In the wild, rats are well-known scavengers that will eat anything they can get. In captivity, they should benefit from a more nutritionally beneficial food source that minimizes the risk of illness and ensures peak health and fitness. While rabbit food might not be toxic to rats, it should not be fed as a replacement for a species-appropriate diet. Herbivore foods, such as rabbit food, are nutritionally very different from what your rat requires.
Read on to discover more about the nutritional implications of feeding rabbit food to a rat and a general nutrition guide for your pet rodent.
What’s In Rabbit Food?
The majority of a rabbit’s diet should be made up of hay. As well as fresh hay, some of this daily allowance takes the form of rabbit pellets, which also contain additional vitamins and minerals. Commercial rabbit mix is also available. This is a cereal mix that contains corn, peas, and beans. It looks like muesli and is formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of the herbivore rabbit.
Although rabbits are herbivores, rats are omnivores. Commercial rat food is available and designed to meet the rodent’s nutritional needs. They usually consist of a range of fruits and vegetables and may incorporate meat-based proteins, eggs, and other ingredients that will benefit your rat. You can also add some meaty treats like mealworms or lean meat sources, but these should only be fed occasionally to avoid overfeeding and prevent your rat from getting overweight.
Can Rats Eat Rabbit Food?
Rabbits and rats have different nutritional requirements, especially with one being a herbivore and one an omnivore. This means that, even if a rabbit’s food does not contain any ingredients that are toxic to a rat, it is nutritionally beneficial. If a rat gets into the bag of rabbit food and eats a small amount of the contents, it shouldn’t be cause for concern, although you should check the ingredients to be sure.
The 5 Rat Treats You Can Safely Feed Them
While you shouldn’t feed rabbit food to your rat, it is a good idea to offer some variety and a little excitement to its diet. Below are five treats that are considered healthy as occasional treats:
Nuts are high in calories, so you need to ensure that you do not feed too many. One way of doing this, other than only offering a tiny portion, is to only offer nuts in their shells. The shells make the rat work harder which, in turn, prevents them from overeating. It also helps exercise their brain as they try to figure out a means of getting into the shell. They contain protein as well as vitamins B and E, protein, fiber, and a host of beneficial minerals.
2. Cooked Bones
Pet owners are warned against giving cooked bones to dogs and cats because they splinter and break easily, potentially causing serious harm. However, rats grind the bones down into a powder before digesting, which means that there is no risk of shattered pieces lodging in the throat. Try to leave a little of the meat on the bone to make it even more palatable and nutritious. You can give pork or beef bones, as well as the larger bones of the chicken carcass. As well as the nutritional benefit these scraps offer, grinding the bones down helps wear the teeth down.
Cooked eggs that have not been fried are another treat that can be fed in moderation. Boil or poach them and do not feed them raw. Only feed approximately a quarter of an egg once a week, to adult rats. Young rats can benefit from a little more. It doesn’t matter what bird the egg came from. As a complete protein, egg is easily digested and it has good bioavailability so your pet gets all the benefits. As well as protein, you will be providing vitamins A, B, and D, as well as minerals like phosphorous and zinc.
4. Wholegrain Bread
Too much of it can lead to gastrointestinal problems, but a little whole grain bread is tasty and offers some benefits. The bread is made from whole grains that are still intact. These provide a variety of benefits and the bread is a convenient size and shape for you to hold if you want to try feeding by hand.
As a general rule, seeds are safe for rat consumption. This includes sunflower and chia seeds. Most seeds contain omega fatty acids, fiber, and protein that are of benefit. Like nuts, some seeds are high in calories, so you must feed them sparingly and ensure that your rodent friend doesn’t become too reliant on them in its diet. Avoid fruit seeds like apple seeds and plum seeds, cherry pits, and citrus seeds, however, as these can be toxic and are not considered safe to eat.
Rats make excellent pets and companions. They are friendly, can even be trained to respond to some basic commands, and are relatively easy to care for. One thing you do need to provide is a balanced and regular diet. This diet can consist of commercial rat food or pellets, as well as a selection of fruit and vegetables, with treats like cooked meat bones and eggs providing greater variety and preventing food boredom.
However, while rabbit food might look suitable for rats, too, it has been designed to meet the nutritional requirements of the herbivore rabbit, and not the dietary needs of the omnivore rat. Such food might be safe in a small quantity and should not prove toxic, but it will not provide the right levels of protein and fiber or the other essential vitamins and minerals your pet needs, so you should avoid feeding it.
- You may also find this interesting: Can Rats Eat Oranges? What You Need to Know!