If you’ve got a hammy you’re probably wondering if he’ll chew through cardboard. Would a hamster eat cardboard ? I looked at my Teddy since I first got him, and knew he’d have a special relationship with cardboard tubes.
So let’s see if hamsters eat cardboard, and if cardboard is even safe for them in the first place.
So do hamsters eat cardboard ?
No, hamsters do not eat cardboard. Unlike with soft materials like paper towels or toilet squares, which can get into the hamster’s moth and swallowed up. Cardboard is not something hamsters eat, not even by mistake like with paper.
They do however love to chew through it and they will not stop until the whole roll is done.
You might think the hamster finds the cardboard tasty, given how much he’s munching on it. But no, he’s just clipping at it like a small maniac. My Teddy for example goes through an entire paper towel cardboard roll, which is almost 3 toilet paper rolls, in one night !
Now let’s see which kinds of cardboard are okay for hamsters, and what you should look out for.
Make sure it’s just plain cardboard
By plain I mean the simple, brown/grey kind of cardboard. It’s usually the cheapest option because it requires no further treatment like bleaching and recoloring or laminating.
Incidentally, this keeps it safe for hamsters and rodents.
A few examples of safe, simple cardboard are:
- toilet paper rolls
- paper towel rolls
- any other roll that’s made of plain cardboard, like some aluminium foil rolls or saran wrap rolls
- actual, cardboard boxes that some packages come in
It could be the wrinkly, ruffled cardboard that’s made to withstand lots of force, or it could be a thin kind of cardboard. If it’s got some paper still on, the hamster will love ripping it apart and stuffing that in his cheeks as well.
However there are some kinds of cardboard you should keep your hamster away from. These are pieces of cardboard that are not only painted, they’re also laminated or at least lined with plastic (like milk cartons for example), or have aluminium sides.
So items like liquid cartons, packaging boxes that are very colorful or have a plastic-like outside and they’re almost waterproof, cardboard boxes from very strong smelling products (like lotion or perfume), and so on.
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Only use cardboard for toys and nesting material
I wouldn’t recommend using cardboard for anything other than just toys or nesting material for your hamster. This is because he will tear through it with ease, and you’ll have to keep replacing them.
Replacing a chew toy made of a cardboard roll with another cardboard roll is no problem. But replacing a hamster food bowl or hideout every day, even if it’s just cardboard, is just not worth the effort.
A hamster hideout should be made of wood, so he had something to chew on all the time, but still a place to sleep.
Your hamster will also use the cardboard as extra lining for his nest if he feels too cold. I’ve found bits of chewed up cardboard in my Teddy’s nest more than once.
For the most part he just chews and chews and chews away at those cardboard rolls, but sometimes he finds a bit more use for them. You can check out this article to see how you can use cardboard to make DYI toys for your hamster too.
Hamsters need to chew, otherwise their teeth grow much too large. They can develop serious dental problems if their teeth are left unchecked. Most of those problems can be solved at a veterinarian, but preventing them works much better.
In some cases when the hamster keeps chewing on the cage bars, and you’ve found no other solution you can use the cardboard rolls like I used them here with my Teddy. He goes for the bars but end up chewing the cardboard instead, and it’s a welcome change from the usual bar chewing.
Other chewing alternatives for your hamster friend
Some people swear by mineral chews. While they keep the hamster busy, they’re not exactly needed. The thing is that mineral chews are meant to give the hamster minerals if he lacks them, but most hamsters do no need the extra minerals.
The commercial mix they get supplements them with enough minerals and salts.
There is also the issue with dust, and how that affects the hamster’s lungs. My Teddy looked like a construction worker whenever he took to that mineral chew. If you want to find out more about mineral chews, you should check out this article.
Another way for your hamster to get his chewing fix is wood. Wood-based toys and objects in his cage will make sure he chews on something safe whenever he feels the urge to chomp down on something.
For example my Teddy’s hideout’s made of wood, and he has a few wood objects to nibble on as well. He’s also got this walnut, that I’ve cleaned and left in his cage. He goes crazy over it, and keeps trying to open it.
A word from Teddy
I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies chew on everything, but cardboard is okay for us. Well, most cardboard objects I mean.
If you want to know more about us hamsters, you can check out the related article below. You’ll find more info on how to care for us and keep us happy.