As you probably know, rats are omnivores. This means that they can eat meat as well as vegetables, fruits, and salads. Rats need to eat about 6 times a day in order to meet their dietary needs. If they don’t eat for more than 6 hours, they will have an empty stomach and start starving.
As rat owners, we strive to provide them with the best rat cages as well as a balanced and varied diet, which is indeed super-easy if we opt for the suitable, quality and trusted rat food.
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What to look for in the best rat food for your pet
Firstly, you need to take into account your rat’s age, sex and health issues (if they have any) as these facts affect what your rat should eat. When trying to choose the nutritionally optimal rat food, there are several factors you need to take into consideration.
How good is the rat food on the market?
Look for well-established and trusted pet food manufacturers. Quality rat food is readily available online and all you need to do is go through the reviews (such as ours) and check out the ingredients labels in order to see whether a certain product is of good quality.
The safest way to go is choosing the rat food which comes in pellets or 'blocks'. This is because pellets are lab formulated, and the form of food guarantees that your pets are getting rounded nutrition. What’s most important is that your rats won't be able to pick their favorite bits (as is the case with mixtures of seeds, veggies and protein snacks) and leave the nutrition-wise important bits they don’t like simply because of the taste, which brings us to the next point.
It's next to impossible to convince your rats to eat the nutritionally complete food if it doesn't taste good to them. Since you can’t know what their taste in food is and you most definitely can’t taste the food yourself, it’s best to read the reviews and the experiences of other rat owners with different brands.
In addition, if you’re not sure whether your rat will actually like the food, we recommend that you buy one food at a time and don’t go for the value-pack. If your rat doesn't like it, you’ll waste your money. If it turns that your rat finds it yummy, you can order more and make a decent stock of his favorite food.
What about the price?
The price of rat food depends heavily on the quality and how well-established the brand is. Going for cheaper products of unknown brands will do no good to your pet or your budget.
Once you figure out which food is your rats’ favorite, go for value-packs as the price will be significantly better than smaller packages.
Don’t forget that you can also your rats other natural food to supplement their diets so the branded, nutritionally-rounded food will last a lot longer. A mixed diet is recommended but you do need to learn what food you should never give to your rats.
So, when deciding on what rat food to buy, try to get the best you can afford at the time but experiment with smaller packs first.
The key fact about the rats’ dietary needs
Since there is a proven correlation between rats with diets high in simple carbohydrates and increased occurrence of tumors and cancers, we don’t recommend a diet which consists of nutrients high in simple sugars. What you should feed your rats is food made up of complex carbohydrates, good proteins, and good healthy fats.
Rats are remarkably complicated animals as regards to their dietary needs so a lab-grade food is recommended as the base of a rats’ diet. You can supplement the high-quality pelleted food with other foods and healthy treats to make sure that your rats are getting not just the nutrients but also all the minerals and vitamins they need in the ideal amounts.
The right diet will have beneficial effects on your rats’ growth, general happiness, and well-being as well as immune system.
The controversial fact is that since the beginning of time when rats started living near human settlements, they actually lived of our garbage. The fact that they multiplied to insane numbers just by feeding on human waste does not mean that their lifespan or quality of life is what you want for your loving pet rats, compared to the rats which live in the sewers, in dark alleys or on garbage dumps.
These wild rats actually live short and disease filled lives. They are simply not getting enough quality food, let alone carefully tested and formulated top-shelf products.
Simply put, although rats are true omnivores, they still need a good supply of well-balanced food rich in proteins but also vitamins and minerals which will sustain them and keep them healthy at the same time.
They don’t need as much protein as the pets which are carnivores. In fact, an especially high protein diet can be harmful to a rat. It’s all in the right formula and balance. A good rat food will contain a healthy range of nutritionally diverse ingredients.
For a comprehensive rat owners’ list of good and bad food for rats click HERE.
A wide range of ingredients will also give your rat a nice variety of interesting flavors, to prevent them from getting bored. Rats are intelligent and curious little animals which need stimulation and activity to stay in good health.
Sniffing out and detecting food is an important part of a rat’s life, and they need to be free to exercise this skill. In addition, a quality rat food also serves the additional purpose of wearing down their teeth.
To sum up, since rats have unique personalities, what some might consider a tasty snack, others will not eat. This is why you need to find the right food for your pet rat and you should expect some experimenting. If your rat doesn't like the food served in his best fancy rat cage although the food well-reviewed and highly praised for quality, simply switch to a different brand.
Best rat food – top branded rat food products reviewed
Oxbow Essentials Adult Rat Food has been formulated with guidance by a combined team of professionals with experience in laboratory animal science, zoo and wildlife nutrition. Members include a leading nutritionist with 25 years of expertise in laboratory animal science, formerly with the National Institutes of Health and a member of National Research Council committees.
Now, the reputation of Oxbow’s expert may not mean much to your rats, but it sure is a guarantee of quality of Oxbow’s rat food. Oxbow Essentials Adult Rat Food is designed to meet your pet's adult nutritional needs and increase their longevity.
It contains brown rice, a low-calorie energy source, oats and wheat for fiber and soy and fish meal, protein sources with healthy fats. You can feed an unlimited supply to adult rats that have healthy weights. You can also combine it with grass hay to encourage foraging.
Adult rats which are four months and older have different nutritional needs than when they were in growing stages. Because they are less active, they don't require the same levels of certain nutrients and fat. In fact, foods high in fat can result in obesity and other health issues.
This is a nutritionally balanced feed, designed to increase the longevity and well-being of adult pet rats. It’s made to be a complete kibble in order to prevent selective feeding behaviors that are commonly associated with seed-based diets.
Perfectly made as a specialty feed and with a taste which your rats will love, this food is formulated exclusively for your adult rat's nutritional needs. In addition, it’s fortified with vitamins and minerals for optimum health of your rat. What’s more, this food is just the right hardness to maintain healthy teeth without making your rats work too hard to eat the pellets. Overall, a great choice for adult rats!
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Kaytee Fiesta Rat Food is an example of a variety-packed diet that is healthy and mentally stimulating for your rats and comes from a trusted and well-established brand.
Nutritional variety is an ideal way to add enrichment to your pet’s daily feeding routine. Kaytee Fiesta food is a premium fortified blend of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and grains offering maximum variety, fun, and nutrition for your pet rats.
It contains prebiotics and probiotics to support digestive health. With such attention to your pet’s dietary needs, Fiesta is definitely formulated with the health and happiness of your rat in mind!
The shapes and textures of bits of Fiesta food support dental health through natural chewing activity while the food itself comes naturally preserved for ideal freshness.
It’s rich in natural antioxidants for better general health as well as immune system support. The assorted fruits and veggies are included for added enrichment and variety of this nutritionally fortified gourmet food which also contains DHA Omega-3 fatty acids to support heart, brain, and vision.
Why is this exciting mixture of extruded pellets, fruits, nuts, vegetables, specialty seeds and grains beneficial for your pet rat? Well, the variety of ingredients with different shapes and sizes provide an enticing and stimulating eating experience for your rat.
Add occasional treats and your rat will be a healthy and happy pet.
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F.M. Brown's Tropical Carnival Gourmet Rat Food is made with omega fatty acids, antioxidants, and natural preservatives to ensure freshness. Also, the beneficial bacteria is added to support better digestion so your pet rat will thoroughly enjoy Tropical Carnival.
Tropical Carnival is a vitamin-nutrient-fortified food and treats which will be appreciated as an all in one nutritive solution. This super-premium gourmet food is specifically formulated to help pet rats thrive, stay healthy and happy.
It’s packed with a mix of fruits, nuts, vegetables, and wholesome seeds and grains. It should appeal to even finicky eaters while offering a complete and balanced nutrition for pet rats at all life stages in a convenient way for the pet parents.
The farm fresh veggies contain antioxidants that help maintain a healthy immune system and a clever mix of fruits, seeds, and grains ensure your mouse or rat gets the full spectrum of nutrients needed to remain healthy.
For those of you who like to buy larger quantities of food and always be well-stocked, this food is formulated to include all-natural preservatives to keep the food fresh for a long time.
It also includes a specially formulated ZOO-VITAL Biscuits for healthy teeth and gums with nutrients required for the well-being of your pet rats. So, a great choice all around!
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Oxbow Essentials Young Rat Natural Pet Food Pellets is fortified with extra vitamins and nutrients, which is perfect for young and growing rats. It’s also recommended as an ideal food for pregnant rats so that the mother rats can pass the nutritional benefits on to their babies
This food from Oxbow will provide your young pet rat with a diet that has the protein and energy they need to support their growing needs with. The growing and energetic young require higher levels of nutrients than adults to keep them healthy.
Oxbow Essentials Young Rat Food is nutritionally balanced and contains optimal protein, fat, and energy sources. It will help rats under six months thrive and grow into healthy and happy pets.
Its uniform format prevents selective feeding and finicky eating habits that are commonly associated with mixes and seed-based diets. You can feed your young rats as well as pregnant or nursing females an unlimited supply.
The specially formulated pellets mirror a young rat's natural diet. This will ensure that your pet lives a healthy lifestyle. In addition, these quality pellets from Oxbow come fortified with stabilized calcium, Vitamin C, D3 and E which brings huge benefits to your pet's health and immunity system.
Although primarily aimed at young rats, the pets of all life stages can benefit from Oxbow Essentials Young Rat Food because they will get all the essential nutrients in one meal including optimal protein, fat, and energy sources to support their dietary needs.
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Mazuri Rat Nutritional Complete Vegetarian Formulation Pet Food is another good food for rat owners on a budget. This rat food comes in a two-pound pack which contains a vegetarian formulation with no animal products.
The food contains natural vitamin E and the large pellet size encourages natural feeding behavior without picking the best pieces and leaving the other important nutrients in the bowl.
While nutritionally complete and advertised as a “no supplementation necessary” food, Mazuri rat food could do with high oxidant components as well.
The rats seem to like it and, although it contains dried corn, this food is a solid choice for most rats. We would, however, recommend a combined diet with another brand to compensate for the lack of animal protein.
It contains stabilized vitamin C and yucca schidigera extract and has been recommended by a lot of rat breeders. It also comes with flaxseed, which is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Adult rats are recommended to be served 15 to 30 grams of Mazuri food a day. The pellet form makes this food easy to feed to your rats. It also minimizes waste and the dried yucca schidigera extract has been proven to reduce aerosol ammonia.The ingredients are as follows:
Crude protein not less than 23.0%, crude fat not less than 6.5%, crude fiber not more than 4.5%, moisture not more than 12.0%, ash not more than 8.0%, vitamin E not less than 50 IU/lb.
Overall, the main advantage of the Mazuri lab blocks is that the pellets are way better than the other foods with different products loosely combined: the rats will eat everything instead of picking through the food for their favorite bits.
This is one of the go-to rat food formulas when it comes to a complete base diet for your pets. There are no fatty seeds, sugary fruits or artificially colored bits. For even better nourishment, varied fresh foods should be supplemented into your rats' diet.
As a basis, these lab blocks from Mazuri are a solid foundation for a healthy diet. This food may not be of equal quality as our top picks but it does beat most of the pet store foods and does include a good vegetarian mix for a healthy diet. Truth be told, it does contain dried corn which may be the culprit of possible fungal infections.
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Carol is a head content developer for ultimatepethub.com and mother of 2 adorable chocolate labs(and one child). Growing up on a farm, she has handled all kinds of animals and pets. When Carol isn’t taking her two labs to the park, you can find her researching products and topics to keep you updated with the latest info for your pets!