Can Guinea Pigs Eat Colored Cardboard? [Full Guide]

The Problems With Colored Cardboard For Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs can chew on colored cardboard if the ink/coloring doesn’t transfer when wet, however, guinea pigs cannot eat and digest colored cardboard as it usually contains elements that are toxic. Guinea pigs will usually stay away from these kinds of products naturally as they have a strong taste which will deter them naturally.

colored cardboard for guinea pigs

We should especially avoid recycled colored cardboard because it contains many plastics and formaldehyde. This study indicates that harmful compounds such as benzophenone, pentachlorophenol, bis(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate, and dibutyl phthalate are present at high concentrations in most recycled boxes.

Other Cardboards to Avoid

It’s also important to understand not all cardboard is the same. The following should be avoided;

  • Cardboards that contain glue – Although most glues are inert once dry, a lot of boxes and toilet rolls contain small amounts of glue. It’s advised to avoid letting your guinea pigs consume these as they contain toxins that are poisonous. 
  • Colored cardboards that contain dye or ink – dye and ink are poisonous in large quantities. 
  • Glossy cards which contain chemicals – Glossy card contains toxic elements that are harmful to guinea pigs. The same goes for any card that is scented.

All of these things are potentially damaging to the health of your guinea pig. Try to stick to simple plain cardboard that doesn’t contain any chemical alterations.

What About Other Types of Cardboard?

Guinea pigs can and will eat cardboard in small quantities without issue. Guinea pigs have a digestive system that effectively deals with wood-based products such as cardboard and paper without causing illness. A guinea pig’s teeth never stop growing. So chewing away on crunchy pieces of cardboard can help keep their little nippers in check. 

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You’ll also notice that most guinea pig toys are made with cardboard. Guinea pigs absolutely love to nibble on cardboard and yes maybe sometimes eat a tiny bit.

For new owners, I understand it can seem strange, but it’s really nothing to worry about. I’ve seen many owners on guinea pig forums creating toys from cardboard. These include using toilet rolls filled with hay as cool little feeding toys.

That being said if you notice your guinea pigs are consuming large quantities of cardboard you should put a stop to it. Although unlikely consuming large amounts of cardboard can cause blockages not to mention it has zero nutritional value. If your little one is filling up on paper and cardboard it’s certainly not a good thing for their overall diet and digestion.

Common sense is king. If you can see your guinea pig is consuming large amounts other than just a couple of bits here and there then remove it from your guinea pig’s cage.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cardboard Rolls?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat cardboard rolls. It’s a popular treat for many owners. Lots of people like to fill the center of the cardboard roll with hay and give it to their guinea pigs as a special treat/toy. Cardboard rolls do however contain small amounts of glue/sealing residue. In most cases, this isn’t a big deal but it’s something to be aware of.

Can Guinea Pigs Die From Eating Cardboard?

Hypothetically guinea pigs can die from eating cardboard although the chances of it actually happening are extremely unlikely. Guinea pigs will not die from eating the cardboard itself but rather from the chemicals which are present in certain products. You have to consider cardboard is manufactured in many different ways in many different countries to very different standards of quality. Some of which have very low cleanliness standards.

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Inks and dyes in recent years have become much safer and lower in poisonous toxins. As a pet owner, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the health of your precious pets.


Most cardboard is safe for guinea pigs to nibble away at and even eat to a certain extent. Feel free to fill your guinea pig cage with a special treat like a cardboard house, toilet paper rolls, cardboard tubes, or a cardboard box. Toilet paper rolls I’ve noticed are especially entertaining for our little fur babies. Just be careful that they don’t consume too much, and also that the cardboard you give them doesn’t contain any unnatural chemicals and of course, avoid colored cardboard at all costs.