Rodent Diet: When Should I Switch From Young Rat Food To Adult Rat Food?

Pet Food


July 14, 2024

It might seem like it was just yesterday when your pet rat was just a tiny pinky with a belly full of milk. Perhaps you wish your toothy little fellow would remain a pup forever.

However, you can’t stop time from running its course. Like every other living creature, rats must grow up at some point. As your long-tailed friend transitions into adulthood, their dietary needs will change. 

Introducing My Pet Rat to Adult Food

Aaaaw! They grow up so fast! You’ll surely notice when your rat is not a baby anymore. Your pet won’t reach full adulthood until they’re one year old. However, once they’ve reached the majority of their length, you can consider them a young adult. This happens typically around their fifth or sixth month. Your rat will start looking fuller, and they’ll build more muscle tone.

This is the time when rats are most prone to having growth spurts. That’s why you must keep an eye on their dietary needs to help them reach their full potential. This crucial stage in their lives will determine a lot in terms of health. Make sure to give them all the quality food they can get. Avoid malnutrition and other health issues.

A Balanced Diet For Adult Rats

Your toothy pal needs a balanced and nutritious diet to thrive. You’ll find pet rats can and will eat most things you give them. However, that doesn’t mean they should! Just like any other pet, rats have special nutritional requirements to stay strong and healthy. You can indulge them with “junk food” once in a while. Still, you should aim to keep meals clean.

Most commercial grain mixes you find at your local pet store aren’t as wholesome as they claim to be. They usually have a higher than recommended corn and seed content. Dried corn may carry mold and fungus.

Nobody wants to feed that to their toothy companion as it can be carcinogenic and cause serious digestive issues. When in doubt, make your own mix. There are plenty of DIY recipes online.

Rats are omnivores. In general terms, their diet must consist roughly of 75-80% carbohydrates. Keep in mind that too much protein can give your rat skin problems. Keep it between 12-20 % to keep them in peak condition. Lastly, your little buddy will need and to eat 4-6% of fat. You can also add vitamins and supplements to the equation. 

Essential Supplements for Adult Rats

Micronutrients help to support your pet’s immune system. They maintain your rat’s optimal brain health and combat the most common illnesses. However, it’s vital to remember supplements serve only to add an extra kick of goodness into your furry baby’s diet. They’ll do nothing for your pet if you don’t provide them with a healthy and complete regime. Supplements can’t replace the health benefits of actual food.

Rats need a diet rich in grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, vegetables, fruit, eggs, fish, and meat. These foods are the foundation of vitality and wellness for all rats. Steer clear of grain-only regimes, as they can be extremely harmful to your rat’s overall development.

The essential supplements to include in every adult rat’s diet are vitamin D, copper, and calcium. On top of that, some other micronutrients could be beneficial to your pet. Vitamin B helps promote relaxation in panicky rats, while Vitamins A and C aid in skin health. Omega fatty acids will support brain function, and chromium will improve their cardiovascular strength. 

Water is Life

Aside from being their primary source of hydration, water provides essential minerals to your pet. A bottle of fresh and clean drinking water is a must-have in any rat’s enclosure. It’s no surprise that without it, rats become severely ill. You must ensure to refill your pet’s water supply daily so that they’re never thirsty. Preferably, you should do this every morning and evening.

You don’t have to wait until your rat’s water bottle is empty. Regularly refreshing it will prevent bacterial buildup and mold. The adequate intake of fresh water will promote better digestive health. It will also prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Avoid tap water as it may contain chlorine and fluoride. While these substances aren’t particularly harmful to humans in small amounts, they can be fatal for a rat.

Healthy Treats for Adult Rats

Rats love to snack. They can spend the entire day gnawing on different things. This behavior is entirely natural. It helps them keep their teeth and gums in good shape. Chewing on their favorite treats also stops your pet from getting bored. It’s ok to let your pet rat snack a bit. However, make sure to keep treats healthy and packed with nutrients. 

You can always give your pet some delicious bites. Rats love to eat apple, grape, hazelnut, pear, and yucca. You can also encourage your little buddy’s chewing habit by providing safe objects to nibble on. Typically cardboard, coconut shells, unbleached loofah, and different types of softwood work best. Although these are not snacks, per see, they will stop your rat from gaining unnecessary weight from eating all day. 

If you choose to provide these chewable objects to your pet rat, there are some precautions you need to follow. Make sure to bake any wood piece on a low heat for an hour before putting it in your pet’s enclosure. Always wash anything your rat will put into their mouth. This action will keep things safe and prevent your beloved toothy fellow from getting sick. 

Safe Food for Adult Rats

As we mentioned before, rats are not the pickiest of eaters. They can devour pretty much anything that stands in their paths. However, that doesn’t mean this is safe for them. Lots of foods are vet-approved and harmless for your rats to eat. When it comes to fruit, stick to apple, pear, peach, melon, and banana. Pick carrot, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sweet peppers, cucumber, and peas for vegetables.

Steer clear from blue cheese, as mold is extremely toxic to rats. Avoid green bananas, licorice, and rhubarb. Some foods, when raw, are very harmful to your pet. This is the case of tofu, red cabbage, brussels sprouts, dry beans, peanuts, artichokes, meat, and sweet potato. Stay away from sticky foods too. They pose a choking hazard. Never feed tour rat wild insects, as they might carry parasites. 

Bon Appetit!

When planning your rat’s regime, keep in mind that it’s relatively common for these pets to put on extra weight. This issue will cause health problems in the long run. Balanced meals and enough exercise will do the trick. Always weigh out your pet’s food to provide the right portions. Avoid unhealthy treats, and make sure they have enough space to run around. 

It’s reasonably easy to keep your rat’s diet on the right track. Even if it was more challenging, it comes with an excellent reward: watching your beloved pet thrive! By only putting healthy food on your little buddy’s plate, you’ll ensure a longer lifespan too. You’ll get to enjoy more years having fun with your loyal companion!