While most people probably know a thing or two about dog and cat nutrition, rat nutrition is often a big unknown. When you adopt a rat, it is up to you to provide them with adequate nutrition. Unless you have a background in rodent nutrition, this can be difficult!
There are tons of products on the market that claim to be the best rat food. However, they often contain widely different ingredients, which only makes it more confusing.
In this article, we’ll help cut through the noise by reviewing 10 of the best rat foods on the market. By the end, you should have the perfect food chosen for your rat.
A Glance at Our Winners in 2023
|Best Overall||Oxbow Essentials Regal Rat Adult Rat Food||
|Best Value||Kaytee Supreme Fortified Daily Diet Rat Food||
|Premium Choice||Oxbow Garden Select Adult Rat Food||
|Mazuri Rat Food||
|Kaytee Forti-Diet Pro Health Rat Food||
The 10 Best Foods For Pet Rats
1. Oxbow Essentials Regal Rat Adult Rat Food – Best Overall
Rats are notoriously prone to obesity, which can lead to plenty of illnesses and life-threatening conditions. Oxbow Essentials Regal Rat Adult Rat Food is designed to prevent this problem. It is suitable for all rats older than 4 months, who are out of their growing stage and no longer need a high-fat diet. This is perfect for less-active rats, which likely describes most of the rats in captivity.
This food is formulated with brown rice, which is a low-calorie alternative that contains very little fat. It also contains oats and wheat for increased fiber. Soy and fish are included as the sole protein and fat sources.
You should feed this food to your rat in unlimited quantities, making it perfect for owners on the go. It should be used alongside grass hay to encourage foraging.
Because this food is in a kibble form, it prevents selective feeding. This can be a problem with seed-based formulas and can cause nutritional problems in rats.
2. Kaytee Supreme Fortified Daily Diet Rat Food – Best Value
If you’re on a budget, Kaytee Supreme Fortified Daily Diet Rat Food is the best rat food for the money. It is a seed-based formula, which means that you can see what is in it. It is also much less expensive than the other foods on the market. It includes plenty of whole grains for rich protein. It is pretty high in protein and has a similar macronutrient content to the rest of the rat foods on the market.
The ingredient list includes high-quality options like alfalfa meal, oat groats, wheat, and corn. It is fortified with extra minerals and vitamins, like vitamin A, B12, E, and D3. The crunchy pieces of food are satisfying to most rats. Many customers reported that their rodents loved this food, even those that were a bit pickier.
This food contains no artificial colors or flavors. It is a complete diet that includes everything your rat needs to thrive.
3. Oxbow Garden Select Adult Rat Food – Premium Choice
If you want to give your rat only the best of the best, consider Oxbow Garden Select Adult Rat Food. This formula contains everything your rat needs to thrive. It is slightly higher in protein than most formulas, though it is considerably lower in fat. It also includes some higher-quality ingredients, like whole yellow peas. It is in a kibble form, which prevents selective feeding. The kibble has a rough edge, though, encouraging gnawing behaviors.
All the ingredients in this food are harvested in the USA and are non-GMO certified. The ingredients are similar to what a rat might eat in the wild, though the pellets don’t encourage natural foraging behaviors. This formula has some better ingredients than other brands, though.
Similar to other pellet options, some rats refuse to eat this. They prefer the forage-like, seed mixes as opposed to these pellets.
4. Mazuri Rat Food
Mazuri Rat Food is another higher-quality option. It is a vegetable-based formula in a pellet form. It is much higher in protein than most other formulas. While most are around 14%, this one is analyzed at 23%. Fat is a bit higher than other formulas too, but only marginally. We believe this is largely because it includes dehulled soybean meal as the first ingredient, which is relatively high in protein.
This formula includes a variety of nutrient-rich ingredients, like flaxseed. It also includes dried yucca, which may reduce stool and urine odor. It is fortified with vitamin E to ensure that your rat gets all the nutrients they need. Omega-3 fatty acids occur naturally in many of the ingredients, promoting healthy skin and coat.
This formula is in a pellet form, so your rat can’t just pick out the ingredients they like. The pellets encourage gnawing, which helps prevent overgrown teeth. It is also free from artificial colors and flavors.
5. Kaytee Forti-Diet Pro Health Rat Food
As another pellet diet, Kaytee Forti-Diet Pro Health Rat Food may be another suitable rat food for your long-tailed friend. This diet is specifically formulated to support dental health. The design encourages chewing and gnawing, which can keep your rat’s teeth worn down to the appropriate level. The pellets in this food include everything your rat needs to thrive. This formula contains most of the ingredients found in other pellets, including corn, oats, and yucca.
This food is formulated with everything your pet rat needs. Omega-3s are included for brain and eye health. Probiotics are added to support your rat’s gut biome. DHA is also added, which can prevent cognitive decline as your rat ages.
Though it is extremely low in fat, this food is relatively high in protein. It is at 20% protein, while fat is down at 4%. This is an excellent macronutrient content for most rats.
6. Brown’s Tropical Carnival Rat Food
While Brown’s Tropical Carnival Rat Food is one of the better seed blends out there, it is also quite expensive. Seed blends are a bit troublesome on their own, as they allow the rat to pick out the foods they want. Often, the rats will choose the higher-fat foods and leave those that are more vitamin-rich. This can lead to problems in the long run. The first few ingredients in this food are grains, including oat groats, wheat, and corn. Sunflower seeds are also included, though they are incredibly high in fat.
Overall, this food is higher in fat than most of the competition. This does not make it suitable for less-active rats or those that are already struggling with weight problems.
Because it is a seed mixture, your rats can benefit from some variety. Some are quite picky about their food and only want to eat seed mixtures. If this describes your little guys, this may be a suitable food. Otherwise, we recommend selecting a pellet option.
Related read: Can Rats Eat Raisins? What You Need to Know!
7. Kaytee Fiesta Gourmet Variety Diet Rat Food
Yet another seed mixture, Kaytee Fiesta Gourmet Variety Diet Rat Food is designed to be a complete diet for your rats. It also encourages mental stimulation since the food encourages foraging behaviors. However, it also allows for selecting feeding, which may cause nutritional problems if your rat refuses to eat anything but a few ingredients. It is fortified to offer complete nutrition, so there are plenty of added vitamins and minerals.
The ingredients are decently high-quality and precisely what you would expect from a rat food. The most common ingredients are corn, though sunflower seeds and peanuts are included as well. Some of the ingredients are pretty high in fat, which may be a problem for some rats. As a result, the formula is higher in fat than many other options on the market. Furthermore, your rat may end up eating even more fat if they choose to consume only the fatty ingredients.
This food does include added nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics.
8. Vitakraft Complete Nutrition Rat Food
Vitakraft Complete Nutrition Rat Food is considered to be a high-protein seed mixture. However, there are higher-protein options on the market, as this formula only reaches 16% protein. Surprisingly, this food is relatively low in fat. This is largely because it doesn’t include sunflower seeds and similar ingredients that other seed mixtures do. While rats often love these foods, they can cause obesity and other problems, especially in seed mixtures.
This food is designed to promote natural foraging. It also includes probiotics to support digestion and is free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. It is a completely balanced diet.
While this food may seem exceptionally high-quality, it is also costly. Selective eating is also possible. Some rats will pick out only certain foods they like, which can cause nutritional problems.
9. Supreme Petfoods Science Selective Rat Food
Supreme Petfoods Science Selective Rat Food is quite expensive. It is designed to be nutritionally complete and includes many of the ingredients your rat would eat in the wild, however. While it includes some higher-quality ingredients, like apples and blackcurrants, the bulk of this food is wheat. That’s similar to most other foods out there, so there is little reason for this one to cost so much more.
Based on our research, there aren’t many extra benefits this food offers that put it above the rest. You’re paying more money for about the same product that other companies offer. For this reason, we had to rate this food lower than the rest. It isn’t that it’s awful food. There are just far better options on the market for cheaper. There is no reason to spend the extra money when there are no extra benefits for your rat.
10. Tiny Friends Farm Reggie Rat Food
While Tiny Friends Farm Reggie Rat Food is nutritionally complete, it is also quite essential compared to other formulas. It does not include many ingredients, including those that add nutritional value to the food like flaxseed. It doesn’t include any added sugars, but most formulas do not.
This food advertises that it includes peas and alfalfa, but those ingredients don’t show up until further down on the ingredient list. This is an excellent example of why reading the ingredient list is essential. Just because a formula states that it includes some ingredient doesn’t mean that it includes substantial amounts.
There are many reports of rats not liking this food. However, you can say that with just about any food out there. Rats are picky creatures and may refuse to eat even the highest quality food.
Buyer’s Guide: How To Select the Best Food for Pet Rats
You need to watch out for several things when you’re purchasing rat food for your pet. Just because a food is advertised as high-quality doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. Many brands will talk up certain ingredients, even though they don’t have many benefits or are harmful to your rats.
It is up to you to arm yourself with the information you need to make the best decision for your rat. In this section, we’ll help you do just that by going over the basics of rat nutrition and discussing what your rat needs to thrive.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there regarding what makes rat food high-quality. Almost all brands promote their food as high-quality, though this isn’t always the case. The most expensive foods aren’t necessarily the best options either. Sometimes, they contain high amounts of expensive ingredients that rats genuinely don’t need.
You should preferably choose food that comes in pellet forms. Usually, this indicates that the food was lab formulated, ensuring that it contains everything your rat needs. Plus, pellet foods cannot become victims of selective eating. This is where the rat chooses certain things out of the mixture that they like, leaving the rest. This can lead to nutritional problems.
However, in pellet foods, all the ingredients are included in each pellet. The rat can’t just pick out the foods it likes best.
The price of rat food can vary quite a bit. Of course, the size of the bag matters substantially. While bigger bags are more expensive, they may save you money in the long run. If you know your rat will consume a particular food, we recommend getting a bigger bag. Don’t start out with the bigger bag, though. Rats can be very picky. You don’t want to purchase a 10-pound bag that your rat doesn’t end up eating.
More expensive rat foods are typically higher quality, but this isn’t always the case. We reviewed many foods that were quite expensive but didn’t have any significant benefits over less expensive foods. We don’t recommend trying to gauge a product’s quality by the price tag.
Rats can be surprisingly picky. Unlike some other animals, they will not simply eat whatever you put in front of them. This is one reason why selective feeding is such a big issue. If a rat decides that they like a specific ingredient over the other, they are very likely to pick it out.
There isn’t a particular taste or ingredient that rats particularly like. Many rats will choose the higher-fat foods, though these are not necessarily the best for them. Some rats will love a certain formula, while others won’t touch it at all. The only way you can find out what your rat will eat is to try it. You may notice certain ingredients that your rat prefers over time—or it may seem completely random.
Now that we know a few things to look for when choosing rat food, let’s look at the nitty-gritty of rat nutrition.
There are a lot of things that affect a rat’s dietary needs. Their specific species, gender, age, exercise, temperature, type of enclosure, water type, and a whole host of other things all affect the foods your rat needs to eat. Of course, rats that are pregnant or being used for breeding often have higher needs as well. Usually, these rats need a specific diet for these reasons.
Pregnant rats need about 10%-30% more energy during the beginning of their pregnancy. As they reach the end of their pregnancy, this may go up to over 140%. Their eating should not be restricted. Pregnant rats may seem like they eat constantly, but their energy needs are extremely high during this period.
Rats have very small stomachs, so it is essential to provide them with food constantly. If you’re using quality food, you should be able to leave food out for your rat at least two times a day without a problem. Some foods are specifically made to be available at all times. A rat’s stomach can empty in only 6 hours without food, and they can develop health problems if they go even a day without eating.
Rats should consume mostly a lab-formulated diet. This is one of the only ways to ensure they are getting exactly what they need from their food. Nutritional treats like fresh fruits and veggies can be included occasionally for variety.
Rats should not eat a diet that is high in sugars—no sugars added is best. Complex carbohydrates should take up the bulk of their diet. These carbs are often high in protein and decently low in fat, which is exactly the diet that most rats need.
The Fat Problem
Rats tend to love fatty foods. This includes things like sunflower seeds and peanuts, which are often included in seed mixes. Many rats may pick these out of the other foods when they are made available, which can cause nutritional deficiencies.
Rats instinctually love fat, as it helps them get through tough times with little food. In the wild, rats would rarely find these fat-rich foods. When they did, they would not be available for very long. Rats evolved to stock up on this valuable fat when they can.
However, in captivity, rats are often fed the same diet for an extended period. If that diet includes high amounts of fat, then the rat may gain extra body weight and become obese. It can become a serious problem when the rat chooses the fat over other food items, missing out on key vitamins and minerals required for them to thrive.
For this reason, we recommend low-fat foods for most rats. Those that are growing and pregnant may need higher fat foods, though protein is really the main nutrient these rats need.
For most rats, Oxbow Essentials Regal Rat Adult Rat Food is the best option. It is low in fat while remaining high in protein. It includes quality ingredients that other foods often don’t include, like fish meal. Plus, it’s fortified with plenty of vitamins and minerals, making it a complete diet for your rat.
If you’re looking to save a bit of money, then you may wish to purchase Kaytee Supreme Fortified Daily Diet Rat Food. This diet is fortified with nutrients and contains everything your rat needs to thrive.
Hopefully, our reviews helped you cut through the confusion and misconceptions that often penetrate rat nutrition. There is no one-size-fits-all option, but we hope that our reviews made it a bit clearer for you.
Featured image credit: VeronArt16, Shutterstock