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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I woke up this morning and somehow my boys, Spike & Emmitt, had dragged a towel half-into to their cage so they could go to town shredding it. I was worried because I didn't want them swallowing any part of it and I really thought the towel was far enough away!

When rats chew things do they always fully ingest them? The other day they got a hold of those styrofoam noodles because I thought they'd just play with it like ferrets do, but instead they wanted to shred them. I had to chase around 4 little guys like a crazy person taking away the noodles.


I don't know what is okayand what is NOT okay. This is really, really important! I don't want to make a mistake that could prove fatal to one of my babies that I love so, so, so much!


Any ideas/advice would be amazing!
 

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canis lupus familiaris
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No no way! Have they ever gotten a hold of litter/bedding and shredded it? Sometimes they shred stuff for fun or just to make it more comfy.

I had some girls pull in a shirt and shred part of it. I found the rest of it nicely tucked away in their rat house!
 

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Yep, same with my boys. They never ate toweling or cloth, just chewed on it a bit and shredded it up. Very similar to when I first had gerbils long ago and saw them chewing up their toilet paper rolls and cardboard boxes....I thought, "Oh my god, are they eating it??" but they were not. Just chewing as part of their natural rodent instinct to keep their front teeth, incisors, filed down. :)
 

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Rats are very smart about food, and they will not ingest things that are not edible. (In fact, often when they are trying a new food for the first time, they will only take a little bit of it, and then come back a while later for the rest. That's a natural instinct--they do this in the wild to make sure that the new food is not poisonous.) So, don't worry about them ingesting stuff. However, I wouldn't leave them alone with towels that have little strings in them, because their toenails (and potentially their teeth) can easily get stuck in those strings. Fleece is much better, since it doesn't have loose strings. :)

As for the styrofoam noodles, I personally wouldn't let them have those when they are alone, but if you are supervising them, it should be ok. My general rule of thumb is that I just don't allow them to have anything that I'm concerned about.
 

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Rat Rescuer and Hospice
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I let mine have those artsy little styrofoam balls to shred, but I am not sure what packing peanuts are made of, they seem very plastic in comparison, so I don't let them have those.
 

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The problem with Styrofoam packing peanuts is that they are the perfect consistency to be chewed into tiny bits and accidentally inhaled and to cut off breathing. I wouldn't let them chew those. They make an artsy kind (love that word) of noodles that are made of corn starch and melt in contact with water so the choking hazard is greatly diminished.

The only problem with towels is that they sometimes have threads as they are shredded which can lead to entanglements that cut off circulation to little toes or snag toe nails or even cause strangulation.

But, just because they pulled a towel into the cage and chewed it up isn't a problem at all. In fact, as long as you are aware of the risks and remove a shredded towel before it becomes a hazard, I don't even see a problem with intentionally giving them towels to burrow into.

For more safety, felt and flannel don't have the threads. You can buy them cheaply in the remnant section of most fabric stores.

I also have used old tee shirts. I have a bag of shredded teeshirts that I put in their cage in a big plastic bowl. They love burrowing in it and digging around. I can toss them or wash them once a week for reuse.
 

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you have to remember that rats cannot throw up. If they start choking on something, they don't have that retching reflex and can't do much about it.
I wouldn't give things that are easily swallowed like the packing peanuts for the same reason storyseeker gives: the tiny chewed pieces are super light and easily will get stuck in the throat if they inhale at the same time.
I know you didn't mention food, but avoir peanut butter and very soft foods. My rat has choked on peanut butter (had to put my hand in her mouth to get it out and give her warm water to try and help dissolve it) and some softer cheese that kinda melted in her mouth.
She did have fleece on top of her cage and completely shredded that. She would pull it inside the cage and chew it up and arrange it to make herself a nest!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The problem with Styrofoam packing peanuts is that they are the perfect consistency to be chewed into tiny bits and accidentally inhaled and to cut off breathing. I wouldn't let them chew those. They make an artsy kind (love that word) of noodles that are made of corn starch and melt in contact with water so the choking hazard is greatly diminished.

The only problem with towels is that they sometimes have threads as they are shredded which can lead to entanglements that cut off circulation to little toes or snag toe nails or even cause strangulation.

But, just because they pulled a towel into the cage and chewed it up isn't a problem at all. In fact, as long as you are aware of the risks and remove a shredded towel before it becomes a hazard, I don't even see a problem with intentionally giving them towels to burrow into.

For more safety, felt and flannel don't have the threads. You can buy them cheaply in the remnant section of most fabric stores.

I also have used old tee shirts. I have a bag of shredded teeshirts that I put in their cage in a big plastic bowl. They love burrowing in it and digging around. I can toss them or wash them once a week for reuse.
What are the "artsy" kind? Could you possibly send me a link?

I know!! My rats LOVE my girlie wife beaters or I'll buy really cheap fleece pajamas. Also, I LOVE painters rags from Home Depot. They save me a lot of $$$ and my baby rats love them MORE than the shirts OR fleece where my one adult chooses the fleece.
 

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I've seen them sold in bulk for schools, vacation bible schools, and such, but here's a couple of brands that sell them as kits. The kits are overpriced, but you get the idea of what they look like. You can also probably get the non colored ones used for mailing from packing stores. I wouldn't rush out with the purpose of getting them for your rat, but if you have them around, test their chokeability hazard. I used them at work for a kid project and found they melted quickly into a mush when wet, similar to bread. Bread can be a choking hazard to rats for that matter but if you are careful with consistency it's okay to give them bits.

http://www.naturalparentingtips.com/creative-play/eco-friendly-toy-review-happy-mais/

http://www.discoverthis.com/enviro-blox.html
 
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