To be a responsible hamster parent, it is important to make sure you are providing your hamster with the right items to chew on, as chewing is a natural behavior that these adorable little creatures partake in. For a healthy and happy pet hamster, you should avoid putting certain items in its enclosure.
This article will be covering the various objects you can give your hamster for chewing purposes, as well as some things that should never be given to your beloved pet. Keep reading to be certain you are providing your pet with the best life possible.
The Importance of Chewing
Before reading about which items are safe for your hamster to chew on, you should understand why giving your hamster chewable objects is vital for its health. The importance of this behavior revolves around this animal’s teeth, though chewing is also a great form of entertainment for your hamster.
Hamster’s teeth are unique in that they continue to grow throughout their lives, similar to human hair and nails, and so they must keep them from growing out of control by chewing on wood, in the case of hamsters that live in the wild.
If you do not give your hamster something to chew on, then their teeth can become overly long and hinder them from being able to eat properly.
If your pet’s teeth do end up getting too long and becoming an issue, you always have the option of bringing them to a veterinarian for tooth clipping.
Of course, it is best for you to take all the preventative measures you can to avoid having to do this, which means giving your hamster something to chew on.
What Can Your Hamster Chew On?
Now that you know why your hamster needs to have something (or multiple items) in its enclosure to chew on, you are probably itching to know what exactly you can allow your pet to have.
This section aims to provide you with this very information, so keep reading to learn what you should and should not give your hamster.
Are Popsicle Sticks Safe for Hamsters?
You can add popsicle sticks to the list of items that you should never give to your hamster. These can become dangerous while being chewed on by your pet, as they are typically made of brittle wood that will break into sharp splinters, potentially piercing your hamster’s mouth, especially when it is storing it.
If you want to keep your pet hamster happy, healthy, and free of cuts, do not put popsicle sticks in its enclosure.
Is Straw Safe for Hamsters?
You should avoid giving your hamster straw to chew on, as well as using it for bedding in their enclosure. Since straw is quite stiff and sharp, it can injure your pet when they chew on it, and this is even more likely to happen when they store it away in their cheek.
Do not get this confused with hay which, although it is not the best for chewing purposes, can be used for bedding, or your hamster can utilize it for nesting.
Are Toilet Paper Rolls Safe for Hamsters?
Many people who have pet hamsters will throw empty paper towel rolls or toilet paper rolls into their enclosure, and this is perfectly fine to do. Your hamster might end up choosing to use the toilet paper roll for something other than gnawing, such as for a bed, but this is okay too.
Just make sure that the roll you give your hamster does not have any leftover glue still stuck to it, nor any dyes on it.
Are Pine Cones Safe for Hamsters?
Hamsters in the wild have actually been found chewing on pine cones found lying around on the ground, but is it okay to give your pet hamster pine cones?
Although some hamster owners decide to give their pets pine cones, many people advise against doing so as they have the potential to grow harmful bacteria on them, which can hurt your pet.
As far as store bought pine cones go, these are typically washed thoroughly, but often, they are treated with a chemical to preserve them.
Thus, it is probably best to err on the side of caution and simply avoid giving your hamster pine cones. After all, with so many other options, you might as well just choose another object for your pet.
Are Sticks From Outside Safe for Hamsters?
One thing you can give your pet hamster to gnaw on is sticks or chunks of wood that are straight from your yard or other places outside. Keep in mind that hamsters prefer wood from fruit trees, so if you happen to have any apple or pear trees in your yard, you could target sticks specifically from these to really make your pet happy.
Of course, before you provide your hamster with sticks from outside, make sure that they have not been sprayed with any chemicals, urinated on by a pooch, or otherwise contaminated.
Is Cardboard Safe for Hamsters?
Cardboard is perfectly fine to let your hamster gnaw on—that is, provided that it did not have any food in it, has dye on it, is laminated, has glue on it, is glossy, or has any other potentially dangerous qualities. In fact, providing your pet with cardboard is encouraged as it will keep them busy.
Not only do hamsters utilize cardboard for chewing, but oftentimes, they will use it for creating nests and other things.
Are Dog Biscuits Safe for Hamsters?
One alternative to cardboard and woods that you can give to your hamster to chew on is dog biscuits. As long as they do not contain any garlic, these are totally safe to let your hamster gnaw on.
Some people find that when their pet will not chew on the other most commonly used objects, they will gladly chew on dog biscuits. Thus, this is something you can try if your hamster will not gnaw on anything.
Other Ways to Care for Your Pet
Aside from making sure your pet hamster’s teeth are well maintained, you need to ensure that you care for your hamster properly in every other way. As the owner of a hamster, it is up to you to keep the animal healthy and well, as it relies solely on you for its survival.
Check out the various tips below for taking appropriate care of your pet hamster.
Along with providing your pet hamster with some objects to chew on, you should also make sure you are feeding it a nutritious diet and the appropriate amount of food.
You should feed your pet daily with pellets or other food designed specifically for hamsters. You can also provide it with special treats, such as pieces of fruit, nuts, seeds, and vegetables, a few times a week.
Make sure that you regularly check your hamster’s store of food, so you can remove it from the enclosure before it starts molding.
You should, of course, also be certain to keep a steady supply of water in your hamster’s cage by using a dish or a bottle that attaches to the side of the enclosure.
When picking out an enclosure for a pet hamster, you should avoid getting a wire cage, as hamsters are known for climbing up them, only to fall from the top and injure themselves. It is also possible for them to get limbs stuck in wire cages.
You should opt for a soft bedding such as hay or certain types of wood shavings. You can visit your local pet store and pick up hamster-specific bedding for your pet’s cage.
You should make a point to socialize with your pet hamster so that it learns to get familiar with your scent and trust you. When you first approach your pet, make sure that you move slowly and allow it to sniff your hand.
You can really get your hamster to warm up to you by offering it treats while interacting with it. You should also let your hamster get some exercise outside of its enclosure. You can create an exercise area for your pet out of cardboard boxes, or you could purchase a hamster playpen.
Hamsters are fun pets to have, and they are easy to care for, as long as you have the right knowledge to do so. This article should have answered your question of what you can give your pet hamster to chew on, and you should also now know some basic care tips for keeping your pet happy.
As a final note, if you find that your pet does not like gnawing on the cardboard or wood you have placed in its enclosure, you can always try using nut shells to entice it to chew, or you could consider purchasing chew toys designed for hamsters.
As with humans, different hamsters can have varying preferences, so you might need to do some trial and error to figure out what your pet enjoys chewing most.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.