On this page I hope to discuss some different options on how to feed your rats.
Different breeders and owners do this differently and this is again another area where British and american rat husbandry differ. I hope to make this page as simple yet informative for inexperienced or new rat owners.
There are two main types of diets that people feed rats.
First is the lab block/rat nugget style of diet. This was the suggested diet when I first started keeping rats and is still the most popular in America. There are multiple issues with this method. Rats are like humans they enjoy variety of foods naturally rats are scavengers and eat insects, nuts, seeds plants and anything else they can find.
The argument for this method is that it's easy to make sure that the rats are getting a balanced diet and getting all the nutrients they need for every meal, however, these nugget style diets are often too high in fat, protein and it doesn't allow you to vary the diet for different life stages. Rat nuggets have also been linked with a higher rate of tumours. I will not re-home rats where to a home where unsuitable rat nuggets are there primary diet.
The second method and the one I would recommend is a mixed/muesli diet based on the Shunamite principles. If you feed a well balanced mix, it will get eaten in full and the rats will get the nutrition they need. There are commercially made muesli style mixes on the market but I would not recommend these they suffer from nutritional imbalance. They are fairly expensive also and you can get much more suitable ready made mixes from rat rations.
The benefit of this home made/shunamite rat feed is flexibility. It allows you to adjust the diet through different life stages and add or remove ingredients as they become available. I personally use my own home made mix created from a base of pellet free rabbit food, horse food and goat food which is around 60% and then adding various processed and unprocessed grains and low sugar cereals as well as protein from dried insects or high quality dog food and dried vegetables. It's hard for me to give you an exact recipe as it varies from month to month.
For a beginner or someone who only keeps small numbers of rats, I strongly recommend using ratrations.
They make a variety of mixes based on these principles. With a complete straights mix you will need to supplement vitamins and minerals as it wont be fortified like traditional animal feeds.
If you do become interested in making your own mix, I recommend a book called "The Scuttling Gourmet" and visiting Isamu rats website. Both are very informative and i see little point in repeating there fantastic writings on the subject.
Regardless of what diet you choose for your rat it is also important to feed a variety of fresh food as well. My rats particularly enjoy kale and corn on the cob. I normally get them whatever is on offer at the supermarket as well as leftovers from our human meals.
Rats can eat most vegetables with a few exceptions. Its a lot easier to mention what they can't eat rather then what they can.
Foods to avoid.
Raw Potatoes, Onion and Cabbage (including B sprouts). These are all fine once cooked
Citrus fruits for males
It is also important to remember that just like you rats need a balanced diet. Large amounts of cheese or chocolate is no better for your rat then it is for you.