As a responsible rat owner, you’ll be looking to take care of every aspect of your furry friend’s life, which includes the food they eat.
Foods that are safe for humans may not be safe for rats. Before you give your pet a treat from your plate, it’s important to make sure that it’s not going to cause them any harm. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most common foods that we might be tempted to feed our rats. Keep reading to find out what’s safe, and which treats should be avoided!
We’ll begin with the foods that are definitely safe for your rats to eat. The safest and most advisable fare is specially-formulated rat food. It’s designed to be nutritionally balanced, to ensure that your rat remains healthy and happy! If you want to try something a little different, perhaps as a treat, you are free to feed your rat any of the following foods in moderation:
There are plenty of vitamin-rich fruits you can feed your pet. These include apples (with seeds removed), bananas, strawberries, grapes, cherries, melons, blackberries, and raspberries.
As good for your rat as they are for you! Add some extra nutrient-dense food to your rat’s diet by feeding them broccoli, carrots, peas, kale, potatoes, cooked sweet potato, and squash.
You can boost your rat’s protein intake by giving them very lean cooked meats; liver is a particular favourite. Rats can also eat cooked beans and legumes, including chickpeas, kidney beans, and soybeans. Whole nuts in their shells are also perfectly fine as an occasional extra, and you’re welcome to provide them with a spoonful of yogurt. If you can get hold of some mealworms, rats enjoy them – although squeamish people may not be keen to have them around!
Rats enjoy carbs just as much as we do! It’s absolutely OK to feed them whole wheat pasta and bread, as well as unsweetened breakfast cereals.
There are some foods that you absolutely must not feed your rat. They can cause digestive upset, serious illness, and even death. What can be healthy for humans may be extremely toxic to rodents. Make sure that you avoid all of the foods listed in this section.
The ultimate indulgence for humans! Unfortunately, the sweet treat that we love is a definite no-no for rats. Chocolate is toxic to rodents and must not be given to them. Even a small amount can be extremely dangerous.
Green, under ripe bananas cannot be given to rats, and neither can mango. In the latter case, this is due to the presence of d-limonene. For the same reason, rats cannot be fed lemons or oranges. Rhubarb is also toxic, and must not be provided to your pets.
Green potatoes are not safe for rats, and neither are Brussel sprouts, raw onions and uncooked sweet potatoes. Red and green cabbage should be avoided, too.
While cooked beans and legumes are perfectly fine for rats, uncooked beans are not. Avoid giving your rats access to wild insects; they may carry parasites which can cause harm to your pet.
Sweet treats and foods laden with fat must not be given to your rat. Carbonated drinks should also be avoided, as they can cause digestive problems.
Other foods to avoid
Poppy seeds are known to cause severe neurological damage to rats, and raw bitter almonds contain hydrogen cyanide, which is lethal. Fat from meat can cause stomach upset, as rats do not have a gall bladder to produce enzymes that help them to process it. That’s why only cooked lean meat can be given to them.
…and the foods to use with caution!
There are some foods that can be given to rats in moderation, and with supervision. Each food comes with its own specific advice.
This popular fruit is having a moment in human nutrition, but is it safe for rats? Ripe flesh is perfectly fine for your furry friends to enjoy, but the high fat content means that it cannot be given frequently. It’s an ideal treat, however, for rats that need to gain weight quickly. Make sure that your pet does not eat any of the rind, pit, or leaves, as these are all toxic.
The flesh of a plum is safe for your rats to eat, and contains fibre, potassium, and vitamin A, which is great for their general health. However, it is absolutely imperative that they do not have access to the pit, as it contains cyanogens. These molecules can be broken down during the digestion process to produce cyanide, which is deadly for rats. Make sure you thoroughly inspect the fruit before you give it to your rat, to confirm that no fragments of pit are still attached.
This type of lettuce is packed full of water, which is great for rats, particularly when they are suffering from mild dehydration. However, that’s where the benefits end. There is otherwise no nutritional value within an iceberg lettuce, so it should not be given regularly.
Fresh and cooked corn are completely fine for your rat to eat, however dried corn is not. This is because it has been known to contain fungal contaminates, which can cause serious harm to your pet. If you wish to feed your rat a seed mix, make sure that you thoroughly check it and remove any dried corn that may be present.
This nutty treat contains plenty of protein, which makes it a popular choice for humans looking to bulk up their muscles! You may be tempted to give your rat a taste, but be careful. Its stickiness can cause choking, so it’s best to dilute peanut butter, either with water or a runny jam. You can also spread a small amount on bread, which helps your pet to reap the benefits without causing distress.
Now that you know which treats are safe for your rats, you’re welcome to spoil them – in moderation, of course!