Eggs, lovely eggs! Who doesn’t enjoy a good, tasty egg.
If you’ve ever watched the film ‘Chicken Run’ (from the creators of Wallace and Gromit), you’ll probably remember the two (slightly shady) rats who were on a constant pursuit to get more eggs.
If you haven’t then I’d recommend it, it’s a great film.
But is that true in real life, do rats really like eggs? And more importantly, are eggs safe for your pet rat to eat?
In this article, I’ll run through everything I know about fancy rats and eggs. Can rats eat eggs? What health benefits are there and are there any health risks for rats eating eggs?
Yes, rats can eat eggs and there are lots of health benefits too. There can also be risks associated with eating too much egg, and eggs cooked with other ingredients such as oil or butter should be avoided.
I’ll go into the dangers of eggs for pet rats later in the article but first let’s look at the list of health benefits.
There are certainly lots of them.
Health benefits of eggs for pet rats
Before I dive in, most of the good stuff in an egg comes from the egg yolk.
Whilst both the white and yolk are safe to eat for rats, and both have benefits, they will get the most nutrition from the yolk.
Raw white is not safe for rats to eat, I’ll come to that later in the article.
This is the vitamin that you’re parents told you would let you see in the dark, the one packed into carrots.
Well, it’s also abundant in eggs and it really does help support eyesight.
It is also great for young rats as a vitamin A deficiency can actually stunt growth. On top of that, it helps to support god immune and cell function.
You may not have heard of it but Riboflavin is also a vitamin found in eggs (Its other name is vitamin B2).
It will help your rat maintain an effective metabolism to get the most energy out of its food.
Another one of the B vitamins (B9), and also known as folic acid.
This vitamin also helps with a rat’s metabolism and supports the integrity of their cell membranes.
A folate deficiency can lead to cell structures weakening.
Cobalamin (Vitamin B12)
The last of the B vitamins on this list, vitamin B12 also known as Cobalamin.
This one is important to maintain a healthy nervous system and good cognitive function.
It’s also important for good intestinal health and the growth of red blood cells.
This mineral is vital for the formation of red blood cells and hemoglobin.
Those, in turn, are responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
A trace mineral, Selenium is essential for the proper function of the thyroid gland and immune system of a rat.
It has also been credited with a range of other benefits such as acting as an antioxidant and improving joint health.
Created once the fat of the egg has been broken down into fatty acids.
This is then absorbed by the blood and helps maintain healthy skin and coat, creating that nice shiny fur.
Fats are important in a rat’s diet but of course, too much fat can be a bad thing.
Health risks of eggs for pet rats
Eggs are a great source of all types of nutrients, but like everything, if your pet rat eats too much it can have negative effects too.
Luckily these effects aren’t too serve in eggs and they are a relatively safe treat for your rat.
Eggs contain quite a lot of calories relative to their size.
If you were to feed your pet rat egg on a daily basis, even in small amounts, they would be very likely to gain excess weight.
That’s the main reason eggs should always be considered as a treat for a rat, rather than as part of a standard diet.
Biotin deficiency (from raw egg white)
This is only an issue if you’re feeding your rat the raw white of an egg. That’s quite unlikely as it’s going to be a messy way to feed your rat, but it’s worth knowing about because it can be dangerous.
The raw white contains a protein called Avatin. Avatin binds with Biotin, preventing your rat from absorbing it and leading to a Biotin deficiency.
Impacts can be anemia, dry hair or coat, skin lesions and lethargy.
Once the egg white is cooked it’s perfectly safe.
I’ve never actually heard of a rat owner feeding their pet rat raw eggs, but I know raw feeding is on an upward trend for all pets so this is worth knowing about.
Can rats eat eggshell
Rats can eat eggshells and they are actually a very good source of calcium.
The only danger is that your rat may choke on a sharp piece of eggshell, or it could cut their mouth.
That’s easily avoided, just grind the eggshell up into a powder and add it to their food.
This isn’t particularly a treat for your rat, but occasionally adding powdered eggs shell to a young rat’s normal food will be great for their bone development as they grow.
Can rats eat boiled eggs
Rats love boiled eggs and they are a great source of nutrition.
The only danger is weight gain if they had them too often so just give it to them as an occasional treat.
They can eat the shell too but you may prefer to remove it to prevent choking.
Can rats eat raw eggs
Rats can only eat the yolk of raw eggs. The white of a raw egg can cause biotin deficiency so it shouldn’t be given to your rat.
Be careful feeding them raw eggs in their cage, it’s likely to cause a big mess and clog up in their bedding.
It’s best to offer your rat a raw egg yolk outside of its cage
Can rats eat fried eggs
Rats should not eat eggs that have been fried in oil.
The added oil will not be good for your rat’s health and the excess fat can lead to weight gain.
To get the same effect, you can bake a sunny side up egg in the oven with no oil, that’s what I do.
That gives the same effect but is perfectly healthy for your rat (and you).
Can rats eat scrambled egg
Rats cannot eat scrambled eggs if they have been made with butter, milk or any other added ingredient such as salt.
Scrambled eggs are usually prepared with other unhealthy ingredients. Whilst milk might not seem unhealthy, pretty much all rats are lactose intolerant to some extent so they shouldn’t really have it.
You should avoid scrambled eggs unless they have literally just been cooked using the egg alone.
Can rats eat poached egg
Rats can eat poached eggs.
Just be careful giving them a freshly made one as the center could still be hot.
You can add a little cider vinegar to the water, that will help to bind the egg, but cider vinegar is also really healthy for your rat to have now and again.
How much egg can my pet rat eat
Despite all their nutritional benefits, there is a lot of fat in eggs and eating too much can quickly lead to weight gain.
You should only feed your rat egg as a treat occasionally. I would recommend no more than half an egg per week.
That way they will get all the nutritional benefits but shouldn’t suffer from weight gain.
A final note – All rats are individuals
In general, eggs are great treats for rats, just don’t feed them too much and watch out for the raw white and they will get lots of health benefits.
However, some rats will be more sensitive to certain foods than others, and just because most rats can eat eggs with no problems doesn’t mean your rat definitely will.
Older rats especially can be more prone to digestive issues.
So, whenever you give your rat a new food, including eggs, monitor them for a couple of days to see if you notice and symptoms of digestive problems.
They are quite hard to spot in rats but two you can see are diarrhea and a noticeable decrease in their activity levels.
If you are at all concerned then I would recommend you stop feeding them eggs and find another treat for them, egg might just not sit well with their stomach.