Fancy rats are popular small pets not just for their cuteness -- they are easy to please. As omnivores, rats eat anything from meat to mushrooms to melons. Store-bought rat pellets should make up 90 percent of your pet rat's diet, but fruits and vegetables can make up to 10 percent of their calories, according to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Michigan State University. The majority of fruits and veggies are safe for rats, although some you must avoid.
Fruits for Rats
Berries safe for rats include strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Pomegranate, raisins and blackcurrants are suitable. Melon and other watery fruits like seedless grapes, apples, pears, nectarines, kiwi and peaches are good treats. Banana and avocado are high-fat fruits that are safe for rats. Offer a small amount of these fruits a few times per week to add variety to your rat's diet.
Vegetables for Rats
Any of the dark, green leafy vegetables are excellent options for your rat. Broccoli, cucumber, zucchini and asparagus are also good choices. Offer bits of pumpkin and squash when available. Carrot and other root vegetables like potato, rutabaga and parsnip are fine in small amounts. A few sprigs of fresh basil, fennel, parsley and the like are a good way of making use of leftover herbs. Rats can also eat alfalfa sprouts and cauliflower. Store-bought mushrooms are also a good choice.
Fruits and Veggies to Be Fed With Caution
Citrus fruits like orange, grapefruits and lemons are safe for female rats, but many rat fanciers avoid feeding these fruits to males due to a potential link to cancer from the peels. Some rat owners also avoid papaya and mango for the same reasons. Raw veggies like sweet potatoes, cabbage and brussels sprouts can be toxic but are fine once cooked. While raw corn is safe, corn is typically a main ingredient in the rat pellets and doesn't add variety to their diet.
Fruits and Vegetables to Avoid
Don't feed apple seeds or the pit of any fruit. Do not offer your rat avocado skin. Avoid green bananas and potatoes with green skin. Many rat owners don't feed iceberg lettuce or celery due to their low nutritional content. Rats should not eat rhubarb.
Rat fanciers disagree on the exact amount of fruits and veggies a rat should eat, but as little as 10 percent and no more than 20 percent of the total amount, by weight, of their daily food intake is recommended. You may have to experiment to find the best ratio of fruits and veggies for your rat. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pets, including your rat's diet.