Pet Rats Part 2 of 4 – Healthy Diet 1



This is part 2 of a 4 part series on rats. This article will focus on a healthy diet,. The next two will center on things to think about when choosing a pet rat, and how to best insure their health & well being. Be sure to read part 1 on Environment (housing) (Click Here) as well as tune in for parts 3 on wellness and 4 on choosing one or more rats to add to your pack.

Here are some health related things to keep in mind as when considering what it takes to successfully care for pet rats.

Different rat life stages require different feeding/supplement guidelines. Some of the basics include pellets (kibble), fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and supplements. Most folks have some idea of what they are/are not willing to feed their pets. Are you going organic, non-GMO, etc? Do some research on the internet and make a choice, and don’t worry. There will ALWAYS be someone to disagree with the way you do things. Make a decision and if you change your mind, you can always do things differently in the future.

What foods are safe for my rat?

There are certain foods that should NEVER be given to your rats, and others should not be fed in their raw state. Some of those foods are wonderful additives and full of nutrients once cooked.

This is not a full list, but a good one for what are some good things to feed your rat(s) :

(These lists are courtesy of Rat Forum for more information visit their site)


Bananas – but not green bananas
Blueberries – All around good for rats (Just be careful they don’t stain anything you don’t want stained with juice) (Submitted by Mana)
Grapes – purple grapes are believed to help prevent cancer
Peaches – without the pit
Cranberries (and cranberry juice)
Plums – excluding the stone


Peas – Especially frozen for those hot summer days (Submitted by Forensic)
Romaine lettuce – It is recommended to avoid iceberg lettuce as it has little nutritional value
Green beans – cooked
Corn (on the cob, frozen, or from a can)
Green, red, or yellow peppers (not spicy!)
Pumpkin – and the seeds (in moderation)
Butternut Squash – cooked
cooked mushrooms – in moderation


Chicken bones – Make sure these aren’t too greasy or fatty
Crickets – Apparently, rats will eat these? I’ve never done it, I don’t need crickets running around in my room. Good for protein
Dog biscuits – recommends ‘Grreat Choice Healthy Treats’
Hard-boiled eggs – I’ve heard these are good for pregnant rats who need the extra protein/fat. However, these should not become a regular part of the diet but rather just a treat for regular rats.
Popcorn – Unsalted and unbuttered
Yogurt drops – Rats love these. At least, mine do.
Yogurt – a small amount of probiotic yogurt is good for gut flora
Cheese – small amount in moderation, preferably soy based


Are there unsafe foods for rats?

Yes! Again here is another partial list (please do your own research as well) of foods that you should NEVER feed your rats.


Apple seeds – Apple seeds contain a small amount of cyanide which could be harmful to your rat. (Original post by Nightfallspy)
Green bananas – Inhibit starch digestion
Mango – Contains d-limonene which can cause kidney cancer in male rats (Thank you Darksong17!)
Oranges – The white part on the peelings and outer layer of a peeled orange is harmful to male rats. It seems to be ok for females, but I just stay away from citrus fruits in general.
Orange juice – Contains d-limonene which can cause kidney cancer in male rats


Raw brussel sprouts – Fine after cooking, though
Green potato skin and eyes – I will not eat them and I will not eat green potato skin and eyes
Raw artichokes – Inhibit protein digestion
Raw onion – Can lead to anemia and an upset stomach
Raw red cabbage – Fine after cooking
Raw sweet potato – Once again, fine after cooking
Rhubarb – High levels of oxalates which bind up calcium


Blue cheese – Contains a toxic mold
Cuddle Bones (for Birds) – The general consensus was that these have far too much calcium to be healthy for your rat, steer clear. (Original post by sneakers8
Licorice – Contains a suspected neurotoxin
Poppyseeds – One member’s rat got into these and then began to act very lethargic. The rat seemed better for a while, but unfortunately the situation deteriorated and the rat had to be put to sleep. (Original post by rainbowstar)
Rat poison – Believe it or not, this is just not good for rats
Raw bulk tofu – Packaged tofu is ok for eating
Raw dry beans or peanuts – Peanuts you buy in a store are almost always roasted so they are fine for rats. Beans will need to be cooked first before giving to rats. If you’re growing your own peanuts then I would not serve those to your rats.
Raw hide – Difficult to digest (Original post by hydra)
Sweet feed (For horses) – There’s just too much corn and molasses in this. (Original post by Krickette)
Wild insects – Well I guess these are ok cooked?

Here is yet another list of sometimes foods.

For rats, some experts say that small amounts of chocolate is actually beneficial, unlike for dogs and cats. If you are ever unsure, it’s best not to feed until you find out whether or not it is safe for your rat.

Avocados – Very fatty. Also, the pit, rind, skin, and leaves of the avocado are toxic. Avoid any part of the avocado that even touches those parts. Good for sick rats needing to gain weight though
Bread – Bread can expand in a rat’s throat, causing them to choke. If giving your rat bread, toast it first or give them very small amounts at a time.
Carbonated drinks – Though I doubt your rat will explode, it could give them a stomach ache as they have a hard time getting rid of the carbonation.
Chocolate – Supposed to help with minor respiratory distress. Too much can be problematic. Avoid milk chocolate but rather go for dark or bittersweet chocolate as milk chocolate contains too much fat and some rats are lactose intolerant (Thanks Mana!)
Dried corn – Contains fungal contaminates which could lead to liver cancer (Fresh corn is ok)
Oranges – The white part on the peelings and outer layer of a peeled orange is harmful to male rats. It seems to be ok for females, but I just stay away from citrus fruits in general.
Peanut butter – Could cause your rat to choke

Is there anything else I should think about when deciding on what food is best for me and my rats?

Be sure that the diet you choose to feed is nutritionally complete. There is a min/max for balancing out ratios. Protein, fat, grains, etc. Mixing up your own food, or buying a commercial food, check it out and if you don’t feel comfortable, check out something else. Again, there is no totally right answer to what to feed. Just do your homework. Your rats will thank you for it!

Be sure and read parts 1, 3 and 4 for a more comprehensive understanding of how to properly care for pet rats. If you have any questions or comments please reach out to us. We are looking for feedback on how we are doing and would love to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by!!

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Lists of Safe & Unsafe foods courtesy of Rat Forum, which is a community for those dedicated to their rats care.

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