Home » Is It Safe for Hamsters To Eat Cardboard?
is it OK to give hamsters cardboard?
Questions And Answers

Is It Safe for Hamsters To Eat Cardboard?

Last Updated on: 24th September 2023, 05:14 pm

Cardboard is a material that can be used to create various 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, meaning it won’t cause impaction.

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

Avoid bleached, glossy, or laminated cardboard. Also, check that the cardboard contains no plastic packaging that can suffocate a 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 giving a hamster with cardboard, ensure it’s free from glue, chemicals, or adhesives your hamster could ingest, as these will make your pet sick.

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

Natural Chewers

Some hamsters are destructive and can’t resist chewing on things.

Female Syrian hamsters are more relentless chewers than males. According to Cell Reports, all species of hamsters must chew on things to keep their ever-growing teeth filed down.

Wooden toys do the job, but they can be expensive to replace 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 active animals. They can run 5-6 miles a night in the wild while foraging for food, digging burrows underground, and evading predators.

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

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

Hamsters will shed the cardboard with their nails, keeping them at 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 among.

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?

Because of the unsafe chemicals and parts, anything other than plain cardboard poses a problem. Harmful cardboard materials include:

  • Dyed.
  • Glossy.
  • Waxy.

Similarly, cardboard that comes into contact with food, like carrying boxes, is also unsafe because of the risk of bugs and pesticide traces from fruits and vegetables.

Bugs can infest a hamster’s bedding, while pesticides will make your hamster sick.

Avoid cardboard with plastic elements, like drinks cartons and skincare packaging, because plastic can 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 ensure there’s no dirt or small pieces on the inside or outside of the box that could harm your hamster.

Hamsters don’t eat cardboard; they bite off small pieces and discard the fragments. Hamsters aren’t tempted to eat cardboard because it doesn’t smell like food, so ingestion is rare.

All hamsters are different. So, it’s always wise to monitor your hamster’s habits and behavior when placing a piece of cardboard into the cage to ensure 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 a light color. Bleaching removes any dark lignin in the pulp, turning it from light or medium brown to white.

Chemicals are 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.

Is Colored Cardboard Safe for Hamsters?

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

You can tell whether it’s safe 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 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, you can’t always monitor them.

Can Hamsters Live In Cardboard Boxes?

Cardboard boxes make good hides and create an environment that makes your hamster feel safe.

PLoS ONE explains that hamsters are prey animals, meaning they need lots of hiding spots to escape 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.  

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 leave them lying on top of the bedding for your hamster to investigate or 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 and stuffing them with hay, seeds, and your hamster’s favorite treats.

Hamsters enjoy ripping into them and eating the food inside, which satisfies their need to forage.

Can Hamsters Eat Toilet Paper?

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

Unlike fiber-based bedding, it doesn’t cause impaction and can’t get wrapped around a hamster’s delicate limbs. This is the problem with commercial fiber bedding, as it cuts off the blood supply.

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 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 because a hamster won’t become unwell after chewing on them.

Hamsters 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.

Ensure 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 easier to clean.

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