What Do Rats Eat: A Guide To Keeping Healthy Pet Rats

The idea of having just cats and dogs as pets has become a thing of the past, especially in the 21st century when almost anything goes. Humans have become more open-minded and rats, which used to be presumed destroyers, are being kept as pets and doted upon by people.

Although they only turned into pets in the past hundred years, these rodents have proved to be worthy companions for humans, especially children who find it difficult to resist the cuteness of their pet rats. However, the downside of keeping a rat as a pet is that they don’t live long as they averagely have a life expectancy of two to three years. They are also prone to developing a variety of health issues. Nevertheless, if you are considering getting some and wondering what do rats eat? Let’s enlighten you.

How To Create A Good Home For Your Pet Rats

Like every other domestic animal, pet rats are cute, friendly, smart, and like to cuddle. Caring for them and creating a good home for the little fellows isn’t too difficult, especially with the right accessories, toys, and cages. A large wire cage with horizontal bars is the best to house your pet rat as the horizontal bars allow the rat to climb on the side.

A tall cage with platforms and ramps is also ideal for housing multiple rats. It’s better to avoid wire flooring, which has been linked to bumblefoot. The cage should be placed in a quiet place, which is close enough to the family activities and also away from other household pets as rats tend to feel threatened by a hovering cat or dog that are likely to view them as prey to be stalked and lynched.

They should also be provided with a nest box. Rats love to climb, so their playtime will be fun with toys like ropes, ladders, hammocks, platforms, and tunnels. They are very intelligent and love to be challenged, thus, the games have to be rotated regularly to avoid boredom.

Hygiene And Healthcare: How To Take Care Of Your Pet Rats

Contrary to myths and general belief, rats are very clean and have almost no smell. They also enjoy playing and learning new tricks, but one major downside to owning and keeping a pet rat is that they are prone to several health issues, coupled with their short life expectancy as stated earlier.

Yes, pet rats can also be checked over by a vet, and to enjoy your cutie, it is important to have a regular routine check-up with a veterinarian that handles unusual and exotic animals. Aside from this, pet rats can also be groomed like your regular cats and dogs, they are generally to be kept clean with occasional baths, and their nails, which are usually sharp and pointed are to be trimmed every one or two months, or as the need arises.

Dental hygiene should also be maintained for these rodents, their teeth should be checked and trimmed regularly to avoid overgrowing. You can also keep their teeth healthy by allowing constant chewing, so wood blocks and toys should be provided for them to chew on.

What Should My Pet Rat Be Fed With?

Pet rats
Rat diet source

To make sure that your pet rats get a balanced and nourishing diet, it is safer to stick to specially formulated packaged rat food infused with different homemade fresh foods as treats. If you decide to feed your pet rats with homemade foods, it’s pertinent to follow closely, the recipes recommended by specialists; by so doing, you are not likely to end up with a nutritionally imbalanced meal which can give rise to problems for your rats.

While shopping for food for your pet rat, watch out for diets specifically made for rats, which can be block-type or pellet. Pellet diets are commonly the most recommended for pet rats. Your cute friend can also benefit from eating a variety of other foods, including fruits, vegetables, and fresh foods which add a lot of nourishment to their diet.

However, it should be noted that their serving portions for fruits and vegetables are small (a teaspoon or half-inch cube) to avoid diarrhea. It’s pertinent to understand that for your pet rat to enjoy optimum health and balanced nutrition, a wide variety of the under-listed foods can be tried in little proportion. They include brown rice, unsweetened breakfast cereals, small dog biscuits, and yogurts with live cultures.

Others include mealworms, cooked beans including soy, cooked liver, as well as other very lean cooked meats, whole-wheat pasta, and bread. The list is not an exhaustive one; you can refer to the vet for any other food component you wish to add to your pet rat’s diet.

We cannot conclude without mentioning vegetables like potatoes, broccoli, peas, kale, carrot, squash, bok choy, parsley, and cooked sweet potatoes, which all contribute positively to your furry friend’s diet. They can also benefit from fruits like grapes, cherries, strawberries, apples, berries, bananas, plum melons, and many more.

Special occasional treats can include whole nuts in shell-like walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts or carob chips, and sunflower seeds. Besides, leftover meals don’t go to waste in a household that keeps pet rats; they can also be given in moderation. Since constant hydration is essential to every living thing, there should always be a regular supply of fresh, clean water. This keeps dehydration at bay and your cutie in tip-top shape.

Apart from the aforementioned, there are some food components that should be avoided, owners of pet rats should avoid foods like chocolate, raw sweet potato, raw beans, caffeinated beverages, carbonated drinks, poppy seeds, green potatoes, cabbage, brussels sprouts, sweet and sugary treats. These foods may portend health issues for these rodents.

Read Also: What Do Fish Eat?

Common Health Problems In Rats

Like humans, dogs, and cats, pet rats can develop a variety of health problems as they advance in age. Some of the issues can range from digestive to respiratory conditions, as well as tumors. It could also be a neurological problem. Even though it’s possible to perform surgery on a rat, most owners aren’t interested in footing the high bill.

They mostly take preventive care and routinely visit vets for check-ups to prevent and manage diseases. Since the time you get to spend with your pet rat is so short, you should do well to maximize it through regular care and hygiene

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