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Can Rats Eat Tomatoes? What You Need To Know!
In the wild, rats are opportunistic and eat just about anything they come across. When you have a pet rat, however, you want to be careful what you feed them and avoid anything that can be hazardous to their health.
If you’re wondering if rats can eat tomatoes and whether they’re a healthy addition to your pet’s varied diet, the answer is yes! Rats can eat tomatoes, and in fact, tomatoes are a delicious and vitamin-rich food. That said, there are some considerations before you top your rat’s food with a slew of cherry or grape tomatoes.
What’s the Ideal Diet for a Rat?
Wild rats will eat everything from meat to insects to garbage. Naturally, garbage isn’t an ideal diet for a rat, and you want to give the best to your furry friend.
When available, rats will eat vegetables, fruits, and seeds as the bulk of their natural diet. Rats also eat insects and meat occasionally, giving them a good portion of protein. Your pet rat should be on a diet of rat pellets or a rat cube with a mix of rat-friendly fruits and vegetables.
Rat-friendly fruits and vegetables include:
If you want more variety, you can add these foods, but only when thoroughly cooked:
- Red cabbage
- Sweet potato
Treats are a helpful tool for training since rats are very food motivated. Rats can have small pieces of any of these fruits and vegetables as a treat. You can also offer mealworms, cooked grains, seeds, or candy, but only in moderation.
Are Tomatoes Good for Rats?
Most pet rats enjoy the taste of tomatoes and they’re packed with essential nutrients for optimal health.
Tomatoes are high in:
- Vitamin C, an immune booster and antioxidant
- Potassium, a mineral that promotes healthy growth
- Vitamin K, a vitamin that helps with blood clotting
Tomatoes come in many varieties, such as Roma, heirloom, cherry, grape, and cocktail. While all are appropriate and nutritious for pet rates, cherry or grape tomatoes are a good size for your rat to eat easily.
Important Considerations When Feeding Tomatoes to Rats
Though tomatoes are healthy for rats, it’s important to keep some things in mind. Tomatoes should always be fresh. Spoiled vegetables are dangerous for rats as well as humans, and food poisoning can take a significant toll on a rat’s small body. If you’re not sure how fresh the tomato is, better to err on the side of caution and toss it instead of risking illness.
As with any new addition to your rat’s diet, be sure to introduce small amounts of tomato to ensure your pet doesn’t have digestive problems. If you’re feeding large tomatoes, cut them up into small pieces and only feed a portion to your rat.
When you feed tomatoes for the first time, keep an eye on your rat during and after the meal. Allergies are rare, but you want to pay attention to any negative health effects like lethargy, diarrhea, or vomiting. If your rat has any illness after eating a tomato, avoid feeding it in the future. Depending on the severity, you may need to take your rat to the vet for an exam.
Finally, avoid giving your rat tomato seeds. While there’s nothing harmful about the seeds themselves, they do pose a choking hazard if they’re small. When you cut up the tomato, give your rat the pieces without seeds. Many growers produce seedless tomato varieties as well.
What Foods are Toxic to Rats?
Tomatoes are safe for rats, but many other common foods are not. Some foods are poisonous and should be avoided, even as a treat. These include:
- Citrus peels, such as orange or lemon peel
- Fruit pits, such as peach or cherry pits
- Wild insects
- Raw root vegetables, such as sweet potato
If you’re unsure about adding a new food to your rat’s diet, it’s best to avoid it. Rats have a great variety of food they can eat and enjoy safely, so there’s no reason to take a chance if you’re uncertain.
Nutrition is a vital part of your pet rat’s health. In the wild, rats have to make do with whatever food is available, sometimes eating poisonous foods that take a toll on their health. In captivity, your rat can live a healthy life of four or five years, thanks to the nutrition and protection provided by you. Keep your rat in optimal health with a safe and diverse diet that mimics a wild rat’s preferred diet, and you can have a loving companion for years.
Featured Image Credit: Torook, Shutterstock
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.