Here is an article I wrote for my rattery site. Can you all read it and let me know what you think and if there are any spelling mistakes etc. Also one sentence needs to be worded differently. Any suggestions. It's this sentence:
"Lets compare ingredients now, shall we? The ingredients are listed in order of the most to the least used in the food. "
Any other suggestions would be helpful. I still have to add a few things to it, like examples of what my rats ate in the week etc. Thanks!
How to make sure your rat gets the best diet possible, while keeping it interesting at the same time
Written by: Cassandra Barlow ©2002
As with all animals proper diet is essential to your rat's health. Rats are omnivorous, which means they eat both plant and animal material. Rats love food in general and will eat themselves silly, savoring every morsel. They seem to eat just to have something to do. Rats love junk food, just try to keep it as healthy as possible. Table scraps can be given as treats but in no way should they be the staple diet. Below I will outline my own rats' diet, as well as go over healthy treats you can offer your
rats. Eating the same thing every day can get boring. Hopefully this article will give you ideas on how to add variety in the diet, while keeping it healthy at the same time.
First off, most commercial rat feeds are not healthy and should not be given. Most commercial feeds contain harmful additives and preservatives such as Ethoxyquin, a preservative which contains toxins that can cause seizures and in most reported cases, cancer in fancy rats. They also contain corn which most often contains fungus and mold, tiny seeds which are not eaten (some of my rats eat them) and also alfalfa pellets which are hard for a little rats stomach to digest. If you want to add roughage timothy pellets are a safer option. Some rabbits have been known to develope bladder stones if fed too much alfalfa.
Your rat should be fed a staple diet that consists of a well-balanced dry dog food or a small animal lab block. This kind of food gives them the complete nutrition a rat needs and also helps keep their teeth from becomming overgrown. Lab
blocks are hard food made especially for rodents. You should be able to find them in most pet stores, feed stores and sometimes also through breeders, as well as online. Some good brands to consider are Harland Tecklad (http://www.teklad.com/), Purina and Mazuri brand lab blocks. All of these can be purchased online at pet food sites. My rats also are fed Innova Senior dog
food. I prefer Innova over Nutro Natural Choice dog kibble. By comparing the ingredients for both types of food you will see that Innova is made of healthier ingredients.
Lets compare ingredients now, shall we? The ingredients are listed in order of the most to the least used in the food.
Turkey (main ingredient)
Ground Brown Rice
Linoleic Acid 2.89 %
Omega 3 0.41 %
Protein 18 %
Fat 8 %
Fiber 5.5 %
Moisture 9.5 %
Calories 397 Kcal/cup
Calories 1587 Kcal/lb
Carbohydrates 51.83 %
Ash 6.17 %
Rice Flour (main ingredient)
Dried egg product
Vitamin E supplement
Vitamin B12 Supplement
Vitamin A acitate
Menadione sodium bisulfite complex
vitamin D3 supplement
crude protein 14.00%
crude fat (min) 6.00% (max) 8.50%
crude fiber 6.50%
moisture (max) 10.00%
Linoleic acid (min) 2.50%
Zinc (min) 250 mg/kg
Vitamin E (min) 100 IU/kg
Ascorbic acid (min) * 40 mg/kg
Glucosamine (min) * 400 mg/kg
Chondroitin Sulfate (min) * 300 mg/kg
* Not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient
Of course just because I prefer Innova doesn't mean that Nutro is a bad food. Nutro is a very good food, and healthier than most other dog foods. It's just what my rats do very well on. I still feed Nutro Natural Choice Light dog biscutes as treats. Now, as a rule, the less protein a rat gets the better, try to keep it within healthy limits. A nice protein range for bucks should be around 9 to 15
percent. Females can be fed a higher protein ratio. A 14 to 18 percent protein ratio works well with females. As you can see Innova senior contains 18% protein, so my bucks get fewer kibbles than the females and I try to offset the protein levels with more veggies and fruits, as well as pastas. If bucks are fed too
much protein this can lead to dry, flaky skin as well as an excess of "buck grease". This is an orangish oily substance that is secreted by bucks. Hairless rats are very prone to this, although they need more protein than standard furred bucks because they burn most of it off keeping themselves warm. If you notice
that your buck has too much grease, and it's taking away from his natural beauty, you need to cut down on his protein ratio. Try adding more vegetables or pasta to his diet.
Pregnant and lactating does, as well as kittens (baby rats) are also given kitten food such as Purina One or Science Diet. They are also supplemented with Nutrical, a nice tasting vitamin/mineral supplement. It is often used for breeding
bitches and working/field dogs in the dog fancy. Nutrical can be purchased from your veterinarian or at Pet Superstores such as Petco or Petsmart.
My rats also recieve a grain mix which includes but is not limited to (I mix it differently once a week, switching ingredients. If I find something else healthy I throw that into the mix also. Cornflakes, nut clusters etc.):
dry vegetable pasta (beet, spinach, tomatoe, carrot and squash)
green split peas
yellow split peas
alphabet pasta (whole wheat flour, spinach, tomatoe, celery, onion, beets
puffed wheat and rice
timothy hay pellets (much easier on a ratties delicate digestive
tract, but still adds the needed roughage)
banana chips ( no sugar added)
dried papaya (no sugar added)
Toasted Corn Flakes
Cream of Wheat
Canadian Field Peas
Pine Nuts (help protect against cancer, also referred to as soy nuts)
Dried Cane Molasses
I spend around $13 dollars for this mix, which usually lasts up to a month with 15 rats. I buy bulk at my local supermarket. Trader Joes is a great place to buy healthy bulk foods at a cheap price. It's better to spend $13 dollars for food that will last a month, than to keep returning to the petstore every week for another
bag of unhealthy mix.
Fresh fruits may include but are not limited to:
apple (without seeds, they are toxic)
oranges (only for does, which helps protect against cancer, NOT FOR
avacado ( a fruit)
tomatoes (actually a fruit)
Fresh vegetables include but are not limited to:
green and red leaf lettuce
asparagus (limited because it can cause gas)
brocolli (can cause gas so feed in small amounts)
cauliflower (" ")
fennel (like celery)
and sometimes cooked corn on the cob
Take care not to feed too much watery greens or fruits, as excess water can lead to diarrea.
Treats I give:
pork chop bones
yogies (half a yogie per adult size rat)
active yeast cultured yogurt (contains good bacteria that aids digestion)
bread soaked in soy milk
Macaroni and Cheese
canned cat or dog food
crickets (store bought)
and anything else they seem to will like, as long as it is somewhat healthy.
Remember, these are treats! These are not to be fed often. For comparison, one chocolate chip to a ratty equals a full candy bar to a human.
Whole protein sources:
My rats also recieve a mineral block, brewers yeast, and fish oil. I have seen dramatic improvements in the overall condition of my rats when these products are used.
Things such as bacon, lasagna, french fries, hamburger etc. are fed VERY sparingly, like once every two weeks. Remember, moderation is the key. Try to keep it as healthy as possible, but a little junk food won't hurt if given every so often. Pine nuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds as well as other nuts contain a lot of protein so make sure you only add a few to
your mix, or better yet save them for play time and use them as treats. My rats are in perfect health and are not overweight. Their coats are shiny, eyes are bright and they are alert and playful.
What NOT to feed:
*too many peanuts ( destroys vitamin A and enzymes used to break down proteins and starches, it's best to use these are treats)
*too much cheese (use a tiny pinch as a treat)
*peanut butter can cause a rat to choke and they cannot vomit, they lack the neccesary muscles that would allow them to do so
*dried corn (can cause liver cancer)
*iceburg lettuce (full of water and has no nutrional value)
*orange juice or orange peel, this causes cancer in male rats (although it protects against mamary tumours in does...)
*blue cheese dressing (toxic!)
*red cabbage (causes gas) artichokes (causes gas)
*raw banana, potatoe skins, green or starchy potatoes (not ripe all the way)
*too much chocolate
*avoid all dairy products if your rat is experiencing any signs of respiratory distress!!!
*poppy seeds can cause neurological damage and sometimes death
Hope this gives everyone here ideas on what they can add to their rats diet while still keeping it healthy, but appealing and
interesting at the same time.