How Much And How Often To Feed Your Pet Rats (Easy Guide!)

It is not difficult to feed pet rats, but not knowing how much or how often to feed your pet rat can be stressful. Most of your pet rat’s meals should comprise specially-formulated rat diets.  However, you should also include a variety of fresh foods.

Certain homemade diets that rat specialists recommend as an alternative to prefabricated feeds are also allowed. Still, you must strictly adhere to the prescribed proportions and ensure that your rats receive adequate vitamins and nutrients.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s good to supplement your rat’s daily base diet with 1-2 teaspoons of vegetables, 1/2-1 teaspoon of grains, and 1/2-1 teaspoon of protein 2-3 times per week.

A meal devoid of supplements may result in nutritional imbalance, causing your rats to suffer health issues. For most owners, a nice rat block with some fresh goodies as supplements is the simplest and most effective approach to a balanced diet.

How Much Should You Feed Your Rat?

If you don’t feed your rats properly, they won’t stay healthy even on pelleted pet food. Like humans, rats will frequently overeat if given the opportunity. Obesity is a major health issue in pet rats. A rat’s daily calorie need is determined by its age, activity level, and other health conditions. 

To determine how much high-quality, fortified pelleted food to give your pet rat daily, check the manufacturer’s directions on the bag.

Food packages always indicate the recommended quantity of food you should give your pet rat, depending on their weight/age. So I always recommend following that.

However, it’s also a good idea to supplement your rat’s daily base diet of pellets or lab blocks with 1-2 teaspoons of vegetables, 1/2-1 teaspoon of grains, and 1/2-1 teaspoon of protein 2-3 times per week for a healthy, active rat.

This way they have more variety of food and fresh veggies and fruits are full of vitamins for your rodent friends!

For rats that are very old, fat, or have underlying health issues, consult your veterinarian about their exact daily feeding requirements.

Every pet rat is different and might have different conditions, so it’s good to be on the safe side when it comes to feeding them.

Foods Your Rat Can Eat

To have a healthy pet rat diet (as we talk about in this article here), there should be some variety on what your rats eat.

But what exactly can pet rats eat? Well, actually a lot of things!

Let’s dive in what can rats eat.

Greens and vegetables (1-2 tsp daily)

  • Lettuce varieties
  • Green bell pepper
  • Cucumber
  • Kale
  • Zucchini
  • Squash

Fruits (2-3 times per week, 1 tsp)

  • Strawberries
  • Banana
  • Melons
  • Blueberries
  • Apple
  • Kiwi

Grains (0.5-1 tsp daily)

  • Whole-wheat crackers
  • Brown rice, cooked
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Whole-wheat cereal (unsweetened puffed rice or wheat)
  • Barley
  • Whole-wheat pasta, cooked

Protein-rich foods (2/3 times per week, 0.5-1 teaspoon)

  • Goat cheese
  • Chicken
  • Mealworms
  • Crickets
  • Cooked eggs
  • Dried beans

Fatty foods (2-3 times per week, 0.5 teaspoons)

  • Pecan nuts (unsalted)
  • Pumpkin kernels (unsalted)
  • Pistachio nuts (no shell, unsalted)
  • Brazilian nuts (unsalted)
  • Avocado (no skin)
  • Sunflower kernels (no shell, unsalted)


Give your rats a constant supply of clean drinking water in bottles (I always recommend these water bottles that you can find in different sizes!) rather than bowls to avoid infection.

Give them many bottles so that all of your rats may sip water simultaneously. This will prevent competition for water and ensure they have access to water even if one of the bottles gets blocked.

To guarantee they’re never thirsty, check their water bottles in the morning and evening and refill them twice daily. Clean them regularly to prevent algae and bacteria buildup, and inspect them daily for blockages and leaks.

Food Guide For Rats

FoodBaby Rats Young Rats Adult Rats
Greens and vegetables  1-2 Tsp 3-4 Tsp 5-6 Tsp
Grains  0.5 -1 Tsp 2-3 Tsp 3-4 Tsp
Proteins (2/3 times per week)  0.5-1 Tsp 2-3 Tsp 4-5 Tsp
Fruits ( 2-3 times per week) 1 Tsp 2 Tsp 3-4 Tsp
Fat (2-3 times per week)0.5 Tsp 1-1.5 Tsp 2-3 Tsp

A diversified diet for your pet is crucial, but it may take some time and effort. Rats are often neophobic, which means if you introduce a new item to their diet, they will shun new meals or even foods they are familiar with. 

As a result, it is critical to introduce new meals gradually. To avoid overwhelming your rat:

  1. Introduce new meals in modest amounts (no bigger than the size of a pea) at popular feeding areas or mixed in with food items they are used to.
  2. Once your rodent pal has grown accustomed to a new ingredient, consider concealing or scattering it all around their living area for further enrichment.
  3. Always consult your veterinarian to determine the best feeding regimen suited for your unique animal.

How Often Should You Feed Your Pet Rat?

When to feed rats is just as important as what you feed them. Feed your pet rat at least twice a day. 

Remove any uneaten food and make sure your rat has enough fresh water at all times. 

Because rats like scavenging, try hiding food in different sections of their environment so that they can find it. This can make lunch more enjoyable while also motivating them to exercise. 

What if you wish to take a few days off? Rats may survive on pelleted and other dry feeds for a day or two.

If you’re going to be gone for the night, provide enough food for them. If you’re going to be gone for more than 48 hours, have a friend or neighbor bring your rats food and water regularly.

Pet rats can be left alone for some time, but they do miss the company and their usual routine. We do talk about leaving your pet rat alone along with some tips if you need to be away for a few days, so be sure to check out this article

Leaving our pets can always be a bit of a stressful situation. Both for us and our pets. This is especially true if you’re leaving them for the very first time.

Can You Give Your Rats Unlimited Food?

No. Because rats are opportunistic eaters, they will eat practically anything edible that comes their way.

Rat diets should be varied and include lots of raw food, which is high in micronutrients.

Rats eat and drink mostly around dawn and dusk, so it’s good to feed your rats twice daily, in the morning and evening.

Eliminate any uneaten food and adjust the portion size so that they consume everything and maintain a healthy weight.

pet rat eating apple

It’s a good idea to give your rats open ceramic bowls, like this one from Kaytee, for their food. These are quite heavy, reducing the risk of your pet rats overturning their food bowl.  Alternatively, if the sound of food rattling against metal doesn’t bother your pet rats, I like to recommend stainless steel bowls, like these Non Slip ones, since they’re almost impossible to overturn. Plus they have a rubber base, making it hard to move the bowl around. 

This way, your pet rats can transport the food and handle or consume it wherever they like. Rats love holding and kneading food with their paws; so, encouraging natural foraging behavior is a good idea.

How Often Should You Give Treats To Your Pet Rat?

Because rats gain weight quickly and you want to serve them the healthiest meals possible, it’s critical to pick pet rat snacks that are low in calories, such as popcorn, berries, and fruits.

It is also critical not to overfeed your rats with treats. This cannot be overstated.

Your rats will never be satisfied. Unless you’re utilizing them as training rewards, restrict yourself to 1-2 modest snacks daily.

It’s also good to choose lower-calorie alternatives for training. Either that or give them very small amounts of the same treat, each time they perform the task at hand.

What To Give Your Rat As A Treat?

Rats, like any pets, enjoy treats. Rats are intelligent and food driven, so you may be able to educate your pet rat to perform tricks or chores by rewarding them with a treat. Rats enjoy the following foods:

  • Seeds
  • Bread
  • Cooked pasta
  • Cooked rice
  • Cereal
  • Grains
  • Mealworms

These are some good and healthy options you can give your pet rat, while training and teaching them tricks.

Pet rats love to learn new things, so take this time to enjoy some quality bonding time with your pet rats, while keeping them active!

If you’re unsure about what to teach your pet rat, fret not, for we have here a very handy list,  with 9 tricks that you can teach your little rodent friends.

How Much Oxbow To Feed Your Pet Rat?

It is a frequent misperception that all rats should have unlimited pellet access. This should be their main source of food and, personally, I like to recommend the Oxbow Essentials.

These are very nutritious for your pet rat, but both the texture and format of the food makes it very comfortable and interesting for your pet rats to hold and eat.

Now, while this works well for some rats, it can cause obesity at a young age and is a recognized contributor to respiratory problems and tumor growth in some rats.

If you notice your pet rats have some difficulty in managing their food throughout their day, give them little more than 1-2 teaspoons daily of pellets, divided into two meals (morning and evening).

This way, they won’t eat their daily dose in one sit and you’ll be able to control their weight better!

Is It Important To Feed Fresh Food As Part Of The Rat Diet?

While it is not necessarily required, it is advised to do so at least twice a week.

Your rats will live contentedly on a decent dry mix, but our goal is to help them flourish and live a long and robust life.

In addition, fresh foods provide micronutrients that aid in maintaining a strong, healthy immune system. 

Not only that, but your pet rats might get bored of their dried food. By giving them fresh food once in a while, they’ll have something novel to snack on!

How Much Fresh Food Should You Give?

Green leafy vegetables are a terrific daily mainstay, with kale, broccoli, dandelion leaves, and spring greens being the best in terms of nutrient balance. These are easily digestible and accessible sources of calcium and phosphorus.

brown pet rat eating some sunflower seeds

You can also offer your rat protein and carbohydrate-based foods as part of its fresh diet.

Growing, molting, breeding, and ill rats all require additional protein. Two or three servings of oily fish or chicken per week will suffice.

You can add it to rice or any other cooked grains if your rat needs extra calories.

You should avoid most fatty or processed foods, except oily salmon, coconut, and avocado which are high in beneficial and healthful fats.

As a rule of thumb, one to two teaspoons of fresh food a day is ideal.

What Do Rats Like To Eat The Most?

Rats, like most people, prefer high-fat, high-calorie meals. However, it is best to avoid such items when feeding rats daily.

In addition to the pellets or lab blocks your rat consumes daily, you can keep their diet fresh and fun by giving them a little of their preferred foods. 

Every day, add a teaspoon of grains and vegetables to their meal.

Green lettuces, peppers, squash, cucumber, and other greens are safe for rats. 

Strawberries, apples, melons, bananas, pears, raspberries, and kiwi are suitable for rats in smaller quantities. 

Rats can eat brown rice, whole-grain cereal, crackers, whole-wheat pasta, or cooked barley and oats.

You can add modest amounts of additional proteins, such as cooked egg, cooked or lean meat cottage cheese, two to three times each week. 

Rats may eat cooked beans or bugs like mealworms and crickets offered at pet stores. As long as they are not overweight, you can treat them with half a teaspoon of fruits and pleasant fats as a reward twice a week.

You can offer them sunflower or pumpkin seeds, almonds, pecans, walnuts, or unsalted pistachios.

Generally pet rats like every kind of food, but some might be pickier than others. So it’s good to see their reaction every time you give them something new.

If you need some more suggestions, here are 13 healthy and irresistible treats for pet rats!

Write down their favorite snacks, so you can always remember what treat they’ll be the happiest with!

How To Make Feeding Time Fun?

Rats are clever creatures who need stimulation to be content. They use their brains to find food in their immediate surroundings.

Trying a few of these methods to make their meals more entertaining can also keep them happy and active:

  • Conceal food or pellets in toilet paper rolls or paper cups.
  • Scatter treats across the cage.
  • Get your rat an interactive toy that requires it to solve a short puzzle in order to obtain its reward.

Remember that rats enjoy chewing on things to keep their teeth healthy.

So apart from treats, supply cardboard, softwood, or coconut shells. Make sure to bake pieces of wood for an hour on low heat and wash it before giving them to your rat.

Their teeth are very important in your pet rat’s daily life, so it’s good to keep them healthy and strong as well!

Foods To Avoid 

Pet rats can eat almost everything, but still, there are some things you should definitely avoid, for they can be toxic or may aggravate their health if eaten frequently.

Here’s a list of foods that you should keep away from your pet rats:

  • Raw beans 
  • Chocolate
  • Sweet potato, raw
  • Brussels sprouts with cabbage
  • New potatoes
  • Sweet, sweet foods, and other junk food
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Bananas (green)
  • Insects from nature
  • Puffed rice
  • D-limonene-containing ingredients to male rats

Obesity In Rats

Rats are among the most prevalent fat pets. This is because they consume whatever they can get their hands on.

As a result, caged rats are more likely to become overweight.

Obesity in rats can create the same health problems as in other animals and humans. In addition, since they are small, they are at a greater risk of developing lipomas, which can become large enough to impair mobility due to their size. 

The good news is that rats enjoy being playful, so making them solve puzzles to get their food, keeping them in multi-level cages, or allowing them to run around where and when it is safe are all methods to keep your rat’s weight under control.

Also, only offer them “reward” items occasionally, and give them only an appropriate amount of other foods for their size.

This way, you’ll ensure that your pet rats get to have some delicious snacks, while keeping a healthy weight!

Avoid Disorders In Pet Rats With Proper Nutrition!

Proper nutrition is critical in rats and can help avoid various disorders, including heart disease, liver problems, and tumor growth.

Rats have developed the dietary approach of an opportunistic omnivore, which means that they will choose meals high in fats and protein in the event of future food scarcity. 

Because rats are quite demanding in their feeding habits, you must expose young rats to various foods to ensure they develop healthy eating habits. 

Because pet rats do not often get access to different varieties of foods, many of them become obese by the age of 12 months. Given this, it is important to instill healthy eating habits early. 

And if you want to give your pet rats human food now and then, that’s fine! Just be sure that you know what human food pet rats can eat, by reading this article.

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