Pet rats need a very healthy diet so they can live a long life.
This includes a healthy mix of store-bought food, fresh vegetables, and the occasional tasty treat!
This is why I’ve created this article on everything you need to know to keep your pet rat diet healthy and to cover all the basic needs for them.
So let’s get started on creating a pet rat diet for your rat.
The Basic Diet Of A Pet Rat
For the very basics of a pet rat diet, you want to have a constant and daily source of store-bought food. This is so your pet rat is able to get all the vitamins and nutrients that they need.
You can also create your own homemade pet rat recipes and feed them. But you have to be very careful so that you supplement your pet rat with a very healthy diet with everything they need, so I wouldn’t recommend this option.
Other than that, you want to give additional fresh fruit and vegetables on occasion. This will make your pet rat stronger and healthier, and will make them happier as well!
Finally, be sure to give them some tasty treats now and then. Do not give this to them on a daily diet though! Otherwise, they will accumulate a lot of fat and may be at risk of health diseases.
So let’s go over each of these topics so that you can create a meal plan for your pet rat!
Store-Bought Pet Rat Food
This is the base daily pet rat food that you want to include in your pet rat diet.
One thing to notice about store-bought food is that you want them to be a good mix created specifically for pet rats. This is for the same reasons as we stated above, you want it to cover all the basic vitamins and nutrients that your pet rat needs.
That means that using a hamster, gerbil or chinchilla food mix won’t cut it.
If you absolutely can’t find a mix specifically created for pet rats, your next best option is to feed them a mix created for mice. This should work almost as well, and with some extra fresh vegetables and fruits (that we will talk about next) they will have a great healthy diet.
One final note about store-bought pet rat food is that you’ll want to opt for Pellets if that’s an option. Now, I know it can be hard to even find specific food for pet rats, but just in case you have the option, go for pellets!
This is because to have a healthy diet, your pet rat is supposed to eat everything in the mix! And well… pet rats can be somewhat picky with their food now and then. So they’ll toss aside specific parts of the mix that they don’t like and just eat the better looking/savory ones.
On the other hand, if they only have pellets to eat, they’ll eat the pellets from beginning to the end, getting a great and healthy source of nutrients all compressed into one.
Remember to feed your pet rats every day with store-bought food. That way the food doesn’t get stale and it’s fresh and crunchy for them to eat.
I really recommend the Oxbow Regal Rat Food on Amazon. It’s a very healthy mix that you can find for a good price!
Fresh Vegetables And Fruit
If you want to supplement your pet rat’s diet with some extra vitamin and nutrients, be sure to give them some fresh vegetables and fruit.
I do not recommend giving this to them on a daily basis since that will make them a bit fat and might cause health issues in the future. Some of these vegetables and fruit have too much sugar and it shouldn’t be given to them in great quantities.
Just like with us, everything is good, but in moderation!
My recommendation is to give them fresh vegetables or fruit every 2 days. They will be very glad to have this as a healthy treat and will be more active and happy.
These are especially great in the summer since we can give it to them raw and it’s fresh! If you leave in very warm areas I even recommend giving them some frozen veggies or fruit, they’ll love it.
Here are the best vegetables to give your pet rats:
- Cabbage (except red)
And some healthy fruit to give to your pet rats:
And of course, there are several vegetables and fruits you should NOT give your pet rat, like:
- Cherries (with pit, remove the pit and they’ll love it!)
- Apple Seeds
- Raw beans
- Green Bananas
- Raw Sweet Potato
- Green Potato Skin
Remember, this isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a great start of common vegetables and fruit to give and to avoid for your pet rats!
Pet Rat Treats
Now we come to pet rat’s favorite part of their diet: the treats!
For the treats, I recommend giving them about twice a week in small amounts. These can be especially useful after a playtime session or when trying to teach them tricks.
Remember that pet rats respond very well to rewards when doing something right!
If you’re using special treats as a reward, just remember to break them into smaller pieces, or else it’s too much for them and will affect their health negatively.
They’ll always accept food no matter what, so it’s up to us to control how much they eat, both in treats and regular food!
Other than that it’s good to treat them to something good with no special reason. We also like a special treat once in a while, so it’s only natural for them to like that kind of treatment too!
Pet rat treats can be anything from cooked sweet potato to frozen yogurt or even baby food.
There are many to go for, but here’s a small list of pet rat treats that are both healthy and will make your pet rat very happy:
- Frozen Yogurt
- Baby Food
- Tomato Slices
- Chicken Pieces
- Pumpkin Slices
- Frozen Peas
- Raw Broccoli
- Small Dog Treats
- Cooked Meat
I’ve also written a handy guide on the best pet rat treats, including how to make your own, so be sure to check it out to get some more delicious ideas!
Remember, try to give these treats to your pet rats quite sparingly, so they won’t become too fat and have health issues.
This is very important and can be easily forgotten: pet rats need access to fresh water at all times!
This water must be clean and renewed or your pet rats may become seriously ill. I recommend changing the water in the water bottle daily, usually during the morning.
Again it’s the kind of care we have with ourselves and the same goes for pet rats. Water that stays still in the same container for too long becomes stale, so it’s important to change it daily.
Other pet rat owners even change the bottle twice per day, one in the morning and another in the evening, but that’s totally up to you.
I know this might sound weird to include in a pet rat diet, but it does help prevent potential health issues connected to a diet!
For example, if your pet rats don’t have access to chewing and gnawing toys, their teeth might become too overgrown. This will prevent them from eating and will give all sorts of health problems.
Giving them dry food, such as the ration will help keep their teeth at a good size, but it might not be enough.
Not only for their physical, but also mental health, it’s important to give your pet rats access to interesting toys for them to play and chew on!
So do remember to have different chewing toys available to your pet rats, such as:
- Wood (untreated!)
- Cardboard chew toys
- Paper Tubes from toilet paper
- Egg Cartons
And many more, like the Kaytee Small Hanging Chew Toys (link to Amazon). These are great because will last a long time and their different shapes and colors make it interesting for them to play with.
Pet rats are very curious and smart, so having colorful and different shaped toys is very important!
I’ve also written a very thorough list of the 17 best pet rat toys, so if you’re looking for more ideas, do take a look at it.
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