Natural Rat Food
Like mice, rats are far more similar to their wild relatives than many other small animals, so a good natural rat food will aim to emulate the diet of a rat in its native habitat as closely as possible.
So what do wild rats eat? They are omnivores, so ideally, their diet should contain food from both meat and plant sources. However, most commercial rat foods focus on plant-based ingredients. They shouldn’t be regularly fed foods designed for rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters or other rodents, as these won’t meet the specific protein and nutrient needs of your rat.
Natural Rat Food: No Artificial Nasties!
Rats may not be known for being picky eaters—they’re certainly opportunists!—but they are certainly not designed to eat artificial additives. A natural rat food should contain no artificial bulking agents, fillers, flavours, colours or preservatives; just natural ingredients that have undergone as little processing as possible.
Also, you shouldn’t find added sugars in natural rat food. They can cause your rat to gain excess weight and may also cause tooth decay—and there are certainly no added sugars in a wild rat’s natural diet.
A Healthy Diet for Your Rat
A good quality natural rat food will contain a balanced mix of seeds, grains, vegetables and sometimes a source of meat protein. If your rat tends to pick out their favourite parts of a muesli-style rat mix, ensure you replace or alternate it with a pellet-style food to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients they need.
It should also be high in fibre, as rats teeth continue growing throughout their life; by ensuring they have tough, fibrous material in their diet, you will help them to continually wear down their teeth in a natural way, saving you the cost—and you and your rat the stress—of teeth-trimming sessions at the vet.
Swap out some of their meals for small amounts of fruit, vegetables and cooked egg to add variety, texture and nutrients to their diet and don’t forget to reward them with small animal treats now and then, too!