Rodents and mammals like hamsters, rabbits, squirrels, and guinea pigs are all notorious chewers, which means most oil-based paints on the market are hazardous for them if they happen to consume them or get ingested.
It’s, however, safe to paint a hamster cage using acrylic paint if you plan to decorate it from the outside to enhance its aesthetic looks. Just choose beautiful colors for the cage and paint it responsibly while keeping your hamster secure.
If you want to read more about rabbit-friendly hutch paints, painting your animal cages safely, and all the safe practices, I’ll go through everything in detail below.
So, keep reading to learn in this post…
Can Hamsters and Rabbits be Around Paints?
Many pet owners consider adding painted toys, decorative items, and other creative stuff around their pets for them to play with.
The most significant risk to pet rabbits from paints, primers, stains, and wood preservatives is the toxic fumes from wet paint or primer when they are around the cage. It’s because of the dangerous VOCs they might contain.
Even when the preservative paint coating is dry on these items, it can harm your pets if ingested – you know rabbits are heavy chewers.
While many pet-safe paints are available, painting the interior of a rabbit, guinea pig, hamster, or hedgehog house is not advisable under any circumstances.
All this simply means that you should keep the interiors of the cage untreated, avoid keeping the painted stuff inside, and do not allow the animals to be around them if you apply the paint or other finishes on the outer surfaces of the cage.
The inside of the crate will deteriorate with time, but you may help preserve the hutch’s material by cleaning it once a month with a pet-safe disinfectant. And before putting your pet back in, give it a good scrub and let it dry completely.
Key Elements of Safe Paints to Use Around Hamsters and Rabbits?
To be honest, the safest type of paint or finish for the hedgehogs, hamsters, or rabbits would be to use – no finish at all. This is because there aren’t any durable exterior-grade wood finishes that are also natural.
You can use acrylic paints (or other water-based paints like homemade chalk paint, milk paint, or latex paint) to paint the cages and rabbit’s hutch made of wood or metal, as they are pretty safe.
Using homemade food-grade paints, soy paint, or Tempera paint is another alternative that will be safer to apply to your pet hamster cage for decorating.
Here are the key elements to look for when shopping for rodent-safe paint:
- Water-based or wax/acrylic
- VOC-free (volatile organic compounds)
- Free from carcinogens, petrochemicals, heavy metals, or creosote
Always double-check the list of ingredients on the paint can before purchasing it, as some companies change their products without updating the information on their website or paint cans.
The best way to find out more information about the ingredients and whether the paint is pet-safe is by reading online reviews from other pet parents who have used it before. When in doubt, ask the store manager or call the customer service number on the paint can.
Once you have selected the right paint, apply at least two coats of it evenly to the hutch and wait a week for it to dry completely before bringing your pets home.
If You Plan to Paint the Inside of the Hutch – Should You Also Seal it?
Although not recommended, if you have applied the acrylic paint to the wooden cage inside and are planning to move your pets back, it’s advisable to seal the surfaces for extra protection using a Mod Podge sealer.
I highly recommend Mod Podge sealers because they are water-based, non-toxic sealants safe for use around children and pets. Plus, it will protect the acrylic paint on the hamster cage from chipping and getting washed off soon- perfect if you need to hose down or clean the painted cage.
If you do not want to use Mod Podge sealer, 100% linseed oil can also be used to protect and seal the painted wooden cage of your animals. Apply it evenly with a brush or a rag and allow it to dry for at least 24 hours.
The bottom line
As a general rule of thumb, you should only paint the outer surfaces of cages, hutches, or coops with water-based pet-safe paints.
Avoid painting them from the inside. But if you must, make sure to seal the inside surfaces with a non-toxic sealant after painting. And allow the paint to dry thoroughly before you bring your pets inside to help keep the material protected while keeping your furry friends safe.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.