Among the things your long-tailed critter can safely eat are fruits. He’ll love the variety in his diet and scurry over to his dish when you put in a few fresh berries. While most fruits are perfectly safe for rats, you’ll need to avoid certain types that can be toxic.
Best Fruit Options
Before biting into your afternoon apple, cut off a small slice for Sampson. Apples -- as well as other whole fruits like ripe bananas and pears -- are healthy and safe additions to your pet rat’s diet. He’ll love cubed cantaloupe and honeydew as well. You can give him orange wedges and grapefruit chunks, although he may not like citrus. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are other fruit options for your fuzzy critter. Cut fruits into small pieces to make it easier for him eat and to limit problems with choking.
Fruit is loaded with fiber, which is certainly helpful for pushing out waste in mammals. If you give Sampson too much, waste will move too quickly and he’ll wind up having diarrhea. Rather than fill his bowl with your leftover fruit salad in the morning, give him a small bite here and there throughout the day. Otherwise, he'll eat the whole bowlful at once, giving him a belly ache and runny stools later on. He shouldn't have more than about a teaspoon a day, at least until you know how he tolerates it. As long as it doesn't seem to bother his intestinal tract, you'll be able to give him another bite later on.
Fruits to Avoid
Even though rats can eat banana, make sure the banana you give him is ripe. Green bananas are harsh on his sensitive digestive tract. Avocados can be toxic; dried fruit including apricots, banana chips, raisins and dried apples can be a choking danger; refrain from giving them. While you may love snacking on mango fresh from the skin during summer months, you won’t be able to share the fruit with your pal. Mango is hazardous to rats.
Always opt for fresh fruits rather than canned or frozen varieties. These processed fruits tend to have sweeteners that can make your companion gain weight rather quickly. Citrus fruits are safe for rats, but don’t give citrus juice. The sugar content can be too much for him, further adding to his risk of obesity. Thoroughly wash anything you give him to remove toxins.
Rat and apple image by Yodanet Company from Fotolia.com
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.