Can Pet Rats Eat Peanut Butter – A Complete Guide


Knowing what our pets can eat isn’t always easy.

Rats in particular are capable of eating pretty much anything you put in from of them, but that doesn’t always mean they should.

In the article, I’ll tell you everything I know about rats and peanut butter.

I’m going to discuss whether peanuts butter is safe for rats and what the health benefits and risks might be.

Rats can eat peanut butter. However, there is some peanut butter that has added ingredients that are not very healthy for rats. Whilst more natural peanut butter is technically fine, you should take caution as it can still be very fattening.

Before we delve into the pros and cons of peanut butter itself, it’s worth taking a look at a sweetener called Xylitol that has a bad reputation in the world of pets.

Is Xylitol safe for rats

You will find Xylitol in many sugar-free variations of peanut butter, whilst little evidence supports Xylitol being bad for rats, it is known to cause harm to dogs.

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener and completely harmless to humans but in dogs ingestion of Xylitol can cause a rapid release of insulin, leading to a rapid decrease in blood sugar levels.

This condition can actually be fatal if left untreated, as a result, Xylitol has a pretty bad name in the pet world.

Having said that, these negative effects of Xylitol do seem to be very exclusive to dogs. 

Of course, Xylitol is perfectly safe for humans to eat, I can find no conclusive proof or study to show that Xylitol is harmful to rats in the same way as it’s harmful to dogs.

It seems like rats would be perfectly fine to eat Xylitol; however, a large part of me thinks “what’s the point of taking the risk”.

There haven’t been studies performed exclusively for the effects of Xylitol on fancy rats in the same way there has been for dogs. So I can’t say for sure that Xylitol is 100% safe for rats to eat.

If there is even the slightest risk that a peanut butter containing Xylitol could harm (or even kill) your rat, I think it’s best you don’t feed them any at all.

Luckily, not all peanut butter does contain Xylitol, so let’s take a look whether your pet rat should be eating those varieties.

Should rats eat peanut butter

Like many foods, feeding peanut butter to your rat is all about moderation and a little common sense. 

Peanut butter varies greatly in its quality of ingredients.

Whilst they may not be toxic for your rat, many of those ingredients won’t be good for their general health and aren’t really a necessity for a balanced diet.

Let’s take a look at added ingredients found in some peanut butter which aren’t particularly good for your rat’s health.

Added ingredients are usually bad for rats

Salt

Salt is often added to peanut butter. Salt and peanuts are a classic combination, and although rats do need a certain amount of salt it is only really a very small amount.

If you think about how hard salt is to come by in the wild (except for perhaps at the coast) then you will start to understand how little salt is actually required for a balanced diet. 

The likelihood is that your rat will get enough salt from their normal daily food. Having too much salt in a rat’s diet could lead to sodium ion poisoning so it is best to avoid foods with added salt in general.

Sugar

Whilst added sugar won’t be toxic it can, of course, be bad for the health of your pet rat. 

When a rat ingests excess sugar which it can’t turn to energy, lots of it will be stored as fat, as a result, your rat may experience weight gain and higher blood pressure.

Hydrogenated oil

Many peanut butter uses hydrogenated oil to bind the mixture together. The fat contained in hydrogenated oil is very difficult for your rat’s body to utilize, it just takes too much energy for the body to convert these fats.

It is known as stubborn fat, this has a double negative effect as the body uses a large amount of energy trying to break down these fats, increasing the internal temperature of the stomach which can create health issues of its own, then once the fat has failed to break down it is store in the rat’s body, creating weight gain and all the associated health issues.

Natural products are usually the best

So, we can start to understand that the question of whether rats can eat peanut butter is a little more complicated than it first seems. Ultimately, it really depends on which peanut butter you’re using.

Peanut butter containing lots of added ingredients can cause an imbalance in your rat’s diet.

If you do want to feed your rat peanut butter then the best option would be to choose as natural a product as possible, with no sweetener and little to no added sugar, salt or hydrogenated oil.

There are generally going to be quite premium brands of peanut butter and may not be the best selling brands you’re likely to pick up for yourself, but they will certainly be the best ones to feed to your fancy rat.

Alternatively, you can always make your own peanut butter at home. That way you know exactly which ingredients are going into the mixture and you can exclude anything which might be harmful to your rat.

Another alternative is to exclude the complication of peanut butter entirely. Natural peanuts themselves do actually have some health benefits for rats, without all the complications of added ingredients.

Can rats eat peanuts

Rats can eat peanuts, and the restrictions are far less complicated than with peanut butter. Just be sure to stay away from salted and roasted peanuts as the added salt and sugars will create an imbalance in your rat’s diet.

You should only feed your rat plain, ready peeled peanuts.

There are some benefits to feeding your rat peanuts too:

Protein

Nuts are known for their high protein content and this can be great for your rat. Protein helps to maintain and repair cells and other tissues, it helps support the immune system and it aids in generating hormones, antibodies and enzymes.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to neutralize ‘free radicals’, these are atoms that can cause harm to other cells in your rat’s body. It also aids in keeping a well functioning immune system and good skin health, keeping your rat’s fur nice and shiny.

Vitamin B6

This vitamin helps maintain red blood cell generation and good nervous system function, as well as keeping a strong immune response in the rat.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3 has many health benefits for your rat, including the breakdown of fatty acids which helps maintain an effective metabolism, maintain good cognitive function and ensure a healthy digestive tract.

Health risks of peanuts for rats

You must always ensure not to give too many peanuts to your rat as they can have some side effects.

Peanuts are so highly packed with protein, vitamins and minerals that it doesn’t take too many to start causing an imbalance in your pet’s diet.

Peanuts are extremely high in protein. As I’ve discussed above this can have many health benefits for your rat and protein is a vital part of a balanced diet for your pet rat. 

However, as peanuts are so high in protein it can be very easy for a rat to have too much.

Ultimately, when too much protein-rich food is digested by a rat only a certain amount can be digested and absorbed to perform all of those health-beneficial tasks such as muscle repair. The remaining protein will either be broken down and used as energy or stored as fat.

Peanuts are so high in protein that if you give your rat too many, the majority of the protein will end up being stored as fat.

How much peanut butter can my rat eat

It’s really important to use caution and a bit of common sense if you’re planning to feed your rat peanut butter. Try to source the most natural products you can with little or no added salt, sugar or hydrogenated oil.

Even better would be to make the peanut butter yourself using only ‘rat-friendly’ ingredients.

Peanut butter should only be a treat so limit to a maximum of a small spoonful at most once a week.

The same goes for raw peanuts themselves, a rat should only have a couple of peanuts every three days.

Remember how small your rats are compared to you. If you saw a peanut the way a rat does it would be the size of a football!

So keep in mind that peanuts and peanut butter should be fed as a treat only and not as a standard part of their diet.

Rats don’t need to eat many peanuts before they will visibly start to gain weight.

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