What do rats eat? Tips on feeding rodents

Like humans, rats are omnivores. That doesn’t mean, however, that rat keepers should simply feed their rodents anything and everything. A balanced and healthy diet is particularly important for rats.

Feed your rat fresh food every day in the form of fruits and vegetables - Shutterstock / Polina Truver

Feed your rat fresh food every day in the form of fruits and vegetables – Shutterstock / Polina Truver

Pet rats are best fed at home on a combination of dry food, fresh food (vegetables and fruit) and smaller portions of animal food. What is important is a healthy mixture that provides your long-tails with all the important nutrients and also tastes delicious.

What do rats eat? Feed mixtures made from pellets or grain feed?

You can find various feed mixtures for rats in pet shops, which usually have all the important nutrients and vitamins. Common groundbait mixes consist of either pellets or grains. Most rats like grain food better. Unfortunately, there is a risk here that the rodents will only pick out the tasty or high-fat parts of the food, leaving important ingredients behind. If you cover the basic diet of your rats mainly with grain mixtures, you should therefore only refill the bowl when it has actually been emptied.

Pellets combine all the important ingredients and cannot be selected by the rats. However, the little animals often spurn pellets because they are not as tasty as grains – but the rats can get used to the food. Unfortunately, many pellets are partly made of hay, which rats don’t need. Therefore, before you buy, take a look at the list of ingredients and make sure that the food is of high quality and contains no unnecessary components.

From time to time you can also give unsweetened nut or fruit muesli, oatmeal or unsweetened cornflakes as basic food for a change. However, make sure that such extras are not always on the menu. Nuts, for example, contain a lot of fat, which is not good for the rat’s body in the long run.

Nutrition of rats: components and amounts

When buying dry food, make sure that the raw protein content is around 12 percent – rats need high-quality proteins in sufficient quantities. Crude fat, on the other hand, should not be present in the feed in quantities of more than five percent. Most basic feed mixtures consist mainly of barley, wheat, linseed, oats, spelt, corn or hemp. If in doubt, rely on branded products and find out exactly about the quality of the respective food in the pet shop.

As for the requirements per rat, it must be said that the necessary amount of food can vary depending on the state of health, age and physical activity. The daily requirement of a rat is around 15 to 25 grams or around five grams of food per 100 grams of body weight. Rely on a varied diet and be economical with fatty snacks such as nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

What is this little mouse holding between its paws?  She seems to like it anyway - Shutterstock / Nature Art
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  • nutrition tips

09.11.2020 – 07:55 am

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Fresh food and animal protein for rats

In addition to the basic food, you should offer your pet rats fresh fruit and vegetables every day. Small portions of fresh food not only provide a welcome change that makes every rat happy, but are also healthy. Provide a small amount (which the rats cannot hoard) of washed and chopped fruits and vegetables about once a day. They can feed most types of fruit and vegetables without any problems – see our list below for dangerous exceptions that do not belong on the rat menu.

Rats are not pure vegetarians and therefore occasionally need protein of animal origin. Feed unsweetened dairy products such as yoghurt or low-fat quark two to three times a week. Even low-fat cheese is eaten in small quantities. You can also give your rodents a hard-boiled egg with the shell on. A little cooked pasta or rice is also possible.

Nutrition: Rats shouldn’t eat this!

Never feed rats leftovers, spiced or sweetened foods. Also avoid stone fruit such as peaches or cherries and acidic citrus fruits due to the hydrocyanic acid contained in the kernels. Lettuce is best only given in very small quantities and only in season, because lettuce usually contains a lot of nitrate, which is not good for the rodents. You must not feed them: aubergines, raw potatoes, most types of cabbage, radishes, papaya, rhubarb, avocado and legumes and onions such as leeks, garlic or onions – these foods are harmful to rats. If you have any further questions about rat nutrition, you should speak to your veterinarian about the right food for your rodent.

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