Do you have a new pet rat and are not sure what to feed them that will be safe?
Or maybe your pet rat is sitting beside you while you are eating a chocolate bar, staring at you, and you want to know if it is safe to give them a little nibble. Read on to find the answers to these questions.
Is Chocolate Safe for Your Pet Rat?
For many animals, like cats and dogs, chocolate is toxic to them but not to pet rats. It is safe to give them a little nibble now and then. The one drawback of giving your pet rat chocolate is they could become addicted to it. Chocolate is not toxic but on the other hand, it is not healthy for them either.
What Can Happen if Your Pet Rat Eats Too Much Chocolate
The main thing that can happen if you feed chocolate to your pet rat is that they will get a little fatter, just like humans do if they eat too much chocolate. Another thing to remember is that chocolate contains sugar, even the dark chocolate. A pet rat should not ingest a large amount of sugar so you will have to make sure they are not eating too much. If a pet rat eats chocolate on a frequent basis, they will ingest too much sugar. This can lead to excessive weight gain.
If they eat too much chocolate, they will pick through their regular food looking for the most sugary bites. When they eat too much chocolate, it can hinder them from eating enough of the food that they need to be eating to stay healthy. If they are not eating the right amount of their normal food, it can deprive their body of taking in nutritional value. No matter how much your pet rat begs for it, you should not use it as a frequent treat.
Although chocolate is not toxic to your pet rat, sometimes if they eat too much it can cause poisoning in them because of the chemical theobromine. This chemical is a bitter compound that is obtained from cacao seeds so if your pet rat is not acting right after eating too much chocolate, you should call your veterinarian. On average, a lethal dose of this chemical is 569 mg but it depends on the size of your pet rat and its sex.
Too much chocolate can also cause dental problems such as tooth decay and can also cause diabetes.
Other health issues that can happen if they eat too much chocolate include:
- Pituitary tumors
- Formation of lipomas, which are just fat deposits under their skin. They can impair the mobility of the rat. They can also develop into sores and ulcers, which will have to be surgically removed.
- Cardiac health problems
Benefits of Chocolate
Chocolate does have its benefits, especial if your rat is sick and does not have an appetite. They will still nibble on chocolate. When they do this, it will help them to alleviate appetite issues, give them quick energy, and help them with issues with weight gain. If you have to give a liquid medicine to your pet rat, giving it with a bit of chocolate will help even the most stubborn rats to take their medicine. A nibble of chocolate can help suppress any pain they might have and also help to boost their mood.
How Much Chocolate Can They Eat?
Rats do not need chocolate as a part of their diet but it can be given as a treat on occasion. There are other treats that are better for them.
- Do not give your pet rat chocolate more than three times a week.
- If you are feeding them dark chocolate, the piece should not be any bigger than your thumbnail
- Try to avoid feeding them lower quality chocolate
- If you give chocolate to your pet rat, go for the dark chocolate that is made with natural, simple ingredients. The darker it is, the less sugar the chocolate will have.
- Never just freely feed your pet rat chocolate
If you have an overweight pet rat, make sure that you cut back on all sugary treats, including all types of chocolate. If want to give overweight pet rat chocolate, give them just a tiny nibble of 80%+ cacao once per week.
- Their teeth are constantly growing so make sure that you give them something they can nibble on and sharpen their teeth, such as chewing treats made from pig ears
- Pet rats are very intelligent rodents and very playful and sociable.
- They are not picky eaters so they can and will eat some of the same foods that we do.
In this article we have been talking about regular chocolate but there is also white chocolate. They can have this type of chocolate in moderation but you do need to remember that it has sugar and cream, so the nibble they would get of this chocolate should be smaller than regular chocolate. The plus with white chocolate is that it has the lowest levels of the chemical theobromine and dark chocolate has the highest level.
It is okay for your pet rat to have a nibble or two of chocolate of any type but do not over do it. You can give a baby rat a small piece of chocolate, like a small chocolate chip, but remember that they are smaller than adults and it will take much less to kill them from chocolate poisoning.
If you want to give your pet rat a treat, give them something that is good for them, such as:
- Pieces of hard-boiled egg
- Frozen yogurts but avoid citrus flavors because those flavors are not good for your pet rat and the same that has a lot of sugars in them.
- Cooked sweet potato
- Cauliflower or broccoli
- Peanut butter
- Cereal that is not sweet such as Cheerios or Shredded Wheat.