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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I went to the pet store today and I was looking at rat toys. One of the kind where a bunch of different things to chew on are strung up together had a pinecone on it. The label specifically said it was for pet rats.... If rats can't have pine wood, aren't pinecones bad as well?
I'll likely make them my own toys too, so what kind of rope/thread/whatever is best to string up toys like that? I have some jute twine or hemp twine... Would those work? Maybe some thin cotton rope would be better?
Thanks as always :)
 

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In general, I'd avoid anything made in China... They tend to find new and creative ways to incorporate their excess toxic waste into products they ship us... Sometimes it's in the plastics they make, other times it's in the paints they apply to things, in general if it's made in the orient odds are nothing alive should chew on it if it wants to stay that way..

That said just about anything that grows in nature that isn't toxic to us and most of the stuff made in the USA or western Europe is safe for rats. I know that sounds like a pretty liberal guide, but rats really are designed to survive in the real world where they encounter way worse things than pine cones. On the other hand, neither your rats nor your children realize that the TV remote control or even the TV electrical cord was made with toxic plastic waste and lead solder and definitely shouldn't be chewed.

Even products that should be safe made from natural materials that come from the orient can contain toxic dies or paints. So unless you have a chemical testing lab, try and pick up stuff from the woods and bake it to kill any bugs inside or buy from a manufacturer that could be held responsible for poisoning your children or your rats... It's actually easier with kids to teach them never to put their toys in their mouths... rats like to chew so you have to be more careful.

Best luck.
 

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At what temperature do you bake things you find outside? I can find some pretty good deadfall that is not spruce or pine, but I wouldn't want to set the oven to too high a temperature and cause a fire. I'm sure that this may vary from wood to wood, so I'm interested in a general guideline.
 

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There's information on the ABBA bird seed site, but I think most bugs and their eggs die at around 350 degrees for something like 20 minutes. You might not even need that much. Don't try a microwave!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have heard of boiling them first too. Then putting them in the oven. I've read up to 45 min at 350. Haven't tried it yet myself. Maybe check frequently for dryness.
 

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What I do to for pinecones is wash them in a sink full of warm water and about a cup of white vinegar. I let them soak in there for about 30 minutes. Then I rinse them and bake them at 200 degrees for 1 or 2 hours (the low temperature is just to dry them out). Once they are cooled they are good to go. The cool thing is that if the pine cones aren't fully opened when you pick them up off the ground, they will open in the oven!
 
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