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is it OK to give hamsters cardboard?
Questions And Answers

Is It Safe For Hamsters To Eat Cardboard?

Cardboard is a material that can be used to create a range of hamster boredom breakers and hides.

It’s safe for hamsters to chew plain, undyed cardboard. Hamsters tear cardboard apart but don’t eat the small pieces, so it won’t cause impaction.

Cardboard is a good material for filing a hamster’s teeth down, and they get mental stimulation from tearing cardboard into small fragments.

Avoid bleached, glossy, or laminated cardboard. Also, check that the cardboard doesn’t contain any plastic packaging that can suffocate your hamster or lead to sickness.

Is It Ok To Give Hamsters Cardboard?

Cardboard can be turned into a variety of items for hamsters to enjoy.

However, before providing your hamster with cardboard, you must ensure it’s free from glue, chemicals, or adhesives that your hamster could ingest, as these things will make your pet sick.

As long as you choose a safe type of cardboard, it can provide several benefits because:

Hamsters Are Natural Chewers

Some hamsters are destructive and can’t resist chewing on things. Female Syrian hamsters tend to be more relentless chewers than males. According to Cell Reports, both genders and all species need to chew on things to keep their ever-growing teeth filed down.

Wooden toys do the job, but they can be expensive to keep replacing over time. Hamsters will chew on thick pieces of cardboard to keep their teeth at the right length, preventing overgrowth.

Prevents Boredom

Despite being so small, hamsters are highly active animals. They can run the equivalent of 5-6 miles a night in the wild while foraging for food, digging underground burrows, and evading predators.

Because cages don’t provide as much space as what they’d get in the wild, they need boredom breakers to keep them entertained instead.

Cardboard is a great way to keep hamsters occupied. You can either cut out specific shapes to suit your cage themes or leave medium-sized pieces in there for hamsters to destroy.

Hamsters will shed the cardboard with their nails, keeping them filed down to a suitable length.

Nesting Material

Hamsters enjoy being creative with their burrows. As a result, they chew and shed cardboard to use as their bedding or nesting material.

If you notice that the cardboard’s disappeared from the cage, your hamster’s likely taken it down to its burrow to sleep amongst. Hamsters rarely ingest cardboard because it becomes impacted within the stomach, and they recognize it’s not something to eat.

Is Cardboard Bad for Hamsters?

As mentioned, some cardboard materials can be bad for hamsters. Anything other than plain cardboard poses a problem because of the potentially unsafe chemicals and parts.

Harmful cardboard materials include those that are:

  • Dyed
  • Glossy
  • Waxy

Similarly, cardboard that’s come into contact with food, like carry boxes, is also unsafe because of the risk of bugs and pesticide traces from fruits and vegetables. Bugs can infest your hamster’s bedding, while pesticides will make your hamster sick, causing death in the most serious cases.  

Avoid cardboard that has plastic elements, like drinks cartons and skincare packaging. That’s because plastic provides hamsters with no benefits and may even result in suffocation.

Can Hamsters Chew On Cardboard?

It’s safe for hamsters to chew on cardboard, as long as it’s plain and undyed.

Most cardboard boxes used for shipping are safe, but you’ll want to make sure there’s no dirt or small pieces on the inside or outside of the box that could harm your hamster.

As mentioned, another plus is that hamsters don’t eat cardboard. They bite off small pieces at a time and discard the fragments. Hamsters aren’t tempted to eat cardboard because it doesn’t smell like food or provide any nutrients, so ingestion is rare.

All hamsters are different. It’s always wise to monitor your hamster’s habits and behavior when you first place a piece of cardboard into the cage to ensure that it’s not swallowing the pieces.

can hamsters have toilet roll tubes?

Is White Cardboard Safe for Hamsters?

White cardboard isn’t safe because it’s been bleached to achieve the light coloration. The bleaching process removes any dark lignin in the pulp, turning it from light or medium brown to white.

Chemicals are also often added to help the process along. Both bleach and chemicals are dangerous and potentially toxic to hamsters, so it’s best to avoid white cardboard boxes entirely, particularly if they come through the post and you can’t check how they were manufactured.

Is Colored Cardboard Safe for Hamsters?

Colored cardboard is similar to white in that it goes through an extensive bleaching or dyeing process to achieve the desired color.

You can tell whether it’s safe or not by sprinkling a few drops of water onto the cardboard to see whether the color transfers. If it does, it’s been artificially dyed.

That being said, colored cardboard is safe for hamsters if they only use it as a hideaway and don’t chew it. However, because hamsters are nocturnal, it’s impossible to keep an eye on your pet at all times.

This means it may end up chewing the cardboard and ingesting chemicals without you being able to stop it.

Can Hamsters Live In Cardboard Boxes?

Cardboard boxes make good hides and are an inexpensive way to create a cluttered environment to make your hamster feel safe and secure.

PLoS ONE explains that hamsters are prey animals, which means they must have plenty of hiding spots to escape to whenever they feel threatened.

You can create a large multi-chamber by cutting out an entrance hole on the front and top. If you have at least six inches of bedding underneath, your hamster will use the chamber to burrow extensive tunnels to sleep, store food, and go to the toilet.

Cardboard boxes are far better than having nothing in the cage.  

Can Hamsters Have Toilet Roll Tubes?

Most Syrian hamsters can’t fit through the holes, but they make good hides for smaller dwarf varieties.

You can either leave them lying on top of the bedding for your hamster to investigate, or you could bury them into the substrate while leaving one of the openings exposed to encourage burrowing.

Alternatively, you can turn toilet roll tubes into boredom breakers by cutting a few slits into them and stuffing them with hay, seeds, and your hamster’s favorite treats.

Hamsters will enjoy ripping into them and eating the food that’s inside. This also satisfies their need to forage.

Can Hamsters Eat Toilet Paper?

Torn-up toilet paper makes an excellent bedding material as it’s soft.

Unlike fiber-based bedding, it doesn’t cause impaction. It also can’t get wrapped around your hamster’s delicate limbs. This is the problem with commercial fiber bedding, as it cuts off the blood supply, resulting in the loss of limbs.

Your hamster won’t come to any harm if it eats a small amount of toilet paper. It dissolves in water, so your hamster’s stomach acids will break it down.

However, like everything, too much in a short space of time can cause problems. Avoid scented or colored toilet paper because it’ll make your hamster unwell. Plain toilet paper is the only safe kind.

Can Hamsters Chew on Paper Towels?

Paper towels are similar to toilet paper in that your hamster won’t become unwell after chewing on them.

Hamsters rarely swallow paper towels intentionally. Instead, they tear the material and stuff it into their large cheek pouches to use as bedding in their chosen sleeping spot. The chances are that your hamster will only chew on the paper to tear it into smaller pieces.

The only thing to watch is that paper towels aren’t as soft as toilet paper. It’s better at absorbing water, so paper towels will work well at soaking up urine, making your hamster’s cage much easier to clean.

Cardboard is a useful material for kitting out your hamster cage. Hamsters enjoy semi-clutter and need plenty to do to keep them occupied. As long as you choose plain cardboard, you won’t have any issues.