While many people view rats as pests, others keep them as pets and don’t want to feed them anything that will hurt them. The good news is that they love watermelon, and it’s good for them too!
But how does watermelon fit into their overall diet, and how often should you give it to them? We break down everything that you need to know here.
Benefits of Watermelon for Rats
For starters, rats love watermelon. Watermelon is sweet, and there’s little doubt that rats have a sweet tooth. But considering that rats eat just about everything, the simple fact that they’ll eat it doesn’t mean much.
But watermelon is actually a good choice for rats. For starters, it’s a low-calorie option with vitamins A and C and plenty of potassium. All these nutrients promote a healthy digestive and immune system, making watermelons a great snack choice.
A Pet Rat’s Ideal Diet
While you might think that a rat will eat almost anything to stay alive, when you’re doing everything that you can to keep your pet rat happy and healthy, you have to be more particular in what you give them.
Ideally, you should give them a diet that consists primarily of fresh fruits and veggies. Aim for a wide variety, with plenty of dark green leafy vegetables. Supplement that diet with a small number of rat pellets in order to give them all the nutrients that they need to stay happy and healthy.
Fruits to Avoid Feeding Rats
While you might think that any fruit is a good choice for your pet rat, that’s simply not the case. Fruits that you should avoid include:
There’s debate about whether mango, citrus fruits, and papaya are bad for your rat, as there have been a few studies that link these fruits to various cancers in rats. We recommend playing it safe and avoiding these foods entirely.
Apple seeds contain arsenic. While the tiny amount of arsenic in apple seeds isn’t harmful to humans, it can be fatal in the much smaller rat.
Finally, green bananas are difficult for your rat to digest, which can lead to various stomach ailments and overall illnesses.
Other Foods to Avoid
Just because your rat will eat everything that you put in front of them doesn’t mean they should eat everything. The following foods can all have detrimental effects on your rat that range from digestion problems to death.
If you feed your rat a cube of blue cheese, it’s a death sentence. The mold that’s in blue cheese is toxic for rats.
Between the high sugar content and the caffeine in chocolate, there’s no reason to give your rat any. They’ll enjoy the taste, but that moment of enjoyment isn’t worth the long-term health complications that it can cause.
Green Potato Skins and Eyes
Both the green skin and eyes of potatoes contain a toxin that can kill your rats. Regular potatoes are fine, but it might still be a good idea to avoid them entirely, so you don’t accidentally make a mistake.
Licorice is a toxic food for your rat. While feeding licorice to your rat isn’t a common idea anyway, make sure they don’t get the opportunity to chow down on this treat.
Just because they’re a rat doesn’t mean they should act as your garbage disposal system. You can get sick if you eat moldy food, and so can your rat. Only give them fresh fruits and vegetables, not the leftovers that you couldn’t eat.
Peanuts contain enzymes that block your rat’s ability to absorb necessary nutrients. So, while peanuts won’t get your rat sick right away, they can lead to long-term health problems. Peanuts are also high in fat, so it’s a lose-lose for your rat.
Rats can’t eat poppy seeds without getting extremely sick. While no one knows why, it’s not an experiment that you want to put your rat through.
While fruits and veggies are great for your rat, spinach can create urinary tract and other digestive problems, like kidney stones. This is both uncomfortable and dangerous for rats.
One vegetable that you need to keep away from your rat is rhubarb. It is extremely toxic for your rat, and in high enough amounts, it can kill them.
While wild rats will eat just about everything that they can find, if you own a pet rat, you want to give them a better diet. While watermelon certainly isn’t a problem, keep in mind that there are certain fruits and veggies that you should avoid.
Before adding a new food to your rat’s diet, do your research and feed it to them in moderation to see how they react.
Featured Image Credit: Kireevl, Shutterstock