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I recently purchased Peter Fritzsche's 2008 "Hamsters" book, and, while reading the section on toys/furniture for said rodents, he said that, in addition to wood and clay, you could make your own out of papier mache, which I thought was rather interesting (he's got a PhD and has been studying hamsters for 30 years, so I assume he knows what he's talking about). He said wood glue was okay for the wooden stuff, so, as that's very similar to PVA, I'm guessing white glue would be okay for the papier mache, although I imagine the old dependable flour mixture would probably be safer still. And, of course, don't use paper/newsprint with ink/printing on it, or any other kind of potentially harmful chemical treatment.
I haven't owned a hamster since I was a child, but, had I known it was permissible, I almost certainly would have tried making them some papier mache playthings. I just thought I'd throw this out there for those of you, or your children/grandchildren, that may have a hamster and might want to give it a try.
Wood glue could be from rabbit skin, which would be nourishing. I don't think PVA would be harmful. What do hamsters need for a tummy upset? Flour paste of course is very attractive to rodents so they would be able to play and feast at the same time. Oh what joy!!
Imagine studying hamsters for 30 years...
PVA glue should be safe enough. You can also buy hide glue, but the price has gone up since its days of being the common glue for kids.
Old Brown Glue: http://www.rockler.com/old-brown-glue
Hamsters eh? I was only the other day thinking about crocheting some string hammocks for my degus. Toys are so expensive. Will have to look into that idea of paper mâché toys. I imagine hamsters like to chew them up and use them for nice cosy bedding.
Yeah, the hamster will definitely gnaw/devour them--that's what they do. So they'd only be temporary papier mache structures/toys at best.
And for homemade wooden hamster toys, he noted that they should only be joined with wood glue or dowels, as nails/screws can potentionally becomed exposed from the rodent's gnawing which could then injure the animal.
@dopapier: I don't recall for sure, but I think he mentioned some kind of tea as a remedy for upset hamster stomachs. Like yourself, I was also thinking that rodents love to chew on flour paste PM projects anyway, so that'd be the thing to use over PVA, plus it's all-natural.
I can see a couple of hamsters inpecting the new toys.
"What are they?"
"She said they're called 'toys'."
"Paper, eh? What's sticking them together?"
"It smells like gravy."