Absorbencies of six different rodent beddings: commercially advertised absorbencies are potentially misleading.
Moisture absorbency is one of the most important characteristics of rodent beddings for controlling bacterial growth and ammonia production. However, bedding manufacturers rarely provide information on the absorbencies of available materials, and even when they do, absorption values are usually expressed per unit mass of bedding. Since beddings are usually placed into cages to reach a required depth rather than a particular mass, their volumetric absorbencies are far more relevant. This study therefore compared the saline absorbencies of sawdust, aspen woodchips, two virgin loose pulp beddings (Alpha-Dri™ and Omega-Dri™), reclaimed wood pulp (Tek-Fresh™), and corncob, calculated both by volume and by mass. Absorbency per unit volume correlated positively with bedding density, while absorbency per unit mass correlated negatively. Therefore, the relative absorbencies of the beddings were almost completely reversed depending on how absorbency was calculated. By volume, corncob was the most absorbent bedding, absorbing about twice as much saline as Tek-Fresh, the least absorbent bedding. Conversely, when calculated by mass, Tek-Fresh appeared to absorb almost three times as much saline as the corncob. Thus, in practical terms the most absorbent bedding here was corncob, followed by the loose pulp beddings; and this is generally supported by their relatively low ammonia production as seen in previous studies. Many factors other than absorbency determine whether a material is suitable as a rodent bedding, and they are briefly mentioned here. However, manufacturers should provide details of bedding absorbencies in terms of volume, in order to help predict the relative absorbencies of the beddings in practical situations.