Cute and furry low-maintenance pet rats make wonderful companions for children and adults. As owners of rats we all care deeply about our little friends' well-being, health and happiness. So naturally we want to make sure they get the best of everything and this includes a healthy and balanced diet.
Store-bought rat pellets or lab blocks should make up 90 percent of your pet rat's daily diet, and fruits, vegetables and other fresh foods make up the remaining 10 percent, according to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Michigan State University. For a non-pregnant rat, a small bowl of rat pellets or lab blocks once a day, supplemented by one tablespoon of fresh treats, will be enough.
Store-bought Foods For Pet Rats
While you are shopping for your pet rat, look for a food made specifically for rats. Rat pellets or lab blocks are the most complete food that meets daily nutritional requirements of rats. They are hard food formulated especially for rats and should be the main staple of your rat’s diet.
If you have an adult rat, foods from Oxbow Regal is preferred. If you’re in the UK, then the best choice is from Selective Rat Food. If your rat is still young, then we recommend Harlan Teklad Rat Food.
However, you should keep in mind that hamsters, gerbils and other rodent diets are not a good substitute as their nutritional requirements are different, and these usually contain alfalfa which is not easy for rats to digest.
We all know that humans benefit from eating a variety of vegetables and fruits. So do the rats. It's great to supplement commercial rat foods diet with a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits and other fresh foods. The following is a list of treats you may wish to try.
|Applesauce||Celery||Ham||Popcorn (should be unsalted and unbuttered if possible)|
|Apricots||Cherries||Hard Boiled Eggs / Scrambled Eggs||Pumpkins|
|Beef||Chicken / Chicken Bones||Kale||Rice (brown rice is especially good for your rat)|
|Blackberries||Cold Cuts||Mashed Potatoes||Romaine Lettuce|
|Blueberries||Cooked Mushrooms||Mealworm||Seedless Apples / Grapes Kiwi / Peaches / Pears|
|Boysenberries||Corn||Meat Baby Food||Small Dog Treats|
|Butternut Squash||Cranberries||Oatmeal Cookies / Saltine Crackers / Whole Grain Crackers||Unsalted Sunflower Seeds|
|Cantaloupe||Cream Cheese On Crackers / Soy-based Cheese||Parsley||Turkey|
|Cashews||Dry Cereal||Plums||Whole Wheat Bread / Pasta|
|Cauliflower||Green/Red/Yellow/Peppers (not too spicy)||Pomegranates||Yogurt|
You’d better offer these foods in very small amounts per week to add variety to your rat's diet.
Chocolate contains stimulants that can lead to heart failure or neurological poisoning in high quantities. A very small bit of chocolate is okay and can actually help to alleviate respiratory distress. But avoid milk chocolate because they contain too much fat and some rats are lactose intolerant. Small amounts of dark or bittersweet chocolate are okay.
Fatty Meats And Foods
Continuous excessive fat intake can cause oily fur, diarrhea, fatty liver disease, and even death. Excess fat also interferes with nutrient absorption.
Fluorinated And Chlorinated Water
Fluorine can damage a rat's brain, and chlorine is also toxic. Only use unfiltered tap water unless no other water is available.
Use very sparingly.
This is a high oxalate green (which means high in vitamin A, which can be overdosed in rats) so should only be fed to once a week and in very small amounts.
Sticky foods, especially thick ones like peanut butter, can cause choking. If you do want to give your rats peanut butter, mix it with jam or liquid to make it less sticky.
Sugary Foods should be given in moderation. Too much sugar is bad for humans, just as it would be for little rats.
When feeding your rat give only what can be consumed within a 24 hour period, in that way you can be sure of maintaining freshness and be aware of how much your rat eats.
Just like you and me, rats can eat most things, however there are a few exceptions.
Below is a picture of the foods you should feed with caution.
Here are so many common foods that are healthy for humans but not healthy for rats. Read on to learn not to poison your pet rat!
Alcohol does great damage to organ systems and leads to death. So keep wine and other alcoholic beverages away from your pet rat.
Apple seeds contain a cyanide derivative that is deadly.
Both the skin and the pit of the avocado are toxic. Don’t feed the flesh near the skin or pit, either. If you give your rat an avocado, make sure to cut a piece that wasn’t near the skin or the pit. For the safest bet, avoid avocado.
The mold in blue cheese is toxic to rats.
Caffeinated drinks like soda and tea can lead to cardiac malfunction, fast heartbeat, arrhythmia, and cardiac arrest if consumed by a rat.
Rats can’t burp, therefore, if they consume a large amount of carbonated drink, they have no way to release the excess gas. In addition, the sheer amount of sugar in most soft drinks is not a good idea for rats.
Dried corn contain high levels of fungal contaminates that can cause liver cancer in rats. Make sure to inspect commercial seed mixes with dried corn.
While dried banana and regular banana are okay, green bananas inhibit starch digestion enzymes, causing digestive problems.
Green Potato And Green Potato Skin And Eyes
They contain solanine, a toxin for rats.
Mango contains D-limonene which can cause kidney cancer in male rats.
Mold and bacteria in moldy foods can be extremely toxic to rats, just as they can be to humans.
Licorice possibly causes neurological poisoning in rats.
In a summary, the first group of foods your pet rat should never eat are:
And more foods that your pet rat should never eat include:
Both the white parts on the peelings and the outer layer of a peeled orange is harmful to male rats. It seems to be okay for females. It’s better to avoid citrus fruits like oranges to be on the safe side.
It contains D-limonene which can cause kidney cancer in male rats. It is fine for female rats.
Peanuts And Raw Dry Beans
They have been found to have anti-nutrients, which will destroy vitamin A and certain enzymes needed to digest protein and starches. This causes red blood cells clumping. (note: the peanuts that you buy in stores are almost always roasted so they are okay. Frozen beans from veggie mixes are okay because they have been pre-cooked.)
Poppy seeds can cause rats to become sick, and even cause death.
This vegetable inhibits protein digestion in rats.
Raw Bulk Tofu
The bulk unpackaged tofu may contain bacteria and is unsafe. Packaged tofu is ok for eating.
They can lead to anemia and an upset stomach.
Raw Red Cabbage And Raw Brussels Sprouts
These contain an anti-nutrient that destroys thiamin.
Raw Sweet Potato
Raw sweet potatoes contain compounds that form cyanide in rat's stomach. They also contain a trypsin inhibitor, which can block the digestion of proteins. Cooked sweet potato is okay.
Rhubarb contains toxic amounts of oxalates.
Sweet Feed For Horses
There is too much corn and molasses in it.
These should never be fed to your rat because they may carry diseases and internal parasites. Cooked insects and insects bought from a store seem to be okay.
Here is a picture to help you recall the second group of foods that appeared above:
Mint And Menthol
Honestly, it’s currently unknown whether these foods are dangerous or not for your rat. It’s best to avoid for now. Better to be safe than sorry!
In one word, a combination of rat pellets or lab blocks and fresh treats as supplements is the easiest and best way to keep your furry friend happy and healthy.
Always keep the foods information in mind and never feed the wrong food to your rat. If you love your pet rat, please prove it with thoughtful feeding!