Keeping your rats happy and healthy starts with their diet.
What they eat every day will have a huge effect on their health and their overall happiness.
Combine a good diet with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation and you will have a happy rat for life.
But what makes good food for a rat? If you’re already a rat owner you’ll probably know that rats will eat most things you give them.
However, from my experience, and a little research, there are certain rat foods which are better for rats than others.
In the article, I’ll run through everything I know about what makes a good rat food, and I’ll give some recommendations for different rat foods too.
I would recommend Oxbow Essentials Adult Rat Food as the best food for pet rats. It’s full of nutrients and comes in pellets to ensure your rat gets a fully balanced diet.
In a hurry?
You can take a look at Oxbow Essentials Adult Rat Food on Amazon here.
I’ve also given two more rat food recommendations below, as well as a few recommendations for good ‘human’ treats to give to your pet rat.
What makes good rat food
Rats will eat most things; however, they are clever enough to identify what they like best.
I would recommend staying away from any rat food mixes that contain little different bits of food in it. You know the kind, they are usually shades of green and brown.
The trouble with those is that your rat might just end up picking out their favorite part of the food. A little bit like if someone just ate all the fries on their plate and left the vegetables and meat.
That means they aren’t going to get the full nutritional value from the food and they could end up with a deficiency in a certain nutrient too.
You only need one rat with this problem to affect all of your rats. If one rat only eats the green parts, not only will they be losing out on a balanced diet but then every other rat in the cage won’t get enough of the nutrients from that green part of the food.
The best type of food for rats is all-in-on pellets or cubes. These are all regular, with each pellet containing all the balanced nutrition your rat will need.
That’s a good start for their day-to-day diet, but rats are such intelligent and inquisitive animals that it’s good to give them little treats as well, there are some great ‘human’ foods that rats will love and can be beneficial to their health.
I’ll recommend some good healthy ‘human’ treats you can give to your rats below after I’ve discussed which rat foods I think are best.
Best food for pet rats
All these rat foods come as a single pellet form. That means they don’t have the food mix like some other rat foods. The downside of mixes is that the rat may only select the part they like the best.
Single pellet foods contain all the nutrients a rat needs in each pellet so they have a fully balanced diet.
Oxbow Essentials Adult Rat Food
This is a quality rat food and the one I would most highly recommend.
Oxbox also offers food specifically for young rats too, but this one is for adult rats.
It’s well balanced and contains lots of vitamins and minerals, including antioxidant nutrients like vitamin A.
It contains good amounts of calcium, fiber and protein and is a quality food to give to your pet rat.
You can take a look at Oxbow Essentials Adult Rat Food on Amazon here
Supreme Petfoods Science Selective Rat Food
Science Selective also offers top quality rat food.
This one has a little less calcium and protein than the Oxbow product I’ve mentioned above but the levels are still good and it does offer a well balanced nutritional diet.
It only uses natural ingredients and has zero added sugar with no artificial colors.
It’s a quality product and that’s reflected in the reviews which are overwhelmingly positive, with many mentions from happy rat owners commenting on how much their rats seem to enjoy the flavor of this food.
You can take a look at Supreme Petfoods Science Selective Rat Food on Amazon here
Last on my list is this rat food by Mazuri.
Just because it’s last doesn’t mean it isn’t a quality rat food, it certainly is.
It’s a fully balanced rat food with a vegetable base of ingredients containing plenty of vitamin E.
It’s high in protein and fat, that’s fine but this food is best for active rats who will need all that energy to burn off.
The reviews are very positive with lots of comments from rat owners around how much their rats love this food and how good the quality is for the price.
You can take a look at Mazuri Rodent food on Amazon here
Best human treats for pet rats
Rats can eat most foods, they’re hardy little creatures, but many foods that we consider really healthy could actually have a negative impact on rats if they have too much.
Fruit, for example, contains lots of natural sugar, so it can quickly lead to weight gain if your rat eats too much.
However, fruit in small portions is excellent for rats. Apples, for example, are a great source of nutrients for rats but I wouldn’t recommend feeding them more than one apple slice a week each, you can cut it into little pieces for them so they can easily hold it (side note – don’t feed your rats apple seeds as they can be slightly toxic).
One of my favorite foods to give as a treat is bell pepper.
It’s hard enough that it doesn’t cause a mess in their cage (like bananas or similar mussy foods would), it is full of nutrients, and it has less than half the sugar content of apples.
I’ve written a detailed article about the benefits of bell peppers for rats here.
Another great treat for rats is egg.
You can hard boil it, cut it up, let it cool down and give your rat little chunks.
I’ve also written a detailed article about the benefits of eggs for rats here.
There’s quite a lot of calories in eggs so don’t give them too many, but they do have lots of nutritional benefits.
You can also grind up the eggshell into a powder and add it to their food occasionally as it’s a great source of calcium.
Final note – All rats are individual
I’d like to finish by saying that although all the foods I’ve mentioned should be great for most rats, all animals are individuals and can have their own intolerances.
Relative to other pets, rats are pretty hardy and can handle most foods. But that doesn’t mean they all will, especially as they age.
Whenever you introduce new food to your rat you should start with a small amount and monitor them for a day or so to check for any digestive issues.
Digestive issues are hard to spot in pet rats but two signs could be diarrhea or a noticeable decrease in activity levels.
If you see these symptoms, or anything else conversing, then the food just might not agree with your rat’s stomach and you should think about changing it.