Rats are omnivores, which means they will basically eat anything. You can buy rat and mouse food from the supermarket or a pet shop, but to keep your rat super happy you should supplement their basic cereal food with something a bit more exciting. Improved nutrition can lengthen your rats lifespan to 5 years.
You will discover what your pets favorite food are with a bit of experimentation (don’t mention that word in front of the ratties). Try out lots of healthy, fresh foods like carrot sticks dipped in hommous, juicy apples and pears and you will soon see what they eat straight away, what they hide for later and what they just can’t be bothered with at all.
One of my rats loves grapes. He holds them so delicately, takes off the top and the licks out the inside like a crème egg.
It’s OK to give your rats treats too. They like the fruity treats you can buy in the pet shop for rabbits and guinea pigs and carob drops that you get for dogs. My rats like a bit of my dog’s dried biscuits too.
Try out raisins and bread and peanut butter, spread thinly, to avoid choking (on a carrot or celery stick) and you will see what they like best. Just like us, they like variation in their diet. My rats, Ginger and Mr T just love chocolate soy milk and a lot of rats like yogurt too. Regular soy in our rats’ diet is proven to reduce their chance of getting mammary tumors. Hard boiled eggs and bacon rind are other things your ratties might enjoy.
Ginger in particular is rather greedy and will actually try and grab things from my mouth when I am eating! What a cheek!
Try hiding special treats around their cage in secret places and your rats will love spending time searching for their favorite food, just like they would in the wild.
Remember not to overfeed your rats. If they get fat they can be more susceptible to tumors and other nasty things, so everything in moderation and try and feed lots of healthy living foods as well as the odd treat.
Of course you must always provide plenty of fresh water, ideally from a dripfeed bottle, fixed to the cage, that you can get from the pet shop. Try to clean the bottle and the food bowl out regularly to help keep your rats nice and healthy. Also make sure you change the food every day.
Don’t feed male rats oranges. They have a component called d-limonene that builds up in the male rats kidneys and can cause cancer. Avoid all citrus flavours, oils and fruits. D-limonene is not shown to have any effect on female rats, but perhaps it is best to avoid these fruits anyway and stick to other foods your rat likes. Rats don’t need to eat as much vitamin C as humans, as they are able to make their own. You should also avoid feeding lettuce as it can cause diarrhea.
When you find out what your rat’s favorite food is, you can use it to train him. Rats are very intelligent and will do anything for their favorite food. They also like to please their favorite person too. My rats love to do tricks for a piece of Nesquick chocolate cereal or a spoon of chocolate soy milk (note the chocolate theme).