Now and again it’s nice to treat our pet rats.
Rats love to eat, they will pretty much eat anything you put in front of them. They are born scavengers and don’t tend to be too picky like some other household pets can be.
But just because they will eat almost everything doesn’t necessarily mean they should.
In the article I’ll explore whether bananas are safe for pet rats (often known as fancy rats), should you feed bananas to pet rats, and how much banana a pet rat can safely eat.
I’ll also take a look at some of the health benefits and dangers your fancy rat might have from eating bananas.
Pet rats can eat bananas. But there is a limit to how much banana your pet rat should eat. Banana should only be fed in small quantities as an occasional treat, not as part of their regular diet.
Benefits of rats eating bananas
Bananas, just like many other fruits, have lots of health benefits for your rat.
Of course, there is a limit to how much banana your fancy rat should eat, we’ll take a look at that later in the article.
But now, let’s look at what the main beneficial nutrients are in bananas.
Banana is the best source of vitamin B6 of all fruits.
Vitamin B6 helps in the production of red blood cells, maintaining a healthy nervous system and aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat and amino acids.
Bananas are a quick and easy way to deliver this important vitamin into your rat’s body.
Whilst not quite as abundant as vitamin B6, there’s also plenty of vitamin C in bananas too.
Vitamin C helps to protect the body against cell and tissue damage as well as aiding the body to better absorb iron.
It also helps to produce collagen, that’ll lead to more healthy skin and bones for your rat and aids with wound healing if your rat were to have a little accident.
Manganese helps to form antioxidants. These, in turn, can help to rid the body of nasty ‘free radicals’.
Free radicals are isolated atoms that bind themselves to cells in the body. The body then treats this cell as an invader and it is damaged or destroyed.
Manganese also helps to support good bone health, working with nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D.
Bananas can be very good for controlling high blood pressure due to their large content of potassium.
This helps to maintain a healthy heart and good blood pressure.
Potassium has also been shown to support bone and muscle strength as the body ages.
Fiber is essential for healthy digestion. It has two categories, soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber helps to control the blood sugar level of the body and aids in ridding the body of fatty substances such as cholesterol.
Insoluble fiber helps to keep the digestive system moving, it will add weight but also softens to your rat’s stools which in turn will help the digestive system to work effectively.
Health risks of rats eating bananas
Clearly, bananas can be a great source of nutrients for your pet rat.
They will certainly love the sweet taste too, so it’s sure to be a winner right?
Well, yes, as long as you don’t feed your fancy rat too much banana.
Excess bananas can actually be harmful to your rat and the health benefits will start to be outweighed by the negative impacts on their health.
Let’s take a look at what some of those negative impacts might be.
Don’t feed your rat green bananas
Green bananas are just bananas that haven’t yet become ripe.
They are difficult to digest as they contain a starch that cannot be digested at all.
Your rat certain could, and would, eat a green banana and they would probably show no signs of discomfort.
But over time that’s going to be tough on the little stomach of your rat, so it’s best to avoid green bananas altogether.
There’s no need to worry though, once picked bananas can ripen very quickly and you’ll see a green banana turn yellow in just a matter of days.
You can even keep the banana in a warm location to speed this process up.
Just like any fruit, the main reason your rat will love the taste is because it’s sweet.
That sweetness comes from sugar, it’s a natural sugar but in excessive amounts, it can still be harmful to your pet rat.
If your rat consumes too much sugar then they are probably going to start gaining weight, as the excess sugar is converted into fat.
That’s going to cause all sorts of problems, such as high blood pressure and cardiac stress, your rat will probably also become less active which will just add to the issues long term.
Fiber is great for the digestive system, but too much fiber can start to cause digestive issues of its own.
An excess of fiber can block up the digestive system rather than helping to keep things moving. This can result in discomfort, constipation or diarrhea.
Digestive issues are never going to be nice for either your rat or you! So, try and not overfeed your rat on fiber-rich treats like bananas.
Can rats eat banana peel (banana skins)
Technically rats can eat banana skin, but they shouldn’t.
Banana peel is not toxic to rats, and if they are given the chance they will probably eat it.
If you do a search you’ll probably even find people on forums and the like saying that they feed their rat banana peels and they seem to enjoy them.
They may very well eat them, but banana peel is extremely difficult to digest.
Banana peel is very likely to cause blockages in your rat’s digestive system.
Rats are tough little animals but even they will struggle to fully digest a stringy banana skin, of which around 20% is starch.
If your rat has just eaten banana peel and you’re worried, don’t be. They will probably be fine, but I wouldn’t recommend you feed them banana peel in the future.
How much banana can a rat eat
Remember just how little your pet rat is, they don’t need much of anything really!
You should consider bananas as a treat for your rat, only to be fed occasionally and not part of their regular diet.
The high sugar and fiber content can cause harm if they are fed too much banana.
I would recommend you only feed your rat a couple of slices of banana per week.
You should also be careful where they eat it. If they are going to eat a mushy banana on top of their bedding then there’s a chance it will gunge up a little which won’t be very nice.
It’s best to give it to your rat banana as a treat when they are outside of their cage, then you can keep an eye on how much they eat and it won’t cause a mess in their cage.
Also, if your rat is young, treating them outside of their cage will also create a positive relationship with your rat’s view on being taken outside its cage.
In the beginning, rats can (understandably) be a little nervous to be picked up and moved from their safe cage, so treating them will help them understand that being outside of their cage can actually be fun!
Final note – Every rat is an individual
Rats are pretty hardy creatures. They can eat most foods without much of an issue, even if they perhaps shouldn’t.
But of course, just like any animal, certain rats will be more sensitive to certain foods. Some may struggle to digest food with high fiber more than others will.
This could be especially true for older rats, they can age so quickly that it can be easy to forget that a 2-year-old rat might have more digestion difficulties than a 6 month old one.
So, wherever you feed your pet rat a new food you should monitor them for a few days, issues can be hard to spot in rats but look for signs of decreased activity or unusual stools.
If you see anything that concerns you then don’t feed them any more bananas as it just might not agree with their stomach.