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- Feeding and Nutrition
Fresh and Wet Meals
It is useful to sometimes offer your rats a wet meal, which usually means something that has been cooked or has had more preparation done to it. These are particularly useful for putting supplement in, bulking up the old or infirm, or topping up youngsters with extra protein. They are also generally much appreciated by the rats so replacing part or all of their dry mix every week to 10 days can be a nice treat. Feeding wet meals too often, even replacing part of the dry mix, can cause issues unless the rat is struggling to maintain a healthy weight as they are much more digestible than normal so can easily cause weight gain. You also need to make sure that the wet meals you feed are at least roughly balanced, this means they will be healthy and not upset the overall balance of their diet. Whilst the occasional share of your roast dinner or cheese on toast is a nice treat, this shouldn’t be a regular occurrence and should be kept for a very occasional treat.
Ready made wet meals
- Dog / Cat food - Aim for the senior variants for adults and oldies and the higher quality brands so there aren’t so much rubbish and fillers in. Natural ranges are usually better. I particularly like the burns penlan farm range for older rats. For youngsters higher protein kitten and puppy food is very useful.
- Egg food - Sold for birds and parrots this is biscuit pieces soaked in egg, so are relatively high carbohydrate and protein. They are particularly useful as keep for a while and can be made up with warm water, lactol or milk for variety. Insectivorous feast is a particularly nice one as it is lower in sugar than most.
- Rat Rations soakable mixes - Rat rations do a nice range of soakable mixes aimed at different age groups and needs. This can be soaked in water, milk, baby food etc. and are generally well liked. Bulking up with some complan or coconut cream can help if a rat is a bit underweight. Some rats prefer a bit more texture in their food so adding in some human breakfast cereals can encourage eating.
Home made wet meals
There are lots of possible healthy and balanced cooked meals, you just need to focus on getting a good range of food types. It should be mostly carbohydrates with added protein source, vegetables and a small amount of oil. Keep to that balance and you can make all sorts of lovely meals for your rats. Where your leftovers are healthy you can also give these as an occasional wet meal. Some of my rat’s favourites (as well as the eggy rice) are;
- Eggy rice - This is a staple here, you take some cooked rice (white is better for oldies) and break an egg in. 1 egg to about 200g cooked rice is a nice ratio. Chop up some veg and throw a handful in, then microwave for about 1 minute until the egg is set. Break it up and add some supplements such as a bit of oil, vitamin powder etc. Allow to cool and serve to the rats. You can “soup” this up by adding baby food, coconut cream or similar high calorie supplement for the more skinny rats
- Tinned fish in tomato sauce with cooked pasta
- Cous cous with cooked chicken and veg
- Liver with stir-fried veg (don’t feed liver more than once a week)
- Shell fish (plus shells) with noodles and veg.
- Home-made soakable mix
- Base mix (60%); Try offering a range of flaked grains that soak well such as; Flaked barley, Flaked rice, Flaked corn, Bulgur Wheat (huskless), Flaked oats, Pearled Barley, millet (huskless processed variety), quinoa
- Processed Grains (20-25%); Try offering a range of processed grains that soak well such as; puffed grains, cornflakes, rice crispies, shredded wheat, egg noodles
- Protein Sources (5-10%); Flaked Soya, flaked peas, egg food, broken up dog food (helps it soak faster), broken up pelleted food.
- Vegetables and Herbs (10%); basil, mint, parsley, mixed soup veg, dried dandelion, bunny herb mixes, currents, rosehips, hawthorn, juniper
- Oil: add a drizzle of good quality oil to the soaked mix, linseed, hemp and coconut oil are my preferred choices.
Some foods make excellent healthy treats and special meals, some of my favourites are;
- Cooked bones - full of calcium and minerals (if they've got there marrow in still), note: chicken bones are fine too.
- Hard boiled eggs - shell on its full of calcium and vitamin D, especially good for young growing rats
- Liver - cant be fed too often due to the vitamin A content, but once every week or two gives a real boost of copper