Although rats are so-called omnivores, there are some foods that are unsuitable for feeding. You can find out what intolerances rats have here.
Rats have very sensitive stomachs and are unable to throw up food that is difficult to digest. It is therefore particularly important to ensure that rats have a healthy and varied diet.
Important components of rat food are dry food, fresh food (vegetables and fruit), and smaller portions of animal food. This is the only way the rats are supplied with all the essential nutrients. Proper nutrition is just as important for rat health as species-appropriate care and housing for the animals.
Dry food for rats
Most of the feed mixture consists of grains. For a change, you can occasionally serve unsweetened nuts or fruit muesli, oatmeal, or unsweetened cornflakes.
However, a varied diet does not mean that you should constantly try something new when feeding. The animals can react to unfamiliar foods with intolerance. Therefore, care should always be taken when changing the feed! Moreover, rats prefer familiar things and avoid everything that is foreign to them.
Tip: The rats often only pick out the tastiest grains from the feed mixes, which leads to an unbalanced diet. Therefore, only fill up the feeding bowl when it is empty.
Fresh food for rats
In addition to dry food, rats are given fresh fruit and vegetables every day. However, only give this in small quantities, since a lot of fresh food is intolerable (diarrhea, flatulence) and female rats, in particular, like to hoard uneaten food – that would only rot and mold!
You can safely feed most fruits and vegetables, but they must be washed and deseeded thoroughly. The kernels, for example from cherries, peaches, or apples, contain hydrocyanic acid – if rats ingest hydrocyanic acid, this leads to severe poisoning or death. In addition, certain types of fruit and vegetables are incompatible or poisonous for rats
Unsuitable fruit for rats
Due to the generally relatively high sugar content of the fruit, fruit should generally only be fed in small amounts. However, you should avoid the following varieties altogether:
- types of fruit and berries with a high fruit acid content
- citrus fruits
The high sugar content causes diarrhea in the rats. The acid it contains irritates the mucous membranes of the rats and acidifies the urine. You should also be particularly careful with exotic fruits. They can cause severe digestive problems in rats and should not be fed. Examples of such fruits are:
Unsuitable vegetables for rats
When feeding vegetables, you need to pay attention to their pungency and oxalic acid content. The following vegetables are unsuitable for feeding rats:
- Leek and onion plants
These foods are too spicy for rats. The following vegetables are also of concern because they contain a lot of oxalic acids, which damages the rats’ kidneys:
- leaf spinach
Also of concern are:
- Cabbage plants (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage): They are known to cause flatulence – depending on the severity, this can lead to the death of the rat.
- It is best to only feed lettuce in small quantities and if possible in the season, as they usually contain a lot of nitrates and large quantities can lead to problems with the gastrointestinal tract.
- Avocados are even severely toxic to rats and cause diarrhea when unripe.
Checklist: unsuitable vegetables for rats
The following types of vegetables are absolutely not suitable for feeding rats:
- raw potatoes
- Onions (chives, leeks, garlic, and onions)
Herbs, leaves, flowers, twigs for rats
Herbs and leaves are also part of the varied diet of rats. They can be fed fresh or dried. Some herbs have pain-relieving effects. These include basil, which has an antispasmodic, appetizing, and calming effect on indigestion, or nettle, which has a diuretic effect on kidney and bladder problems.
However, do not feed them poisonous plants such as:
- deadly nightshade
- Christmas rose
These plants also cause death in rats.
Twigs and branches with leaves and flowers make a good addition to the staple food and are good for wearing down the rat’s teeth. Harmless branches include e.g. apple and pear trees, hazelnut bushes, or currant and blueberry bushes.