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A List of Safe and Dangerous Foods for Your Pet Rat

Updated on February 22, 2016
Ealisa Adams profile image

Ealisa is a freelance writer pursuing her bachelor's in psychology and minor in sociology.

Learn which foods safe for your rat to eat and which are not.
Learn which foods safe for your rat to eat and which are not. | Source

What You Can and Cannot Feed Your Pet Rat

Knowing what your rat can and cannot have is important. Of course, pet stores and most large store chains carry rat food, which is fine for feeding your rat. However, sometimes you may want to give your rat a snack or feed him or her what you’re feeding your family that night. In that case, it is important to research to make sure that the food is safe for your rat.

When I cook, I try to conserve food that I would have thrown away for the rats. Potato peals are a good example. I keep a bag in the freezer, and when I peel potatoes while cooking, I will place the peels in the freezer and occasionally treat my furry friends to a snack. Frozen veggies are great for rats on hot days. They love it when I place the veggies in some water so they can play with their food before they eat it.

When you first feed your rat a new food, you will probably notice them take a small bite, then ignore the food. Many owner think they are done and will take the food away. However, what the rat is doing is testing it. Rats do not have a gag reflex, so if they eat too much of something that will make them sick, it could kill them. By testing their food, the rat is trying only a little to see if it makes him or her sick. If it doesn’t, your pet will go back and finish off the food.

However, I’ve noticed that after a while, rats will begin to trust their owners and eat all of the food without testing it more and more frequently. It is important to realize this as an owner so that you are careful to not feed your rat something that may make him sick.

It is also important to remember that your rats are strong. If you leave food laying around while your rats are out, you can expect it to be dragged off before long. Rats are strong enough to move large pieces of pizza, hot dogs, and even tacos or bean burritos.

Below are lists of the foods that are okay for your rat, the foods that are not, and the foods you should be careful with. If you don’t see a food you are looking for, try doing a little online research. Always check around before you feed your rat a new kind of food. You never know whether or not the food could be poisonous or toxic to your furry friend.

Safe Foods

Here are foods your pet rat can safely eat.
Here are foods your pet rat can safely eat.
  • Apples. Cut the apple up and make sure to remove all the seeds. Seeds are hazardous for rats.
  • Applesauce. Feed them very little if the applesauce has lots of sugar or other fattening ingredients.
  • Apricots.
  • Avocados. These are very fatty for rats and should be given in moderation.
  • Bananas. My rats love it when I smash the bananas up like pudding and add nuts or other fruits.
  • Beef. Chicken is healthier for your rat, but beef is okay if the fat is kept to a minimum.
  • Blackberries.
  • Blueberries. Be careful when feeding these to your rats because they can be messy!
  • Blueberry buckle baby food.
  • Boysenberries.
  • Bread. While my rats love bread and haven’t had any problems, I’ve read some articles about rats choking on bread. I would recommend feeding only very small pieces to your rats and toasting it first. You may even soften the bread by dipping it in milk or water.
  • Broccoli.
  • Butternut squash. Make sure that the squash is thoroughly cooked before feeding it to your rat.
  • Cantaloupe.
  • Carrots.
  • Cashews.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Celery. This vegetable is fine for rats, but it doesn't have very much nutritional value.
  • Cheese. Small amounts are okay for rats. Soy-based cheese is healthier for them.

Safe foods for rats include grapes, carrots, and cucumbers.
Safe foods for rats include grapes, carrots, and cucumbers.
  • Cherries.
  • Chicken. This is the healthiest meat for your rat.
  • Chicken bones. Surprisingly, these are not only healthy for rats but also good chew toys. Next time you have chicken for dinner, save the bones.
  • Choy.
  • Cold cuts.
  • Cooked sweet potatoes.
  • Corn. Corn is good for your rats whether it is on the cob, from the can, or even frozen.
  • Cottage cheese.
  • Cranberries.
  • Cream cheese on crackers.
  • Cucumber.
  • Dog food. People who make their own rat food will often add dog food to the mix. However, you don’t want to skimp on quality, and you want to get a low-protein type of food.
  • Dried bananas. These are great for rats because they are high in potassium.
  • Dried cranberries. If your rat is prone to urinary tract infections, this is great to add to its diet. Cranberries are good for keeping the urinary tract clean and healthy.
  • Dry cereal. Cheerios are great for feeding your rat. However, be careful about feeding your it cereal that contains a large amount of sugar. Puffed rice cereals are yummy for rats, but avoid rice krispies and other sugary choices.
  • Dry rolled oats. Any type of oats is fine as long as it does not contain any sugar.
  • Fruit baby food.
  • Grapes. Purple grapes are believed to prevent cancer in rats.
  • Green beans. Cooked green beans are very nutritious.
  • Green peppers. Just make sure they aren’t too spicy for your rats and try to feed them in small amounts at a time.

Lettuce is also good for your rat, as long as it's not iceberg.
Lettuce is also good for your rat, as long as it's not iceberg.
  • Ham.
  • Hard boiled eggs. These should not be fed to your rat on a regular basis, just as a treat once in a while. I’ve heard that these are good for pregnant rats because of the fat and extra protein.
  • Honeydew melons.
  • Kale.
  • Kiwi.
  • Lettuce. Romaine lettuce is the best for your rat because it has more nutritional value than iceberg. Some people will tell you to avoid iceberg lettuce altogether because it has close to no nutritional value.
  • Macaroni and cheese.
  • Mashed potatoes.
  • Mealworm.
  • Meat baby food.
  • Melons.
  • Mushrooms. These are only okay for your rat if they are cooked and should be fed in moderation.
  • Oatmeal.
  • Oatmeal cookies.
  • Papaya.
  • Parsley.
  • Pasta. Rats can have cooked or dried pasta. They find tri-colored spirals that have a spinach or tomato flavor extra tasty. Dried pasta is good because it is crunchy and they like to chew on it. Pasta has a great source of carbohydrates, which are good for rats.
  • Peaches. Make sure to remove the pit from peaches because it can be harmful.
  • Pears.
  • Peas.
  • Plums.
  • Pomegranates.
  • Popcorn. It should be unsalted and unbuttered if possible.
  • Popsicles. These are great for rats on hot summer days. However, try to only feed your rats non-fat and sugar-free popsicles.
  • Potatoes.
  • Pumpkins. Pumpkins are fine for rats to eat. However, the seeds are high in fat and should be fed to your pet in moderation.

Feel free to feed your rat strawberries, scrambled eggs, and rice.
Feel free to feed your rat strawberries, scrambled eggs, and rice.
  • Raspberries.
  • Red peppers. Test the pepper first to make sure it isn’t too spicy. Then feed only small amounts of it to your rat at a time.
  • Rice. Brown rice is especially good for your rat.
  • Saltine crackers. My rats love these as snacks. I keep a small sack of them by my chair and feed them crackers when they want a snack. I try not to overdo it though because the crackers are high in salt and I’m not sure if too much would make them sick.
  • Scrambled eggs. The protein is great for rats, especially pregnant rats.
  • Small dog treats. Small treats are ideal because rats should only have treats in small portions. You can always cut up larger treats into smaller ones—you may even need to do the same with small treats.
  • Soy products. Soy nuts are good for rats, but make sure they are roasted and unsalted. Soy products are high in protein and have cancer-preventing agents. Other good soy products include soy milk, soy yogurt, soy tofu, and soy crumbles.
  • Squash. Cooked squash is best.
  • Strawberries. Rats love strawberries. They are not only sweet and yummy but also healthy for them.
  • Sunflower seeds. Make sure that the seeds are unsalted. You can buy these cheaply in bulk and add some to your rat's cage every once in a while for a healthy snack.
  • Turkey. Chicken is the better meat for your rat, but small amounts of turkeys are fine too.
  • Vanilla custard baby food.
  • Vegetable baby food.
  • Walnuts. Make sure to only feed your rat these in moderation. They make a great treat every once in a while.
  • Watermelon.
  • Whole grain crackers. Add a little topping to the crackers for a wonderful little snack.
  • Whole wheat pasta.
  • Whole wheat bread.
  • Yellow peppers. Peppers are fine for your rats as long as they aren’t too spicy, so you may want to test it first.
  • Yogurt. Probiotic yogurt in small amounts is good for the gut flora.
  • Yogurt covered pretzels.
  • Yogurt drops. Most rats absolutely love these.

Dangerous Foods

Foods that are dangerous for your rat
Foods that are dangerous for your rat
  • Apple seeds. Apple seeds have a small amount of cyanide in them that can be harmful for rats.
  • Avocado skin.
  • Beat tops. These can cause urinary tract problems and stones in the kidneys and bladder due to their extremely high levels of oxalates.
  • Blue cheese. The mold that is used to make blue cheese is toxic to rats.
  • Carbonated drinks. Rats can’t burp, which is why they should never drink carbonated drinks.
  • Caffeinated drinks. Drinks containing high amounts of sugar are bad for your rats.
  • Candy. Like chocolate, candy is too sugary. Rats can have problems with digesting these foods.
  • Chocolate. This is also bad for rats because of the high fat and sugar content. I’ve heard that some owners feed dark chocolate to their rats once in a great while without problems. However, I just avoid chocolate altogether.
  • Dried corn. While fresh corn is okay, dried corn is not. This is because it contains fungal contaminates that can lead to liver cancer in rats.
  • Green bananas. While regular bananas are okay, green bananas inhibit starch digestion enzymes.
  • Green potato skins and eyes. These contain solanine, a toxin for rats.
  • Hamster food. Hamster food is high in fat.

Foots that are bad for rats include candy, carbonated drinks, chocolate, and blue cheese.
Foots that are bad for rats include candy, carbonated drinks, chocolate, and blue cheese.
  • Licorice. This food is suspected to cause neurological poisoning in rats.
  • Mango. This fruit contains d-limonene and can cause kidney cancer in male rats.
  • Moldy foods. Some people think that just because rats are rats, they can eat moldy food. However, mold and bacteria can be extremely toxic to rats, just as they can be to humans.
  • Oranges. Both the outer and the white parts of orange peels can be harmful for male rats. I’ve heard that it seems okay for females, but I would just avoid citrus fruits like oranges to be on the safe side.
  • Orange juice. Orange juice contains d-limonene, which can cause kidney cancer in male rats.
  • Peanuts. These have been found to have anti-nutrients that, like raw dried beans, will destroy vitamin A and certain enzymes that rats need to break down proteins and starches. This will then cause red blood cells to clump together.
  • Poppy seeds. While it is unknown why, poppy seeds seem to cause rats to become sick and sometimes even die.
  • Potato eyes.

Surprisingly, a number of vegetables are bad for rats, including sweet potatoes, potato eyes, raw onions, oranges, and spinach.
Surprisingly, a number of vegetables are bad for rats, including sweet potatoes, potato eyes, raw onions, oranges, and spinach.
  • Raw artichokes. This vegetable inhibits protein digestion in rats.
  • Raw beans. Destroys vitamin A and enzymes that rats need to digest protein and starches. This can cause red blood cells to clump and is a hazard for rats.
  • Raw Brussels sprouts. These can destroy thiamin.
  • Raw bulk tofu. The bulk unpackaged tofu contains bacteria and is unsafe.
  • Raw onions. These can cause anemia and give rats upset stomachs.
  • Raw red cabbage. Raw red cabbage destroys thiamin.
  • Rhubarb. Rhubarb contains toxic amounts of oxalates.
  • Raw sweet potato. Since sweet potatoes are potatoes, people think they are okay to feed to their rats. However, raw sweet potatoes recently have been found to have compounds that will form cyanide in rat's stomachs.
  • Spinach. Due to the high levels of oxalates, spinach can cause urinary tract problems and stones in the bladder and kidneys.
  • Sweet feed. This is feed made for horses and is not good for rats because there is too much corn and molasses in it.
  • Wild insects. These should never be fed to your rat because they can carry diseases and internal parasites. I’ve heard that cooked insects and insects bought from a store is okay.

Foods to Be Cautious With

  • Peanut butter and other thick, sticky foods. These should be given in very small amounts because they can cause choking. I will mix the peanut butter with a little bit of jelly or water to help it become less sticky and less of a choking hazard.

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    • profile image

      Lily schorr 3 days ago

      Can my rat eat tuna

    • profile image

      Lily schorr 2 weeks ago

      Can they have pickles my mom says no

    • profile image

      Chloe 2 weeks ago

      HELP??

      Can I feed my mice honeycrisp apple wedges? It's like dried fruit...

    • profile image

      TheFancyRatVet 4 weeks ago

      I feed my rats dark chocolate only once a week & it's about a pawful. My rats love peanut butter, grapes, & their food (Oxbow). :)

      Cheers!

    • profile image

      Charlotte 5 weeks ago

      Thankyou for the great list. I do believe Papaya has d-limonene though.

    • profile image

      colebomb 5 weeks ago

      what nuts can they have

    • profile image

      Dan 5 weeks ago

      Can I feed my rat a burrito? I'm a little concerned because that burrito has lots of spices and hot sauces. But I haven't feed them the burrito.

    • profile image

      Dusty 5 weeks ago

      Can rats have mints?

    • profile image

      Payton's rat 6 weeks ago

      My rat ate a tortilla chip it had no salt and she's acting strange like she's rubbing against my sheets and in her cage she's doing it to the ground and I'm concerned

    • profile image

      Rosemary Fox 2 months ago

      Can they have unsalted almonds?

    • profile image

      Joshua Vrabel 2 months ago

      Yeah it's weird about peanuts. My bro can't eat peanuts or chunky pb. But he can eat creamy pb all day all night

    • profile image

      Ellie 2 months ago

      Correction, RAW peanuts are bad for rats. If anyone was wondering why peanut butter was fine but the article said peanuts weren't, this is why.

    • profile image

      Jazmine Berlin 2 months ago

      what is good for a pragnit rat mom.

    • profile image

      Kristen N. 2 months ago

      In the safe foods; Do you mean yellow peppers as in Banana Peppers or?

    • melzhall226 profile image

      melzhall226 2 months ago

      can i give my rat a donut

    • profile image

      Elizabeth 2 months ago

      Peanuts are dangerous but peanut butter isn't wtf?

    • profile image

      Anita 2 months ago

      What can you do for the rat that did eat apple seeds

    • profile image

      castiel 2 months ago

      as snacks i give my mouse small fries, pieces of celery, and a cream cheese dip with some jalapeño in it and she loves it! i tried to give her raw spaghetti since it could double as a chew toy but it did not agree with her stomach, would not recommend

    • profile image

      littlerattiesauntie 2 months ago

      WARNING RE: AVOCADOS

      I'm disappointed to see that the correction I sent you six months ago has not been made.

      Avocados are terrific if you want to 'fatten up' your pet rat (post surgery, post illness, etc.)

      but IF YOU GIVE YOUR RAT AVOCADO, MAKE SURE TO CUT A PIECE THAT WAS NOT NEAR THE SKIN OR THE PIT!! BOTH THE PIT AND THE SKIN ARE TOXIC TO RATS!!

    • profile image

      Veronica Diamond™ 2 months ago

      Actually, the same chemical in chocolate that's bad for dogs is very healthy for rats. So, don't skip out on the chocolate. Small amounts of milk chocolate are fine. dark chocolate is more ideal. The higher the cacoa percentage, the more healthy. I feed my rats a pinch off a 90% cacoa dark chocolate bar every week. It really helps with sneezing and respiratory issues in pet rats. The only chocolate to avoid is white chocolate since technically its not even chocolate.

    • profile image

      al 2 months ago

      some bad missing info here

    • profile image

      Misha 2 months ago

      I feed my two male rats rice chex as a treat ☺ they LOVE them!!

    • profile image

      3 months ago

      Can you feed rats Rice Chex? Sorry if this seems like a stupid question, but I'm trying to be on the safe side.

    • profile image

      Josh 3 months ago

      My mum gave bird fod to my rats. Are they ok?

    • profile image

      Stacy 3 months ago

      Can rats eat jalapeños and peppers?

    • profile image

      ratkid 3 months ago

      My dad said blue hairless rats are ugly but I think their cute

    • profile image

      Chris 3 months ago

      So, if spinach is bad for rats because of the oxalates, then when is kale okay, when it is also high in oxalates?

    • profile image

      Tony 3 months ago

      Thats funny i always set aside a little plate of what i eat minus the meat for my rats too.

    • profile image

      Rachel Wagner 4 months ago

      Hi:

      One of my little girls is not keeping on weight. The doc thinks it's heart disease, so while she is on medicine, I am trying to get that weight back on. She will eat peanut butter, but I am with her while she eats it just in case she tries to eat too much at once. I'm also giving her cashews... when she'll eat them and avacado... never the nut or skin.

      Does anyone have any other suggestions of food?

    • profile image

      Toni 4 months ago

      This list is mostly correct but a little research on a rat forum can really help confirm/deny some rat myths and dietary needs.

      I have 3 lil rat guys of varying ages, all three rescued and in poor health. My vet is very pleased with their recovery and their diet which is -

      Harlan Teklan Lab Blocks as the base food they always have available in cage.

      Then they get a daily dish of veggies. I buy both fresh and frozen, depends on what's available since I live in Alaska. But typically I buy several different bags of frozen veggies then mix together/divide servings into sandwich-sized freezer bags and freeze em so I can take out what I need without having it go bad. So far they love it all and have only turned up their cute lil noses at blueberries which is supposed to be a super food for them but none of the three will eat lol. (I usually take a bag of veggies out of the freezer for em and pop it into my fridge lunch meat drawer so it can thaw while I'm finishing off their current bag which usually lasts 3-4 days on average.

      Some of the things they get daily are... Brocolli, cauliflower, String green beans, sweet green peas, snow pea pods, kale, carrots, water chestnuts - usually not many water chestnuts in a bag so they get one a day if lucky, divided into three so they don't have to fight over it.

      Everything else is given as a supplement and/or treat. If I open a can of corn I set aside some for them. Same with macaroni and cheese noodles, mashed potatoes before stuff is added to them, pieces of fruit - though they have their own banana chips which I found at our grocery store's health food section in bins I could measure out myself; tiny bites of chicken occasionally as too much meat for males makes them produce more buck grease. Other things like trail mix that hasn't been salted or sugared is great - I pick out cashews, dried cranberries and yogurt chips for them. I feel better knowing they're getting human-grade/quality food as long as I know it doesn't contain loads of added sugar or salt.

      Sorry for rambling - it's a habit of mine, but I hope this helps someone! :)

    • profile image

      5 months ago

      i love rats they can have have some people food

    • profile image

      ratlover 5 months ago

      it is fine to give your rat some types of food and dog food is sometimes good for your rat it has protein and good for your rat

    • profile image

      Sara C. 6 months ago

      Can my rats have Acorns? My daughter found a lot of them and is wanting to feed them to our rats.

    • profile image

      hannah curtis 6 months ago

      when i got these rats it came with a dried corn on the cob, they've eaten most of it. (of corse after i read this i chucked it in the bin!!!) is it ok? x

    • profile image

      toeknee10 6 months ago

      Peanuts are fine as long as they are roasted and (preferably) unsalted. Avoid RAW Peanuts.

    • profile image

      Irene 6 months ago

      Please can you tell me if I'm over feeding my rats? I give them grapes or apples in the morning. Then I give them dinner so carrots or peas and corn etc. And they have rat nuggets in their food bowl.

    • profile image

      ev 6 months ago

      not sure this is all correct but it still helps alot

    • profile image

      Linda 7 months ago

      My 8 year old son has a rat, Bandit, and he is the most awesome pet! I recommend them as a pet to anybody. They are so sweet and lovable.

    • profile image

      blah 7 months ago

      i got a food that has dried corn in it and my rat seems fine

    • profile image

      Chris cole 7 months ago

      I feed my female ratz alot of horrible things. They are tough. Ive seen them eat wolf brand chili, pizza, tacobell, like 10 m&ms at a time, bacon, every chip on the market, takies, hot frise, jallopenos, lizards from the garden, gobstoppers, gummie worms, peanuts, cheetoes, cheese, hamburger meat, a ton of sugar, wine, liquor, weed, tobacco, spit, entire spoonfulls of peanut butter, spicy ass curry with rice, paper, plantains, blue cheese, you name it. Ive had so many rats an never a problem.

    • profile image

      Rachel 7 months ago

      Lmao candy and chocolate don't harm rats.

      Dark Chocolate is actually perfect for getting rid of breathing problems and colds. Good list, but wrong in so many areas.

    • profile image

      Judy 7 months ago

      I had a wild mouse take a piece of twizzler, is that toxic for them?

    • profile image

      Brah 7 months ago

      well....damn. peanuts are part of my rats main food :/

    • profile image

      Bryanna Lee 7 months ago

      I was wondering can my rat have almonds?

    • profile image

      Broom Flyer 8 months ago

      Applies to Mice, Hamsters & Sugar Gliders.

    • profile image

      Hannah 8 months ago

      Can this list go for both rats and mice?

    • profile image

      littlerattiesauntie 8 months ago

      EXCELLENT!! Probably the best list (and comments) I've seen in a long time!! The only thing I would emphasize is that if you give them avocado, make sure to cut a piece that wasn't near the skin OR the pit! Both are toxic to rats.

    • profile image

      leann 9 months ago

      my white mice is pregnant and i give her peanut a small pinch their babies cannot affected with the garlic peanuts?

    • profile image

      Woozie23 9 months ago

      Well Sally, I hope you have many years of love with your new bff. My little fellow passed away many years ago. He ran around the house with his buddies: a Dobermann and a cat named Percy. Even if your fellow gets heavy, be cautious about feeding anything with artificial sweeteners. And they used to say not to give them fish either.

    • profile image

      sally burch 9 months ago

      this was very helpful thank you very much this is my first pet rat

    • profile image

      Woozie23 9 months ago

      Please be cautious about feeding anything containing aspartame. I've read that it was initially developed as rat poison. Better check it out.

    • profile image

      Hannah 9 months ago

      Blue_moods, that isn't true at all! My rats get lots of meat and are as sweet as can be!

    • profile image

      Blue_moods 10 months ago

      I've seen and heard a lot about meat making them mean... Is that true???

    • profile image

      Loalaa 10 months ago

      hey thxs i have a note book about rats and this is sups important

    • profile image

      Alex 11 months ago

      Male rats cannot have citrus fruits! They are very bad for their long term Health, causing cancer and UTIs. I have seen this exact list posted several places and am very concerned that it is not brought up next to things like mango. For female rats, citrus is fine. It's very dangerous for males

    • profile image

      Sarah 12 months ago

      My vet told me that chocolate can help with respiratory distress. It opens the air ways.

    • profile image

      Riannah 14 months ago

      Rats can eat chocolate just not to much the most is about a Hershey's chocolate kiss or hug at one time. Any less than that is fine just only give them chocolate 1 or 2 times a month

    • profile image

      Krystal 15 months ago

      We had made a roasted pig a while ago, and i was wondering if it's safe to feed ratties pig skin?

    • profile image

      18 months ago

      Hamster food won't kill a rat, but it's not healthy for them and doesn't have the right balance of nutrients that they need. Buy rat food if you can, or supplement the hamster food with healthy "human" food like fruit and lean meats.

    • profile image

      Tristin 18 months ago

      Could hamster food kill a rat, I bought him hamster food.....

    • profile image

      Robin Ann 18 months ago

      Amethyst,

      I was wondering if im just misunderstanding... Which ones were sold as snake food ?

    • Dreamhowl profile image

      Jessica Marello 23 months ago from United States

      This list is a really great resource for rat owners whom want to be sure which foods are safe for their rats! Voted up and shared.

    • profile image

      Allie 3 years ago

      Chocolate is actually proven to be helpful to rats in small amounts. I have two very big healthy rats and I've been giving them about a quarter of an M&M every couple of weeks since I got them. They love it and it's good for their digestion track.

    • profile image

      Abby 3 years ago

      Thank you bunches for this list!!!

    • profile image

      Kay 3 years ago

      If dried corn and peanuts are dangerous, why is it in their food?

    • profile image

      Amethyst 5 years ago

      I'm getting a rat for my daughter! growing up we had 78 rats, we bred them for the pet shops for pets most all of them were sooo delightful but the few that were not were sold as snake food. I'm getting a rat for my daughter but I would like to make my own food for it to save money so you've helped me A lot. Now I know what to give it and what not to give it! Thank you! :)

    • Pamela-anne profile image

      Pamela-anne 5 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      good hub rats sure do like a variety of different foods i didn't know they actually tested their food very interesting thanks for the rat lesson!

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