The Best Foods to Give Your Pet Rat

Are you acquiring a new pet rat for the first time?  Do you want to know what they can and cannot eat?  

In this article, we will discuss what you can feed your rat that is good for them to eat and do them no harm.

Feeding Your Pet Rat

Feeding your pet rat is not hard but there are some important tips for things that you should include in your pet rat’s diet.  The bulk of their diet should include specially-formulated rat diets.  You also want to make sure that you offer them a variety of fresh foods. 

If you want to find an alternative to the prepackaged foods, you can make a homemade diet but you have to stick closely to these recipes.  The foods you feed your pet rat need to include fresh supplements.  Without these, the diet they are on can end up being imbalanced nutritionally. 

This could cause your rat health problems.  The best way to provide a balanced diet is by having a combination of fresh treats as supplements and a good rat block.

Store-Bought Food

When you are shopping for food for your pet rat, make sure that you look for one that is specifically made for rats. Generally, they will be a block or pellet-type diet.  The pellets will be large.  There are also some loose seed mixes but they will only be well-balanced if they eat everything in the mix, but most rats do not do that. 

If you use the pellet or block food, they will not be able to pick and choose what parts they want to eat.  Make sure that you have the block available at all times for your pet rat.

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Whatever you decide to feed your pet rat, they need to be low fat and low calorie.  If you cannot find a pet rat specified food, make sure that the one you choose that meets the requirements for their health.  Make sure that you stay away from diets designed for gerbils, hamsters, and other rodents. 

They are not a good substitute because the nutritional requirements are different in those foods. Their food usually contains alfalfa and that is not very digestible for rats.

grey rat and cookie

Other Foods

A rat will benefit from eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other fresh foods.  You can even share with your rat the different things you are eating.  You just have to remember that the serving sizes need to be small; about a half-inch cube or a teaspoon full. They could get diarrhea if they are given a large amount of vegetables or fruits in each meal.  

Here are some of the treats that you can give your pet rat:

  • Vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, kale, broccoli, peas, bok choy, and more
  • Fruits—cherries, strawberries, apples, grapes, bananas, grapes, especially the purple ones as they are thought to help prevent cancer in rats.
  • Very lean meats and cooked liver
  • Cooked beans, which include soy
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat bread and pasta that is cooked or dry.  They like the tri-colored spirals with tomato or spinach flavor.  
  • Yogurt, especially if it has live cultures
  • Breakfast cereals that are unsweetened like puffed rice or Cheerios.

When you feed your pet rat apples, make sure that you remove all the seeds because these are hazardous for rats.  The apple should also be cut up into small chunks.  Most rats do not have a problem with bread but there have been reports of some choking on it so only feed them small amounts, dip it in water or milk, or toast it first. Chicken bones make great chew toys for your pet rat.

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baby rat and cheese

Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet Rat

  • Raw beans or raw sweet potato
  • Brussels sprouts and cabbage
  • Green potatoes or green bananas
  • Human junk food or other sweet, sugary treats
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Wild insects due to pesticides and parasites they may contain
  • Poppy seeds

Make sure that you do not feel your male pet ret any foods that contain d-limonene.  This includes orange and lemon juices and peels, black pepper, mango, and nutmeg.

Feeding Your Pet Rat New Foods

If you are feeding your pet rat a new food, they will generally take a small bite and then walk away.  When they do this, they are testing the food.  They do not have a gag reflex so if they eat too much of this new food, they could become sick or even kill them. 

They are trying to see if it will make them sick so if it does not, then they will go back and eat the food.  Many owners do not know this and will immediately pick up the food because they do not think their pet rat likes it.  Give them time to test it before you pick it up and dispose of it.

Conclusion

When feeding your pet rat, the best foods you can give them are the block or pellets that are specially made for pet rats along with a variety of foods.  This is the best way to make sure that they get the nutrition they need and will stay healthy. 

One thing to feed your pet rat is frozen vegetables or fruits on a hot day.  You can make it a game for them by putting them in some water so they can play with the food before they eat it.

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If you are trying to watch what your pet rat eats, you need to remember that they are strong animals.  If you leave food lying around your pet rat could drag it off.  They are strong enough to move hot dogs, bean burritos, or a large piece of pizza. 

Always check to be sure if what you want to feed your pet rat they can have because the food could be toxic or poisonous to them.  If you are unsure, you can always ask your veterinarian.  Feed your pet rat the best foods possible to give them a long healthy life.

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