Rat Nutrition 101: What Pet Rats Can (And Can’t) Eat

Getting a new pet is always exciting, especially when you get a pet rat. However, there’s also a lot to learn. One of the most important things to learn about is what your pet rat can and cannot eat. This is important knowledge because feeding your pets the right food is essential in making them strong, happy, and healthy.

pet rat nutrition guide

In this guide, I’m going to go over the most common foods that you can and can’t feed to your pet rat. However, before we do that, let’s take a look at the optimal diet of rats. That way you can have an idea of what you should feed your rat on a daily basis.

If you’re mainly interested in finding out if your rat can eat a particular food I highly recommend you use the table of contents listed below since this article will be quite long.

The optimal rat diet

In the wild, rats eat anything they can get their paws on. They don’t really care whether or not it’s good for them, as long as it’s tasty they’ll eat it. That’s one of the reasons why wild rats die much sooner than captive rats. Rats in captivity have a much more balanced diet because their owners feed them a diet containing optimal nutrition.

The optimal diet for rats consists of pellets and fresh fruits and vegetables.

It is recommended that the pellets you feed them have a protein content of at least 16% and a fat content of around 4-5%. This is important because in an ideal situation rats should get 75-80% carbs, 12-20% protein, and 4-5% fat from their diet.

A good option for pellets that many pet rat owners recommend is Oxbow Essentials Adult Rat Food.

These pellets should make up around 80% of their diet with the remaining 20% being made up of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also occasionally feed them some meat, seeds, or nuts as a treat but make sure to not give them too much of that. Rats are very prone to obesity and these foods are quite high in calories and fats.

Vegetables that rats can eat

So, now we’ve gone over what the ideal rat diet is made up of, and you know that 20% of your rat’s diet should be made up of fruits and vegetables. However, you’re probably wondering which vegetables are safe for rat consumption. Let’s go over the most common vegetables that rats can eat first.


Rats can eat asparagus without issue. It’s a healthy vegetable that’s a good inclusion in their diet. It contains a lot of vitamin C, A, and K. On top of that, it’s rich in folate, fiber, and potassium. It can be fed either cooked, raw, or steamed. When feeding raw, make sure to wash it properly.

Your rat’s pee may smell a bit worse after eating it, but it’s not harmful by any stretch.


Aubergine, also known as eggplant, is another vegetable that’s safe for rat consumption. Aubergine is quite high in antioxidants but relatively low in other vitamins and minerals compared to some other vegetables. It should not be given to rats too often because it contains nicotine.

This vegetable can be fed raw, boiled, or steamed.

Bell Peppers

Bells pepper, also known as paprika or capsicum, can be eaten by rats. These vegetables (they’re actually fruits, but most people consider them vegetables) come in many different colors and each of them can be safely consumed by rats. These plants are very rich in vitamin C, other antioxidants, and vitamins A, E, and K1.

Bell peppers can be fed to rats raw, boiled, or steamed. However, one thing to keep in mind is that boiling the bell peppers will destroy quite a lot of the nutrients in the plant.

Bok choy (Pak Choy)

Bok Choy, also known as Pak Choy, is another vegetable that’s safe for rats to eat. Bok Choy contains vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E. Also, it’s a good source of selenium, which many other vegetables and fruits lack. It’s definitely a good food to include in your rat’s diet because of its high nutritional content.


I’ve written a whole post explaining the finer details about feeding broccoli to your rats. A summary of what I detailed in that post is this: Rats can eat broccoli without any problems. It’s a healthy food to include in their diet because it’s very rich in various vitamins and minerals while also having a high fiber content. One thing you have to note is that it can cause gassiness in your rats.

Broccoli can also be fed to rats raw, steamed, or cooked but I recommend feeding it raw or steamed.

Cabbage (green)

Green cabbage is safe for your rat to eat. It’s a good source of fiber and it also contains a lot of vitamins C, K, and B. On top of that cabbage has a lot of minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium. It’s also very low in calories and fat, with 1 cup (89 grams) containing only 22 calories. This is good because rats do not need much fat in their diet.


Rats can eat carrots. They’re a good food to add to their diet occasionally. Many rat owners prefer to feed carrots to their rats raw because they’re so crunchy which makes them a lot more fun for your rat to eat. Carrots contain a lot of beta-carotene and other antioxidants which may help prevent inflammation and age-related diseases.

Rats can also eat carrots boiled or steamed.


Cauliflower is yet another good food to add to your rat’s diet. It does not contain anything harmful to pet rats. This vegetable is loaded with many nutrients, fiber, and vitamins while being low in fat and calories. You can feed your rats this vegetable raw, steamed, or boiled. For more information, check out this post about feeding cauliflower to pet rats.


Celery can be fed to rats, but it’s not the best vegetable out there. Celery is relatively low in many nutrients since it’s mainly made up of water. On the other hand, it’s also very low in calories, so there’s not much risk of overfeeding. Also, it has a high amount of fiber which can help your rat’s digestion.

Giving celery to your rats on occasion won’t harm them, but it’s best to feed them other vegetables on this list instead.


Corn is a safe vegetable for rats to eat. Some people do not feed rats corn because they’re afraid of aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by mold that can grow on corn. However, if you live in a country like the United States, the corn you buy is pretty safe. The FDA has taken measures to prevent corn contaminated with this toxin from being sold (source).

As a result, rats can eat corn relatively safely cooked and raw.

Rats can also eat popcorn without any problems as long as it’s unsalted and without butter or other flavorings and is actually quite a good treat since it’s not very high in calories and fat compared to some other treats.


Cucumber is fine for rats to eat but shouldn’t be a large part of their diet. Cucumbers are made up mainly of water and are not the most nutritious vegetables. Giving your rat a slice of cucumber is fine, but most of their vegetable intake should come from more nutritious vegetables like kale, cauliflower, or Bok Choy.

You should also take care not to feed them too much cucumber at once because the high water content can give them diarrhea which can lead to dehydration. Cucumber is best fed chopped up in small pieces.


Feeding garlic to your rat is quite a heavily debated subject. Some owners say it’s fine, while others say you shouldn’t do it. The truth is that garlic, in very high amounts, is indeed bad for rats. However, if you give your rat a very small piece of raw garlic nothing bad will happen. On top of that, even if you gave your rat the option to eat more than a single clove they most likely wouldn’t.

Rats can eat both raw and cooked garlic in small amounts and it’s a healthy option to include. Garlic, especially in its raw state, contains a lot of nutrients. There was a study done where they fed raw garlic to rats that showed that raw garlic “provides some evidence to support the beneficial effect of longâ€term garlic consumption on physical performance and learning behaviour” (source).


Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables that you can give your rat. Kale is rich in Vitamin A, K & C while also containing other essential minerals like manganese and calcium. On top of that, kale contains many antioxidants. It’s also very low in calories and fat, making it an excellent vegetable to feed to your rats.

To learn more about feeding kale to your rats, check out this post.

Lettuce (Romaine)

Rats can eat romaine lettuce. It’s much more nutrient-dense than iceberg lettuce, so if you’re going to feed lettuce to your rats it’s much better to choose romaine over iceberg. Iceberg lettuce is almost completely made up of water and doesn’t contain much nutrition at all.

Romaine lettuce, on the other hand, does have quite a good amount of nutrients. It has a decent amount of folate, iron, manganese, vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin A which are beneficial for your rat.


Mushrooms are healthy for rats to eat, as long as you feed them the right ones. The most popular mushrooms to feed your rat are white mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus). All the mushrooms that are safe for human consumption are also safe for rats to eat. Do not feed your rat any mushrooms that are not safe for human consumption because this can be dangerous.

Mushrooms are very low in calories. One cup of mushrooms (91 grams) contains only 21 calories. Even though they’re low in calories they contain a lot of good things. Mushrooms are relatively high in protein for a vegetable. They also contain a high amount of vitamin D and antioxidants.


Rats can eat okra and it’s a good vegetable to include in their diet. This vegetable is a good source of potassium, calcium, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Also, it contains antioxidants like flavonoids and isoquercetin which prevent oxidative damage and help to keep the heart of your rat healthy.

I definitely recommend feeding your rat okra occasionally. Nothing in this plant is bad for them and it boasts a very good nutritional profile. Okra can be fed boiled, steamed, or raw.


Parsnip is a root vegetable similar to carrots, rats can eat this root vegetable without any problems. However, be noted that parsnip is relatively high in calories for a vegetable. One cup of parsnips (133 grams) contains 100 calories so make sure you don’t feed too much of this vegetable to your rats. Parsnip does have a good amount of fiber and is rich in zinc, B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin E, and magnesium.

Peas (green)

If you want to nitpick, green peas aren’t vegetables, they’re legumes. I include them in this category because most people consider them to be vegetables. Green peas are a great food to include in your rat’s diet. Most rats enjoy eating them and they’re quite a healthy food for them. Peas are a good source of protein. a cup of peas contains 4 grams of protein which is quite a lot for a vegetable. This vegetable is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, thiamin, folate, iron, fiber, and manganese.


Rats can eat potatoes but not all of them. Sweet potatoes should be avoided but regular potatoes are fine for rats to eat. Also, make sure that the potatoes you’re feeding your rat have not turned green.

To learn more about feeding potatoes to your rats check out this guide.


Pumpkin is a food that most rats absolutely love to eat. Especially the seeds are a favorite among many rats. Luckily, they can eat both the vegetable and the seeds without any problems and they’re actually pretty healthy. One thing you should keep in mind is that the seeds are quite high in calories so make sure that you do not feed them the seeds too often, only as an occasional treat.

Some rat owners report that pie pumpkins are a crowd favorite among rats.


Pet rats can eat radish, but only in small amounts. Radishes contain oxalates, which hinder calcium absorption if you feed them too much of it. In small amounts, your rats can benefit from eating radish since the vegetable is quite nutritious, but giving them too much of it is not good. If you’re unsure, it’s best to not give them radish and feed them another vegetable from this list instead.


Tomatoes are fine for rats to eat, in fact, they’re a very healthy option to include in their diet. Tomatoes contain a good amount of vitamin C, K1, and B9. Also, they’re a good source of antioxidants like beta carotene and naringenin. You can feed your rat both cherry and regular tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are quite small and pretty much an ideal size to give to your rat.


Turnips are edible for rats both raw and cooked. However, most rats prefer to eat them cooked. Your rat can eat both the leaves and the bulb. They’re both healthy and contain many essential vitamins and minerals, but the leaves are even better than the bulb because they contain more micronutrients. The leaves have more vitamins K, C, A, and B9 than the bulb.


Rats can eat zucchini and it’s a good vegetable (technically it’s a fruit, but most people consider it a vegetable) to include in their diet. Rats can consume zucchini raw or cooked, raw it contains more vitamin C while cooked it’s richer in vitamin A. If you’re going to feed it raw, it’s a good idea to give it to your rats grated for better portion control. Zucchini is good for rats because this plant is among the richest in vitamin A on the entire planet. It’s also a good source of manganese, vitamins K, C, and B6. Overall, this vegetable is definitely a good inclusion in your rat’s diet with many benefits.

Vegetables that rats should not eat

Now that we’ve gone over the most popular vegetables that rats can eat, let’s cover some of the vegetables that they should not eat. Not all of these vegetables are necessarily harmful to your rat, but they’re best avoided for several reasons that I’ll explain for each vegetable individually. Some of the vegetables on this list can be fed to rats in moderation, I’ll clarify more on which ones those are on the individual subsections.

Luckily, the list of vegetables that rats can not eat is a lot shorter than the list of vegetables they can eat.


Rats can not eat raw artichokes, but they can eat cooked artichokes. Rats should not consume raw artichoke because t inhibits their protein digestion. This effect does not happen when they consume cooked artichoke.


Rats can not eat alfalfa because they’re unable to digest it. They do not have the proper enzymes in their digestive system to break down the cellulose in this vegetable, which can result in blockages in their digestive tract. Also, most rats don’t really like to eat it when it’s in pellets and just leave it rather than eat it.

Beans (raw)

Rats should never consume raw beans because they contain an antinutrient called hemagglutinin that destroys vitamin A and enzymes that your rat needs to digest proteins and starches. This includes any kind of beans – kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, etc. Cooked beans on the other hand are fine to share with your rat. As long as you’re absolutely sure that the bean is thoroughly cooked it will not harm your rat.


Beets are high in oxalic acid and nitrates. This can cause urinary crystals to form. On top of that, the oxalates in the beets will bind with the calcium and iron in their body, which can result in your rat becoming deficient in these minerals. If your rat eats a small amount of beets nothing bad will happen, but it’s a food that’s best avoided because there are many other, healthier options out there.

Brussel Sprouts

You should not feed raw Brussel sprouts to your rats because they’re toxic and cause vitamin B1 deficiency. When they’re cooked rats can eat them, but I still wouldn’t recommend it. There are many better vegetables for them to eat. You can find an interesting study about the effects of raw Brussel sprouts on the health of rats here. In that study, they fed rats a lot of Brussel sprouts and it resulted in impaired kidney function and increased liver weights among other things.

Cabbage (Red)

Similar to Brussel sprouts, red cabbage contains a compound that causes thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency in rats. Therefore, you shouldn’t feed red cabbage to your rat. If you want to feed them cabbage, it’s much better to go for green or white cabbage instead of red, because these are risk-free and much healthier for pet rats.

Iceberg lettuce

Iceberg lettuce is not recommended for rats because this vegetable consists almost entirely of water. Because of that, it’s almost completely devoid of nutrients and is not good to include in their diet. If you want to feed your rat lettuce it’s much better to feed them romaine rather than iceberg lettuce because it contains many more nutrients.


Leeks are not a food I would recommend feeding to your rat. The primary reason is because of how difficult they are to chew. Leeks break into stringy, smaller sections when chewed which makes them a choking hazard for your rat.

Also, since they’re a member of the onion family, they can give your rat an upset stomach if given in large amounts.


Rats should not eat raw onion because it causes anemia if they eat it. It also often results in an upset stomach. Cooked it’s a different story – they can eat cooked onion without problems.


Rhubard is very high in oxalates and therefore it should be avoided in your rat’s diet.


Spinach is very healthy for us humans, but for rats, it’s not too great. The nutrients in spinach are amazing for rats, but similarly to beets, spinach is high in oxalates which can cause calcium deficiency. However, this is not really something to be worried about if you feed your rat a little bit of spinach every other week. It becomes a problem when you feed your rat spinach every day, therefore, if you are going to feed spinach to your rat you have to make sure to only feed it to them at most once or twice a week in small amounts.

To get more information, check out this post.

Swiss chard

Swiss chard is yet another vegetable that’s unfortunately very high in oxalates. Rats can eat small amounts of it but if you feed them too much Swiss chard they’ll develop problems because of the vegetable’s high oxalate content.

Fruits that rats can eat

Now that we’ve gone over all the vegetables that rats can and cannot eat, let’s discuss the fruits. Fruits are another important part of your rat’s diet, and it’s important to know which ones they can and can not eat. Let’s take a look.


Rats can eat apples. However, you have to be careful that they do not eat the seeds because they contain small amounts of cyanide. The best way to feed it is, of course, to cut it into small pieces, otherwise, you cannot remove the seeds. Rats can also eat the peels of apples without any problems and they’re actually a really good source of fiber.


Apricots are another good fruit to include in your rat’s diet. Apricots are a very good source of vitamins A, E & C while also boasting a good amount of fiber. On top of that, they’re low in calories and contain many essential antioxidants like flavonoids that prevent inflammation and offer health benefits. Do make sure that you do not feed your rat the stone. Also, make sure to not feed them dried apricots as these are treated with preservatives that are not good for your rat to consume.


Rats should not eat avocado too often but the flesh is not dangerous to them. It is however very high in fat, which rats do not need much of in their diet. As a result, it’s quite high in calories which makes it very easy to overfeed your rat on avocado. Also, the skin, pit, and the leaves of the avocado are toxic to your rat so make sure to never allow them to eat those parts of the fruit – only give them the flesh.

If you have a rat that needs to gain weight quickly then feeding them avocado can be a good option as long as you make sure to remove the pit, skin, and leaves before feeding.


Rats can definitely eat bananas. They’re a very good source of potassium, vitamin B6, fiber, and manganese. Make sure that the banana you feed your rat has properly ripened and is not green. Green bananas can be tough on their digestive tract. Also, before feeding you should of course remove the peel.

Rats can eat dried or fresh bananas, as long as the dried banana does not have a lot of added sugar.


Like most berries, blackberries are extremely rich in many nutrients. They’re chock full of vitamin C and other antioxidants as well as being relatively low in sugar. Rats can eat blackberries and giving some of these berries to your rat is a great enrichment to their diet.


Blackcurrant is yet another food that is great for rats. They can eat it without any adverse effects and it contains a lot of vitamins A, E & B. On top of that, they’re very good for your rat’s immune system.


Blueberries are amazing fruits for rats. It’s not for no reason that they’re called a superfruit. They’re very rich in vitamin C & K while also having a large amount of manganese. And if that wasn’t enough, they’re also an excellent source of fiber and are the king of antioxidant foods. They’re an amazing fruit to include in your rat’s diet and most rats absolutely love eating them.


Rats can eat cantaloupe and it’s a healthy inclusion in your rat’s diet. Since cantaloupes contain a lot of water you should not feed them too much of this fruit at once since it can cause loose stools, but small amounts of this melon are great to feed to your rat. You can choose to remove the rind or leave the flesh on the rind, most rats are pretty capable of eating the flesh directly from the rind.


Cherries are a great fruit for rats to eat. They contain many essential micronutrients but are also quite high in sugar. Therefore, you should not feed cherries to your rat all too often. Nevertheless, they’re a great treat to feed them once in a while. Make sure to remove the stone before feeding.

Go here to learn more about feeding cherries to your rats.


Rats can eat coconut meat, as long as you don’t feed them too much of it. Coconut is very high in calories and fat, which means that you can easily overfeed your rat on it and make them obese. A good way to feed them coconut is by feeding them small flakes of it. That way you have better control over the amount they eat.


Cranberries are fine to include in your rat’s diet. You can feed your rats both fresh and dried cranberries, both are good, healthy fruits to include in their diet. Cranberries are especially good for keeping their urinary tract healthy.


Dates are okay to give to your rat in small quantities. They have quite a high sugar and calorie content, so you shouldn’t give it to your rats too often but they’re great as an occasional treat.


You can give elderberries to your rats without any issues. They’re a good source of nutrients like vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. Also, they’re good for your rat’s immune system. One study showed that they increase the number of white blood cells in their body (source). Elderberries have also shown to have antidepressant properties in Muridae (source).


You can feed figs to your rats and they can most definitely eat them. However, figs, just like dates, are quite high in sugar, especially when they’re dried. Nevertheless, a small portion of figs will not harm your rat and is safe for them to consume.


Grapes are a healthy fruit to include in your rat’s diet. Both green and purple grapes are fine for rats to eat, but purple grapes are generally healthier because they contain more micronutrients. Grapes also have proven anticarcinogenic effects in rats. You should be careful not to overfeed your rat when giving them grapes because they’re quite high in sugar. If you give rats access to a lot of grapes they can easily eat too many of them which can give them diarrhea.

Raisins are basically just dried grapes so they can eat those too. However, dried foods are always higher in sugar because the sugar is more concentrated. Therefore, when feeding raisins to your rats you have to be especially careful to not give them too many.


Jackfruit is okay for rats to eat. Jackfruit is relatively high in protein compared to other fruits, containing 3 grams per cup, which makes it a decent source of plant-based protein for your rats. It also contains a good amount of vitamins and minerals and can boost your rat’s immune system.


Rats can most definitely eat kiwi. Kiwi is called a vitamin bomb and for good reason, it’s absolutely jam-packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s most rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, and potassium. The small black seeds in this fruit are also safe for rats to eat. The peel is also edible and contains a lot of fiber. However, not all rats will want to eat the peel. It’s up to you whether you want to peel it or not.


Rats can eat mango in small amounts. There is indeed a study that shows that very large amounts of D-Limonene are harmful to male rats, and this compound is indeed found in mangoes. However, mangoes contain only a very small amount of this D-limonene. If you feed your rats a very small amount of mango on special occasions no harm will come to them.

There’s a very interesting article that goes over the study I mentioned before and whether rats can actually eat citrus fruits or not which you can find here. It offers great insight into the results of the study and how results can sometimes be misinterpreted.


Rats can eat mulberries without any problems. It’s good for their digestion and is rich in many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.


Nectarines are a great fruit for rats to eat. As long as you make sure to remove the stone in the nectarine there’s nothing but goodness in these fruits for your rat. The stone should never be eaten because it contains cyanide, which is very harmful. Rats have very strong teeth and can easily chew through the stone if you don’t remove it.


Giving your rats an olive once in a while is not a problem at all. However, they are quite high in fat, so make sure to not give your rats olives too often. If you give your rats olives on a daily basis they can easily become overweight which can cause all sorts of health issues. As a treat on special occasions, olives are fine, and many rats absolutely love them.


Papaya is quite similar to mango, which I’ve discussed before, many of the same concepts apply. Papaya contains D-limonene which is harmful to male rats in very high quantities. However, the amount of D-limonene is not high enough to be harmful to rats if you feed them small amounts of it. Some websites will say that rats can not eat papaya at all, but giving your rat a small piece of papaya on occasion will not harm as long as you don’t overfeed your rats on it.

Passion fruit

Passion fruit is safe for rats to eat, but it’s quite acidic and for that reason, some rats might not want to eat it. If you want to try feeding passion fruit to your rat, simply put a small piece of it in their cage and see if they want to eat it.


Rats can eat peaches as long as you remove the pit first. The pit is not good for them to eat because, just like many other fruit pits, it contains cyanide. Always make sure to remove the pit before feeding peaches to your rat. If you do so, peaches are a good fruit to include in their diet because they contain a good amount of vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium. On top of that, like many fruits, they contain a good amount of antioxidants.


You can give pears to your rats and they can definitely eat them. Pears are an excellent source of fiber, with one cup containing 6 grams of it. It’s also rich in copper, potassium, and vitamin C & K. They’re definitely a healthy fruit to include in your rat’s diet.

Dragon fruit

Dragon fruit can be consumed by rats and studies have actually shown that diabetic rats can benefit from eating dragon fruit. Dragon fruit is also low in calories, contains 0 grams of fat, and is a good source of fiber and magnesium. However, dragon fruit does lack several essential vitamins and minerals. For instance, it’s quite low in vitamin C and other vitamins, which is why dragon fruit mustn’t be the only fruit you feed your rats, but rather a small part of their overall fruit intake.


Pineapple is a great fruit to add to your rat’s diet. It’s rich in many important vitamins and nutrients like vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B6 and potassium. However, pineapples do have a relatively high sugar content. Because of their high sugar content, you can not feed pineapples to your rats too often otherwise you run the risk of them becoming overweight. Also, the high water content in this fruit can give them diarrhea if they eat too much of it.


Plums are a safe food for rat consumption. They’re an excellent source of fiber, which makes them great for your rat’s digestive system. On top of that, they’re rich in vitamins A, C, and K and contain a lot of antioxidants.

You can feed your rat both plums and prunes, but prunes in smaller quantities because they’re higher in sugar.


Most rats absolutely love pomegranates, especially the seeds, and they can definitely eat them. Pomegranates contain many nutrients. They’re most rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and potassium. Pomegranates are quite high in sugar, one cup contains 24 grams of it and 144 calories. For that reason, you should take care not to overfeed your rats on this fruit. In small amounts, they make a great addition to your rat’s diet.


Raspberries are a nice berry to include in your rat’s fruit intake. They’re an excellent source of fiber, with 1 cup containing 8 grams of it. Also, they’re a great source of vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K, vitamin E, and B vitamins. They’re also relatively low in sugar and do not contain many calories, only 64 per cup. Overall, raspberries are a great food for rats to consume.


Strawberries are yet another fruit that rats benefit greatly from having in their diet. Strawberries contain a good amount of fiber, vitamin C, folate, manganese, and potassium. They’re also not very high in calories. 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of this fruit contains only 34 calories. If strawberries are not yet part of your rat’s diet I highly recommend adding it.


Most rats absolutely love watermelon, although they can create quite a mess when eating it. Luckily, watermelon is healthy for rats to eat, and eating it will not harm your rat’s health. It’s not the most nutritious of all the fruits on this list, many other fruits such as blueberries contain more nutrients, but it can definitely be part of a balanced rat diet.

Since watermelon is made up of 92% water it’s very hydrating for your rat. However, if you feed them too much of this fruit it can cause diarrhea.

Fruits that rats should not eat

Now that we’ve gone over all the fruits that are safe for rat consumption let’s discuss which fruits rats should not eat. This is very important to know. After all, you don’t want to accidentally feed your rat the wrong fruits.

Luckily, almost every single fruit is safe for rats to eat.

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits such as limes, lemons, oranges, tangerines, and mandarins are a highly debated subject among rat owners. Some rat owners claim that male rats can not eat it at all while others claim it’s fine in small amounts. The reason why so many people believe that citrus fruits are harmful to male rats is because of a study that showed that D-limonene is carcinogenic in male rats and can lead to tumors.

However, in the studies, they give these rats very high amounts of D-limonene. There’s a good article discussing citrus fruits and rats, which argues that the quantities of D-limonene in citrus fruits is not enough to be harmful to rats and that people simply misinterpreted the studies.

However, just to be on the safe side I can’t in good conscience recommend you to feed citrus fruits like oranges, limes lemons, and tangerines to your rats. Especially when you consider the fact that there are so many other fruits available that do not pose any potential risk to your rats at all.

Other foods that rats can eat

As I’ve already briefly touched upon, rats are omnivores. This means that they can eat vast varieties of different foods, not only fruits and vegetables. Let’s take a look at all the other foods that rats can safely eat.


Rats can eat cheese in small amounts. Do not feed them too much of it because cheese contains a ton of calories and fat. Also, rats can not eat all cheeses. Moldy, soft cheeses like Mozzarella, Feta, Brie, Camembert, and Blue Cheese should not be fed to your rats. Other cheeses like cheddar, red Leicester, Gouda, Emmentaler, Gruyere, Edam, and Colby are fine for rats.


Rats can eat chicken, turkey, ground beef, steak, and many other kinds of meat without any problems as long as it’s cooked thoroughly. Chicken or turkey is the healthiest option for them because it contains the least amount of fat and is high in protein but all of the aforementioned meats are safe for rats to eat on occasion.

Rats can also eat fish, but make sure that there are no bones present! The bones can be a choking hazard if you do not remove them.

You shouldn’t feed rats fish or meat too often, only as a special treat.


Some people believe that all rats are lactose intolerant. This is not the case. Some rats are, and some rats are not. Rats can eat small amounts of yogurt without any problems and it can be very good for their gut flora. A good idea is to mix some yogurt with their favorite fruits.

Other foods that rats should not eat

Now, let’s take a look at the non-vegetable/fruit foods that rats should not eat.


Rats should absolutely not eat licorice. Licorice causes neurological issues when it’s consumed in large amounts.

Peanut butter

Peanut butter is very sticky and can stick to your rat’s throat and cause them to choke. If you do feed peanut butter to your rat, always make sure to mix it with some water first so that it becomes a bit less sticky. Overall, I would recommend just avoiding peanut butter altogether because it’s very easy to overfeed your rat on it.

Spicy chillis

Very spicy chillis should not be fed to rats because, unlike us, they do not use cutlery to eat. As a result, the spicy chillis will most likely end up in their eyes or their nose which is naturally not a pleasant experience for them.

Final words

So, now you know everything you need to know about feeding your rat! Feeding pet rats is quite simple because they can eat so many of the same foods that we as humans can eat. However, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the foods that they can not eat so that you do not accidentally feed them the wrong foods.

I hope this overview was informative and helpful and that it made it easier for you to decide on what to feed your rat. If you feel like I’ve missed certain foods in this article that you’ve got questions about, do not hesitate to let me know by leaving a comment.

ThePetFaq Team