Choosing The Best Rat Food

Rats are adorable, friendly little creatures that make fantastic pets. They are relatively easy to care for and, most notably, have voracious appetites. This tends to lead to the question of what kind of rat food should be fed to pet rats and which brands are the best to choose from.

Today, we’re getting into both of these questions and more! Read on for a list of the best rat food varieties on the market, what rats can have for treats, and what makes a good rat food.

The 12 Best Rat Foods:

1. Mazuri Rat and Mouse Diet

Mazuri Rat and Mouse Diet

Made by Mazuri, one of the exotic pet trade’s leaders in exotic nutrition, this rat and mouse food is a popular staple option for rat owners around the country. It is crafted using a vegetarian formula that is designed to support mice and rats in all stages of their life.

The food contains an array of essential vitamins such as vitamin K, D, A, and B, as well as supplemental iron and calcium. It also contains dried yucca shidigera, which is known to help reduce the smell of ammonia that comes from rat urine. There are no added colors or flavors.

Each bag contains pounds of easy-to-digest food that have been made into blocks and is ideal for dental health as it helps rats wear down their teeth and keep them strong.

Pros:

  • No artificial colors or flavors
  • Block-shape pieces for dental health
  • Full of vitamins and minerals
  • Complete diet
  • Vegetarian formulation

Cons:

  • Only available in small bags

2. Oxbow Essentials Adult Rat Food

Oxbow Essentials Adult Rat Food

Oxbow’s Essentials rat food is available in both 3lb and 20lb bags, which makes it ideal for rat owners with one or two rats to large mischiefs of 6+ rats. Each bag is nutritionally balanced and contains all, the essential nutrients, fat, and protein that rats need to stay healthy. Oxbow contains antioxidants and prebiotics that help support your rat’s immune system.

In addition to providing your rat with a balanced staple diet, this food also works wonders for your rat’s dental health, as it keeps their teeth from overgrowing. It is a great food for picky eaters, too, thanks to its uniform kibble shape and lack of “treats” that would be picked out first.

Oxbow’s Essentials has been approved by exotic veterinarians and is recommended by many. There are no added colors, flavors, or artificial ingredients.

Pros:

  • Free of artificial ingredients
  • Balanced nutrition
  • Uniform kibble
  • Available in large bags

Cons:

  • Frequent price changes

3. Supreme Petfoods Science Selective

Supreme Petfoods Science Selective

Supreme Petfood’s line of rat food, Science Selective, is a wholesome staple option for rats of all ages. It is a pellet-based diet that contains everything a rat needs to stay healthy and live a good life.

The food contains a plethora of vitamins and minerals, as well as fruits such as apples and blackcurrants that contain beneficial antioxidants. It is high in fatty acids and low in cholesterol, which is ideal for promoting cardiovascular health.

Science Selective is highly palatable but uses a straight-forward, consistent block shape and size that helps to reduce selective feeding. It also comes in plastic packaging that can be recycled or reused as you see fit.

Pros:

  • Promotes cardiovascular health
  • Prevents selective feeding
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • Balanced staple diet

Cons:

  • High in wheat

4. LAFEBER’S Rascally Rat Nutri-Berries

LAFEBER’S Rascally Rat Nutri-Berries

A mixed pellet and treat food, this food is suitable for foraging and the occasional tasty treat. It is nutritionally complete, containing Omega 3s and 6s that boost the immune system and improve coat and skin health. It also contains bits of human-grade bananas, cranberries, and peas to add a bit of fun to the food as well as added nutritional values.

Each bag is formulated to be a low-calorie option for maintaining your rat’s weight. The round shape of the pellets helps to encourage natural behaviors such as foraging and playing, promoting the stimulation of your rat’s brain and its overall health of it.

Pros:

  • Rich in antioxidants and Omega 3s and 6s
  • Wholesome fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Encourages natural foraging behavior
  • Healthy treat

Cons:

  • Food pieces stick together

5. Nesom Distributing Teklad Growth Rat Food

Nesom Distributing Teklad Growth Rat Food

Nesom’s Teklad Growth rat food is available in three different bag sizes, catering to rat owners with a range of different needs. This diet is nutritionally balanced with everything that pregnant, nursing, and growing rats need to maintain healthy body weight.

It works to promote gestation, lactation, and growth through its unique formulation which includes folic acid and vitamin A, B, E, and D, as well as zinc, copper, and calcium. The food is shaped into hard pellets that aid with dental health.

Its consistent pellet size helps to reduce selective feeding that could be harmful to pregnant rats or growing babies, while its palatable taste entices them to eat their fill.

Pros:

  • Ideal for pregnant and nursing mothers and growing youth
  • Full of vitamins and minerals
  • Palatable taste and texture
  • Three bag sizes to choose from

Cons:

  • Poor packaging

6. Sleek & Sassy Nutritional Diet

Sleek & Sassy Nutritional Diet

Available in three packaging sizes and including a variety of tasty food items, Sleek & Sassy’s small animal diet is a convenient, ever-palatable diet that rats love. The food ships from Oregon, USA, and comes from a family-owned establishment with an affinity for small animals.

Each bag of food contains an all-natural selection of ingredients. This includes human-grade fruits and vegetables, seeds, legumes, and pellets. It has a high vitamin and amino acid content, as well as tons of minerals.

This food is free of preservatives, additives, and artificial colors or flavors. It can be used as a staple diet or mixed into a foraging box to encourage natural rat behavior and stimulate the brain. It makes a delicious treat.

 Pros:

  • Contains a mix of healthy ingredients
  • Idea for foraging
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Free of additives, preservatives, and chemicals

Cons:

  • May contribute to selective feeding

7. White Mill Pure Rat Seed Mixture

White Mill Pure Rat Seed Mixture

For owners who enjoy giving their rats a balanced, varied diet, White Mill’s rat and seed diet might be just the thing. This complex diet includes a variety of ingredients ranging from quality animal proteins to homegrown seeds and rat-safe fruit.

It is chalked full of vitamins and trace elements that are necessary for maintaining a healthy rat. It also includes prebiotics that boosts digestion and helps ensure that your rats are receiving all the nutritional value that this food has to offer.

This seed mixture has been created without the use of artificial flavors or colors and contains no chemicals or preservatives. To ward off odors, it contains natural yucca, which is known for reducing the smell of ammonia.

Pros:

  • Contains vitamins and minerals
  • Yucca for odor prevention
  • Nutritionally balanced
  • No artificial flavors or colors

Cons:

  • Contains peanuts which are controversial among small pet owners

8. Kaytee Fiesta Mouse and Rat Food

Kaytee Fiesta Mouse and Rat Food

Created and sold by Kaytee, this fiesta mix flies off store shelves. It’s suitable for both mice and rats in all stages of life and can be given as a staple diet or a treat. It uses natural preservatives to keep it fresh and tasty for your pets.

 This food is a seed-based diet that contains a variety of healthy seeds as well as fruits and vegetables like carrots and papaya. It is rich in antioxidants which help to boost the immune system and promotes healthy digestion.

Its various shapes and textures are perfect for maintaining the health of your rat’s teeth and gums, as well as keeping them entertained and excited about mealtimes.

Pros:

  • Contains a host of healthy fruits and seeds
  • Promotes dental health
  • Improves digestion
  • Can be used for both rats and mice

Cons:

  • A varied ingredient list may promote selective feeding

9. Sunseed Vita Prima Complete Nutrition

Sunseed Vita Prima Complete Nutrition

Crafted by a popular small animal brand, this rat and mouse food is known for its palatability and balanced nutrition.  It comes in convenient 2-pound bags that are easy to find in-store as well as online.

It features a crunchy texture that is fun for rats to chew on and that helps to promote dental health every time they eat. Each bag has been fortified with essential vitamins and other nutrients and includes a variety of pellets, seeds, fruits, grains, herbs, and vegetables that are appealing to your rat’s appetite and natural foraging instinct.

 This food can be fed as a staple or used as a treat. It can also be mixed in with a pellet-based rat diet.

Pros:

  • Crunchy texture
  • Contains fruits and vegetables
  • 7 grains
  • Versatile enough to be used as a staple or a treat

Cons:

  • High corn content

10. Henry’s Wild Bites

Henry’s Wild Bites

Henry’s Wild Bites are nutritious food for all your small pets – including your rats! Each bag of wild bites has been baked fresh upon receiving your order and is shipped from the USA.

Wild bites contain no additives, chemicals, or artificial ingredients. They do, however, have a ton of vitamins and minerals including zinc and vitamin E. The mineral makeup of the food help to enhance your pet’s immune system and promote healing.

The generously sized bites taste like peanut, which is a flavor that most small animals can’t resist. For this reason, wild bites are a great food to feed pets who suffer from a lack of appetite.

Pros:

  • Packed full of vitamins and minerals
  • Promotes healing and immune health
  • Chemical-free
  • Baked fresh

Cons:

  • Small package size

11. Beaphar Care Plus Rat Food

Beaphar Care Plus Rat Food

Known for their line of small pet medicine, Beaphar is keen on ensuring that pets are healthy and happy. Their rat food reflects these values.

It is free of sugars and uses real meat as its main source of protein, which it is high in. This makes it great for young rats and a suitable occasional treat for adults.

The food is completely balanced in terms of nutrition, containing everything that a healthy rat needs to thrive. It has minimal seed content and is a pellet-based diet that’s good for dental health.

Pros:

  • Minimal seeds
  • Animal-based protein
  • High in protein
  • Palatable

Cons:

  • Too much protein to use as a staple diet for adult rats

12. FortiDiet Pro Health Mouse/Rat

FortiDiet Pro Health Mouse/Rat

Another wholesome food from Kaytee, the FortiDiet line for rats and mice is the perfect food for owners who are conscious about what they feed their pets. It can be purchased in 3 or 6-pound bags that make it easy to buy the right amount of food.

This food is made up of large, extra-crunchy pellets that support dental health. It contains omega 3s, antioxidants, prebiotics, probiotics, and essential amino acids that preserve brain function and improve immune health.

To keep the food fresh, it uses all-natural preservatives and stays away from chemicals, toxins, and artificial ingredients.

Pros:

  • Supports a healthy brain
  • Natural preservatives for freshness
  • No toxins or chemicals
  • Pellet-based

Cons:

  • Pellets are too big for some animals
Rat sits near pancake

Rat Food Buying Guide

When you’re in the market for a new rat food, there are a number of things you need to consider.

Number of rats

It’s as common for someone to have one rat as it is for them to have 10 rats, which is why it’s important to remember how many rats you have so that you’re aware of how much food you’re going to go through.

In general, the more rats you have, the more food you’ll need to buy. This means that package size can be a factor in your decision. You wouldn’t want to purchase a small bag of food and have to go to the pet store a week later for more.

It makes more sense to go with a food that sells its product in bigger bags – 10 or 20 pound bags are the best for large mischiefs.

Age of rats

Along with how many rats you have, you’ll also want to consider how old your rats are. Young rats should be given food that is specifically designed for growth, while adult rats should be fed another type of food.

All rats have high metabolisms and good appetites, so it’s crucial to be able to provide enough food for all of them, regardless of whether you need to be buying two different types of food or not.

Fat content

Despite having high metabolisms, rats can develop obesity. This is relatively rare when compared to how frequent obesity is within dogs and cats, but when it comes to obesity among the exotic community, rats are one of the most commonly obese animals.

When a rat becomes obese, which is actually pretty easy seeing as they are known for eating anything and everything, they can suffer from a number of health problems.

That’s why fat content is an important thing to think about.

Availability

When it comes to purchasing rat food, you need to make sure that the food you buy is available near you. Before committing to a certain brand, you need to ensure that a local store or website has the food in stock on a regular basis and that carrying the food that one time wasn’t just a one-off experience.

If you opt to get a good that has to be shipped to you, you’ll need to factor in the shipping time and any fees associated with shipping such a heavy item, too.

Ingredients

It goes without saying that any food that is fed to your pet should be safe for said pet. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all rat foods are safe, unfortunately. Some contain ingredients that rats can’t have or should have in limited quantities.

It’s a good idea to look at the ingredient list before feeding your rat a new kind of food. If you aren’t sure if a given ingredient is safe or not, do some research! Don’t be afraid to take your time making a healthy decision for your rats.

How Rat Food Affects Lifespan?

The food you feed your rats can affect their lifespan. A quality diet that contains everything they need can contribute to them having a longer, healthier life and fewer health complications.

There was a study on mice published in 2008 by the American Physiology Society. This study was conducted to decipher whether eating a low-calorie diet or regular exercise was more beneficial to the lifespan of small rodents.

The findings were rather interesting.

The idea that lifespans are increased when a small rodent has a lean body remained true. However, it was found that mice who stayed lean through eating less tended to have a longer lifespan than those who stayed lean through getting regular exercise – whether it be in the form of free-roaming or other methods.

This being said, it’s important that your rat doesn’t eat too much. It’s also important that when they do eat, they eat low-calorie, low-fat foods that can help them maintain a lean body mass.

Maintaining a lean body mass is beneficial to ward off diseases such as heart disease.

The food you give your rat also affects them due to the ingredients inside. For example, there are commercial rat foods on the market that contain additives. Not all of these additives are harmful but some can be when they are consumed frequently, which is what happens when a rat is fed food on a regular basis.

Some rat foods also contain food ingredients that aren’t ideal for rat digestive systems. This can wreak havoc on the entire internal system of your pet, affecting everything from digestion to defecation.

While health problems caused by food aren’t guaranteed to cause a shorter lifespan, it makes sense to think that it could. After all, when the body is constantly fighting off illness and not working properly, it is stressed. Stress causes a host of additional health problems in itself. Together, these factors work to wear the body down.

Rat with cake

Unsafe Food for Rats

While rats will eat almost anything there are certain foods that they shouldn’t eat. In other words, if you can avoid it, don’t give your rats any of the following or feed them a commercial food that contains any of the following.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are delicious. However, rats should never be allowed to enjoy them. Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges are not ideal to feed to any rats – male or female, although male rats tend to suffer from worse effects.

Citrus skin contains a compound that is known to cause kidney damage and cancer in male rats. In addition, it can also give them urinary infections.

Peanuts

Fresh peanuts and peanut butter contain anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients are nutrients that effectively block the body from absorbing other nutrients. Too many peanuts can lead to nutrient deficiencies for this reason.

Caffeine

While it’s generally thought to be best to avoid giving caffeine to any animal, it’s especially important to avoid giving it to rats because of their small size. Caffeine can raise their heart rate and cause heart attacks – even in small amounts that you’d think would be safe.

Green bananas

Bananas are safe treats for your rat. However, green or unripe bananas should be avoided as they can be toxic and cause digestive issues.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a tasty autumn and spring fruit that’s great for baking into pies. As delicious as it is, it contains oxalates, which are harmful to rats.

Celery

Celery has very little nutritional value for rats. It’s also known to be carcinogenic to them, as well as a common cause of diarrhea thanks to its high water content.

Spinach

Spinach contains oxalates, too.

Tofu

Tofu can sometimes contain harmful bacteria. This bacteria can interfere with your rat’s digestion and cause other health problems.

Corn

Corn on the cob is fine to feed your rats in moderation. Dried corn, however, is another story. The dried version of this food can contain fungal contaminants that can cause liver cancer in rats.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a complete list. There are other foods that rats shouldn’t have and it’s worth doing a bit of research before giving your rat something new just to make sure that it’s safe. You can do this quite easily by doing a Google search or watching videos on YouTube.

Safe Treats for Rats

Eggs

Eggs are a nutritious treat for rats. They are safe for them to eat and provide a lot of protein. They should be cooked before being offered.

Rats enjoy them most when they are scrambled or hardboiled.

Pasta

Whole grain pasta is another great rat treat. It can be given uncooked or cooked as long as it doesn’t have any butter, sauce, or spices on it.

When served uncooked, it benefits their dental health.

Cheerios

Whole grain cheerios are a rat favorite. They can be given as a treat or mixed sparingly into a rat’s everyday food.

Lean meat

Rats are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and meat. This being said, lean meat is a tasty treat.

Meats such as chicken breast and turkey are suitable for rats once they have been fully cooked. Some rat owners allow their rats to chew on larger, sturdy chicken and turkey bones after ensuring that they won’t break or splinter.

Apples

Rats love apples. You can give pieces of apple to your rat – just be sure to remove the seeds first, as they are toxic to rats.

Mealworms

Mealworms, although unpleasant to us, are a terrific treat for rats. They should be limited, though, and not used as a staple or given every day.

When provided as a treat, they are excellent sources of protein that rats love eating – especially when they’re live! Freeze-fried mealworms will do, too, though.

How to Make Homemade Rat Food?

While store-bought rat foods are convenient, some owners prefer to make their own food.

If you’re interested in making your own rat food, we can help! Here’s how to do it.

  1. Craft your recipe. This is the initial recipe that you start with. Remember, it can be tweaked over tie and doesn’t have to be your end-all-be-all. You can change it anytime.  
  2. Gather your ingredients.
  3. Gather your equipment. You’ll need to source a large tub or bin. The exact size depends on how many rats you have and how much food you’re making. You’ll also need a measuring cup.
  4. Get a storage container.  When your mix is complete, you’ll need to store it in a tub with a tight-fitting lid.

Step One: The Base Mix

 A good base mix should be made of legumes and grains. It can be a mix of high-quality commercial feed with additional grains and seeds added or it can be a mixture made entirely from the addition of individual items. For this step, you may want to include things like:

  • Pearled barley
  • Brown rice
  • Whole lentils
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Wild rice
  • Amaranth
  • Flaked peas
  • Jumbo oats
  • Red split lentils

Some common breakfast cereals can also be included in this section. Before adding a cereal, though, be sure that it has zero or little sugar (5 or fewer grams per 100 grams of cereal).

If you’re crafting your food from individual ingredients, use a variety. Include at least four whole grains, two human cereal or processed grains, and either peas or red lentils.

Double-check that some grains are processed and some unprocessed, as both have different health benefits for rats. The unprocessed grains have added nutrients while processed grains are better for supplying energy.

Step Two: Protein

The protein portion of your food needs to have an overall protein content of 20-25%. This protein amount will be diluted by the included grains. Suitable protein sources are:

  • High protein rat block or pellet
  • High-quality dog food that is salmon-based for easy digestion and healthy oils
  • Soya flakes, roasted soy nuts
  • Dried small fish, dried insects, freeze-dried shrimp

You can opt to use a single source or use two for variety.

Step Three: Oils

Healthy oils are added via mixed seeds such as pumpkin, flax, hemp, rapeseed, safflower, and sesame. Create a mixture of three or more types of seeds in equal amounts. Try to ensure that your mixture contains flax and hemp but remember that variety is best and don’t be afraid to go all out.

Step Four: Herbs and Vegetables

Leafy green vegetables like kale, watercress, and dandelion leaves are excellent sources of calcium and phosphorus as well as trace minerals like manganese and copper. You can feed them fresh alongside other herbs, fruit, and vegetables, or you can opt to dry them and include them in your homemade rat mix.

You can do this by baking them in the oven on very low heat or by putting them in a dehydrator. You could also store them in a warm cupboard or buy them already dehydrated. Most of the time, dried vegetables and herbs are marketed for rabbits but you can use them for rats.

Although spinach is not the best choice because it contains high amounts of oxalic acid, it can be fed in small quantities, so don’t be afraid to buy a mixed bag of greens that contains spinach.

Step Five: Treats

You can add interest and micronutrients to a homemade rat mix. In fact, it’s recommended! Many rat owners like to add bits of treat foods in small amounts.

Consider adding:

  • Pasta
  • Unsalted nuts
  • Puffed rice crackers
  • Broken up pieces of dog biscuits
  • Dried fruit
  • Dried insects

You could opt to use cereal here instead of for the base mix. Whole grain cheerios, shredded wheat, and puffed wheat are common ingredients.

When it comes to using insects as a treat in your food, don’t go collecting bugs from outside and attempting to dry them out. Instead, go the safe route and be sure to buy your insects from the pet store. They are likely going to be marketed for reptiles, so check down the reptile aisle for insect options.

Best Rat Food FAQs

Can I feed my rats hamster food?

Hamsters and rats have different nutritional needs. So, because of this, they should be fed their own food that caters to their unique needs.

Can I make my own rat food at home?

Yes, you can! As long as you avoid the foods your rats can’t have and include a variety of foods that meet your pet’s nutritional needs, homemade rat food can be a cheap, high-quality alternative to store-bought food.

What if my rat won’t eat the food I buy?

If this is the case, you may have to switch to different food. Most of the time rats will eat just about any type of food you give them but there are the occasional individuals who are picky.

What is the biggest bag of rat food I can buy?

The biggest bag of rat food I’ve ever seen weighed 50 pounds. Most rat foods are sold in bags of 2-20 pounds, though.

What is the best rat food?

The best rat food is whatever suits your rat’s needs the best and is healthy and wholesome.

Can rat food expire?

Rat food doesn’t “expire” per se. It does, however, have a best before date like all other food products on the market. Generally, this date is marked as 12-18 months after the packaging date.