One of the most important things you need to know as a pet rat owner is how to give your pet rat a healthy diet. Luckily feeding pet rats is not hard.
Once you know the best brand of pet rat food and what vegetables, fruits, meats, and grains your pet rat can eat, you’ll have no problem keeping your rats happy and healthy.
This guide will show you exactly what to feed your pet rat. We’ll compare the best brands of prepackaged rat food and give you a big list of the other foods you can feed your rat.
- The Best Pet Rat Food Brands
- How to feed your pet rat: Basic principles
- What foods your pet rat can eat?
- What foods can you NOT feed your pet rat?
The Best Pet Rat Food Brands
You could construct a whole pet rat diet without prepackaged food. But this isn’t advisable for most people.
Making healthy rat pellets the bulk of your pet rats’ diet ensures they get all the vitamins and nutrients they need and is a convenient, inexpensive way to keep your rats healthy and happy.
1 – Oxbow Animal Health Essentials Regal Adult Rat Food – #1 Pet Rat Food Recommendation
Oxbow pet rat food is hands down our number one recommendation for the best pet rat food.
Oxbow has two main formulations. One is for young rats (under 5 months or so). The other is for adult pet rats.
You can give the adult formulation to younger rats. We started giving the adult formula to our three month old rat. They have already reached sexual maturity, but they probably still have quite a bit of growing left.
If you’re going to give the adult Oxbow to your younger pet rats, make sure you add a little extra protein into your rats’ diets because the adult Oxbow has slightly less protein than the baby formula.
You can add extra protein into their diet by giving them a few small shredded pieces of cooked chicken a couple of times a week, a little bit of cheese once a week, or furnishing their vegetable bowls with a few extra sunflower seeds (all these options contain protein but the cheese and sunflower seeds are quite fatty so don’t give too much).
Oxbow rat food is the best on the market for a few reasons:
- Most rats prefer the taste. We have tried experiments with many different brands of pet rat food. While none of the pellets are eaten as enthusiastically as, say, pasta, pepper, or dried fruit, our rats (and many other rat owners agree) are more likely to eat these pellets than other brands.
- The formula is constructed with correct nutrient and vitamin proportions. These pellets will give your rats everything they need to be healthy. That’s not the case for other formulations and certainly not for brands that attempt to target many different types of rodents. This formula is rat-specific and is the best at looking after rats.
- The price is right. You can save money by buying bigger bags, which will last longer and are necessary if you have many pet rats.
The main ingredients in Oxbow Regal Rat Food are brown rice, salmon, soybeans, and a bunch of healthy fats, vitamins like Vitamin D, and minerals like magnesium.
Everything a growing, happy, healthy rat needs!
2 – Supreme Petfoods Science Selective Rat Food – Our 2nd Top Choice!
Supreme Petfoods is another fantastic choice of pet rat food.
Many vets and rat specialists recommend this one because it’s so nutritionally balanced.
This pet rat food has fruits inside (like apples and blackcurrant) to provide your pet rats with all the vitamins and antioxidants. It also has a bunch of healthy fats, which will keep your rats’ cardiovascular and circulatory health in check.
The great thing about this food is that it is brilliantly nutritionally well-balanced, but rates seem to LOVE the taste too!
Pet rat owners who fed their rats almost exclusively this food often report that they’ve not had any vet visits because their rats are so healthy.
This is a fantastic choice for your pet rats.
3 – Mazuri Rat and Mouse Food – Our 3rd Choice!
If you can’t get your hands on Oxbow or Supreme Petfoods, another great option for prepackaged rat food is Mazuri Rat and Mouse Food.
This food is suitable for many types of rodents (rats, mice, squirrels, and so on). While it is best to choose a food that aims to satisfy only rats, this is still a good choice.
The protein content is a bit on the high side, so make sure, if you get this brand, you balance your rats’ food bowls with some fruits and vegetables, too (to lower the overall protein content in their diet).
4 – Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Food for Mice and Rats – Our 4th Choice!
If you can’t get hold of any other rat foods, you could also try Kaytee.
We do not feed our pet rats Kaytee, but we know many pet rat owners do.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with Kaytee, but the other options are superior.
Kaytee aims to cover many different types of rodents and is also very cheap. But in aiming to satisfy as many rodents as possible while also being the cheapest, this brand of pet rat food falls short nutritionally.
If you need cheap pet rat food for the short term and can’t get hold of the others, Kaytee’s not bad. But many rats don’t seem to like the taste, and it just isn’t as healthy as the other options.
But we include it on this list, so you know, if you’re in a pinch, it’s not the worst brand out there.
How to feed your pet rat: Basic principles
Specially formulated pet rat food
(the kind you can easily buy online and in pet stores) should make up the biggest percentage of your pet rat’s diet.
These rat foods are formulated to ensure your rat has the exact kinds and amounts of nutrition they need to stay happy and healthy.
Some of these brands are better than others, so see our recommendations below for the best pet rat food brand.
You should try to choose a pet rat food that comes in pellets or large blocks
These blocks have all the vitamins and nutrients that your rat needs to stay healthy.
You can also choose loose seed mixes, but rats might not eat everything in the mix, so it can be harder to make sure they have all the nutrients they need.
If you get the pellets or blocks, your rats will have no other choice than to get all the goodness.
In addition to prepackaged rat food, you want to give your pet rats fresh foods for variety
The blocks should make up roughly 80% of your pet rat’s diet.
The other 20% can be comprised of fresh vegetables and fruits, and other goodies.
Occasionally (once a week or so), you can give them little treat foods like cheese in small quantities.
Save these treats for the times you are teaching them tricks (if you are doing that). We’ll get into what foods make good treats for your pet rats.
Rats can be picky eaters
You’ll need to experiment a little to determine what each rat likes the best.
Rats are pretty easy to feed
Once you’ve got them decent prepackaged rat food, you can give them food you’re making for yourself as long as it is okay for them (we’ll list the good and bad foods for rats below).
Rats are omnivores
That means your pet rats can eat meat and vegetables.
We believe meat is best in moderation and a diet comprised mainly of good quality rat pellets and vegetables, grains, seeds, and fruits.
Rats typically eat about 6 times a day
If they go longer than 6 hours without food, they start to starve. So make sure they have food available at all times.
A typical portion size of food for a pet rat is roughly the size of their head
- Rats need fresh, clean water at all times, so make sure you change their water bottle every day.
- Rats should have around 15% protein in their diet, so keep high-protein foods as treats and don’t feed them every day.
What foods your pet rat can eat?
It’s so much fun to share your food with your little friends. It’s a joy to find out what they love and watch them enjoy it.
We were so happy when we discovered that our pet rats loved broccoli and green pepper. They go crazy for these green vegetables. When we’re making our healthy human dinners, we put aside some fresh peppers and broccoli for our babies.
Let’s get into what foods your pet rat can eat (other than the pet rat pellets). However, keep in mind that you don’t want to give your rats too much of these foods. Too much fruit, for example, can lead to diarrhea.
Best fruits for pet rats
Apples, bananas, berries, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, melons, plums, peaches, tomatoes, raisins, and kiwi.
Make sure you remove seeds from fruits like apples and cut them into small, easy-to-eat pieces.
Best vegetables for pet rats
This supply should last our four girls a while… Apple, pepper, celery, carrot, and pepper. Yum yum!
Peppers (non-spicy kinds), broccoli, carrot, peas, kale, parsley, cooked sweet potato (absolutely has to be cooked), potatoes, bok choy, lettuce (although there’s no nutritional value, so there’s no point feeding them this), celery, cucumber, cooked green beans, cooked mushrooms (in moderation), avocado (in moderation because it’s fatty), pumpkins.
Best meats for pet rats
Cooked liver and lean cooked meats are good (chicken and turkey in small amounts are good).
You don’t want to give your pet rats very fatty meat, and you probably don’t want to feed them meat too often.
You can also give them cooked salmon and tuna.
Best grains for pet rats
Whole wheat pasta, grains, oatmeal, breakfast cereals (unsweetened), whole wheat bread, biscuits, and rice.
These foods are good as treats or in small amounts, and you shouldn’t overfeed your pet rats this kind of food.
Best treat foods for pet rats
Cheese (high in fat so keep this as a rare treat), sunflower seeds (again, high in fat), pumpkin seeds, yogurt drops, almonds, Brazil nuts, and walnuts.
Other foods you can give your pet rats occasionally: yogurt, honey, vegetable baby food (the kind you buy in little pots), and saltine crackers.
You can also feed your pet rats leftovers from your plate but make sure you only feed them the stuff that is Mattie approved and good for them. Do not feed them stuff they can’t eat.
What foods can you NOT feed your pet rat?
DO NOT feed your pet rat any of the following foods. These foods are bad for rats:
- Chocolate (too high in fat or sugar)
- Lemons, oranges, mango, nutmeg, and black pepper (male rats can’t eat citrus fruits because they will cause tumors, but they are okay in moderation for female rats)
- Green bananas
- Green potatoes
- Raw sweet potato
- Raw beans
- Raw squash
- Raw Brussel sprouts
- Red meats
- Junk food (sugary drinks, sugary sweets, candy, cake, pizza, etc.)
- Caffeinated or carbonated drinks (rats can’t burp, which makes these dangerous) (ONLY give your rats fresh, clean drinking water)
- Cabbage (particularly red cabbage)
- Brussel sprouts
- Wild insects
- Apple seeds
- Avocado skin and stone
- Blue cheese (the mold is poisonous to rats)
- Dried corn
- Hamster food (too high in fat for rats)
- Licorice (can be toxic)
- Moldy/old food (as bad for rats as it is for humans)
- Poppy seeds
- Raw artichokes
- Raw tofu
- Raw onions
- Peanut butter (rats can choke on it)
So that about covers it for the best food for pet rats.
If you have any questions, please let us know, and we’d be more than happy to answer them for you!