How to Prepare a Healthy Homemade Diet for Your Rat
Store-Bought Rat Food and Nutrition
Proper nutrition is the basis for maintaining a healthy pet rat. Rats' diets should contain essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Because rats are omnivorous, they require both plant and animal food sources.
When feeding pet rats, it is not recommended that you use a packaged mixed grain mixes because they tend to contain very high corn and seed contents, which can make for an incomplete diet. Additionally, rats tend to pick out their favorites ingredients, leaving everything else behind; usually, the healthier items go uneaten. If you want to use a packaged mix diet, stick with those that are higher in soy content than corn.
The best diet that you can feed your pet rats is composed primarily of lab-blocks, as these are considered to be the best nutritional staple. When feeding a diet composed primarily of lab blocks, you will also want to provide your rats with other sources of nutrition, such as vegetables, fruits, and certain nuts.
Harlan Teklad and Mazuri brands are the best brands of rat lab-blocks that you can find on the market today. Try to avoid Forti-Diet Mouse & Rat lab-blocks, as these are high in fat content.
Foods Rats Cannot Have
For the most part, if you would eat a food, you can give it to your rats, but there are exceptions.
Foods You Should Never Feed Your Pet Rat
- Raw dry beans and peanuts: contain anti-nutrients that destroys vitamin A and enzymes needed to digest protein and starches, and they cause red blood cells to clump
- Raw sweet potato: contains compounds that form cyanide in the stomach
- Green bananas: inhibit starch digesting enzymes
- Green potato skin and eyes: contain solanine, which is a toxin
- Wild insects: carry internal parasites and diseases
- Raw bulk tofu: contains bacteria, packaged raw tofu is safe
- Orange juice: (forbidden for male rats only) can cause kidney damage and kidney cancer due to a protein that only male rats have in their kidneys.
Safe Foods For Rats
Oysters, liver, beans, sweet potato, broccoli, kale, and bok choy are items that are great for any rat's diet.
Other appropriate items include:
- Bok Chou
- Cooked Beans
- Cooked Corn
- Cooked Sweet Potato
- Dried Tomato
Foods to Feed with Caution
- Carbonated beverages- rats can't burp but they can pass gas
- Dried corn- can contain high levels of fungal contaminates which has been shown to cause liver cancer in rats. Corn contains high levels of both nitrates and amines, which can combine in the stomach to form nitrosamines which are carcinogenic.
- Turnip greens
Avoid giving your rats water that is chlorinated or fluorinated.
Subee's Homemade Rat Diet
This homemade diet is formulated using regular items you can find at a grocery store. The measurements in the below recipe are approximated and can be altered to fit your needs. The bellow measurements are for larger groups of rats.
- 1/2 to 1 lb. dry rolled oats
- 1- 5.3 oz. box puffed wheat cereal - Malt-O-Meal, Quaker, or Kashi. Cheerios can be a viable alternative, but remember that there may be added sugar.
- 1- 6.4 oz. box puffed rice cereal - Quaker is the best brand as it contains no sugar. Rice Krispies are not recommended, because of their salt and sugar content.
- 1- 12 oz. box Total Cereal; Some people think Total has too many vitamins, but keep in mind that on average a rat will eat one or two flakes a day.
- 1/4 to 1/2 lb. roasted, unsalted soy nuts- High in protein, but contain valuable cancer-preventing agents, so they are a good addition to the mix. Roasted soybeans are, also, a good source of vitamin K.
- 1/2 lb dried fruits- Bananas and cranberries are great to add because bananas are a good source of potassium and cranberries are good for the urinary tract. (If you would rather use fresh fruits, that's fine. Just place them in a separate bowl so they will not mush the other dry content.)
- 1/2 lb dry pasta- The tri-colored elbow noodles with a spinach and tomato flavor work well and are crunchy which can help their teeth. Noodles are a good source of carbohydrates, which helps balance the protein in the soy nuts, as well.
- 1/4 lb sunflower seeds- Make sure they are unshelled, and not salted.
- 1/4 lb muesli- (optional)
- Mix everything together in a huge bowl
- Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Because this mix makes a large amount, it will last a good while if you only have a couple of rats. For an average of four rats, this recipe can last up to two months.
Rattattats Homemade Diet
Every ingredient is healthy. Make sure not to include unwanted seeds, corn, or any ingredient that is too high in fat, sugar, or salt.
You can estimate the measurements as you will.
- Rolled oats - Iron and dietary fiber
- Uncooked pasta - Great for teeth and carbohydrates
- Puffed wheat
- Puffed rice
- Raw pumpkin seeds
- Unsalted sunflower seeds
- Dried bananas - Potassium
- Dried cranberries - Great for the urinary tract
- Vital 100 (or Total cereal) - 100% whole grain; fiber and 12 vitamins and minerals
- Toasted Oats (or Cheerios) - Iron, vitamins A, C, D, B6, and B12, zinc, copper, folic acid, calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus and magnesium
- Unsalted, roasted soy nuts - calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium
My Homemade Rat Food
I try to provide my pet rats with this homemade diet at least twice a week. On the other remaining days, they receive Mazuri rat blocks.
- Flax seeds
- Raw sunflower seeds
- Raw soy nuts
- Uncooked egg noodles
- Puffed Rice cereal
- Total cereal
- Dried tomatoes
- Dried cranberries
- Banana chips
- Mix all ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
- Store in an airtight, covered container.
- Measurements are up to you. I try to add a few handfuls of Total, Puffed rice, and uncooked egg noodles. I add the other ingredients as needed.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.