Rats are omnivores - this means wild rats eat a mix of plants and lean meat. The best diet for your rat will be one that’s as close to a natural diet as possible.
Top tip: Suddenly changing your rat’s diet can upset their stomach. Introduce new foods carefully and over several days.
The ideal diet will include:
- Commercial rat nuggets. These contain the right balance of nutrients for your rat. Rats easily gain weight so follow the feeding guidelines on the packet and weigh their food out each day to make sure you aren’t giving them too much. You can buy rat nuggets in pet shops.
- Small amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables. There’s a list of rat-friendly fruit and veg below.
- Occasional treats such as small pieces of lean meat, mealworms, egg, lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas.
Making feeding fun for rats
In the wild, rats would spend a lot of their time searching out food. You can recreate this natural behaviour for your rats. It’s a great way to keep them active and stop them from getting bored.
- Scatter their rat nuggets around their cage and exercise area instead of feeding from the bowl. They’ll really enjoy sniffing out their food. It’s also a really good thing to try if you have one rat that’s protective of their food bowl and won’t let your other rats get a fair share of the food.
- Hide treats or fresh fruit and veg in paper bags or cardboard tubes and boxes. Your rats will love working out how to get to their food.
- Try out some interactive toys suitable for small animals, such as puzzle boards, feeding balls or small animal kongs.
Why is my rat putting on weight?
Obesity is a common problem in rats. If your rat is putting on a bit of podge, be careful about how many treat you give them. Be especially careful with high-fat and sugary treats like nuts, seeds and ‘honey sticks’.
You can read more about keeping your rat in shape on our rat health page.
Safe fruit, veg and herbs for your rats
These fruit, vegetables and herbs are all safe for your rats to eat. You should feed them a small amount each day.
- Sweet peppers
- Apple (make sure you remove the seeds first)
- Dried banana
Never feed: Grapes, raisins, rhubarb, walnuts, lettuce or citrus fruits. These can be toxic for your rats.
Things to chew and gnaw
Rats love to shred, chew and gnaw on things. It’s a natural behaviour that helps keep their teeth healthy and stops your rats getting bored.
Rats love to shred and chew things like:
- Coconut shells
- Hay cubes
- Unbleached loofah
- Pumice stone
They can gnaw on untreated softwood. Before you give them any softwood branches to chew, bake them on a low heat for an hour and give them a good wash to make sure they’re safe for your chinchilla. Good woods to use are:
- Elm & Red Elm
- Grape & Grapevine
- Willow (goat, weeping, or pussy willow)