Can rats eat bread? Whenever you bring home a loaf of bread from the bakery or the supermarket, you might wonder whether it’s possible to share some of it with your pet rat. After all, rats are omnivorous animals, so they can eat many different kinds of foods. However, while rats are omnivorous, there are certain foods that they cannot eat, and that can even be harmful to them. So, what about bread? Is this food harmful to them or can it safely be given to them?
In this guide, I’m going to go over everything you need to know before you start feeding bread to your rat. Let’s dig in!
If you’re in a hurry and in need of a quick answer, here you go: Rats can safely eat bread, but it shouldn’t be a large part of their diet. Wholewheat bread is much better for them than white bread because it contains more nutrients and fiber. As an occasional treat it’s fine to give it to your rat, but not too much, otherwise it can lead to rapid weight gain.
I do highly recommend you read the rest of the article. I promise you will learn something new and interesting.
Is bread safe for rats to eat?
There’s an interesting article in the New York Times from very long ago, 1970 to be precise, that touches upon rats eating bread. In this article, they discuss a study in which rats were fed a diet of only white bread and water. Unfortunately, the rats that ate only white bread and water did not survive for very long.
If you’ve read this article, or have heard of the study, you might assume that bread is poisonous for rats. However, this is not the case. In the same study, they also fed rats bread that was nutritionally improved, and the rats that ate that variant survived just fine. So, it’s safe to assume that the problem here is white bread, not bread in general. The white variety just doesn’t contain enough nutrients to sustain a rat.
Also, since they fed the rats a diet that consisted of nothing but bread, it’s not really an accurate representation of what will happen if you give your rat a little bit of bread as a treat in addition to their regular diet. It’s never recommended to feed your rat exclusively on 1 food item, and definitely not something that’s as devoid of nutrients as white bread.
There’s nothing in bread that’s dangerous to rats, so don’t worry about poisoning your rat by giving them a piece of bread. As long as you don’t overfeed them, there’s nothing to worry about.
White vs Wholewheat
The primary difference between white and wholewheat bread is that the white variety is made from refined grains. The refined grains go through a process where they remove certain parts of the grain. Because of this process, quite a bit of the fiber and certain nutrients are lost.
Take a look at this chart:
As you can see, whole-wheat is much higher in Manganese, Selenium, and fiber. Also, it’s lower in sodium, which is good, because rats do not need a lot of sodium in their diet, and commercial diets already contain more sodium than they need.
For those reasons, it’s much better to give wholewheat rather than white bread to your rat.
Things to consider
While bread is not harmful to rats, you do have to be careful that you do not overfeed your rat. Bread is quite high in calories which makes it very easy to overfeed your rat on it.
If you’re going to feed bread to your pet rat, you should make sure that you only give them a very small amount of it on special occasions. Rats are small animals, and while a slice of bread might not seem like a lot to you, it’s a huge amount of food to a rat. You should also make sure that you do not put any butter on it before you give it to them. Butter is very high in calories and will make the already caloric treat you’re about to give them into an even bigger calorie bomb.
Furthermore, you should make sure that your rat has a varied diet that consists mainly of pellets, fruits, and vegetables. Bread can be given as a special treat, but should never make up the majority of their diet.
Also, don’t worry about removing the crust. Rats have strong teeth and can eat the crust without any issues.
Most rats absolutely love bread, but if your rat doesn’t seem to be very interested in eating it and you want to give them something else as a treat, here are some ideas for you:
To learn more about what rats can, and can not eat, I highly suggest you check out this rat nutrition guide. It gives an overview of the ideal diet for rats and also goes over some of the most popular food items to discuss whether or not they are safe for rats to eat. In addition, it contains a list of foods that are harmful to rats and should therefore be avoided.