Can Chinchillas Eat Paper, Cardboard, or Even Toilet Roll?


As a chinchilla owner, you want the absolute best for your chin. There is no doubt there. Safe playtime is a big part of a chinchilla’s health.

Careful supervision with all the chinchillas play with and eat is imperative to the health of your chinchillas.

So, what about the big debate on toilet paper rolls?

Can Chinchillas Eat Paper and Cardboard?

There are multiple opinions and variations of those opinions on whether it is safe for a chinchilla to play with and/or ingest the cardboard from a toilet paper roll.

The bottom line and simple answers is no, it is not safe for your chinchilla to eat the cardboard from a toilet paper or paper towel roll, or any other cardboard, for that matter. Ingesting a little bit of plain paper should be fine though, as long as it does not contain any toxic materials.

You may, however, let your chinchillas play with toilet paper rolls during playtime and under supervision. Your chin will love playing with all sorts of cardboard, paper towel rolls, and toilet rolls. 

But pay attention to prevent them from eating the toilet rolls because that may cause a number of healthy issues.

Here is what we mean…

Why toilet rolls are not safe for chinchillas to eat?


It is not at all good for a chinchilla to eat the cardboard from a toilet roll or paper towel roll. If you find your chin ingesting the cardboard from the tube, you should immediately take the toilet roll away. If the behavior persists the next time you give your pet cardboard, you may have to eliminate this source of fun for good. We know that is sad. But there are particularly good reasons why.

In this article, let’s go over a few reasons why chinchillas should not eat a toilet paper roll, including digestive problems, the concern over color dye, bacteria and germs, and the glue toxicity. 

Here are those reasons explained to you in further detail:

Reason 1: Possible Digestion Problems

If a chinchilla begins to ingest, not just tear off and spit out the cardboard, a couple of problems can occur.

  • A chinchilla can easily choke on a larger piece of cardboard, blocking its airway and leading to panic. It is not easy to pick up a panicking chin and remove the cardboard. As you can imagine, this is a very scary time for both chin and owner.
  • Swallowing the cardboard repeatedly can lead to a blockage in the digestive tract. The intestinal blockage will cause the food it eats to back up at that point in the intestinal tract. When that happens, its system will shut down very quickly. The chinchilla will most likely not recover at that point.

So, clearly, based on these two points alone, a chinchilla should not be allowed to eat cardboard toilet rolls. Pretty good reasons, but there are more concerns folks have raised over the years.

Let’s look into those and debunk any myths.

Reason 2: There May be Color Dye in the Toilet Roll.

toilet roll contains color dye

In years past, colored toilet paper was a thing! All sorts of patterns and colors adorned the powder rooms of many homes. However, that all came to a halt when they discovered the harmful chemicals in the toilet paper. 

Nowadays, the rolls should be only plain recycled cardboard in most cases. Occasionally you may come across bleached rolls or tubes covered in a thin white layer of cardboard paper. Bleach certainly would not be alright for a chinchilla to ingest. Avoid using these rolls as a rule of thumb. 

As for the dye concern, natural brown cardboard rolls are safe for supervised play. 

Reason 3: Possibility of Bacteria/Germs on the Toilet Roll.

Toilet paper, as you know, is a hotbed of germ activity. The most common types of bacteria found in a bathroom are E. coli, salmonella, and streptococcus. These “bugs” can cause serious food poisoning episodes in humans and should be avoided at all costs for our chinchillas. We would never want those bugs for our furry friends.

So, if you want to allow your pet chin to play with the paper rolls, there are a couple of things you can do to ensure the roll is safe for your chinchilla.

  1. Keep the toilet paper rolls in the bathroom on a stand that sits away from the spray reach of the toilet and be sure to flush the toilet with the lid down. It’s a good practice to get into whether you use the rolls for chins or not.
  2. When coming to the end of a roll of toilet paper, you should wash your hands well before taking the roll off and to the cage of your chinchilla. The same would apply for a paper towel roll from the kitchen. 
READ :  How To Know If Your Chinchilla Is Sick

Hand washing is extremely important for everyone, but especially when caring for small animals like chinchillas.

 “An ounce of precaution is worth a pound of cure” – Benjamin Franklin

Using these strategies will help you know you are doing all you can to provide playtime as well as safety for your pet precious pet chin.

Reason 4: The Glue in Toilet Rolls

can chinchillas eat cardboard

Again, in years past there was some concern about paper rolls using a somehow toxic glue. There was once a rumor stating the glue used in toilet paper and paper towel rolls contained zinc. Zinc in these doses could be harmful.

We now know that is not true. With today’s guidelines and safety rules concerning the environment and cost of manufacturing, the tube has a safe glue if any at all. Most paper rolls are wound with friction to hold the first square on to the tube.

However, where glue is still used to secure the first square to the roll, it is a starch glue. This starch glue is a vegetable-based adhesive that is not harmful. 

If you have any concerns, do a little research, and only use the tubes that use friction and not glue. Then your chin will be assured of good, safe play.


Chinchillas can usually differentiate between food and non-food

Yes, chinchillas usually can tell the difference between food and non-food. 

In the wild, the chinchilla diet is somewhat different from the pet chinchilla. As a lone chinchilla roams, it may nibble on bark, flowers, and grasses. Their bodies and guts adjust to the environment and the needs of the chinchilla.

However, pet chinchillas should stick with hay and pellets, as they have extremely sensitive stomachs. Vet approved and chin approved treats are just that, treats. They should be given to the chinchillas in moderation. 

chinchilla toilet roll with apple sticks

The confusion is when someone sees a chinchilla try to “eat” an electrical cord or a table leg.

Chinchillas are very curious little animals who will nibble, but not ingest to see what something might be. They aren’t wanting to take a bite of the cord because they are hungry.

Likewise, a chinchilla must be provided with things to assist the chin in grinding its teeth down.

If a chin is chewing on a table leg, it may need more or different approved chew toys. There are plenty of options to try, readily available in pet stores.

Rolling it all up… (pun intended)

Paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls make excellent play toys for your beloved pet chin. When supervised, it can be incredibly fun to watch them play for quite a while with the cardboard tube. 

If they start eating the tube, you will definitely want to remove it from the area and try again another day with a fresh tube. If the behavior continues, then these tubes cannot be a toy for that particular chinchilla.

Each chinchilla has its personal habits, likes, and dislikes. There are plenty of other toys out there to entertain your chinchilla for rounds and rounds of playtime.

Fun Ideas to Use Paper Roll for Playtime

Chinchillas should given a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes of playtime every day. During these sessions, you can stuff a toilet paper roll with hay. Your chinchillas will have a blast digging and pulling the hay out and eating it. Chins need hay as a snack, so that’s a win, win.

Cardboard paper rolls are also great for the chin to chew on to help grind their teeth down. So, when the chin is biting at the tube, just be sure they spit the excess out and don’t swallow it. And don’t forget to provide the chinchillas with plenty of other approved objects to help grind those teeth down daily.

Some chinchillas simply like to tear the toilet rolls and paper towel rolls up for fun. Chinchillas can be messy and fun that way. 

Toys of all sorts, as well as these toilet paper and paper towel rolls, are good for the chinchilla’s mental health. They help to stimulate the curious mind of the chinchilla. The more they have that is constructive to do, the less trouble your chin will get into. 

In conclusion, yes, toilet roll as well as paper towel rolls are usually safe for your chinchillas to play with. As with most everything chinchilla, be sure to supervise your chinchillas when playing with the rolls and they will have rewarding playtime.

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