Chinchillas love playing with cardboard.
And they love chewing.
More than that, they have to chew.
Obviously, if you let your chin play with cardboard, it will chew on it. And it may ingest some of it.
Some chins will outright eat it.
Is that a problem. Can chinchillas eat cardboard safely?
I strongly advise against it. For a number of reasons.
Keep reading to learn why your chinchilla should not eat cardboard and how you can still let it enjoy cardboard safely. Because the truth is, I let my chin play with toilet paper roles regularly. I just make sure to do so in a safe manner.
- 1 Can Chinchillas Eat Cardboard?
- 1.1 Using Cardboard During Chinchilla Playtime
- 1.2 Can Chinchillas Chew Cardboard If It Is Not Consumed?
- 1.3 Cardboard Can Be Safe But Always Exercise Caution
- 1.4 Try Using A Pine Box Instead Of Cardboard For Your Chinchilla
- 1.5 Never Trust Pet Stores For Chinchilla-Safe Chew Items Or Treats
- 1.6 Are Toilet Paper Rolls Safe For Chinchillas?
- 1.7 Is It Bad For Chinchillas To Eat Paper?
- 1.8 Can Chinchillas Eat Paper Towels?
- 2 Cardboard Is Okay For Your Chinchilla But Keep An Eye On Them
Can Chinchillas Eat Cardboard?
No chinchillas can’t eat cardboard. If they do, they could experience a blockage in the digestive tract. They can also choke on cardboard.
Some types of cardboard are safe for a chinchilla to play with, under supervision. But you should not allow the actual act of eating the cardboard, since that can be harmful.
Below, we will go into more detail on why cardboard can be harmful. We’ll also talk about the kinds of cardboard you can let your chin play with, as long as you keep a watchful eye and don’t let it swallow any of it. Finally, we’ll cover paper and other similar products.
You may be curious why this would become an issue and why it may be a common mistake that chinchilla’s owners make.
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Using Cardboard During Chinchilla Playtime
Chinchilla playtime is essential. Cardboard can certainly be incorporated into playtime with some supervision. And yes, chinchillas do like to play with several different kinds of cardboard.
This can include items like small boxes and toilet paper rolls. They love to jump in and out of boxes and even remove fun treats from a toilet paper roll.
This can include things like:
All three of these things would make a great treat to put inside a toilet paper role, so that your chinchilla can work to get it out. It’s a fun playtime activity.
But you should never allow your chinchilla to consume the cardboard.
I get it, you want to spice up the playtime and the time you have your chinchilla out of the cage. This is your time to bond with your pet, cuddle with it, and allow it to express itself.
The more time you spend making activities for your pet to interact with you outside of the cage, the more it will begin to bond and recognize you.
Additionally, we sometimes pull our chinchillas out for dust baths and other activities. The downfall we sometimes run into is that we look for clever ways to allow our chinchillas to have more fun when they come out for playtime. T is often best to stick to simple tried and true activities.
Other Options For Cardboard Use When Out For Playtime With Chinchillas
Many chinchilla owners take cardboard boxes and cut holes in them to create a hiding box type maze for their pet to jump in and out of, shred, and ultimately have a great time with.
Considering how much chinchillas love their nest boxes, you can certainly bet they will love this activity as well.
Again, just do not allow your chinchilla to actually eat the cardboard.
When you run into a problem is when your chinchilla fails to spit out the small amounts of cardboard it might chew off.
Other issues can present with cardboard as well if you begin using unsafe cardboard with dyes, staples, or other components that can be toxic if ingested (more on this shortly)
Can Chinchillas Chew Cardboard If It Is Not Consumed?
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.
But chinchillas chew everything and they will definitely chew the cardboard. This is not harmful in itself (assuming the cardboard is safe), but as mentioned above, they sometimes fail to spit out the little pieces they chew off and end up swallowing them instead.
That is when chewing becomes a problem. It’s the reason I recommend only giving your chin cardboard to play with while you are directly supervising.
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 without proper supervision.
Some owners in this situation will start to feel bad. They feel like the cardboard is a big piece of their chinchilla’s fun and entertainment and that without it, their pet may grow bored.
I’d argue that if you are in this boat, you need to spend a few extra dollars and get a large enough cage for your chinchilla. Ensuring you provide one of the best chinchilla cages is always going to be a critical step when adopting a chinchilla.
You can read more about how big a chinchilla cage should be here. A large enough cage allows you to place plenty of fun and safe items inside, like ledges for your chinchilla to climb and jump on.
Instead of using cardboard for your chinchilla, load up the cage with some of the best chinchilla toys that are known to be safe.
You should also consider adding some of the best chinchilla accessories to the cage.
To me, knowing my chinchilla is safe and not having to use cardboard unless I am supervising is the best approach.
Cardboard Can Be Safe But Always Exercise Caution
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 on it.
Again, playing with the cardboard has absolutely zero risks to your chinchilla.
Chewing the cardboard is also not very dangerous, if your pet spits it out. Even if it swallows some, it should not be a big deal as long as it isn’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 its cage freely with the cardboard. Who knows what it might do with it overnight or other times you’re not watching!
You can see more about what chinchillas do at night here.
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 overnight, let alone for a weekend or longer, with cardboard in the cage. When you do this, you have no way of knowing if it is 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 were not around for the weekend, you would not be there to seek help or treatment for your chinchilla before it’s too late.
Whenever you give your chin cardboard, always make sure you are there to keep an eye on it. Pay attention to what it does.
Is it just shredding it and then spitting it out and rolling around and playing?
Or do you notice it ingesting large pieces of cardboard?
If this is the case, cardboard time should be over for good, because it’s not worth the risk. There have been cases where cardboard has led to a chinchilla dying.
Ultimately, the choice is always yours.
A few last considerations you need to keep in mind when allowing your chinchilla around cardboard is the specific cardboard you are using.
Cardboard Can Contain Dangerous Dyes And Glue
Cardboard, depending on where it came from, can contain glue and other dyes. This is usually boxes from department stores or anything stamped with manufacturer labeling.
Avoid anything like this.
Although it’s possible your chinchilla never actually ingests the dangerous cardboard, the risks are just too high. If it does happen to swallow some, you run the risk of it ingesting dangerous dyes, glues, and ink.
Use plain cardboard only and make sure it doesn’t contain these glues or dyes. Avoid anything with paint on it, too. Even if it just gets on your pet’s fur, it may try to lick it off which can be harmful. Remove the paint from your chinchilla, if any gets on the fur.
Avoiding anything with dye, paint, glue, etc. brings you one step closer to providing safe cardboard to your chinchilla to play with at its leisure. With your supervision, of course.
Cardboard Can Also Contain Staples
You also need to double-check that the cardboard you give your chinchilla is free of staples. Ingesting a staple by accident could result in a tragic ending for your chinchilla.
Again, 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.
Try Using A Pine Box Instead Of Cardboard 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. I myself only let my chin play with cardboard 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. You won’t have the same concerns that you run into when cardboard is part of the equation.
That’s just my two cents. As always, the choice is yours.
You can also order safe wood toys on any platform like Amazon, if you don’t quite have the handy skills to DIY. IF you d make your own toya, just be sure not to use glue or other unsafe materials that could potentially cause your chinchilla harm.
Never Trust Pet Stores For Chinchilla-Safe Chew Items Or Treats
Another big issue I always make sure to point out is that you should never trust the pet stores.
You likely think I’m crazy.
I don’t know how many times I have found or purchased toys for my chinchilla at a pet store, only to come home and realize they contain ingredients terrible for chinchillas.
It is one of the reasons I always recommend adopting a chinchilla from a reputable chinchilla breeder near you.
It’s not that stores like PetSmart or Petco are evil or anything. It is simply a case of their employees not being educated enough on chinchillas and what is considered safe for a chinchilla.
They handle all kinds of different pets and chinchillas are still relatively rare, so the chances are very slim that a local pet store employee will know much of anything about chinchillas.
Are Toilet Paper Rolls Safe For Chinchillas?
Another common question that comes up related to chinchilla’s eating, chewing, or playing with cardboard is the issue of toilet paper rolls.
These are actually great.
You know for sure that there are no staples. You also know that they contain no ink, dye, or glue.
The only issue is the same as with any other safe cardboard: make sure your pet isn’t swallowing it.
I actually use toilet paper roles whenever I give my chin cardboard to play with. I love stuffing the toilet paper roll with hay and letting my chin try and pull it out. It is just plain awesome to watch.
Your chinchilla will love it and you will feel much more safe using this approach.
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. That said, just as with cardboard, ingesting paper is not ideal and something you should not allow. Consuming a small amount will not cause your chinchilla any harm, but larger amounts could.
Can Chinchillas Eat Paper Towels?
Yes, a chinchilla can eat paper towels. Paper towels do not contain anything toxic. Likely your chinchilla will decide to shred and destroy the paper towels before eating them.
If your pet does eat paper towels, just be sure to keep an eye on the situation and not allow over-consumption. Basically, it is the same as for other plain paper and cardboard.
Cardboard Is Okay For Your Chinchilla But Keep An Eye On Them
Chinchillas playing with cardboard is okay. No problem there. It is 100% safe.
If 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 even 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.
Chili and I wish you the best of luck with your new chinchillas and the journey you have ahead of you.
Now it is your turn to share your thoughts on this topic.
Do you agree with me or do you leave your chinchilla unsupervised to consume and play with as much cardboard as it chooses?
What are your methods for allowing your chinchilla to interact with, play with, and use cardboard?
Be sure to share those thoughts, stories, and concerns by dropping a comment below.
As always, Chili and I appreciate you stopping by and reading today and we will see you again next time!