Healthy Rat Diet
3 reasons why you shouldn't use pet shop food
- Pet shop rat food is more expensive. Think about it - here's your options based on 5 rats or less:
- Buy a small bag of rat food from a pet shop for $10, it will last you roughly 2 weeks.
- Buy ingredients for your own rat mix from a grocery store for $30, it will last you roughly 6 months.
- Buy a huge bag of rodent lab blocks from a stock feed store for $30, it will last you roughly 12 months.
- Pet shop rat food is more effort. Thinking about your options above, how often do you make that drive to the pet shop? If you buy blocks or make your own mix, you only have to do the trip rarely, and it's out of your mind. I like having less things to do. :P
- Pet shop rat food is actually dangerous for your rats. It can cause malnutrition & even ratty death. You may think I'm a crazy animal person but check out the picture proof.
What you should feed your rats
Below are a few different options for feeding your rats a healthy diet. They are ordered from healthiest to least healthiest (in my opinion). Keep in mind that this is targeted at Australian rat owners.
Option 1. Rat Lab Blocks in Australia
Rat lab blocks are the best thing to feed your rats because they have been specially designed to suit their ideal nutritional needs. After trying numerous diets for my rats I have not found anything better. The difference in their health & condition has been absolutely astounding. It's also the cheapest option and if you only have a few rats it will last a very long time.
You can buy the good brands from stock feed stores in big bags for roughly $20-$40. There are brands you should not buy which I will list later on. If you can't see the brand name on a bag at the pet store, don't buy it. It's a good idea to call your local stock store to see if they have the brands in stock before visiting.
i. McManus Cummins Rodent Cubes
Pretty much everyone in the Australian rat community (including myself) LOVE this brand. It's the best you can get if you can find it. People of QLD - you won't find it in stock feed stores here. But rat owners loved this brand *so much* that a breeder gets a tonne shipped to Brisbane every few months, distributed around the QLD rat community. Look for "Poke Rats" on Facebook if you want more information on this.
ii. Laucke Mills Rodent Cubes
If I can't get my hands on Cummins above this is my second choice. Also a very good brand that many rat owners recommend.
iii. Norco Rodent Cubes
I haven't used Norco cubes myself but many rat owners have given it a good review.
Do not buy these brands:
Many rat owners, breeders and feeder breeders in the Australian community have given these brands bad reviews. This is either because their rats lost condition and/or because the cubes are very crumbly which means wastage and annoyance with cleaning.
- Barastoc Rodent Cubes
- Riverina Rodent Cubes
- Rodent Cubes without a brand name
Option 2. Can't find rat lab blocks in your area? Here's your alternative.
Sometimes it's difficult to find rat cubes, particularly if you live in a rural area. Luckily there is an alternative - BioMare Horse Cubes are very very similar in nutritional value to rat cubes! On top of that, it's a very popular brand so you will find it in most stock feed stores. Rat owners have given it a good review (I have used it myself with success) but do supplement it by mixing in Dry Dog Biscuits (I recommend Purina Supercoat Light & Mature Dog Biscuits) and/or rolled oats. This will ensure there is enough protein in the diet for your rats.
Option 3. Homemade Rat Food Mix
If you only have a few rats and don't want to buy a big stock feed bag, a homemade rat mix is a great alternative. You can buy ingredients from your local supermarket and mix it all together in big sealed container, and it will last you months. There are a lot of different rat mix recipes available online of varying difficulty depending on how much care you want to put into it, but all of them make a much healthier option than pet shop rat food. Below is a list of the more popular ones.
i. The Rat Fan Club Diet
This rat mix is probably the best one you can go for, but it's very involved as far as ingredients go. If you want to go to the extra effort for your ratties, use this diet. There's also some great healthy treat options available on this page as well.
ii. Suebee's Rats Rule Diet
This rat mix is widely used by rat owners and is really simple to throw together. In Australia you may need to make some ingredient substitutions at your supermarket, but don't stress too much about the details.
iii. Shaunamite Rat Diet
This rat mix is also widely used, and lets you use a bit of your own judgement according to brands and things.
iv. The 28th Rat Mix
This is the mix I used to use years ago before I made the switch to cubes. This one is useful for Australians as you can find most of these ingredients in an Aussie supermarket (but make substitutions where you need - I wasn't too strict about it). It worked pretty well for me at the time, and other rat owners have told me it works for them too. Although I definitely did notice an improvement in rat condition when I made the switch to Cummins Rodent Cubes. Use your own judgement according to how much of each ingredient to use, I was never too particular about it.
- Abundant Earth Organic Puffed Kamut
- Orgran Gluten Free Vegetable Rice Pasta Spirals
- Abundant Earth Puffed Millet
- Abundant Earth Puffed Rice
- Abundant Earth Puffed Corn
- Nature First Organic Traditional Rolled Oats (Creamy Style)
- Nature First Organic Natural Museli
- Home Brand Banana Chips
- McKenzies Chick Peas
- Basco Apricot & Apple (Cereal)
- Sanitarium Puffed Wheat
- Purina Supercoat Light & Mature Dog Biscuits (Make sure it's "Light & Mature" as this is lower in protein. If you're going for another brand, try to get the protein as low as possible by checking the back of the packet)
- Home Brand Sunflower Seeds
Rat immune boosters: what to feed a sick, pregnant or nursing rat
If your rats are ill or just need an extra boost, here are my recommendations.
- Boiled/Scrambled eggs
- Cooked chicken bone with some meat left on
- Baby Food
- Ensure (protein shake mix that you can buy at Australian pharmacies - lots of australian breeders use this with great success)
- Make sure you take your rat to the vet if they are experiencing respiratory problems or lethargy, as antibiotics are really the best thing you can give them.
Other information on rat food: fresh food, treats, and what not to feed
With a good brand of rodent cubes supplementing isn't really necessary, but I often give my rats treats anyway because.. well I love giving them treats. Usually treats for our rats include dinner scraps, fresh fruit & veggies, scrambled eggs, nuts, yogurt drops, creamed cheese and ANYTHING really as rats love food. If you would like some more ideas on good fresh foods to feed, treat ideas, and a list of "rat food no-nos" check out this very informative article on The Rat Fan Club website.
If you have any other questions on rat diet, don't hesitate to contact keish.
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