Saturday, February 22, 2014

Hamster Bin Cages

What is a hamster bin cage? 
Bin cages are a cheap and easy way to make a highly-suitable living environment for all hamsters. Rather than spending $40+ on the atrocious Habitrail or Crittertrail lines (or similar set-ups), you could spend the same amount (or less!) on these wonderful cages. As another bonus, you don't have to worry about your hamster outgrowing the cage or tubing like you do with some pet store cages.

From, here is an easy tutorial on how to make the bin cages.
You will need:

One large storage bin. Clear bins are ideal because then you can see in, your hamster can see out, and you don't have to worry about making mesh "windows". (Windows, aside from being more work, can be dangerous because the hamster could climb them and fall. Some hamsters also LOVE to chew on bars and metal wires which could hurt them.)

You may wonder what size bin you should purchase. It should be at least 20 x 30 inches . This is the minimum comfortable size for one Syrian hamster or two dwarf hamsters. The bin I'm working on in this tutorial is 20 x 30 because that is the only one we could find deep enough to fit the 12" Comfort Wheel (Syrian hamsters need a 11" or 12" wheel. Any smaller and they will need to lift their neck and arch their back to run.) The first bin I made has way more floor space (33 3/4" L x 19 3/8" W x 13 3/8" H), but isn't quite deep enough to fit the 12" Comfort Wheel (which is about 14" all together). That means I had to order the 11" Wodent Wheel online, which is fine, but not as convenient. I'm still glad my hamster has more floorspace AND a big enough wheel, but I knew my friend who I was making this for didn't want to special order the wheel and have to wait. 

Wire mesh.  It's also known as "hardware cloth" or branded under Yardgard. I just got a generic roll at Home Depot. If you're only making one cage you'll be fine with the smallest roll they have. It should be around 19 or 23 gauge . (I used 23 gauge.)

Nuts, bolts, and washers.  You'll need 16 nuts, bolts, and washers to affix the mesh to the lid. For those who will be totally lost going into the hardware store (*raises hand*), you need machine screws. I used 3/8 of an inch long eight thirty-two screws (8-32x3/8 ) and size 8 washers.

Wire. I didn't have to buy any because there was wire wrapping the wire mesh. A foot long length of plain ol' wire will work.

Water bottle. I like these All Living Things water bottles. You can get them at Petsmart in lots of sizes and colors for cheaper than online. Some people think they're leaky, but they shouldn't be, provided you follow the instructions they come with about forming a vacuum in the bottle. The first cage I made uses a 4 ounce bottle, this cage is uses 6 ounce bottle. Both work well. 

Wheel. This post illustrates the proper sized wheel for a Syrian or "teddy bear" hamster. When it comes to wheels, bigger is better. A Syrian really does need an 11" or 12" wheel. If the hamster is bending his back or neck to run, even a little, it causes enormous strain. It's kind of like an adult racing 40 miles and hour in a kiddie go-cart for five hours every night. Not comfortable at all. For a dwarf hamster, an 8" or 8.5" wheel would be best. Wodent Wheels (in 8", 11", and 12"), Silent Spinners (in 12"), and Comfort Wheels (in 8.5" and 12") are all good brands and sizes.   

Oh! And don't forget - you're gonna want a plastic wheel. The metal ones can be dangerous for little hamster feet and legs. It's not unknown for them to break a limb or to rub the fur off of their noses while running.

For even more info on these great cages, visit the link that follows:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Hamster Hibernation

When the weather gets cold, we put on a sweater, maybe an extra pair of socks and turn on the heat in our homes. Even though they have a nice fur coat (usually) a hamster feels the cold, too. Remember that Syrian hamsters are originally from a very warm part of the world. Sudden temperature drops can be very dangerous for them- as their bodies react drastically and they can slip into hibernation.


Hibernation is the slowing or stopping usual activity during the winter for some animals. Usually it includes the slowing of the animal's metabolism. Most commonly, people think of bears hibernating. Gophers, Ground Hogs, as well as some species of bats, frogs and snakes hibernate. Black and Brown bears are efficient at hibernation. They eat more in the fall and store lots of fat. While they hibernate, their metabolism, heart rate, breathing, all slows down so they do not burn as much energy. Syrian hamsters, however, are not so good at hibernating. Mainly, they need to be awake so they can drink and prevent dehydration. They can, and do, slip into hibernation sometimes as a last-ditch effort to survive. In slowing down their heart rate and breathing, they conserve energy and produce a little more warmth, but the need for water is still there. Dwarf hamsters are not known to hibernate. They originate from very cold places like Siberia and very high in the mountains of Mongolia and China. Domesticated, however, they are not free to burrow deep into the ground to find warmth. The same precautions should be made for all hamsters to keep them from getting too cold.


Hibernation, most commonly, is caused by an extreme drop in temperature. However, even a slight change in temperature, combined with lack of food or water can trigger hibernation. Even in warm months, a hamster with no food might fall into a deep sleep to conserve its energy. A hamster can fall into hibernation in a matter of hours. You should check your hamster morning and night for activity during colder months. No one has control over the weather, unfortunately. Considerations must be made, however, for your hamster's comfort. At all times, keep your hamster's cage out of drafts. Check to see if the room your hamster is housed in is not cooler than other parts of the house. You may need to let him winter in a different room, or take steps to bring the room temperature higher. Electric space heaters are relatively inexpensive, and made to be safe, but they are difficult to maintain a constant temperature with. A good idea might be a heating pad under the cage. Heating pads for humans, though, are not designed to stay on full time and present a fire hazard. You can buy a reptile under-tank style heating pad for around $10-15. They are self-regulating and safe to leave on around the clock. It is best to either place the pad under one corner of the hamster's cage or to raise the cage about one inch and place the pad beneath. This will help the hamster stay warm, but not too warm. Heated rocks for reptiles are not safe- not even for reptiles- and can often melt the plastic of a cage or cause burns on feet and bellies. Do not think that just because your hamster has built an enormous and cozy-looking nest that they are not going to be at risk of hibernation. In fact, an uncharacteristically large nest may be a clue that your hamster is trying desperately to keep warm in a cold room.


Many people remark that on first glance, the hamster appears dead. Looking closely, you will notice that it is still breathing, though not very strongly. The hamster will be very limp, as opposed to the stiffness that occurs soon after death. It will also be very cold to the touch. Check feet and noses and ears- places with less fur- and they will be quite icy.


Three things are key to bring a hamster out of hibernation- getting them warm, keeping them awake, and rehydration. Immediately bring the hamster into a warm room. If possible, place the hamster on a heating pad or hot water bottle with several layers of towel between the hamster and the heat source. You may want to cover the hamster partly, too, to try to trap the heat next to their body. Rub the hamster- not roughly, but vigorously. The friction will help to warm them as well as wake them up. A medicine dropper or syringe is always helpful to have around when you have pets. You will want to try to get the hamster to drink. Once awake, there will be little change at first, but offered liquid, a hamster will try to swallow or lick at it. This is a very good first sign. Children's Pedialite, a drink containing fast energy-producing electrolytes, is even better than water. If you do not have any Pedialite on hand, you can add one teaspoon of sugar to one cup of water. The sugar will add a boost of energy and the flavor will be more tempting. As the hamster begins to perk up more- to the point of actively drinking and opening their eyes a little, you might need to add some safe, soft foods to grab their interest and help to keep them awake. Baby foods, mashed potatoes, fat free chicken broth, oatmeal, pureed vegetables- anything they can lick off your finger is good. Just make sure you stick to the safe food list. Continue to offer the liquid as well. Keep some soft toilet paper on hand as it is very absorbent. Mop up any dribbles, as being wet is not going to help your hamster get warm.


In the beginning, your hamster will be totally limp. It probably will lay flat on its belly, its limbs outstretched. As your hamster begins to wake up some, you will notice slowly increased movement and control. First will be the eyes opening a bit and it may twitch its whiskers or nose. Then your hamster may soon be able to lift its head briefly, working up to where it will be able to hold its head up for some time. As wakefulness continues, your hamster may pull its limb beneath it, sitting quite crouched. Eventually, they will take slow steps to getting to their feet and wobble around a bit until they eventually have complete control of their body. Some time around the point where your hamster is no longer lying flat, it may begin to shake and shiver quite a bit. It is very disconcerting to watch, but be assured it is quite normal. As his body temperature rises closer to normal, the muscle tissue begins to twitch or spasm awake. It may take as much as an hour to get to this point, but as long as some progress is being made, and you continue with the constant warming, rubbing, and feeding, he should continue to improve. It may take three hours or more before he is able to walk around again, but rest assured, he will be himself again very soon, as if nothing had happened. If there have been no increased signs of life and strength within the first half hour to hour, but you are certain he is still with you, then you will probably want to take him in to the emergency vet straight away.


Once your hamster is to his feet, place him back in his cage in a warm, quiet place. Be sure he has plenty of food and water and leave him to finish recovering on his own. You may want to add half Pedialite to his water for the next two or three days for added energy. Now will be the time to take steps to insure that he will be quite warm. Give him plenty of fresh bedding and/or toilet paper to build a nest with. He will still be quite weak, so he will be grateful if you help him shred it. He may want to sleep, or he might be more interested in food and water. At any rate, you should check on him every hour for the next half day or so to make sure that all conditions are favorable and he has not tried to slip back into hibernation. Do not be surprised if he is up running in his wheel or picking up on his favorite activities again in just a few hours.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Worst Critter Products Ever! - In My Experience

Hey guys! I'm sorry for the inconvenience about doing a Valentine's Day post - It's frustrating sometimes when the posts auto-delete if you just leave the page..etc..all that technical stuff, and my lazy side struck again. I gave up on re-typing it all. Oh well. Here's Minnie in her V-Day themed-collar cover. Aw! I'll save the 'pets with their valentines' pics which are stubbornly refusing to load for strange reasons.

Lately I've been having really good luck with the supplies I've been buying for all the pets. Today I went shopping and stocked up on more cavy food, as well as hay for Daisy & Lily. We also got two new toys for our resident rat terrier Minnie, which I'll review later. Iggy looooooves the Selective Guinea Pig food that he is eating, and it's definitely the best food I've ever used.
But there are just some products that I considered yuck. Some of these are recent, others are not so recent. I wanted to make this post so you didn't make the same mistake that I did.

SuperPet Rabbit Harness
When I first began my journey with owning bunnies which was four long years ago, I didn't have a very good idea on what not to do, and what to do. I had it set in my mind that you were supposed to get a harness for your bunny. 
These harnesses are not out anymore, and the SuperPet line carries a much stronger and chew-proof version for bunnies. Now they use the exact same harness(excepting the switch of colors)but smaller for rats and ferrets. 

First of all, I found the stretchy leash to be very hard on bunny's back, and a few little nibbles could easily cause the elastic to snap. 
Second, the pink mesh is so thin that any rabbit that is still new to the "harness thing" will chew through that as well.

Finally, the Velcro was a poor use of attaching the "tab" things that wrap around the chest and belly. Plastic clips came out later in the line, which still weren't very sturdy.

Silent Spinners
Silent Spinners are wheels for hamsters that are squeak-free and virtually silent. 

These are actually the only wheel I have ever spent my money on, and they are totally smooth and silent.
The main issue I had with these is that the green wheel is just too small for even the tiniest dwarf hamster, which makes it pretty useless just sitting in the pet store for all to be tricked into buying. /:
Second issue is that there is absolutely no traction on these things - the hamster has to get very used to slipping and sliding around, which can be difficult for the more senior hamsters or bottom-heavy ones. 
Otherwise, these guys are on my "better" list of bad products.

Coconut Fluff

I'm using this picture of the S.A.M small pet brand of this "coconut fluff", but there are many others, and this was not what I bought. All I know is, any coconut bedding stuff is a waste of money. 
It's so dusty that even if you had no allergies whatsoever you would be SNEEZING because of a all the particles. It's also a joy to clean up! ^_^
This was probably not a good idea for me to even THINK of using in my hammie cage, much less actually put in there. It seemed to make my little guy itchy and he had no intentions of burrowing in the "naturally cozy" bedding. And um....COZY? This stuff was brittle, dry, and definetly not soft. 

Fiesta Small Pet Treats - Papaya and Coconut

 I have something against coconut! LOL, just kidding. But small pets and coconut just. Do. Not. Mix. Well. 
Now I know better that processed treats shouldn't be fed to your bunny or other critter very much - best not at all. But back then, treats seemed fun, tasty, and a great idea. Wrong.
First of all, the dried coconut is never eaten by my critters. They despise it. They just seem to ignore it if it ever ends up in a treat bowl or even offered directly to them. Daisy especially does not eat the coconut.
Dried papaya, on the other hand, is probably the one processed treat a creature could get addicted to. My pets will never turn down dried papaya.

In the Fiesta mixture, the fairly expensive(for a super-small container, at least) treats were too hard and didn't seem very fresh. Even this dried papaya they didn't seem to like as much as the normal stuff. They ignored it after a few pieces. Just like the coconut.

Hi-Corner Rabbit Litter Box
I just got a new litter box for Daisy, which I'll also be reviewing. This brings me to a tale.
When I first got Daisy those four years ago, I purchased this exact litterbox that's shown below.
It was immediately tossed around the cage, eventually being cracked very slightly, which lead to the pee leaking out. Plus, this model doesn't even have any clips...and is very light and very easy to carelessly be tossed around by a bunny!
 We had gone through several litterboxes and it was time for a new one, a Long John Litter Pan.
But of all the litter boxes, the Hi-Corner was the smallest and worst.
Bunnies like big litter boxes! They like to lay in them, they like to have space. They love the huge cat ones.

The Hi-Corner is so small that a bunny can only sit upright in there.

There are plenty other reasons why this box just wasn't my favorite.
It was hard to clean, and like I said before - light...not heavy.
It also only fit in super-small cages. Nah. Not gonna happen.

Real bunnies have real cages. A.k.a, pens. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Guinea Pig Fleece Burrowing - Contributed by Sally

Fleece is a great bedding choice for guinea pigs, although it can have its difficulties. Many guinea pigs enjoy their fleece bedding and some of them love it best from underneath: they burrow under the fleece. This can be messy. They’ll eat the newspaper or chew on whatever you have under the fleece to absorb the urine. Or worse, they’ll get down to the bare bottom of the cage and you end up extracting a sodden, poopy pig. Yuck. Even with a ton of places to hide and cozies and cuddle cups to snuggle into, some pigs just prefer to get into where they shouldn’t.

There are a few different ways to deal with this problem.

The Brick Method
An easy, quick and inexpensive way to keep pigs from burrowing under the fleece is to hold the edges down with something heavy. Bricks, a big food bowl, hidey houses or anything hard to move or get under can do the trick. I have a brick under my girls’ water bottle. It works double duty: it keeps the excess water from soaking the fleece as well as keeping the fleece from being pulled up. The drawback of bricks is that they take up room on the floor and can be obstacles in an otherwise open running space.  If you have truly tenacious pigs, any open edge is an invitation to get under the fleece, so the heavy object approach may not be practical.

Small Binder Clip on Fleece
Image courtesy of Sally

Binder Clips

Small Binder Clips on Fleece
Since I started building C&C cages, I’ve discovered there are two things I can’t do without:  zip-ties and binder clips. I have two different sized binder clips on hand and I am surprised (and amused) at how many are in use (14 in one cage and several more for their pen). Binder clips are a wonderfully effective way to stop burrowing. It requires cutting the fleece large enough to run up the sides of the cage so you can binder clip it to the top edge of the coroplast. I cut mine an inch or two longer than the sides, so I can fold it over the edge before clipping it into place.  Not only does this prevent burrowing, it stymies coroplast chewing (in case your guinea pig has a penchant for scalloped edges).

I have heard of a variation of the binder-clip solution by sewing velcro to the fleece and sticking the matching side of the velcro to the coroplast.  Personally, I’d think that velcro would be hard to clean around and lose its grip too quickly.  However, it’s worth mentioning – you may come up with some nifty way of making it work.

PVC pipe frame for fleece
Image courtesy of Sally

PVC Pipe Frame

PVC Pipe Frame for Fleece
Another method to keep fleece down is by using a PVC pipe frame. It’s not a common solution, but I’ve seen descriptions of this design once or twice. The idea is to make a frame of 1/2 inch pipe that is just slightly smaller than the inside edge of the frame. The fleece needs to be a few inches larger than the bottom of the cage.  The fleece is placed over the frame, the edges tucked under, and the whole thing is placed into the cage. It eliminates any raw edges for the guinea pig to burrow under. The weight of the pig on both the PVC and fleece should hinder them from tunneling underneath.

I recently discovered a variant of the PVC frame technique: the pipe frame is replaced with a sheet of coroplast that is a little smaller than the bottom of the cage. The coroplast is covered with the fleece and binder-clipped into place, then placed in the bottom of the cage. This would be a great way to use up any large chunks of coroplast you may have laying around. It might be easier to clean than the PVC frame, too.

These are the most common prevention tactics I’ve seen. I’m sure there are other methods that people have dreamed up in order to thwart their industrious guinea pigs. If you’re lucky, your pigs have never considered that burrowing under their fleece bedding is a possibility. Keep your fingers crossed that they don’t become enlightened.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hey Everyone!

Hey everyone! Hope you guys are having a good week so far!
I'm looking forward for some more awesome posts this February(and hopefully so are you) - including some Valentines Day ones! 

It's been awhile since I actually did what I call an "update post". Sorry! Here I am now.

Iggy's been settling in well. He no longer runs in to his sleeping house as soon as I enter the room. Now he only goes in there to hide when I try to pick him up. Ah...patience is needed when hand-training guinea pigs. But....the results last a very long time.(and I MEAN A LONG TIME! Have you seen the lifespans of these guys? Yeesh. Pretty long compared to our hamster or mouse friends who only live...GASP!! 2 years!)

I don't have any sort of interesting updates for any of the other pets. Well, there is the story of how Minnie opened her crate when we were gone today and was walking around for who knows how long. But honestly. That isn't quite the biggest deal. Really. She obviously destroyed NOTHING. Zero. She didn't take advantage of the fact that we were gone so she could do bad things. (Not that she does bad things. Not at all.) She was FINE. She just happily greeted us at the door. As usual.
I'm really thinking that this is a huge step for her. Maybe it even gave her the opportunity to have the chance to not have to spend any time in that crate at all. Maybe. Let's hope. 

Awright. Enough ranting about that little thing. 
You probably have (well...DOH!) noticed the new blog background..etc. I was trying out new mottos and such, and this awesome new setup is now here to stay. Don't worry! I know it can get, well, confusing!

Finally, we have a new review...submitted by the CavySavvy Pigs! Thanks, guys!

Product Review: Ecotrition Snak Shak Cube Hideaway

Today we're going to review Ecotrition Snak Shak Cube Small Animal Chew. We are big fans of Ecotrition's Snak Shak Natural Hideaway and Snak Shak Activity Log, so we expect that we'll like this as well.

Yay! New chew toy!
The other Ecotrition Snak Shak products are designed to look like other things (like a log and a hut), but I'm not sure what this is supposed to be modeled after. But that's only a minor consideration compared to how fun it is to chew on, and whether there are any health concerns. There are the same health concerns here as with the other two Snak Shak products: the first ingredient is pine wood shavings, which isn't the best thing for us, but is probably fine for us in small amounts. We took off a star for that in the other two cases, which we'll also do here. But here's another difference: the log and the shack are just more fun to chew on. After only a few days with the log, you can notice the chewing damage to it. We've had this Snak Shak Cube for a few days now, and we'll still chew on it and experiment with crawling under it, but it's not a hit with us like the log and hut. We'll give it 3/5 stars.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Guinea pig Pea eye

A common thing I hear from my blog readers is: My guinea pig has a lump under his eye! You can rest assured that this is usually nothing to stress about.

Fatty Eye or Pea Eye

Pea Eye 
Pea eye (or fatty eye) is a permanent protrusion of the conjunctival sac, thought to be inherited. Pea eye and fatty eye are frequently grouped together by vets as conjunctival swelling. These conjunctival protrusions can be removed by laser if they are interfering with vision. Cavies with pea eye generally do not seem to be uncomfortable and treatment is usually not necessary. 

Red Eye 
VC Richardson, from describes a condition she calls 'red eye' that reportedly shows up under stress or in the presence of an irritant like smoke. 

Fluid Retention and Pea Eye 
In some cavies, pea eye may be caused or aggravated by fluid retention. Not all guinea pigs with heart conditions and pea eye show changes when using lasix but one owner observed that the pea eye always present in her pig with a heart condition (heart disease confirmed at autopsy) became much less noticeable after the animal was given lasix. She also observed a 50% reduction of pea eye for another pig (also with heart disease confirmed at autopsy) after 6 weeks of a low daily dose of Lasix. Her theory is that in some pigs, pea eye may be caused by fluid build-up due to poor circulation. 

Treating Inflamed Conjunctiva 
A reader's guinea pig with an inflamed conjunctiva was treated with flurbiprofen, an anti-inflammatory drop, and then gentamicin. The vet reasoned that by reducing the inflammation, the gentamicin could better treat the source of the infection. She found that antibiotic drops alone did not seem effective. The anti-inflammatory/antibiotic combination worked well and cured the problem for about three or four months, until it again returned. 

"Cherry Eye" 
"Cherry eye" in other animals generally refers to a gland located near the base of the 3rd eyelid that is pink in color rather than the normal white conjunctival color. Josephine, an author at notes that there is no evidence of a guinea pig having a 3rd eyelid. 

In a guinea pig, it is instead a lacrimal (tear producing) gland made up of lymphatic tissue and it is this gland which becomes infected and/or inflamed in cherry eye and prolapses. Cherry eye in dogs is considered uncomfortable, especially when the condition is more severe and covers more of the eye. In contrast, pea eye is usually not painful or uncomfortable. 

        "Cavies do have several lacrimal glands in the perimeter of the orbit. One called the glandula lacrimalis can become infected or inflamed and become more visible (prolapse). This may not be "Cherry Eye" per se, but I have not been able to find another term that is accurate to explain the situation. It does present in an identical manner... 

        "..."Cherry Eye" will only occur in the bottom "inside" corner of the eyes since that is where the lacrimal glands are located. Conjunctival or other swellings are a possibility all around the eye. Normally pea eye is found in the corners of eyes as well and can be due to subscleral fat in the region, but researchers are still finding many possible scenarios for pea eye. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Good & Bad Foods For Rats...Submitted by AMJ from Rat Forum

This was contributed by AMJ from 

What is good for your rats to eat

Essentially, if it is ok for you to eat, then it is generally ok for the rats to eat. To make a comprehensive list of everything a rat could eat would take forever. So here is a list of particularly healthy things for your rat:

Bananas - but not green bananas
Blueberries - All around good for rats (Just be careful they don't stain anything you don't want stained with juice) (Submitted by Mana)
Grapes - purple grapes are believed to help prevent cancer
Peaches - without the pit
Cranberries (and cranberry juice)
Plums - excluding the stone

Peas - Especially frozen for those hot summer days (Submitted by Forensic)
Romaine lettuce - It is recommended to avoid iceberg lettuce as it has little nutritional value
Green beans - cooked
Corn (on the cob, frozen, or from a can)
Green, red, or yellow peppers (not spicy!)
Pumpkin - and the seeds (in moderation)
Butternut Squash - cooked
cooked mushrooms - in moderation

Chicken bones - Make sure these aren't too greasy or fatty
Crickets - Apparently, rats will eat these? I've never done it, I don't need crickets running around in my room. Good for protein
Dog biscuits recommends 'Grreat Choice Healthy Treats'
Hard-boiled eggs - I've heard these are good for pregnant rats who need the extra protein/fat. However, these should not become a regular part of the diet but rather just a treat for regular rats.
Popcorn - Unsalted and unbuttered
Yogurt drops - Rats love these. At least, mine do.
Yogurt - a small amount of probiotic yogurt is good for gut flora
Cheese - small amount in moderation, preferably soy based

What your rats should never eat

Apple seeds - Apple seeds contain a small amount of cyanide which could be harmful to your rat. (Original post by Nightfallspy)
Green bananas - Inhibit starch digestion
Mango - Contains d-limonene which can cause kidney cancer in male rats (Thank you Darksong17!)
Oranges - The white part on the peelings and outer layer of a peeled orange is harmful to male rats. It seems to be ok for females, but I just stay away from citrus fruits in general.
Orange juice - Contains d-limonene which can cause kidney cancer in male rats

Raw brussel sprouts - Fine after cooking, though
Green potato skin and eyes - I will not eat them and I will not eat green potato skin and eyes 
Raw artichokes - Inhibit protein digestion
Raw onion - Can lead to anemia and an upset stomach
Raw red cabbage - Fine after cooking
Raw sweet potato - Once again, fine after cooking
Rhubarb - High levels of oxalates which bind up calcium

Blue cheese - Contains a toxic mold
Cuddle Bones (for Birds) - The general consensus was that these have far too much calcium to be healthy for your rat, steer clear. (Original post by sneakers8
Licorice - Contains a suspected neurotoxin
Poppyseeds - One member's rat got into these and then began to act very lethargic. The rat seemed better for a while, but unfortunately the situation deteriorated and the rat had to be put to sleep. (Original post by rainbowstar)
Rat poison - Believe it or not, this is just not good for rats
Raw bulk tofu - Packaged tofu is ok for eating
*Raw* dry beans or peanuts - Peanuts you buy in a store are almost always roasted so they are fine for rats. Beans will need to be cooked first before giving to rats. If you're growing your own peanuts then I would not serve those to your rats.
Raw hide - Difficult to digest (Original post by hydra)
Sweet feed (For horses) - There's just too much corn and molasses in this. (Original post by Krickette) 
Wild insects - Well I guess these are ok cooked?

It is also a good idea to consult the Poisonous Plants for Small Pets list.

What your rats should eat in moderation or with caution
All of the following should be given in moderation. Some can be very dangerous to your rat if given too much. Personally, I would recommend just not giving your rat any of these (With the exception of chocolate, which is fine in small amounts).

Avocados - Very fatty. Also, the pit, rind, skin, and leaves of the avocado are toxic. Avoid any part of the avocado that even touches those parts. Good for sick rats needing to gain weight though
Bread - Bread can expand in a rat's throat, causing them to choke. If giving your rat bread, toast it first or give them very small amounts at a time.
Carbonated drinks - Though I doubt your rat will explode, it could give them a stomach ache as they have a hard time getting rid of the carbonation.
Chocolate - Supposed to help with minor respiratory distress. Too much can be problematic. Avoid milk chocolate but rather go for dark or bittersweet chocolate as milk chocolate contains too much fat and some rats are lactose intolerant (Thanks Mana!)
Dried corn - Contains fungal contaminates which could lead to liver cancer (Fresh corn is ok)
Oranges - The white part on the peelings and outer layer of a peeled orange is harmful to male rats. It seems to be ok for females, but I just stay away from citrus fruits in general.
Peanut butter - Could cause your rat to choke

Things people have asked if it's ok for your rat to eat

The following is just a list of some of the strange items people have asked about and whether or not they are ok to eat.

Fine to eat
Canned oysters - Canned oysters should be fine and nutritious for your rats (As a treat), but I would recommend steering clear of any other form of oysters. (Original post by rightin2)
Celery - Fine, but not much nutritional value (Original post by kkdepp)
Mealworms - Perfectly fine for your rat and good source of protein. Fine alive or dead (Original post by Chthonicfox)
Meat - Chicken is always best, but they can eat any kind of cooked meat. Try to keep the fat down. (Original post by x.xgemax.x and Sky14)
Pineapple - Should be fine, in moderation of course. Have you ever eaten too much pineapple? Because I have and it hurts. (Original post by toxic_tears1990)
Popsicles - These are ok for rats, but watch out for high sugar content. A better idea is to freeze your own ice cubes or low-sugar concoctions to keep your rats cool. (Original post by camel24j)
Spaghetti - Seems to be ok cooked and uncooked. (Original post by renay)

Should never eat (Repeated in above section for rat's safety)
Apple seeds - Apple seeds contain a small amount of cyanide which could be harmful to your rat. (Original post by Nightfallspy)
Cuddle Bones (for Birds) - The general consensus was that these have far too much calcium to be healthy for your rat, steer clear. (Original post by sneakers8
Poppyseeds - One member's rat got into these and then began to act very lethargic. The rat seemed better for a while, but unfortunately the situation deteriorated and the rat had to be put to sleep. (Original post by rainbowstar)
Raw hide - Difficult to digest (Original post by hydra)
Sweet feed (For horses) - There's just too much corn and molasses in this. (Original post by Krickette) 

Undecided (Best to avoid for now)
Mint/Menthol/Candy Canes - It is currently unknown as to whether or not this may be harmful to your rat. Best to avoid for now. (Original post by zimmyzam)
Peppers - Though the non-spicy portion of the pepper is fine, you may want to avoid these as you'll never know if some of the spiciness got on the non-spicy portion, which could be very upsetting to a ratty. (Original post by glindella)

Staple Diet
MopyDream has made a fantastic post on the top three best hard foods for your rat, and so I will just quote it exactly here.
Quote from: "MopyDream44"
Name: Harlan Teklad
Pros: Harlan Teklad is the top brand that is specifically made for rats. It has the best overall nutrition for your rats.
Cons: It is not sold in most pet stores, and it has a shelf life of approx. 6 months if frozen.
Purchase Information: you can buy it directly from with a min purchace of 100$. You can buy it in smaller portions at Kim's Ark,, or

Name: Nutro Natural Choice Lite
Pros: It contains similar nutritional values to H. Teklad, and it is easily found in chain pet stores.
Cons: it is made for dogs rather than rats. It must be fed with a grain mix, which is an additional expense but the ratties love it Wink
Purchase Information: it is found in pet stores such as Petco and Petsmart

Name: Mazuri
Pros: actually made for rodents
Cons: the protein % is a bit higher than the recommended %
Purchase Information: found at pet store chains. 

I used to say Harlan Teklad was the best choice for rats, but Darksong17 has turned me around and I now recommend Oxbow Regal Rat if your rats will eat it. Please read more about it in Appendix 1 below.

If you are unable to get Regal Rat then Harlan Teklad is definitely the best choice, but if you can't get that go for Innova Senior or Nutro Natural Choice Lite.