Are Orchids Toxic to Hamsters (And Other Animals)? (Revealed)

Are orchids toxic to hamsters

My mind was set racing last week when a friend of mine rang me to ask ‘are orchids toxic to hamsters?’.

He had left his hamster for a matter of minutes to answer the door and when he came back it was eating a fallen leaf from one of his prized plants.

We all love our pets, I have a cat and I know if I find him eating anything other than his cat food I always have a momentary panic.

So let’s answer my friend’s question and find out if orchids are toxic to hamsters, and a range of other animals for that matter.

Are Orchids Toxic to Hamsters?

No orchids are not toxic to hamsters. In fact, all the popular household varieties of orchids are considered non-toxic or poisonous to household pets. If your hamster eats an orchid, simply keep a close eye on it for the next few hours and call the vet if its situation changes dramatically.

Are Orchids Toxic to Pets? An Overview

Ok before we get started looking at the effect of orchids on individual animals we need to make something clear:

Most species of orchids, especially the popular household varieties, are non toxic or poisonous to household pets.

In fact, the American Medical Association Handbook Of Poisonous and Injurious Plants lists no poisonous orchids.

On top of that, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals lists no commonly grown orchids as toxic to dogs, cats and horses.

And if you look at the University of California’s list of Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants, only one variety of orchid appears on there.

That is the cypripedium, more commonly known as the lady slipper orchid.

Even then it is rated as toxicity class 4, the lowest level in the University’s class list. Class 4 means “The juice, sap, or thorns of these plants may cause a skin rash or irritation”.

So as a general rule of thumb, most household orchids are completely safe to have around your pets.

Now of course that doesn’t stop us from worrying about them if they eat one.

But if no ill effects are observed within six hours of ingesting a potentially poisonous plant, then it is unlikely any further signs will develop.

In other words, if your pet eats an orchid and you are concerned, keep a closer eye on it than normal for the next six hours.

As an aside, a number of varieties of orchids are believed to have medicinal properties, with modern science confirming it is the case for some.

For example. dendrobium orchid blooms are also used in Thai and Hawaiian foods as a garnish. Some other orchids varieties are consumed as tea in traditional Chinese medicine.

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What You Need to Consider

Orchid on snow

To balance the argument somewhat, just because orchids are considered non-toxic, we shouldn’t take it to mean they are completely free from harm.

As a caveat you should be aware of:

  • Pesticides: all commercially grown orchids are sprayed with chemicals with a level of toxicity, many of these are systematic, meaning they make their way into plant tissues.
  • Bugs: Like any flower, an orchid will be attractive to a variety of bugs.
  • Fertilizer: Fertilizer is often used to boost growth and encourage blooming
  • Potting Medium: Potted orchids are usually grown in pots containing bark and other soil mediums.

All of these could be harmful to your pet. If a bug gets in their system, if they swallow a piece of bark, or ingest fertilizer or pesticide.

But again, unless you come home to find your beloved pet has eaten a whole garden full of orchids, they should be ok.

As mentioned above keep an eye on them for the next few hours and see if you notice any change in their demeanor.

One last thing.

When I was researching this article I read numerous posts on animal forums saying something along the lines of:

“I have just found my beloved cat/dog/hamster/guinea pig/bearded dragon eating a bunch of orchid leaves and now I am really worried they might be poisoned. What should I do?”

I can say without a doubt that the outcome in every single case I read was the original poster coming back the next day/two days later thanking everyone for their advice and saying of their pets: “They are absolutely fine and running around as normal and had absolutely no ill effects whatsoever”, or words to that effect.

So hopefully that will put your mind at ease somewhat.

But let’s answer the question of whether orchids are harmful to hamsters:

No orchids are not toxic to hamsters, they are perfectly safe.

Orchids are not on the toxic list for hamsters. Depending upon the amount of orchid leaves a hamster eats it might cause some upset to its digestive system but no long-lasting damage.

But what about other animals?

Are Orchids Toxic to Bearded Dragons?

Orchids are not toxic to bearded dragons. You can view a full list of plants and flowers bearded dragons can eat safely on the Beautiful Dragons Reptile Rescue website.

Are Orchids Toxic to Birds?

Orchids are safe for birds and not poisonous in any way. 

They are regularly grown in gardens and I am sure birds will be much more interested in other areas of your garden than your orchids, especially if you have a bird feeder!

Orchids are listed as safe to birds on the Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue list of plants.

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Are Orchids Toxic to Budgies?

Orchids are non-toxic to budgies, so you should probably be more concerned about a budgerigar doing damage to your prized orchids rather than the other way around!

Orchids are listed as safe to birds on the Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue list of plants.

Are Orchids Toxic to Cats?

Cat sleep

Don’t fear, orchids are not harmful to cats in any way, so your feline friend can live quite safely alongside your plants.

As orchid leaves contain high levels of alkaloids, if your cat eats a lot of orchid leaves it may experience some vomiting and diarrhea, but it should not have a serious long-term effect.

For full details view the ASPCA’s toxic and non-toxic plant list for cats.

Are Orchids Toxic to Cockatiels?

Orchids are considered safe and non-toxic plants for cockatiels.

Be aware that due to cockatiels’ sensitive digestive systems, they may cause mild irritation, but no long-term damage.

Orchids are listed as safe to birds on the Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue list of plants.

Are Orchids Toxic to Chameleons?

You are free to let your chameleons eat orchids without worry. They are considered safe and non-toxic for them.

Are Orchids Toxic to Chickens?

No orchids are not toxic to chickens.

Orchids do not appear on the PoultryHelp list of toxic plants, and are listed on PoultryDVM’s list of non-toxic plants.

Are Orchids Toxic to Dogs?

No, orchids are not poisonous to dogs. As is the case with many animals if your dog somehow manages to ingest a lot of orchids it might upset its stomach and cause mild vomiting, but there should be no long-lasting effects.

For full details view the ASPCA’s toxic and non-toxic plant list for dogs.

Are Orchids Toxic to Goats?

Goats eat lots of plants and shrubs and you are safe to include orchids in that list, as they are not poisonous to goats.

We know goats are quite remarkable animals, able to climb low branches of trees and explore steep rocky ground. They love eating wild plants and hedgerow cuttings too. 

Whilst there are certain plants they shouldn’t eat, such as alder, yew, rhododendron, ragwort and foxglove, they are fine to eat orchids and in fact they regularly do.

For more details on edible and poisonous plants for goats visit the Fiasco Farm website.

Are Orchids Toxic to Guinea Pigs?

Orchids are not toxic to guinea pigs, if they somehow chomp on them you have no need to worry!

Are Orchids Toxic to Horses?

Horses on the meadow with hills and mountains in the background

Orchids pose no harm to horses and are not poisonous.

For full details view the ASPCA’s toxic and non-toxic plant list for horses.

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Are Orchids Toxic to Parrots?

If there is one animal used to orchids then it is parrots. 

In their native home in the rainforest, orchids are plentiful and are non-toxic to parrots.

For full details view the Planned Parrothood list of toxic and non-toxic plants for parrots.

Are Orchids Toxic to Rabbits?

Orchids are not toxic to rabbits and wild rabbits in particular love to eat native orchid varieties.

House rabbits may suffer from a little stomach trouble and diarrhea if they eat orchids, but it should not progress beyond that.

Are Orchids Toxic to Tortoises?

No orchids are not toxic to tortoises. If your pet eats orchid leaves there is no need to be overly concerned.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, if your pet eats an orchid or multiple orchids there is no need to worry too much.

All popular household varieties of orchids are considered non-toxic to household pets.

Naturally, if our beloved pet eats something they are not used to eating we worry.

The worst that is likely to happen is mild vomiting and diarrhea.

All you need to do is keep a closer eye than normal on it for the next six hours and if you notice anything that genuinely concerns you contact your vet.

But the probability is it won’t have any effect at all.

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