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What to feed rats

Here are our tips for making sure your rats have the diet they need to stay happy and healthy.

close-up of white rat

A balanced diet for rats

It's easy to feed your rats a fresh, healthy and balanced diet by feeding them commercial food pellets. Always feed them food designed specifically for rats, rather than pellets for rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters or other herbivores - these won't give rats the nutrients they need.


  • Give them some variety - rats are omnivores, so you can supplement their diet with small amounts of fruit, vegetables, cooked egg, grains and seeds. Give these as part of their daily food allowance, not in addition to it, or it could cause obesity or health problems.
  • Avoid harmful foods such as onion, citrus fruits, walnuts, rhubarb, grapes, raisins and chocolate.
  • Avoid sugars and high-fat foods such as dairy. Rats like sweet and fatty food, but it can cause health problems if they eat too much of it, so only use these as treats and rewards during training.

Feeding your rats

Rats feed mainly at dawn and dusk, and drink mostly during the night, so feed your rats twice a day - in the morning and evening. Remove any uneaten food, and change the amount so that they eat all of it and stay a healthy weight. 

Give your rats their food in open ceramic bowls (not metal, as this creates ultrasound noise) - this allows them to carry food and handle or eat it wherever they want. It's a good idea to encourage natural foraging behaviour, as rats enjoy holding and manipulating food in their paws.

Remember, rats need to eat fresh faeces - it's natural behaviour that helps them absorb all the nutrients and minerals they need to stay healthy. Stopping this could cause nutritional deficiencies and health problems.

Drinking water

Give your rats a continuous supply of fresh, clean drinking water, in bottles rather than bowls to avoid contamination. Give them several bottles so that all your rats can drink at the same time, as this means they won't be competing for water and means they'll still have water if one of the bottles gets blocked.

Check their water bottles morning and evening and refill them twice a day to ensure they're never thirsty. Clean them regularly to stop algae and bacteria build-up, and check them everyday for blockages and leaks.

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