This article is from the WSSF 2015 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Karen Robbins
Dominique Pinto, Portugal, e-mail
Q I am a new rat owner, but I pride myself that I try to know as much as any expert about an animal before I get them. Unfortunately, this one escaped me. I feed my rats Versele-laga Crispy Pellets for rats and mice (I live in Portugal so I don’t know if you get this one where you come from) but here is a link to the nutritional info.
I have read on various sites different opinions on how much protein a rat should have...some say 14% to 20% and others say 5%. You can see my dilemma here with such big discrepancies, is it really 5%? If is is, the pellets I am feeding them has 20%!!! Even if the correct amount is in fact 14% , I am still giving over the requirement. I know that too much protein damages the kidneys, I don’t want that for my babies. I have researched other pellet or mixes for rats available in my country and they all have around 15%–22.50%.
If you could shed any light on this for me, I would be so grateful!!!
A I sent your question to our vet/pathologist and she suggested going to the Harlan or Jackson Labs or Purina web sites for rodent diets to see the different percentages in the formulas. Different strains of animals and uses for the animals require different diets (breeding vs. maintenance vs. certain strains vs. certain procedures). The formula you are using doesn’t specify only for breeding, certain ages, or maintenance, so should be fine. You can also read more in our various articles:
Nutritional Requirements in Rats
Diet & Tumors in Rats
Choosing Your New Pet Rats...
What is the Best Rat Food?
Pet Rats & Mice - General Care
Shiny Coats On Show Animals
If you have young rats, they will need a higher protein diet than old rats. Also, the minimum requirements are just that, minimum for survival. If your rats are healthy, have glossy, sleek coats, are in good weight, then what you are feeding is good.
I personally feed the Harlan Teklad 8604 (24% protein, 4% fat) to all my animals—breeders, non-breeders, young ones, old ones, and they all do well on this—nice coats, good weight, babies grow like they should (although I also give pregnant and nursing rats dog kibble and dog biscuits in addition to the blocks for added protein and fat).
Hamiis Mukose, Uganda, Africa, Facebook
Q Which food can I give to my rats to grow healthy?
A Depends on what you have available to you. Ideally, the laboratory pellets/blocks made for rats would be the best as they have everything a rat needs and in the right amounts, then give treats/snacks of dry cereals, fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grain bread, etc. If you can’t get the lab pellets, then a good quality dry dog food with the addition of seeds and grains, and the above items. See the previous answer for articles on diet as well as the ones below for more ideas:
Moms and kids need more protein and fat in their diet. In addition to the lab blocks and dry dog kibble and dog biscuits to the moms and growing kids, I also give my rats dry cereal and fresh stuff for snacks on occasion.
Rats will eat just about anything, so make sure they get a balanced diet with only healthy foods.
Alecia Seech, PA, Facebook
RE: Picture on Facebook of rats eating rice with teriyaki sauce at our Pet Expo display.
Q I have 2 female fancy rats. I was wondering what foods I can and cannot give them. I didn’t know rice with teriyaki sauce was an option!
A This was given as a treat. When we do displays, the animals get snacks/leftovers of what the helpers had to eat, so at this event they got scraps from the teriyaki rice bowl. As long as what you give is healthy and not too much at once, then there are lots of different foods you can give them as treats/snacks depending on what they like (some like certain foods more than others; some rats don’t like the same thing their cagemate does). Just keep away from junk food and fatty/fried/sugary-sweet foods. Don’t give too many treats as this can cause obesity which can lead to many health problems and a shortened life span. Stick with the healthy fresh veggies and fruits, healthy cereals, etc.