Will hydrochloric acid eat plastic

Plastic parts and plastic in the terrarium


Plastics - plastic materials for interior decoration



Plastics Plastic materials for interior decoration - tunnels

Some of the information on this page was written by a chemist. The quotes are highlighted in color.

You are probably wondering whether plastic is generally toxic to mice. Could it harm the mouse if plastic is gnawed on? Harmful would be:

  • Plastic with toxic fumes
  • Plastic with toxic components

When gnawing, the gerbil will normally not eat the gnawing material or will intentionally swallow it. Even so, small particles could get into the digestive system. See also: ❯ Plastic equipment for the terrarium




For years I have been using plastic drainage pipes as an alternative to the spout or as a connection between the terrarium and the 'front yard'. My racers have not suffered any damage so far and have not suffered from ulcers or adhesions, but were (quite old for a gerbil as a pet) about 4 - 5 years.


⏶ Not all plastic is created equal

It is difficult to differentiate between the individual materials and not always easy to see when looking at them. This is why many people have had problems trying to find the right adhesive for a plastic.

Whether plastic parts are poisonous for gerbils cannot generally be answered with yes or no. There are plastics that are non-toxic, i.e. they do not contain any harmful substances (as in food storage containers), others may be harmful. A plastic device should be made of the same material as children's toys: plastic without toxic fumes and plasticizers. Plastics that are approved for food containers and packaging should, of course, also be harmless to gerbils.

Thomas: It is the case that Plexiglas (chemically PMMA) and almost all soft plastics (PP, PE, PET) are completely harmless, even if swallowed, because they are also used as packaging for food products. PVC is a somewhat controversial case, especially when it comes to food packaging. But actually it is the same with this plastic just in the event of combustion or chemical reactions, the toxic hydrogen chloride (HCl also known as hydrochloric acid) or chlorine gas is released. Since there is hydrochloric acid in the stomach of all vertebrates anyway, a possible (very unlikely) chemical reaction is not harmful. Chlorine gas is only produced under very rare conditions.

The only thing that can happen is that the mice swallow sharp-edged pieces and injure themselves in the esophagus or stomach: But that could also happen with the litter, so I don't see any cause for concern there.


More information on the pages:

❯ Connections and tunnel pipe systems
❯ Wood-based materials for the terrarium
❯ Paint wooden parts - non-toxic paints




⏶ Polyvinyl chloride

PolyVenylClorid (PVC) is obtained by radical polymerisation of chloroethene, which is also called vinyl chloride. When burned, PVC releases toxic chlorine gases and hydrochloric acid. This plastic is not used as a container for food and has a reputation for being carcinogenic. Without plasticizers, PVC is hard and brittle. You know PVC as floor panels or (gray / orange) drainage pipes.

So far I was of the opinion that such pipes should be protected against gnawing. I had never put plastic pipes in the cage or (gray) PVC pipes that were not protected against gnawing. You can easily recognize PVC by the fact that such parts are quite hard and usually cannot be bent.


Thomas: In my opinion, PVC doesn't have to be protected from nibbling. My mice dismantle an average of one 20 cm pipe a week and so far none of them have suffered any damage. All of them have grown old enough to live as mice.

The transport boxes and faunariums are usually made of PS (polystyrene) and the lid of PP or even PVC (I've just looked). They begin to nibble on the lids with love, for example when I have separated them for breeding purposes. But the box itself is not gnawed on even if the lid is missing (as a sand container in an aquarium), although it offers enough surfaces to attack. I still use the faunariums as a sand bath because they are high enough that the mice cannot scrape the sand out.


So that you can recognize this type of plastic better, I have listed the recycling symbols here that are usually embossed or printed:  


⏶ polyethylene

Polyethene or polyethylene (PE) is the plastic most commonly produced industrially. PE is a rather soft thermoplastic at room temperature. You can easily scratch the surface of an object made of PE with your fingernail. Without added color pigments, polyethene is translucent, but not completely transparent. Unless the material is processed into a very thin film. Polyethene floats in water. The polyethylene is tough and elastic.

You know polyethene as plastic bags, freezer bags, buckets, laundry baskets, beverage crates, garbage cans. Flexible pipes and cable insulation are also often made from this material.

So that you can better recognize this type of plastic, I have listed the recycling symbols here that are usually embossed or printed:  


⏶ polyethylene terephthalate

Polyethylene terephthalate is used as a textile fiber (polyester) because of various useful properties. It is tear-proof, weather-resistant and absorbs very little water. Sports clothing that has to dry quickly is made from PET.

PET is preferred in the food industry. It is (amorphous) absolutely colorless and highly translucent. It is used for food packaging and bottles such as: B. the PET bottle.


So that you can recognize this type of plastic better, I have listed the recycling symbols here that are usually embossed or printed:  


⏶ polystyrene



Foamed polystyrene is also known as foam plastic under the term Styrofoam or Styrofoam and by no means belongs in the terrarium! Even if the use is safe and polystyrene is unrestrictedly approved for food packaging, the tiny plastic crumbs (after the mice's gnawing work) should not be in the litter in my opinion.

Polystyrene (PS) is a widely used, mass-produced thermoplastic plastic. It is usually obtained by radical polymerisation of styrene. Styrene vapors are irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract. In addition, the substance has been shown to be mutagenic in animal experiments, i.e. it can change the genetic make-up.

However, high purity polystyrene can be used as food packaging. This means that it does not emit any toxic substances. You are probably familiar with polystyrene as a glossy film, e.g. as CD packaging.

So that you can recognize this type of plastic better, I have listed the recycling symbols here that are usually embossed or printed:  


⏶ Polypropylene homopolymer tubes

Homopolymer is simply a polymer made from only one type of monomer such as PVC
Polypropylene is basically kind to the skin, suitable for applications in the food sector and pharmaceuticals, it is physiologically harmless. But you shouldn't eat it and then the question arises whether the big sellers swallow the crumbs or just gnaw the cane.

Similar plastics are used for bottle caps, reusable containers, thermal transport boxes, packaging parts, drinking straws, etc. The (white) lid of a TicTac pack is made of polypropylene, for example

The mouse will not be harmed when licking and the outgassing is very low. With normal ventilation I don't see a problem. I also had such a connection tunnel for a long time. One of the mice was about 5 years old and died of old age, not of any tumors.

So that you can better recognize this type of plastic, I have listed the recycling symbols here that are usually embossed or printed:  


⏶ Use of plastic - example transport box

A plastic transport box is usually made of the materials polypropylene for the lid and polyethylene for the transparent box.



⏶ ❯ next page: Wire - sheet metal - perforated plates

So-called 'chick wire' is often used for a cover. The wire usually has a grid width of 1 cm and is protected against corrosion. I got the aviary wire in the agricultural trade.


⏶ ❯ Interior fittings made of plastic

I think a plastic device is less suitable. Some gerbil owners report contrary experiences and that the tubes and tunnels made of plastic were hardly gnawed at. You shouldn't make the decision dependent on whether the furniture (made of plastic) is nice and colorful.


⏶ ❮ Home page of the building instructions section

This back link takes you to the start page of the "Building instructions" section. In the footer of the start page you will find a list of the subpages. Interesting for users of mobile devices where the submenu is not displayed.






Keywords: plastic, plastic, toxic, polypropylene, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, PE, PET, plexiglass, PVC plastic furniture, plastic parts, furniture, terrarium, habitat, terrarium, gerbils
Topic: gerbil, gerbil, gerbils, pets, rodents, animal husbandry