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Can Rats Eat Apples? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Rats are medium-sized rodents that are found throughout the world and are omnivores. Where they live dictates what they eat, with wild rats living off seeds, fruits, and vegetables. City rats eat the waste we throw away and may consume human food from our pantries and pet food from our cupboards.

As pets, they are friendly and happy to spend time with their humans, with some owners reporting that they respond to their name and come up to the cage walls when they believe it is time for food. As scavengers, rats can eat a huge variety of food, but when kept in captivity they benefit from a well-rounded diet that is designed to meet their specific dietary and nutritional requirements.

These versatile eaters can indeed eat apples. In fact, they are considered a decent source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, while containing low levels of fat and calories. However, they do contain a lot of sugar so should be fed sparingly. What’s more, while rats can also eat apple rind, it should be free from pesticides and other chemicals, and you have to ensure that the pips are removed before feeding because they contain cyanide which can prove fatal to rats.

divider-mouseRats as Pets

Rats are a popular type of pet. They are friendly and enjoy being handled, while also being rugged and sturdy enough that they are not easily injured when being picked up. Not only will a rat come to the cage to greet its owner, but some people have had success training rats to respond to their names.

Like all pets, however, we must meet all of their daily requirements. As well as providing a good cage with adequate room and enough space, this means ensuring that the rat is fed a suitable and healthy diet that will help it develop while staying healthy.

rat holding a blueberry
Image Credit: Grace800, Shutterstock

Are Apples Good for Rats?

An apple contains around 0.2 grams of fat and approximately 50 calories. They also contain over 2 grams of fiber, which is good for a rat’s digestive system and helps prevent gastrointestinal problems including constipation and diarrhea.

Potassium, which is beneficial for good muscle development, is also found in apples, along with a decent amount of vitamin C. Rats produce vitamin C themselves, but feeding them a good source of this vitamin helps supplement the levels that they naturally produce.

Overall, apples are beneficial to your rat’s health, but you do need to be cautious when feeding this fruit. Despite being low in calories, they are high in natural sugar.

How Much to Feed

The high sugar count quantity means that you should not feed too much of this fruit. The apple does not need preparing, other than to remove the pips and to wash the skin, and you should cut the apple up to make it easier for your pet rodent to get into the fleshy and healthy part of the food. You can feed a slice every couple of days, and if you do feed a diet that is high in fruit, monitor your rat for signs of weight gain and obesity, and ensure that their stools do not become too loose. Although fiber is good for rats, too much can cause diarrhea.

Rat Eat Corn seed_Gorgev_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Gorgev, Shutterstock

What About Rind and Pips?

The rind is considered to be the healthiest part of the apple because it is more nutritionally dense than the fruit itself. However, if you do not buy organic apples, you will need to wash the rind thoroughly before feeding. This will remove any chemical and potentially toxic residue on the outside and make it safe for consumption. You can leave the rind on the apple when slicing it, giving a good combination of textures and making it a decent source of vitamin C and fiber.

The pips of the apple, on the other hand, should never be fed to your rat. They naturally contain cyanide, and while the amount would not be considered dangerous to humans, it could cause cyanide poisoning in rats.

Cut the apple into slices, ensure the pips are removed, and leave the skin on for the best rat treat.

Other Foods to Feed Your Rat

A varied diet is good for your rat. It ensures that they get a wider variety of the vitamins and minerals that they need and it also prevents them from getting bored with their daily food. The following are considered safe to feed rats:

  • Bread – While this food makes a tasty treat, you should either lightly toast it or soak it in water or milk. This will help prevent the bread from causing an obstruction or being a choking hazard.
  • Chicken – Meat not only makes an important addition to your rat’s diet, but most of them love it. Chicken is considered the healthiest and most beneficial meat, although small amounts of turkey and even beef are considered safe.
  • Cereals – Do check the ingredient list and avoid those that are high in sugar. If you can find a natural cereal that is free from additives, you can safely feed these to your rat, who will benefit from the addition of cereal and grain to their regular treats.
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs – Rich in protein, a hard-boiled egg is another food that can be fed in moderation and that will give your pet rodent vitamins and minerals that they rarely get from other sources. They are an especially beneficial treat for pregnant rats because they need the extra fat and protein.
  • Soy – Soy-based products are high in protein and they have been shown to have anti-carcinogenic properties, so they can help prevent your rat from getting certain cancers. Products include soy milk and yogurt, but when feeding any prepared foods, you must ensure that they do not have added sugars and other artificial additives.

divider-mouseCan Rats Eat Apples?

Rats are omnivores and scavengers. They have a wide diet and are versatile eaters, but this does not mean that they can eat anything and stay healthy and safe. Apples are considered beneficial and are safe to feed in moderation. You can even feed the rind, which is considered even more nutritionally beneficial than the fleshy part of the fruit, but you must ensure that you have washed any chemicals off the outside and you should never feed the pips, which contain cyanide.


Featured Image Credit: Grace800, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.