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Home > Pet rats > How Long Can Pet Rats Go Without Food and Water? What Science Says

How Long Can Pet Rats Go Without Food and Water? What Science Says

curious white pet rat looking out of a cage

Rats are intelligent, resilient, and resourceful animals. Despite their reputation as pests, they make wonderful pets for many people. Pet rats are capable of living without food and water for up to 4 days. However, it’s recommended that they eat twice a day.

Pet rats are reliant on their owners for food and shelter. So, it’s important for owners to know how to feed their rats a healthy diet and provide enough food for them consistently.


How Much Food and Water Do Pet Rats Need?

Pet rats can go for several days without eating food. They can probably survive for about a week if they have access to water. Pet rats typically need to consume about 60 calories a day.1 For the most part, they can live healthy lives and get all the nutrients they need from high-quality pet rat pellets.

When it comes to water, rats need between 30 ml to 1 oz of water a day. In most cases, a water bottle is better than a water bowl. Water bowls can get dirty easily as rats may kick food or bedding into them.

Image By: Tony Wear, Shutterstock

A Healthy Diet for Rats

Rats are omnivores that can eat a wide variety of foods. Some foods that they can enjoy eating are certain fruits, vegetables, grains, and seeds. They can also eat some animal protein.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits that are popular among rats include bananas, berries, apples, pears, and watermelons. Fruit should be served in moderation because of its high sugar content.

Rats can also safely eat some vegetables. Common vegetables fed to rats include broccoli, kale, collard greens, dandelion leaves, and spinach. While rats can eat carrots, beets, and corn, they should also eat these vegetables in moderation due to their high sugar content.

There are some exceptions to the fruits and vegetables that rats can eat. Avoid feeding them citrus fruits, chocolate, grapes, onions, and walnuts. These foods can cause rats to get sick.

pet rat eating mango
Image Credit: jarleeknes, Pixabay

Animal Protein

Rats can also enjoy eating some animal protein. They can eat cooked eggs, plain shredded chicken, and lean red meat. Just make sure that everything is fully cooked before feeding it to your rat.

Commercial Rat Food

High-quality commercial rat pellets eliminate the need to worry about your rat’s nutrient intake. So, you can feed your rat additional foods as treats as long as your rats are eating a healthy number of pellets.

Just make sure only to give them occasional treats to avoid excessive weight gain. Rats live active lives, and pet rats benefit from at least an hour of exercise a day.

When to Feed Rats

When feeding rats, try to use ceramic bowls. Rats can chew through plastic bowls, and stainless-steel bowls can create sounds that cause discomfort for them.

Rats usually do well eating morning and evening meals. Having scheduled meals can prevent overeating. Rats can also become more comfortable and recognize their owners more quickly with scheduled meals. They can learn that you are the one who provides their meals and will view you as safe and non-threatening.

Make sure to remove any uneaten food about 30 minutes after it’s been set out. This will help keep your rat’s living space clean and prevent any bug infestations.

rats eating
Image Credit: Nastya Kvokka, Unsplash



Rats can survive without food for about 4 days, but it’s best for them to be fed two meals every day. Rats are omnivores and can eat all kinds of foods. However, there are still some foods that humans can eat that are harmful to rats. So, it’s often best to feed commercial pellets as their main diet and save fruits, vegetables, and some animal proteins as special treats.

Featured Image Credit: Kirill Kurashov, Shutterstock

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