Wednesday, April 1, 2009
What Rats Eat

By Shellyane Bryan
A rat owner from England shares tales of living with her first rat, Queen Dumbo Duncanson-Bryan, and a rat named Mouse.

white rat
Photo Courtesy Shellyane Bryan
Like all small creatures, rats need a good, healthy, balanced diet.

I gave my rats Mouse and Dumbo a miniature, bacon sandwich this week — all beautifully crafted to resemble a normal-sized one. I would have taken a photo of just how much they enjoyed this treat, but they gobbled it down so quickly I didn’t get the chance! As a rule, rats eat absolutely anything you put in front of them. In the wild, they eat anything from insects to nuts and seeds. Pet rats require the nutrients from these foods too.

Whereas I feed my rats Mouse and Dumbo normal, rat-specific nibbles two to three times a day, it doesn’t do any harm to give them treats occasionally. When it comes to training them, I use little rodent chocolate or yogurt drops, which they almost tear off my arm for. These are also perfectly adequate to use as treats, but no more than three a day!

Like all small creatures, rats need a good, healthy, balanced diet. Usual rat food provides this, but whenever I have little tidbits like fruits and vegetables, I offer tiny, rat-sized portions to them (and Leon the Hamster!). Given half the chance, they take the food off my plate. My rat Dumbo has a habit of trying to lick spoons — loitering next to me on the sofa, and then pouncing! I don’t mind her licking off the remnants after I’m done. Rats need a similar diet to humans with all of the vitamins and nutrients we need to function — they also naturally make vitamin C, just like us! It also doesn’t do rats any harm to offer them a bit of a meat from time to time. I usually give Mouse and Dumbo each a small chunk of chicken to munch on. Just so long as they don’t get too much of a taste for flesh.

A good mix of dry and wet food is important for rats. Some owners also create their own diet for their rats, which includes all the necessary nutrients, if done properly. For new rat owners, it’s best to stick to store-bought food and a few fruits and vegetables two to three times a week.

Just don’t turn your back on your plate of toast first thing in the morning, because you will see it disappearing into the rat cage a second later.

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