What to feed your pet rat

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"What to feed your pet rat"
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Having a fancy rat as a pet is a great joy. They are intelligent and friendly, and don't need much looking after.

In the wild, rats obviously scavenge for their own food and will eat almost anything, but when you are keeping them as pets, you need to take control of their nutritional needs. Buy a nice heavy ceramic bowl for your rat's food, so that he doesn't tip it over and make sure it stays clean. You will only need to feed your rat once a day.

Unless you have a great deal of experience in keeping rats, it is suggested that you buy a ready-mixed rat food that has been designed to contain all the nutrients your rat needs. Some of these have nuts and seeds in, but you should avoid these as they can cause skin problems. The rat mix will contain everything your rat needs to keep him healthy, but he will need to eat all of the recommended daily portion to get these things.

If he doesn't eat all his food, or if he leaves certain bits, start feeding him slightly less until it all gets eaten. You can then increase the amount slowly until you are once again giving him the recommended daily portion. You will also need to feed your rat some fresh food every other day. Some of the vegetables he might enjoy are carrot, tomato, celery, broccoli, cabbage, beans, parsley, banana, grapes, swede, peas or apple (but remember to remove the pips as they can be poisonous to rats.

Don't give your rat citrus fruits or onions. Be careful how much fresh food you feed your pet, as too much green food can cause diarrhoea.

Rats like to eat at night, so it is best the feed them in the evening. Try to feed your rat at the same time each day, so he gets used to a routine. Rats are natural scavengers, and as such will often eat human food. Because of this fact, it is OK to feed your rat some tidbits of your own food as a treat, but remember to avoid foods high in calories, sugar or fat. This means that your own treats such as chocolate, candy or potato chips aren't suitable for your rat.

You can buy special rat treats to give to him, or use crunchy plain biscuits or dog biscuits. These have the added benefit of helping him wear down his teeth as he chews them. He might enjoy some cooked chicken or cooked egg as an occasional treat, or a few sunflower seeds or nuts. You can also offer him some sugar-free, wholewheat breakfast cereals or uncooked pasta.

At the end of each day, check your rat's cage and remove any old food. If he hoards food and snacks on it during the day he could become overweight. Make sure your rat always has fresh drinking water. This should be changed every day to keep it fresh.

And one last thing, don't be worried if you see your rat eating his droppings. Rats sometimes find their food hard to digest to get all the nutrients, so they eat their droppings to re-process the food and get any remaining nutrients out.


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