Rat owners love to tell people that rats will eat practically anything. True, rats eat a variety of foods. Still, some foods can be harmful to rats, and a few foods can result in health complications or even death. Because of this, it’s essential to be careful when trying to feed rats on human diets.
One food traditionally consumed by humans that rats seem to love is tea bags. Most rat owners probably have tea bags lying around somewhere in their home, and some may have even noticed that their pet rats seem drawn to the tea bags. Maybe their pet rats have even tried to eat the tea bags.
However, the ultimate question still stands, “Why does my rat love tea bags, and is it safe for them?”
What to Do If Your Pet Rat Loves Tea Bags
You may have noticed that your rodent friend enjoys taking a bite at the tea bags whenever you make tea. Your pet rat may even try to eat your used or unused tea bags. But does this mean that you should feed your pet rat tea?
Pet Rats Versus Wild Rats
In the wild, rats are scavengers that live in packs. These rats stick together to figure out which foods are safe to eat and which ones aren’t. If rats discover that one food is unsafe, they will stay away from that food in the future.
When rats are kept domesticated as pets, though, they don’t have a pack to rely on to figure out which foods are safe and which foods aren’t. Because of this, pet rats are much more likely to try to eat foods that may not be safe for them because they don’t know any better.
Although it seems like your pet rat would know which foods are safe and which ones aren’t, it’s actually challenging for rats to distinguish between safe and unsafe foods. Pet rats won’t avoid dangerous foods. This means that as a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your rat away from harmful foods.
With that said, let’s take a look at which types of teas are safe for rats.
Rats are omnivores, meaning that they can eat a variety of different foods. Rats will eat lots of fruits and vegetables like berries, celery, corn, and peas. They will also eat leaves and roots from plants. In fact, wild rats may often be found in the garden eating fresh fruit and even plants’ leaves.
Similarly, your pet rat will most likely love the fruits, leaves, bark, and flowers commonly found in herbal tea. Because herbal tea is created from all-natural ingredients, it’s safe for your rat to drink tea made from such teabags and eat the contents within.
Some pet owners have been known to give their pet rats tea when they have a cold. While this is an effective way to keep your rat healthy, it is crucial not to go overboard. You should avoid giving your pet rat too much tea and too frequently.
Tea With Caffeine
Even though rats can eat nearly anything, there are some foods that you should avoid giving your rat. Fruits like avocadoes and mangoes are fine for rats as long as you don’t feed them the peel or skin. Other foods, though, should be avoided altogether.
Caffeine is one of these foods. If rats consume too much caffeine, it will elevate their heart rate. In turn, this could lead to various health issues for your rat, including cardiac complications and even heart attacks.
Other drinks like coffee and some sodas have caffeine in them, too. You should avoid giving your rat caffeinated beverages of any kind. Additionally, carbonated drinks may upset your rat’s stomach, although the damage won’t be fatal. Still, to make sure your rat is feeling healthy and happy all the time, you should avoid these drinks altogether.
Some studies have shown that caffeine can increase memory functioning, both short- and long-term, in rats and mice. However, caffeine is also an anxiogenic substance, meaning it can lead to anxiety. It’s best to avoid caffeine altogether to help keep your rat calm and operating as usual.
Peppermint Tea Bags
Just because rats are omnivores doesn’t mean they like all kinds of foods. There are certain smells and tastes that rats despise. One example of this is peppermint tea bags.
For rodents, including rats, peppermint is a strong repellent. In fact, most people suggest using peppermint tea bags rather than chemicals to get rid of rat infestations. What does this mean for your pet rat? You may want to avoid making peppermint tea or using other peppermint scents when your pet is nearby.
There are hundreds of different drinks you can give your rat instead of caffeinated teabags in addition to water.
Esther, the owner of Rattrix, has created an extensive website on rat care and training. She notes that different drinks might be better for different situations. For example, you can add oil to your rat’s food as a garnish. You can also feed your rat milk or a protein drink to make sure they’re staying healthy.
If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can cook with oil or drizzle it on your rat’s meals as a decorative touch. Most oils also contain vital nutrients that rats need to stay healthy. Rats can safely consume olive oil, coconut oil, salmon oil, linseed oil, etc.
In addition to oils, you can feed your rat protein drinks like Beaphar carrot drink and Ensure. These two drinks are healthy for rats and can give them access to essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that they need. If your pet is sick, you may want to consider these foods as well. Needless to say, these drinks can also be useful for old rats.
Finally, you can give your rats different types of milk. Rats enjoy both plant-based milk (like coconut milk, hazelnut milk, rice milk, almond milk, and many others) and animal-based milk (cow milk, sheep milk, goat milk, and others). Like tea, milk is superb for rats who have a cold or are sick. Milk helps rats regain any weight they may have lost from sickness.
Oils, protein drinks, and milk are all great alternatives to tea if you’re trying to keep your rat happy. It’s best to try out many of these foods to create variety in your rat’s meals. When you’re looking for the right drinks to give your rat, make sure they’re always getting the vitamins and minerals they need.
Even though your pet rat loves tea bags, it doesn’t mean they should have tea bags all the time. Herbal tea is perfectly safe for rats; they can eat the different leaves and berries found in the teabag or drink the tea made from the bag. Still, it’s best not to feed them too much tea at once, or too frequently either.
Other types of tea, though, can be harmful to rats. Black tea, green tea, and many others that contain caffeine can be bad for your pet rat. They can lead to anxiety and even health problems like heart attacks, especially for small rodents like rats.
Although some tea bags can be harmful to rats, herbal tea is a great way to help your rat feel better when sick or simply as a treat. By following these simple guidelines, your rat will lead a happy, healthy life.