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It’s absolutely vital that you know what foods are ok for your rat to eat, and what foods are not ok. You do not want your rat to become sick from eating foods that are not easily digestible, or worse still, foods that they are allergic too. Pet stores stock plenty of food mixes and treats for rats, but sometimes it’s nice to give your pets something different.
It is always tempting to give some food scraps to your rats that are left over from preparing a meal, or maybe a treat that you are eating. Rats often approach you when you are eating and will reach out, or sniff in your direction and look like they are asking for a bite.
When you first give a rat some new food to try they will often take a small bite then leave it. This does not mean that they do not like it, if you leave the food in their cage you will often see them return to it later. Rats cannot vomit or release gas, so they will be very careful when trying new foods. Taking a small bite and giving it time to digest is normal, they will return to the food if it has not made them unwell.
Apples – It is important that you slice up the apple into smaller pieces and remove all the seeds.
Apricots – I challenge you to find a rat that does not like apricot.
Avocados – These are high in fat and should be an occasional treat, always remove the skin.
Beef – In small amounts and without too much fat beef is safe and enjoyed by rats.
Black/Blueberries – Rats love these fruits.
Bread – You can dip bread in a little milk or water to make it tastier.
Carrots – Always wash vegetables to remove any pesticides, like you would for yourself.
Celery – A popular choice for rats to nibble on.
Cheese – Although popularised on TV shows rats should not eat too much cheese, small amounts are fine.
Chicken – This is the healthiest meat you can feed your rats.
Corn – Cook it as you would for yourself and give some to your rats.
Dry cereals – There are many stories of people feeding different cereals to their rats, don’t feed any high in sugar cereals. Cheerios, Wheeties and Shreddies and said to be the most popular.
Grapes – Seedless grapes will be eaten fairly quickly.
Hard Boiled Eggs – Slice up some hardboiled egg and place in their cage for occasional treats.
Mashed Potato – Don’t put too much in the cage, it can be messy.
Melons – You can drop a large slice in their cage and let them eat it over a long period.
Oatmeal – Fine for rats, and they enjoy it.
Pasta – Rats will eat pasta cooked or dry, beware if putting dry pasta in their cage that it can be noisy as they chew on it.
Pears/Plums – Both safe and tasty fruits for rats.
Rice – It has been a favourite for many years. Rats love eating rice, only give small amounts in a serving.
Scrambled Eggs – Like boiled eggs, rats love this food.
Strawberries – A healthy treat food for rats.
Whole Grain Bread/Crackers – All the ingredients are safe and healthy for rats.
Yogurt – You can buy yogurt covered treats and drops, or just use regular yogurt to treat your rats.
Apple Seeds – The seeds contain a small amount of cyanide and can be harmful for rats.
Blue Cheeses – The mould in blue cheese is toxic to rats.
Fizzy Drinks – As mentioned earlier rats cannot pass gas, so carbonated drinks can be fatal to them.
Chocolate – High in fat and sugars, chocolate can be fatal to rats. You can buy chocolate drops for rodents from pet stores, this is a very different type of chocolate.
Hamster Food – Food for hamsters in much higher in fat that what rats should eat.
Liquorice – It is believed to cause neurological poisoning.
Mango – Can cause kidney cancer as this fruit contains d-limonene.
Mouldy Foods – Mouldy foods contain bacteria that can be very harmful to rats, don’t give rotting or out of date food to rats.
Orange Peel – Citrus in general is not good for rats.
Orange Juice - Can cause kidney cancer as this fruit contains d-limonene.
Poppy Seeds – Known to cause serious sickness, and sometimes are even fatal.
Raw Sprouts/Beans/Onions/Red Cabbage – All of these vegetables can be toxic to rats when raw.
Wild Insects – You should never feed insects to your rats as they could be carrying diseases.
These lists are not exhaustive by any means, but a large collection of foods that I have either personally fed to my pet rats, or collected from forums where the source of information is believed to be credible. If you are unsure of anything, or think your rat has eaten something that does not agree with it you should seek professional veterinarian advice.
As a pet owner you have the responsibility to make sure that your pets are eating a healthy, balanced diet. This does not need to be difficult, buying a food mix from a pet store will usually do just fine, and some treats at your discretion will make your rats happier.
All of the foods mentioned in this article that are safe for rats to eat are to be given to them as treats. The bulk of a rat’s diet should be made up from store-bought rat food mixes. These foods usually come as a food mix, or a block/pellet of food. Adding some vegetables and fruits on occasion will help give your rats a balanced diet. This will help them maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle, giving you more fun as a rat owner, and helping build a stronger bond between you and your rats.
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