Feeding your pet rats is pretty easy. They aren't picky eaters and more and more pet stores offer a good balanced diet for them. However, your best option is to have a great staple food planned out that is supplemented with fresh foods and treats. If you want you can even get into making healthy, yummy treats for your rats.
While there is some debate as to how you should go about creating a basic diet, more and more people have lined up with the opinion that the following is your best bet.
- Choose a "rat" block. There are pellet type foods (often a larger pellet) that are the best option for feeding your rat. These grayish brown blocks of food look incredibly boring, but were developed for optimum nutrtion by labs. Labratories wanted a food that was easy, measurable, and constant to feed rats and mice. They developed rat block which is now found at most stores. This should be your main food.
- There are also many seed based foods that are sold as rat and mouse food. While it is a good idea to offer a very small amount of this each feeding, this should not be your main food. The problem is that rats will choose their favorite parts of the seed mix and leave the rest alone. This often has them eating high fat options like sunflower seeds and peanuts while leaving the healthier foods alone (doesn't sound like anyone that I know!). With this in mind you want the rat block to be there always and to give small portions of this food, more like a bonus. Make sure that even if they eat all of it they will still want some rat block.
If you are going to choose only one of these then you should definitely choose the rat block. It is significantly better for your rats than the seed varieties. Whether you go with just rat block or you feed rat blocks and seeds you should also add fresh foods and special treats to your rats diets.
While we have gotten into easy complete diets, most animals benefit from some sort of fresh foods in their diets. For rats this is often in the form of fruits and vegetables. Each of these items is good for your rats, but you shouldn't give them a lot. Remember that a portion should be about the size of their hand. If they eat too much of these foods they often get stomach upset, constipation, or diarrhea. You should also make sure that you feed a wide variety and not the same foods over and over again.
- Fruits. A favorite of many rats, it is wonderful to get these sweet treats. Good options include apples, bananas, berries, cherries, grapes, melons, plums, and tomatoes.
- Vegetables. Many rats would definitely prefer a sweet fruit to a vegetable, but few will turn you down. Some great options are asparagus, broccoli, bok choy, carrots, green beans, kale, parsley, peas, spinach, squash, and sweet potatoes (that are cooked).
- Grains. Other plant matter is often good for your rats too, but make sure that you are chosing "brown" varieties and whole grains verses processed options. Good options include, barely, brown rice, buckwheat, oats, rye, and quinoa.
- Others. There are a few other items that make great fresh treats for your ratties. You can give them ginger, cloves, garlic, tea, and yogurt.
- Nuts in the shell (with the exception of peanuts) can also be given as a rare treat. Meal worms will be accepted readily and are good for them (though moderation is still key).
While you shouldn't give your rat a lot of food off of your plate choosing cooked vegetables, potatoes, rice, and other foods are acceptable. Just make sure that you avoid salty, sugary, or spicy foods.
There are a number of other things that your rats will enjoy. Just make sure that you are giving them treats in moderation.
- Cereal. Rats love cereal. You should choose no sugar added whole grain varieties such as Cheerios, wheaties, or puffed wheat.
- Bones that have been thoroughly cooked are something rats will love and the chewing is good for them.
- Dog treats that are low in calories, protein, and fat are great options.
- Hamster treats such as yogurt drops can be given.
- Seed based treats are good as long as you don't get carried away.
- Monkey chow or parrot buscuits are great options, but they are a little high in fat so they should be given in moderation.
Things You Should Never Give Your Rats.
There are some things that you shouldn't give your rats. These things are bad for one reason or another and can lead to digestive issues. Many of them also risk causing death.
- Fizzy drinks can cause rats to expload.
- Orange juice has an oil in it that enhances flavor, but it also causes illness in rats.
- Alcohol should never be given to rats. It seems weird that some people would ever think that giving alcohol is an okay thing to do, however you should never give alcohol to a rat!
- Junk foods including fatty foods such as chips or any sugary foods such as ice cream.
- Chocolate is a food that many animals including rats are allergic to.
- Some raw foods can cause issues. In rats this includes beans and sweet potatoes.
- You also shouldn't give green potatoes, green potato peels, or potato eyes.
- Rats also shouldn't have caffeine.
Homemade Treats and Foods.
There are a ton of recipes out there that will let you make your own treats and even your own food. Some are done with mixes and others are made into blocks. If you want to get into making your own then it is best for you to try out some recipes and find out what works best for you and for your rats. You can find information on making your own rat foods and treats in the article Rats: Make Your Own Food and Treats.
Your rats deserve the best of foods. You want to make sure that you choose a good base food. Rat block is your best choice and adding a little bit of seed mix is good. You should add regular fresh foods to the list and then you should add a few treats. You can choose from a huge variety of options, just make sure that you avoid foods that could make your rat sick.