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BRIEF: Are willow branches poisonous to rats?


QUESTION:
Are willow branches poisonous to rats? I want to know so I can put some it my rat's cage if they are OK. I seem to remember being told that they were good for budgies but then being told that they weren't. Which is true?

ANSWER:

I don't think willow branches are poisonous to rats, in reasonable doses. The active principle in aspirin is from white willow bark and enough concentrated aspirin is poisonous to rats, but I would be surprised if a few willow sticks had enough in them to do anything to a rat. Of course, I have been surprised before, and I have no experience with the robust willows of the United Kingdom...