Foods You Didn't Know Were Harmful To Your Pet Rat

Posted on: 9 January 2015

Feeding pet rats is easy. The common saying is, "If you eat it, they will." Many foods are unhealthy for your rat, but he can eat it. Several foods can be dangerous and will require an emergency trip to the vet.

Lactose Intolerance

Like many humans, some rats can't digest the lactose in cow's milk. It will cause tummy troubles and can be dangerous. Pet rats that are lactose intolerant should not be given any foods with cow's milk, such as cheese or ice cream. Yogurt is acceptable, especially if a pet rat is sick and on antibiotics that are harsh on the stomach. Yogurt will coat the stomach. It should only be given minimally or as a special treat now and then. You can give these rats soy milk.

Dangerous Raw Foods

Raw vegetables contain more nutrients than cooked veggies, and should be the choice for pet rats. There is one exception to this: sweet potatoes. There are toxins in sweet potatoes. They should always be cooked before given to pet rats as they will become sick and could die. Green potato skins, plant and sprouts also contain a toxin called solanine which can make pet rats ill. Apple, apricot, pear, peach, plum and nectarine seeds are also toxic. They contain a substance that releases cyanide when digested. Most people know not to eat these seeds, but might toss the fruit with seeds to a pet rat and not realize it will harm them, too. Also, avoid the pits from peaches, apricots and cherries.

Harmful Liquids

Rats should be given fresh water daily. If using tap water, or even some bottled water, make sure there is no fluorine. Fluorides are toxic when taken in large doses, even for humans, and since rats are so small, it doesn't take much fluorine to harm them. Never give pet rats soda or other carbonated drinks because they can't burp. Male rats should never have orange juice. For some strange reason, it causes cancer in male rats, but not in females.

Avoid Household Plants

Many, but not all, common plants are toxic to animals, including rats. Some of them include aloe vera, eucalyptus, mistletoe, poinsettia, tomato leaves, tobacco and rhubarb. It is safer and easier to just keep your pet rats away from any household plants then it is to keep track of what is safe for them and what isn't. Let them play in rooms that do not have potted plants. Some plants will just cause rashes and diarrhea, while others can cause kidney failure, abdominal pain, and tremors.

Give rats foods that have low sugar, additives, or preservatives. Organic and fresh foods are the best choice, as there is little fear of pesticides or unnecessary and harmful ingredients. When in doubt, ask your vet.

For more information, contact Groves Veterinary Clinic or a similar location.