Healthy treats: what and how much?
What is a healthy treat for a Roof Rat?
That’s actually an easy question to answer: just ask yourself “What is a healthy treat for me?” Because your nutritional requirements are (mostly) not that different from a Roof Rat’s!
Well, mostly. There are a few things that you can safely eat that you really shouldn’t give to a rat, even as a treat.
- Alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, cannabis or any other stimulants, depressants or psychoactive substance. (For information about CBD, see supplements.)
- Large amounts of sugar, salt or fat. Not that you should eat that, either.
- Large amounts of cocoa and chocolate. Small amounts are OK (also see supplements.)
- Very spicy.
- Much colder or hotter than room temperature.
- Citrus fruits, or fruits with significant amounts of d-limonene (mangos, for example: Google if unsure.) May be OK for female Roof Rats.
- Carbonated beverages. Roof Rats cannot burp.
- Gas forming, such as unsoaked beans, cabbage or broccoli. Similar reason as #7.
- Certain foods are unsafe when raw, but OK cooked. It is mostly the same as for people, so use common sense: if you wouldn’t feed it to a child, don’t feed it to your Roof Rat!
OK, so what treats do Roof Rats really love, which are safe and good for them?
- Raw, unsalted Almonds, without their shells. We have these available at all times as treats for our Roof Rats, and generally give them once or twice a day, one or two per serving. They absolutely love them, beg for them and will learn tricks to get them. Besides, they are very healthy and nutritious, being a great source of unsaturated fats (including omega-3), Vitamin E and protein. Vitamin E is especially beneficial for Roof Rats, as is helps maintain their respiratory health.
Oh, did I mention that Roof Rats absolutely love Almonds?
- Hemp Seeds. I used to sprinkle some in their cage from time to time, so they could forage for them. Here in Florida, it is hard to get Hemp Seeds, but we used to be able to buy 30lb bags of it in California, where it is fed to wild birds (for example.) It’s full of healthy fats and protein. In fact, it is one of the best, natural sources of GLA, which is an anti-inflammatory fat. They are more like delicious, tiny nuts than seeds, and Roof Rats love nibbling off the little shells one after another. If you can get the whole seeds where you live, then your Roof Rats will love them! Otherwise, you can get Hemp hearts on Amazon.
- Unsalted Pepitas. These are a type of pumpkin seed. I sprinkle some in their cage from time to time, so they could forage for them. Very tasty and full of healthy oils, protein and zinc.
- Flaxseed. One of nature’s best sources of omega-3 oil. And Roof Rats love them. However, we no longer give them to our breeding rats, as they do contain a lot of phytoestrogens. That’s not a problem for pet Roof Rats, and you can sprinkle some in their cage from time to time so they can forage for them.
- Walnuts are also good, in moderation, as they are a bit higher in fat than Almonds. Besides, Roof Rats don’t enjoy the taste as much.
- Cooked pumpkin or sweet potato. A tasty source of Vitamin A. Raw or cooked carrots are also good. A small fingertip sized piece a few times a week is a welcome treat.
- Defrosted sweet green peas. Nutritious and delicious. They are like pudding for Roof Rats! A little handful, as the mood strikes you, will be fun to feed them one at a time. They also like string beans.
- Blueberries or strawberries. Rich in antioxidants, Roof Rats just love them! They sell them frozen, so you can always have some on hand (remember to defrost them before serving.) A little handful of blueberries or strawberry pieces, as the mood strikes you, will be fun to feed them one at a time. Note: avoid any fruits with seeds or pits that your Roof Rat may choke on.
- Melons, such as watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc. A good source of vitamins. If you want to travel with your Roof Rat, they are also a good source of hydration if a water bottle or dish is impractical. A fingertip sized piece, a few times a week, is fine. A nice size chunk if you are using it as a source of hydration.
- Edible bamboo is a fun, safely chewable treat for Roof Rats! Note: this is not the same as bamboo shoots that you can find in the supermarket, which are not chewy and often contain salt or other additives. You can purchase chewable bamboo sticks online or at pet stores.
But what treats do Roof Rats like best? We asked 3 Roof Rats to rate the following treats: almonds, blueberries, green peas, green/string beans and carrot pieces. Here’s what they told us…