Lets start with the most popular question about feeding that I hear:
How much do I feed my rat daily?
I am asked this often as well. Rats should not be scheduled feeders, instead, they should be self feeders, which means, always have a bowl full of dry food available for them at all times. People fear their rat will become overweight and eat and eat till they stuff themselves, which is not true. Rats do not over eat. They eat till they are satisfied. What makes a rat fat is the food they are being fed. If its high in fat, you will have a fat rat regardless of how much he eats of it. If this is his diet, he will be plump, which although they do look cute, its not healthy just as it isnt healthy for any living thing to be over weight.
PEANUT BUTTER WARNING:
I felt I should put this at the top of the page since I have had the unfortunate experience with other rats (not mine) choking from peanut butter and yes, sometimes they die from it. Peanut butter is very thick and sticky and it can clog the rats throat in a fraction of a second, cutting off their airway and choking them to death. There is no real reason to use peanut butter for your rat anyhow to be honest, with so many other things that they CAN eat, why risk it? But if you for whatever reason, feel you must use peanut butter on your rat, please please add water to it and make it a thin paste rather than allow them to have it thick. Trust me, I am not being paranoid. There have been cases where rats have died from choking on peanut butter and if you think about it, how many times have you had to reach up on the roof of your mouth and remove the peanut butter that was stuck there during a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch? So there you have it....
Mr. Smokey sure loves his uncooked pasta noodles! It takes his owner, Miss Bree of Illinois, two hands to hold him!!!!
Rats are not meant to eat other small animal diets such as hamster food or mouse or rabbit food. Rabbit food is for rabbits, not rats, so why would you expect that what meets the nutritional requirements of one species will automatically cover the rats nutritional needs as well? Its common sense if you think about it. Feeding your rat hamster or rabbit food is like feeding your human baby puppy food. Yep, same difference.
Did you know that most rabbit food contains alfalfa? Thats all just dandy for good old Peter Cotton Tail, but your rat on the other hand cannnnot digest alfalfa properly. Same for foods meant for your sweet little Guinea pig. Cavy cannot produce their own vitamin C, so their food contains extra vitamin C. Having vitamin C in rats food is just fine, but an excessive amount, as with any vitaimin supplement, is not good for ANY species, man nor beast. Long story short, rats get rat good, rabbits get rabbit food and so on and so on.....
And no, you cant simply throw them your table scraps and be done with it. Although you would be very popular in your choices with the rats, it can actually do more harm than good. Rats were stripped of a long life, obviously, so we do what we can to keep them healthy and a healthy rat lives longer, we all know that! Lets start with commercial foods at the pet stores. Those seed mixes. I would get the dish tossed back at me if I offered them seeds for dinner! LOL! Truth is, not only is that stuff pricey, but its worthless. Its loaded with stuff that is too high in proteins and fats and even toxins like mold, which is found in the hard corn kernels. Spiffy huh?! High protein diets lead to kidney disease later in life. So what to do? Lets see, no commerical foods, no table scraps, I am not making this easy for you am I? Well I will right now by telling you that you can make your own mix and not only will it assure you that your rat is getting a well balanced died, but it will save you money in the long run. Once you buy all the stuff needed to make the grain mix, you will have loads of it for weeks to come. Here is a few examples of homemade rat grain mixes that are great for your rats and most rats love every single thing in the mix which in turn, you wont see your picky rat sifting through the dish looking for his favorite pieces. .
Precious baby Nomi eats her first ear of sweet corn!
Please refer to the link below for information on homemade rat diets that meet the rats nutritional needs.
Regal rat by Oxbow is what I give my rats and they love it. Some people say that their rats do not care for it, but I have had no problem with using it. The best thing to do is offer this to them first rather than other kibble and they will like it because, well, theres no other choice in the matter. LOL No seriously, they should like it, but of course you dont want them to starve so if they dont like it, well, there are still other diets out there for them. I use Regal rat pellets (they are heart shaped) along with fruits and vegetables and other snacks that are healthy for them daily.
If you can get your rat to eat rodent blocks, your set. However, I never hear of any lucky owner that has been able to have their rat eat enough of those to be healthy. It can be too boring, but no matter what, offer it to them anyhow. Harlan Teklad lab blocks are the most preferred rodent block.
Buy Harlan teklad rodent blocks HERE
Just now I was fixing a broken link and found a great site for homemade rat kibble. It seems to be very nutritional!All the stuff used in the kibble are great for rats.
Forbidden Foods: What not to feed your rats
The following should never be given to rats:
|Never give:||Why not?|
|blue cheese||contains toxic mold|
|licorice||contains a suspected neurotoxin|
|raw dry beans or peanuts||contain antinutrients, cause red blood cell clumping (note: the peanuts that you buy in stores are almost always roasted so are okay.... frozen beans from veggie mixes are okay because they've been pre-cooked)|
|raw sweet potato||contains cyanide-forming compounds|
|raw red cabbage and brussel sprouts||contain an antinutrient that destroys thiamin|
|raw artichokes||inhibit protein digestion|
|green bananas||inhibit starch digestion|
|green potato skin and eyes||contain solanine (toxin)|
|wild insects||could carry parasites|
|rhubarb||high levels of oxalates which bind up calcium|
|raw bulk tofu||can contain bacteria (packaged tofu is safe)|
|orange juice||contains d-limonene which can cause kidney cancer in male rats|
|raw onion||can lead to anemia and an upset stomach|
Foods that should be fed with caution:
|If you want to let your rat try these, be careful:||Why?|
|Too much chocolate||It contains stimulants that can lead to heart failure or neurological poisoning in high quantities. A bit of chocolate is okay and can actually temporarily alleviate respiratory distress|
|Peanut Butter||This can cause choking in rats. If you want to give your rats some, mix it with jam or something liquid to make it less sticky.|
|Avocados||These are high in fat and are a good treat to feed rats that are in need of "beefing up" (make sure the fruit is ripe). However, the pit, rind, skin and leaves of avocados are toxic. The part of the fruit in contact with the pit has a higher concentration of toxins.|
|dried corn||It can have high levels of fungal contaminates which can lead to liver cancer. A little fresh corn is fine.|
Foods that should be limited (ie. don't feed too much of these):
|Only give these once in a while:||Why?|
|beets||high in nitrates and oxalates|
|celery||high in nitrates|
|spinach||high in nitrates and oxalates|
|collards||high in nitrates|
|almonds||high in oxalates|
|Swiss chard||high in oxalates|
Nitrates and amines combine into carcinogenic nitrosamines in the stomach. Oxalates are toxins that bind up calcium.
|Other things to watch out for:||Why?|
|Mold||This can be toxic. You wouldn't eat a moldy piece of food so of course you'd never give it to your rat. Remember grains can go moldy too.|
|Chlorinated and/or fluoridated Tap Water||Chlorine isn't good for us or our rats. Read more about the dangers of fluoride here.|
|Household Plants||Here's a list of toxic plants: Plants that are poisonous to small pets. Be sure your poinsettia and holly are out of reach over the holidays. Note: in some cases, some parts of a particular plant are poisonous (eg. foliage) whereas other parts of the fruit are safe (eg. fruit).|
Reference: Rat Health Care, 7th ed. by Debbie Ducommun. 2001.
Tap water that contains chlorine or fluoride should not be given to rats. If you use well water, also use with caution because there may be traces of led from the pipes. What some people do is allow the water to run for a few minutes to let the led run out with the first few minutes with the water.
It’s a good idea to clean the water bottle out with a bottle brush at least once a week. Use q-tip to clean the nipple. Always note the amount of water your rats drink and check it daily. I usually keep 1 bottle per level so if your cage has 3 levels, I use 3 bottles. Another thing to watch for is the little ball in the nipple can get stuck in place and the water cannot come out. This happened years back with my rats and luckily this is when the water bottle for each level came in handy!! They ball was stuck and so they just gave up on that bottle and used the other two. Ever since that time I always tap on the ball at last once or twice a day to make sure it is flowing good.
corn on cob (huge hit!)
Melons of all kinds
Apples and applesauce
Cucumber (in moderation)