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Can Rats Eat Bread? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Feeding pet rats is easy to do. They’re not picky, their food is easily acquired, and their diets can be supplemented with so many different things. If you have a pet rat, you probably are already well aware that these inquisitive rodents love to share whatever you’re eating. This is fun for everyone involved. Since rats love to try new things, they’re usually happy to take anything that they’re offered. It’s up to us to know what’s good for them and what will hurt them, so we can keep them healthy. Handing the crust of your toast to your rat might delight the little one, but is it okay to do? Is bread safe for rats to eat? The short answer is yes, but the longer answer takes more explaining. Let’s find out how bread can be safely added to your furry friend’s diet.

divider-mouseNatural Diet of a Rat

In the wild, rats eat anything that they can find. They’re scavengers and have a keen sense of smell and taste. They also have teeth that are so strong, they can chew through nearly anything, even glass. If a rat wants food, there’s a good chance that they’ll be able to not only find it but also chew through anything to get to it. Wild urban rats aren’t picky. They’ll eat fruits and vegetables, but all rats are huge fans of grains. Cereal is a favorite. Since they like grains, they also like bread.

Diet of a Pet Rat

Domesticated rats don’t have to forage for their food, so it’s our job to give them everything that they need. Rats are the healthiest when they have a variety of foods, like fruits, vegetables, and proteins. This daily diet will keep them healthy, but where does the bread fit in?

Bread is full of things that rats love, but it’s also full of carbohydrates. Too many carbs can be unhealthy for people, and the same is true for rats. They need a well-rounded diet to get the necessary nutrients. Wild rats have to settle for whatever they can find, but when you’re in charge of your rat’s diet, you can help them be the healthiest that they can be.

Pellets

Pet rats should eat pellets or cubed food along with fresh fruits and vegetables daily. This makes up a complete diet for a rat, with the pellets providing their essential protein and fat content and vitamins and minerals. Seed mixes are also available for a well-balanced rat diet. However, your rat will likely only pick their favorite parts out, leaving behind the rest of the nutrition that they need. Pellets are the simplest way to give your rat proper nutrition without any hassle. In addition to pellets, fruits, and veggies, your rat will also like treats.

Rat Treats

Bread is included in the rat treat list. Treats should only be given to your rat in moderation and can also be used as rewards for training. Treats are great incentives for rats. As intelligent animals that can be taught to do a variety of tricks, food is your best motivator to encourage desired behavior. Cooked pasta, cooked rice, grains, and cereal join bread on the list of things that your rat will love to consume but should only receive once in a while.

rats eating
Image Credit: Piqsels

What If a Rat Eats Too Much Bread?

Bread is safe for rats in small amounts. It’s also important to give your rat a piece that isn’t too big for them to eat. A small rat shouldn’t be eating an entire slice of bread. In the wild, rats have to find their food at random times. This also forces them to exercise more, moving around to search and scrounge. In captivity, rats are fed regularly, and they don’t know to stop when they’re full. They will overeat if allowed, leading to obesity. A domestic rat doesn’t move as much, burning fewer calories and gaining more weight. While the bread itself will not harm your rat, the health problems from being overweight will.

Obesity-Related Health Issues

  • Cancer: Rats are already predisposed to certain cancers and keeping them at a healthy weight is one thing that you can control to help keep them healthy.
  • Diabetes: Obesity is a leading cause of diabetes in animals.
  • Bumblefoot: This is a foot infection caused by heavy weight on the feet.

To avoid any potential risks for joint pains, heart disease, or other health problems caused by obesity, keep your rat’s weight down and avoid giving them too much bread or other treats.

Mouse eating peanut butter
Image Credit: PublicdomainPictures, Pixabay

Is There Anything That a Rat Should Never Eat?

Yes; remember that your little buddy will eat anything that you offer, so it’s important to know what’s safe and what’s not. Bread is safe in moderation, but here are a few foods you that should never give your rat in any amount:

  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Lemon peel or any other food containing d-limonene
  • Raw beans
  • Raw sweet potato
  • Insects that you find outside

divider-mouseFinal Thoughts

It’s easy to feed a pet rat, and it’s also easy to feed them too much. Rats love any food that you want to give them and are happy to try new things. Familiarize yourself with what is safe for them to have, and remember that treats should be given in moderation to avoid health problems for your rodent in the future.

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Featured Image Credit: Artsiom P, 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.