Harmful Stuff For Hammies

All animals need special care and the environment of your hamster cage needs to be carefully checked. There are many plants and ordinary everyday products that can seriously poison hamsters. This article gives some top tips on household hazards, plants and poisons to eliminate from the hamster cage and other hamster care environments. This can give you a checklist as a starter checklist for keeping your hamster safe.

Another Word About Chewing Hazards
All rodents chew and hamsters will chew anything as they like to keep their ever growing teeth in check. All electrical wires must be moved right out of the way for this reason. Chewing toys and gnaw blocks must be made of materials which are not treated with chemicals nor contain any toxic components. Also don’t give anything that could create sharp parts through chewing as these can seriously injure both outside of the body and in. This point can’t be emphasised enough, although there are of course, other household dangers that deserve special attention.

Household Hazards & Poison
If you allow your hamster out of its cage, make sure its play area is enclosed so it can’t escape – they can get into the oddest spaces and you may have a job getting them out again unharmed. Other pets may also show a menacing interest, even if they’re only ‘playing’ this can be extremely frightening and dangerous.  Make sure there are no medications, plants or household products such as cleaners that they could reach. Don’t smoke tobacco near your hamster as pets do suffer from secondary smoke.

Some Common Dangerous Human Medicines, Foods, Household & Garden Plants
Most advice on human medicines that harm pets is based on responses in cats and dogs, but to be on the safe side, the list includes (1):

  • Non-steroidal-anit-inflammatories, or NSAIDs as they’re known, often given to control pain in humans
  • Antidepressants
  • Acetaminophen
  • Methylphenidate (often prescribed for ADHD in humans)
  • Fluorouracil (prescribed for skin cancers in humans)
  • Isoniazid (used for respiratory conditions such as TB)
  • Pseudoephedrine (found in decongestant remedies)
  • Anti-diabetics
  • Vitamin D derivatives
  • Baclofen (a muscle relaxant drug for humans)

Human food and garden plants can be harmful, here is just a snapshot of some more common ones (1, 2). This list is simply some of the more common ones in the home or garden –there are more (references given below):

  • Alcohol
  • Alfalfa
  • Almond pits
  • Amaryllis
  • Apple seeds
  • Avocado – for hamsters (and other rodents) this can be fatal if ingested
  • Azaleas
  • Autumn crocuses
  • Buttercups – the yellow flowers in the garden
  • Cactus/candelabra
  • Cherry pits and cherry laurel
  • Chocolate Coffee, Caffeine
  • Christmas rose
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Clematis
  • Cornflower
  • Cyclamen
  • Common privet
  • Daffodil (or jonquil)
  • Deadly nightshade
  • Easter lily
  • Eggplant
  • Elderberry
  • English ivy  Evergreens
  • Ferns
  • Foxgloves
  • Grapes & Raisins – known to have especially harmed pets with kidney problems
  • Holly
  • Honeysuckle
  • Horse chestnuts
  • Hyacinth
  • Hydrangea
  • Irises
  • Laurels
  • Lilies
  • Marigold
  • Milk – is known to cause digestive upsets in many animals
  • Mistletoe  Mushrooms
  • Nightshade plants varieties
  • Onions, Garlic, Chives – are known to harm cats and dogs in higher quantities, we suggest avoidance for hamsters
  • Peach pits
  • Peonies
  • Philodendrons
  • Poinciana
  • Poison ivy / oak
  • Poppies
  • Potatoes
  • Rhododendrons
  • Rhubarb
  • Rubber plants
  • Salt – can cause extreme thirst and passing too much urine – one common source is chips (UK: crisps). Simply do not feed salty foods from any source.
  • Sweet pea plants
  • Tobacco
  • Tomatoes
  • Tulips
  • Wisteria yews
  • Yeast Dough – because it can rise inside the hamster, causing pain even intestinal rupture
  • Xylitol – for most animals, this sweetener is harmful if ingested

IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR HAMSTER HAS EATEN SOMETHING HARMFUL OR IS HARMED IN ANY WAY, TAKE IT TO THE VETS IMMEDIATELY, DO NOT TRY TO DIAGNOSE BY USING THIS ARTICLE. This list does not contain every substance or situation dangerous to hamsters – please research carefully for local plants, food specialities, products and drugs and ask your vet for advice.

Jonathon Boyd

References – useful resources on things that poison hamsters/other pets:
1. ASPCA. Top 10 Human Medications That Poison Our Pets [online]. Available from:


2. ASPCA. People Foods To Avoid Feeding Your Pets [online]. Available from:


3.  The Hamster Society. Husbandry – List of Poisonous Plants [onine]. Available from:


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