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Can Rats Eat Spinach? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Rats are known for being little garbage disposals. There doesn’t seem to be much a rat won’t eat. We know that a variety of fruits, vegetables, and greens can be healthy for rats. What about spinach? It’s very popular in the human diet, but can rats eat spinach? Surprisingly, the answer is no.

The reason for this is that spinach contains a relatively high number of oxalic acids or oxalates. In small amounts, oxalates may not harm your rat, but in large quantities, they can be dangerous.

Feeding a rat too much spinach can cause kidney stones, calcium deficiency, and other health issues. Though you could feed spinach to your rat in very small amounts and sparingly without issue, it may be best to avoid it entirely.divider-multipet

Do Rats Enjoy Eating Spinach?

Spinach
Image Credit: ThiloBecker, Pixabay

You probably enjoy eating spinach as much as the next human. However, it’s also possible that your rat may not be interested at all. This varies greatly depending on your individual rat’s preferences. There are plenty of healthy alternatives that they can eat in place of spinach to get their needed vitamins and minerals.

Optimal Diet For Rats

Wild rats eat anything they can get their hands on and so will your pet if given the chance. Rats are not concerned with whether food is good for them. If it tastes good, they’ll eat it. That’s one of several reasons why wild rats have a shorter lifespan than their domesticated counterparts.

Rats in captivity have the luxury of human companions that feed them well-balanced and healthy diets. The ideal rat diet consists of pellets, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

Only 10% to 20% of a rat’s diet is made of fruits and vegetables and the other 80% to 90% needs to be a high-quality pellet mix. You can provide occasional treats of meat, nuts, and seeds but since they are all high in calories and fat, it’s best to do so sparingly.

Knowing that spinach can cause health issues, you’re probably wondering which vegetables and fruits are safe for rat consumption. We’ve compiled a list of the best fruits and vegetables for a rat’s diet:

Best Vegetables For Rats

  • Asparagus
  • Bell Peppers
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Parsnip
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Radish
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Turnip
  • Zucchini

Best Fruits For Rats

  • Banana
  • Blackberries
  • Blackcurrant
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Coconut
  • Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Dragon Fruit
  • Elderberries
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Mulberry
  • Nectarines
  • Olives
  • Papaya
  • Passion fruit
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Pomegranate
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

Unsafe Foods for Rats

Knowing that spinach is best avoided may leave you wondering what other foods you will need to avoid as a rat owner. Now that we know what is safe, we’ve put together a list of unsafe food items with a short description of the reasoning:

  • Artichoke – Rats cannot eat raw artichoke because it can inhibit their protein digestion. Cooked artichoke does not have the same effect and can be served to rats in small amounts.
  • Alfalfa – Rats cannot digest alfalfa. Alfalfa is cellulose, which is an indigestible fiber that can cause intestinal blockages.
  • Beans (raw) – Rats should never consume raw beans because they contain an antinutrient that destroys their vitamin A and the enzymes needed to digest proteins and starches.
  • Beets – Beets, like spinach, are high in oxalic acid and nitrates. They can cause kidney stones, calcium deficiency, and other health issues.
  • Brussel Sprouts – Raw Brussel sprouts are toxic to rats and cause thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency.
  • Red Cabbage – Like Brussel sprouts, red cabbage can also cause vitamin B1 deficiency. Green cabbage does not have this effect.
  • Iceberg lettuce – Iceberg lettuce is not recommended for rats because it is made up almost entirely of water, causing it to be devoid of nutrients. It is recommended to feed rats romaine lettuce for the nutritional value.
  • Leeks – Leeks are difficult to chew and may be a choking hazard for rats. They can also cause an upset stomach, as they are a member of the onion family.
  • Onions – Raw onions can cause anemia and upset stomachs in rats. They can eat cooked onions without problems.
  • Rhubarb – Rhubarb is also very high in oxalates and therefore it should be avoided like spinach.
  • Swiss chard – Swiss chard is yet another that is very high in oxalates and is best avoided.

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Conclusion

Rats may not be picky eaters, but they will rely on their human companions to keep them on the straight and narrow when it comes to their diet. Spinach is best avoided due to the high oxalic acid content that can cause kidney stones, calcium deficiency, and other issues.

If a rat owner decides to feed spinach or any of the other high oxalate-containing foods to their pet, it’s best to do it in moderation. Always consult a veterinarian before doing so. There are plenty of other fruits and vegetables that can be fed to a rat that will carry the same nutritional value and will not cause adverse effects.


Featured Image Credit: SHARKY PHOTOGRAPHY, 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.