
“Dear Mark, I am very sorry but I am unable to comment on the autopsy results.”
Mark was greatly disappointed that The RSPCA couldn’t even comment on what the evidence shows. Obviously the ingestion issue is hidden to the human eye and therefore this could have happened to many people who may witness their hamster not eat, not produce faeces and die and they just wouldn’t know the reason why. Because it is a hidden danger Mark realised that this evidence is groundbreaking in showing the fluffy bedding ingestion issue.
Different to The RSPCA, The RVC gave Mark’s evidence a warm welcome and the case of Poppy and the post-mortem photo has been published in a peer reviewed Journal. Furthermore, The RVC use this important evidence that shows the fluffy bedding ingestion issue to teach veterinary students in lectures.
Pets at Home continue to sell the fluffy bedding “Soft n Safe” and we are not impressed with the comment that they provided to The Mirror. The reporter asked Pets at Home for comment and they said:
“Pets at Home said it does not sell any bedding made from synthetic fibres.”
On the 16th January 2023 Mark wrote to Pets at Home to express his concern with this comment, he said:
“The article doesn’t even talk about synthetic bedding, the product that killed Poppy wasn’t synthetic bedding, so why mention that! It seems that you are trying to give the impression that the Natural Kapok product that you sell is safe as it’s not Synthetic. Please read the RSPCA advice again, the advice is based on “Cotton Wool” which is also Natural just like Kapok.
You know as well as I do that Natural does not mean Safe.”
Pets at Home did not reply.
“This item is extensively tested and we will continually monitor its performance and safety”
On the 16th January 2023 Mark wrote to Wilko as he has never seen any testing regarding the product, he said:
“You clearly know more than I do and if you do have such evidence can you please show me where your recent warning that was added to the label comes from? You say “Not recommended for pets who are suffering from Gastrointestinal conditions. Excessive ingestion of non-edible bedding may indicate that your pet has an underlying health problem”.”
Wilko Did not Reply.
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