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If you look on YouTube you’ll find lots of hamster YouTubers making toys, platforms and other trinkets out of popsicle sticks for their hamsters.
These are great and are a cost effective way to entertain your hamster, but can hamsters chew on popsicle sticks?
No, hamsters cannot chew on popsicle sticks. Popsicle sticks are made out of Birch wood, which is brittle and dry and can easily splinter and cause injuries, especially if collected in their cheek pouches.
Whilst hamsters should not chew on popsicle sticks, you might still be wondering whether it’s safe to use them to build platforms and toys for your hamsters.
Let’s look into this and also look at what woods hamsters are able to get their teeth around.
Using popsicle sticks in your hamster’s cage
Hamsters have very sharp teeth and can easily chew through a popsicle stick and cause it to break.
When a popsicle stick breaks in half it can splinter a lot which means that there will be a lot of sharp ends which can injure your hamster.
The main way these will injure your hamster is when they are collecting materials for their nest.
Hamsters are hoarders and will stuff food, nesting material and whatever else they can find into their cheek pouches.
They then use these materials to make their nests as cosy as possible.
Hamsters also use their cheek pouches to transport materials from one place to another and therein lies the danger.
Sharp objects such as splintered popsicle sticks or sharp pieces of straw can damage or puncture the skin on the inside of a hamster’s cheek pouches.
Another problem with popsicle sticks is that some of them are colored.
The colored ones that you buy from craft stores are certainly not meant to be eaten or chewed on – they’re craft items and the colors may turn out to be toxic to your hamster.
Building toys and platforms with popsicle sticks
When it comes to building platforms and toys, popsicle sticks pose less of an issue than if you were to allow your hamster to chew on a single stick.
However, you need to keep an eye out for any chewing. If your hamster does chew on the sticks, then you need to remove them as soon as possible.
If you want to add a bit of coloring to your popsicle sticks, then you can use food coloring which is safe for hamsters.
The glue that holds the popsicle sticks together can also be a problem if you don’t use pet safe, non-toxic glue.
With that cleared up, let’s look at some other woods which hamsters should not be gnawing on.
Woods to avoid
Any wood that has been treated chemically should be avoided but there are some natural woods that you should avoid too.
The wood from Pine and Cedar trees are prime examples because they can make your hamster poorly.
These trees both contain naturally occurring chemicals that are designed to protect the tree from being eaten by insects or being infested with fungus.
Yew trees and Oleander in particular should be avoided because they are poisonous.
Finally, softwoods can splinter easily and injure the inside of their cheek pouches, so stay away from these too.
Woods that are safe to chew on
The best woods for your hamster to chew on are those derived from fruit trees such as orange, pear, cherry or apple wood.
You can also give your hamster any hardwood that hasn’t been treated with chemicals or hasn’t been painted.
Fruitwood or balsa wood are good options and are often used in DIY projects, so you might have some left over.
However care must be take to make sure that there isn’t any glue, paint, varnish or other toxic chemicals on the leftover wood.
Can hamsters chew on sticks from outside?
Hamsters can chew on sticks from outside but the twigs must not be chemically treated or have any pesticides sprayed on them.
Even small traces of pesticides can be harmful to your hamster.
You should also take care to ensure that they haven’t been fouled on by other animals and you should also pick them from an area well away from traffic fumes.
Once you have picked some suitable twigs you should clean them to remove any dirt or bacteria that may have collected on them.
You should also sand down any rough edges or splinters.
Finally, it’s important to remove any sticks from your hamster’s cage if they are urinated on. You can easily tell this just by smelling it.
Not only can urine can cause wood to decay but it can also cause fungus to grow, which if a hamsters gnaws on it, can make them ill.
Alternatives to wood
Not all hamsters like chewing on wood, so you could try a plain dog biscuit as they are hard enough to keep your hamster’s teeth in check.
Another alternative is a whole walnut. It’s unlikely that your hamster will actually get beyond the shell, but it will help to keep their teeth trim and keep them entertained for a while too!
Our hamster Richmond doesn’t tend to chew on many things but one thing that he does like to get stuck into are monkey nuts.
These are very good for his teeth because they require him to break down the shell to get at the peanut on the inside.
He also likes to chew on toilet roll tubes as well as run through them!
There are also a whole host of chews and chew toys that you can buy for your hamster, all of which are designed to help grind down your hamsters teeth.
You only need to take a trip to your local pet store to see that there is no shortage of options here.
Why it’s important that hamsters chew
Hamsters need to chew, because unlike human teeth, hamster teeth don’t stop growing throughout their entire life, kind of like human fingernails.
So it’s essential that you provide things for your hamster to chew on so that their teeth stay healthy.
Failure to provide things for your hamster to chew on can result in overgrown teeth which can prevent your hamster from eating and result in starvation.
Can hamsters chew on cardboard? Yes hamsters can chew on cardboard but it must be free of adhesives, ink and other harmful chemicals. Plain cardboard such as a toilet or kitchen roll tube is perfect for your hamster to either run through, chew on or use as nesting material.
Is hot glue safe for hamsters? Hot glue is not safe for hamsters because although it is non-toxic, it is plastic-based and won’t break down in your hamster’s stomach if ingested. Instead when making hamsters toys, you should use a pet safe glue such as PVA or make your own hamster safe glue by mixing half a cup of flour with half a cup of water until it becomes a thick paste.