Are Candles Bad For Hamsters?

Although this may seem a very random and somewhat odd question, it is important. It is imperative if you are a hamster owner and have a passion for candles. When you start to process the size of the hamster, it is easy to see why this question arises. After all, certain candles can produce chemicals that are not great for humans either.

Those little sets of lungs on hamsters and other caged animals must surely battle even more than us. You want to keep your pet as safe as possible so knowing how safe it is to light a candle around them is essential.

Let’s waste no more time and explore the burning question, are candles bad for hamsters?

Candles are not part of a hamster’s natural habitat and they have a small and sensitive respiratory system. They also rely on their nose, meaning they are sniffing constantly. Burning a candle too close may irritate them. Pop your hamster in a different room, particularly when using scented candles.

Can I Have a Candle Near my Hamster?

The good news is that you do not need to avoid candles altogether if you are a hamster owner. You just have to be a little more mindful of where you light your candle. Assuming your hamster is in a cage, then don’t place the candle directly next to it. A caged animal has no option to move if the environment becomes dangerous. They also cannot tell you if they are suffering so you do need to be aware of such factors.

Positioning is the most important aspect of burning candles and keeping hamsters. One should be well away from the other at all times. Candles emit smoke, scents, and oils, not to mention sometimes not-so-great chemicals. All this should be considered when lighting one close to a pet, caged or otherwise.

It is best to avoid lead candles when burning them around pets. They aren’t great for anyone – us included. You are best going for natural materials and following the instructions on the packaging. If your pet has a known respiratory problem then you probably do not want the candle to be lit around them.

Can I Light a Candle in the Same Room as a Hamster?

When we say don’t burn a candle near your hamster, we don’t necessarily mean you need to use a different room. However, there will be times when you might be better off doing just this.

For example, if your hamster comes out of the cage for exercise, such as a ball, then keep candles out of the room. Hamsters can pick up some pace in their balls and have no sense of direction. If the exercise ball knocks into a table or bookcase and the lit candle falls, you may have a fire on your hands.

Candles should only be lit under constant supervision anyway. If your hamster is out and about and you aren’t in the room 100% of the time then don’t light them. If you plan to stay in the room, then you can enjoy your hamster and your candle. Just be very mindful of their sensitive noses and respiratory systems. It doesn’t take much for a hamster to breathe in too many damaging fumes.

When burning a candle in the same room as your hamster, keep the room well-ventilated. Open a window and keep the door ajar if possible. If we are talking about a tiny box room situation then you should avoid candles. Or at least pop your hamster and its cage in another room while you relax in candle heaven.

Do Hamsters like Candle Wax?

Take a look at the video below which shows wild hamsters eating candle wax in a graveyard. Now, firstly, we should point out that wild animals differ enormously from domestic ones. They have stronger digestive systems, they rely on feeding on what they can find, and they will take what they can get. In the wild, they don’t have a nice warm cage, clean water, and daily treats. They scavenge to survive each day.

Why was this particular wild hamster drawn to the candle by someone’s gravestone? Quite simply, wax is fatty and it was tempted by the oily scent. Many waxes are made from natural materials so shouldn’t pose a huge problem. Others, however, can be toxic if consumed by your pet.

You should never leave candles within eating distance of your pet. You just cannot predict how their body will react and the vet bill may be very steep. If it is a little nibble then the chances are they will be okay, but again consider the size of the animal. You may be anxiously researching this topic because your hamster has mistaken your candle for food. If this is the case, then a call to the vet might be best. It will be even better if you have the ingredients to hand so your vet knows what has been ingested.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the different types of wax and how dangerous they are to hamsters.

  • Soy wax: This is 100% natural wax and is made of soybeans. This means if your hamster manages to snack on some then chances are, it’ll live to tell the tale. However, we aren’t suggesting switching their diet to soy wax. Stick to hamster food!
  • Palm wax: Safe enough to accidentally munch on but terrible for the environment. So, this one is purely down to conscience.
  • Gel wax: This wax is synthetic and can cause problems if your hamster takes a liking to it.
  • Paraffin wax: One of the more popular waxes and, unfortunately, also one of the more toxic ones too.

Are Hamsters Sensitive to Scents?

We know that generally speaking, animals have a far more acute sense of smell than humans. Where do hamsters sit on the scale and are they sensitive to scents? They do have an impressive snout that enables them to distinguish between different hamsters. They use their sense of smell as their primary sense. It comes in handy when navigating their cage to find their food or bed.

How does this affect their tolerance to scented candles then? Let’s first remember that hamsters are furry pets. They are used to their cage, their food smells, and human contact. However, candles are not something natural for your pet. Wild hamsters do not come across a scented candle and the concept is pretty alien to them in this sense.

Any candle with a scent means it has additional chemicals in it which produce the scent. Therefore, the fumes produced aren’t natural and with something as small as a hamster, you may encounter issues. You should always aim for high-grade oil as these are more natural. They do come with a higher price tag, though. You should still try and keep candles away from hamsters, even if you choose a natural one.

Hamsters have very poor eyesight, so their fantastic sense of smell compensates for this. This means their noses work incredibly hard throughout the day. So, if you have a scented candle burning nearby, they will be breathing so much of this in. Hamster enthusiasts will tell you that they take a particular dislike to anything that smells of citrus. This is worth bearing in mind when purchasing your candles.

Are Candles Bad for Small Animals?

Think of the size of your biggest candle. Now, look at your hamster. Then consider their respiratory system and how teeny that must be. Thinking from this perspective will help you to understand why candles aren’t great for small animals. Breathing in smoke and chemicals can never be a good thing for your furry friend.

This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy both, just not together, or at the same time. Got friends around for some drinks and want to create a chilled ambiance? No problem, light those candles but just put your small animal in a different room for the evening. It does come down to common sense. Small animals can be prone to respiratory problems so breathing in unnecessary scents can trigger illness.

What Candles are Pet Safe?

Following on from above, are there any candles that are 100% pet safe?  We are going to go out on a limb here and say that, technically speaking, no candle is 100% pet safe. However, you can get close to safety and that can be good enough. You should always opt for natural wax and candles that promise a clean burn. You may wish to switch to wooden wicks as they are much better for the environment too. You can read about their benefits in our article titled; Wooden Candle Wicks: A Crackling Choice.


We can conclude by saying simply use your common sense around your hamsters. They cannot escape when the smell becomes too much for them. Instead of worrying about your lit candles, place your pet in another room while it is burning. Candles are there to be enjoyed. Lighting them and feeling worried about the health of your hamster will not create a chilled vibe. It is unlikely your pet will come to harm from your burning candle but it is also not out of the realm of possibility.