Diet and Nutrition
Your rats' nutrition is the cornerstone and basis for their health and vitality. What they eat can have a significant impact on their lives. Please spend time researching online as you desire, and I will give my thoughts on diet here.
Firstly, their diet needs to consist of approximately 80% lab blocks. Do not feed the store brand foods that consist of corn [zero nutrition] and seed mixes. These are absolutely not an adequate diet for your rats. Rat lab blocks are nutritionally complete and meet the dietary needs of your rats.
Harlan Teklad lab blocks are the Cadillac of blocks. Their company has researched rat diets in the laboratory for many many years over many generations. They have a lot of data on rats’ nutritional needs for health and longevity and they make a very palatable block. Mazuri is another company that makes a decent lab block [and I think PetSmart now carries it], but it is high in protein and fat and uses corn as a main ingredient. Regal Rat also makes a decent block.
I have listed various places to get the Harlan Teklad blocks under my Links tab. It is unparalleled and well worth ordering and feeding to your rats.
On top of a good quality lab block, it is useful and desirable to give them fresh vegetables [daily] and fruit [perhaps a few times a week]. Rats are omnivores and they also love a little fresh cooked protein, such as chicken, egg, or fish now and again [maybe ~4 times a month]. Please make sure the portions you give of the protein are small and that the meat is cooked without breading, deep fat frying, sauces, heavy seasonings, or salt. Steamed, boiled, or cooked with a little olive oil is best. The lab blocks you feed will supply all the protein they need, and too much protein has been shown in many studies to negatively affect kidney function over time, so keeping this to an occasional treat is best.
Additionally, your rats will love some other dry foods daily such as whole grain pasta [cooked or raw], whole rolled oats [not the instant kind], puffed wheat and rice cereals [not sugared], a few sunflower seeds [not oiled or salted], and even some plain cheerios or total cereal. Please look at my Links page for a link to SueBee’s homemade rat diet. It has some nice ideas of healthy foods. Please note her mention and support of using lab blocks as the main staple in the diet.
Remember, don’t let them stuff themselves on these dried foods—still about 80% of their diet needs to be the lab blocks so keep these portions smaller in size.
There are foods that your rats cannot have. Please also go to my page on Forbidden foods. These need to be avoided.
On top of good foods, rats of course need fresh clean water available at all times. Most rats do very well with water bottles. Change the water every day, and check to make sure the bottle is not leaking. Also, since bottles can drip a few drops now and again, it is a good idea to not hang it directly over their food bowl.
Your rats are a lot like you. They will benefit from fresh healthy foods. Don’t feed them things that are not healthy, such as sugary coatings, salty foods, fatty or fried foods, junk food, MacDonalds etc.! Do not let them get fat! Their lives are short enough, we need to do everything we can to keep them happy and healthy.
Fancy Pet Rats Philadelphia, PA suburbs