Owning a chinchilla can be stressful. Usually it’s all fun and laughter, but in the beginning, it’s stressful and full of anxiety primarily because you are still learning the ins and outs and the dos and don’t about being an ethical chinchilla owner and what may be safe for your chinchilla and what’s never a good idea. A question I remember asking myself, in the beginning, was concerning what chinchillas can chew on. Can chinchillas eat cardboard? After diligent research, stressful days of being concerned with best practices, here is what I can tell you.
So, can chinchillas eat cardboard? No chinchillas can’t eat cardboard. A chinchilla that eats cardboard could experience a blockage that can occur in the digestive tract. Chinchillas can also choke on cardboard. Having cardboard around a chinchilla is safe with supervision, but the actual act of eating the cardboard should always be avoided.
Clearly based on the statement above, chinchillas shouldn’t eat cardboard. You may be curious why this would become an issue and why it may be a common mistake that some chinchilla’s owner do make, unfortunately.
I wanted to take the time to go over a few more points on this topic to ensure you have a full understanding. This should help to ensure your chinchilla is always safe and not in danger of the health concerns we mentioned above.
Don’t Let Chinchilla Playtime Fool You, A Common Trap
Chinchilla play time is essential. This is your time to bond with your chinchilla, cuddle with your chinchilla and allow your chinchilla to express themselves.
Not to mention it’s fantastic for giving your chinchilla well deserved time out of the cage and the chance to get to interact with you which ultimately builds a stronger bond over time.
Additionally, sometimes we pull our chinchillas out for dust baths and other activities. The downfall we run into frequently is looking for clever ways to allow our chinchillas to have more fun when they come out for playtime.
Many chinchilla owners often will take cardboard boxes and cut holes in it to create a hiding box type maze for your chinchilla to jump in and out of, shred and ultimately have a great time.
Don’t get me wrong, in most circumstances, this is going to be okay and safe. When you run into a problem is when your chinchilla isn’t a fan of spitting out the small amounts of cardboard, or you begin using unsafe cardboard with dyes, staples or other inks that can be toxic if ingested.
Not to mention, too much cardboard consumption can also cause the digestive blocks we discussed previously in this post.
A Caveat, Chinchillas Do Love Cardboard
Here’s when it gets complicated. My chinchilla loves cardboard. Your chinchilla will love cardboard. Cardboard is just a darn good play item for a chinchilla.
Some owners are risk takers and have no fear of placing cardboard in the cage, and many chinchilla owners use items such as Kleenex boxes and toilet paper rolls for playtime.
Again, don’t get me wrong, in most circumstances, this is going to be perfectly fine although I do advise against placing the cardboard in the cage. This could turn dangerous for a new chinchilla owner or without proper supervision.
It Can Be Safe at Time but Keep an Eye on It
If you are like me and hate to take away something you know your chinchilla loves, just be sure to be safe about it and keep an eye it. Again, playing with the cardboard has absolutely zero risks to your chinchilla. In addition, chewing the cardboard is also not very dangerous if they spit it out or they aren’t consuming an abundance of it at a time.
That’s where you can run into problems. If you decide to use cardboard during playtime, cage time or whatever the case may be, just monitor what your chinchilla does with it when given a chance.
Don’t leave your chinchilla to roam their cage freely with the cardboard. Who knows what they do with it overnight or what they are doing when you’re not watching!
Are they just shredding it and then spitting it out and rolling around and playing? Are you noticing them digesting large pieces of cardboard? If this is the case, cardboard time should be over for good because it’s not worth the risk.
I suppose that’s only my opinion and I’m sure I’ll get some kickback on this topic because I’m aware that many chinchilla owners do this successfully at times. On the flip side, I’m also mindful that cardboard has been the cause of death for chinchillas as well.
Ultimately, the choice is always yours. It’s your furry friend.
Never Trust the Pet Stores for Chinchilla Safe Chew Items or Treats
Another big item that I like to make sure I point is that you should never trust the pet stores. You likely think I’m crazy, but I don’t know how many times I have found or purchased toys for my chinchilla to come home and realize they contain ingredients terrible for chinchillas or have been constructed out of un-safe materials for your chinchilla to bite, nibble shred or interact with in any form.
Not trying to sound bossy but do some research and learn what’s safe for your chinchilla before just buying endless amounts of treats and toys. It’s not worth the risk, and it’s the ethical thing to do as a chinchilla owner.
Let’s touch on a few of the other dangers of cardboard to ensure you avoid your chinchilla’s safety.
Cardboard Can Contain Dyes and Glue
Cardboard, depending on where it came from, will contain glue and other dyes. These will be your boxes from department stores or still stamped with manufacture labeling.
These should be avoided. Although it’s possible your chinchilla never actually ingests the dangerous cardboard in this situation, if they do happen to do so, you run the risk of them ingesting dangerous dyes, glues, and ink.
Use plain cardboard only and ensure it doesn’t contain these glues or dyes and you are 1 step closer to providing safe cardboard to your chinchilla to play with at their leisure (with your supervision) of course.
Cardboard Can Also Contain Staples
You also need to double check that the cardboard either being placed in the chinchilla cage or in the playtime area is free of staples. Ingesting a staple on accident could result in a tragic ending for your chinchillas.
Again, to recap, if you are going to allow your chinchilla to play with or nibble on cardboard, make sure to double check and be 100% sure that no staples are present in the cardboard.
Don’t Leave Your Chinchilla Alone with Cardboard, Not A Good Idea.
Leaving your chinchilla alone for several days is one thing. Leaving your chinchilla alone with cardboard is an entirely different story. You shouldn’t ever leave your chinchilla for a weekend or more than overnight with cardboard in the cage.
When doing this, you have no way of knowing if they are ingesting large pieces, small pieces or any pieces of cardboard at all.
Not to mention if choking or a digestion block did occur, and you’re not around for the weekend, that could spell trouble for other reasons such as not being around to seek help or treatment for your chinchilla before it’s too late.
How about we discuss an alternative or two and then hit on some related questions? Sound good to you guys?
Try Using a Pine Box Instead for Your Chinchilla
Pine is a safe alternative if you don’t feel 100% comfortable offering your chinchilla cardboard either in the cage or during playtime. Trust me, I don’t blame you, and I will only do it every now and then and for very small amounts of time because I’m a little OCD and overprotective of my chin.
If you are handy at all, you can create your own pine bridge, hiding box or hanging toy for your chinchilla to chew on safely and not have the same concerns that you run into when cardboard is part of the equation.
That’s again, just my two cents and the choice is yours. You can also order these safe toys on any platform such as Amazon if you don’t quite have the handy skills to throw it together.
Just be sure not to use glue or other unsafe materials that could potentially cause your chinchilla harm.
Are Toilet Paper Rolls Safe for Chinchillas?
I would say if there were a great alternative or happy medium spot, it would be offering your chinchilla toilet paper rolls. You know for sure that staples won’t be involved. You also know that no ink, dye or glue will be present in harmful amounts. In addition, stuffing toilet paper rolls with hay is just plain awesome to watch. Your chinchilla will love it!
Putting It All Together, Avoid Cardboard or Use Only with Supervision
Chinchillas eating playing with cardboard is okay. No problem here. 100% safe. If, however, you are supervising it. Chinchillas consuming or ingesting cardboard is an entirely different story, and you need to be careful when your chinchilla has free access to this.
It’s not worth the risk of possible blockages or worth the risk of potential death. Chinchillas are one of the best, most friendly loving pets we can adopt. Let’s all make sure we take the steps to keep them safe and sound.
What’re your thoughts on chinchillas eating cardboard? Do you agree with me or do you leave your chinchilla unsupervised to consume and play with as much cardboard as they choose? Be sure to leave a comment below!
Is It Bad for Chinchillas to Eat Paper?
No, a chinchilla won’t be harmed from eating paper unless it contains dyes, inks or other toxins. Ingesting paper is not best for a chinchilla but consuming in a small amount will not cause your chinchilla any harm.
Can Chinchillas Eat Paper Towels?
Yes, a chinchilla can eat paper towels. Paper towels do not contain anything toxic on them. Likely your chinchilla will decide to shred and destroy the paper towels before eating them. If they do eat paper towels, just be sure to keep an eye on the situation and not allow over-consumption.
Is Newspaper Safe for Chinchillas?
The newspaper contains ink and other dye used to print the papers. This makes the newspaper not safe for chinchillas. Many individuals attempt to use newspaper for bedding options. Chinchillas will still find a way to eat newspaper in these situations or tear it and shred it. Overall, I would not use newspaper for bedding or play time/interaction time with my chinchilla.