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 Post subject: Some feeding questions
 Post Posted: Sat May 21, 2016 10:41 am 
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Hi, this is my first actual post on here...
We have four 10week old females from the same litter.

Have read fairly extensively on here and watched some YouTube videos (some more helpful than others) re feeding. There seems to be some contention between whether nuggets are a suitable base food. We have them at the moment. In the past I've found much of the commercially available muesli was discarded and only certain bits eaten so thought we'd give it a go. They also get...
Dandelion leaves and the odd flower, daily (is this too often?)
raisins as "treats" the kids can feed by hand.
Home made natural yoghurt off a spoon, once a week so far, could this be more often?
Scrambled egg (just the egg, no additions) one whole egg between four, nearly all of it offered, probably about 1/6 of the egg left. Only once... How often can I offer this... And will this change as they get older?
The odd sprouted chick pea and sunflower seed.
I gave oats this morning, but in the past have given cooked porridge, made with milk (no sugar) is this not advisable? Is it the dairy protein, or the lactose?

The kids have a really shocking sugary breakfast cereal ATM, I really need to change this back, but their dad is home, lol. When buying a breakfast cereal, do we also need to be concerned about salt content? I know sugar content is a concern. I understand rats are susceptible to kidney problems, and the human diet is SO high in salt, pet rats no doubt need to be careful here too!

I should say my background is in human nutrition, in particular the diets of kidney patients! But I know vey little about the nutritional requirements of rats... Is the information out there?

Anything else?
Any particular reason why soya is recommended over dairy yoghurt?
How often should I offer nuts? Daily?

I don't want to heavily rely on the nuggets, so need to be confident the ither foods I'm offering are giving the right balance!

Lol, I feel like one of my patients asking for a "list of things they can eat" when I've spent the last half hour giving them loads of advice on healthy eating!


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 Post subject: Re: Some feeding questions
 Post Posted: Sat May 21, 2016 4:43 pm 
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Posts: 13
Trying to edit my question as not having much luck with responses, although I appreciate not everyone will see this post and / or respond straight away!
Really, most of it is just out of interest /academic stuff, but would really like to know how often to feed things like dandelion leaves. They love them, and we have a huge supply, but is every day ok?
And how about things high in protein? Eg egg? Weekly, more, less?
I realise this information may be out there, but I haven't found it yet and have looked quite hard!
I'll keep my own council re salt.


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 Post subject: Re: Some feeding questions
 Post Posted: Sat May 21, 2016 8:02 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:59 pm
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If you want a quick response, it's often best to ask one or two brief questions, rather than a longer post. You will get a complete response eventually, but it might take a little more time as people need to put more time into their reply.

Anyway, to give you some quick answers...

Dandelion leaves, I don't think there's any reason why you shouldn't feed them every day (assuming they're not getting loads), other than trying to get a bit more variety into their diet.

Egg, I'd say weekly while they are still young and need more protein, but less often once they're older.

If you're interested in nutrition, you should have a look at The Scuttling Gourmet which is the ratty diet bible!

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 Post subject: Re: Some feeding questions
 Post Posted: Sat May 21, 2016 9:41 pm 
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Hi! I'm not a nutrition expert, but I'll have a go...

Nuggets vs muesli:

Nuggets: The benefit of nuggets is that every mouthful is exactly the same, so it's impossible for a rat to selectively eat only their favourite bits. The drawback of nuggets is that every mouthful is exactly the same, so for an animal that has evolved to be an adaptable, omnivorous scavenger, it's probably pretty dull. Rats and humans are not too dissimilar in our tastes (hence why they do so well hoovering up the scraps in our cities) and think how dull it would be if we had to eat a monocomponent diet! Additionally, some nuggets use pretty poor quality ingredients. That's a problem with many commercial pet foods in general, which brings me to...

Mueslis: Many commercial mueslis are bulked out with cheap but not particularly nutritious filler (many nuggets do the same, but in a nugget the filler is mixed in with everything else so can't be avoided). Grass/alfalfa pellets are a particularly notorious example of this: they don't taste very good (at least, I tried one once and it was vile :P ) and rats can't get much nutrition out of them either, since they've not evolved to be particularly good at digesting fibrous plant matter, yet almost all commercial rat mueslis include them. Most rats quite sensibly refuse to eat them, so some of the selective feeding with commercial mueslis is simply them objecting to unpalatable and non-nutritious filler.

However, selective feeding will be a problem even with top quality, 100% nutritious muesli mixes if the rats are fed too much. If they're provided with an effectively unlimited supply of food, then of course they'll eat the tastiest bits only and leave the not so tasty bits, since more food will be added before they get hungry again. However, if their food supply is limited to only the quantity they need, then hunger will eventually move them to be a little less demanding; at that point you'll find out which bits they're not eating initially because they're being picky (for my rescue girls, it's their veg, like stereotypical children :roll: ), and which bits they're not eating because it's not actually food for them (like alfalfa pellets). A good quality muesli fed in the right quantities should leave little or no waste. (The only thing my rats leave is the dried garlic flakes that I keep putting in their mix anyway because I don't know what else to do with the little packet I got ages ago :lol: but it's fair enough that they refuse the funny-tasting dried allium, really. Everything else disappears.)

The one thing that can't be prevented with muesli mixes is the possibility that different rats in the same group will have different tastes and therefore end up eating a different balance of ingredients. For example, the rescue girls I started out with used to eat their dried veg with the utmost reluctance, but after I added some breeder girls to the group, suddenly the dried veg started disappearing much faster than it used to. I suspect therefore that most of the dried veg is going into the breeder girls, but nobody seems the worse for it, so I'll not switch to a nugget just because of that. I do however keep some Science Selective Rat nuggets in stock because they're quite popular with my girls (they seem quite tasty, though I don't know if they'd still be so tasty if they were the only food for months on end), so I incorporate it into my mixes from time to time. They're also great for hiding around the free range area – easier for me to retrieve uneaten nuggets afterwards than scatterings of uneaten muesli.

Dandelion leaves and flowers:

I don't know how often is too often for that sort of thing. Dandelion is allegedly a diuretic so I suspect there is such a thing as too much of it, but I don't know how much one leaf is going to do. Mine get the odd handful of dandelion from time to time, but not that often. I suspect so long as you're not going crazy it's fine?

Raisins and treats in general:

Dried fruit is quite high in sugar, so I wouldn't give too much. Mine get probably a few pieces of dried fruit each per week; I don't know if that's a lot or a little, but nobody's keeled over yet? :lol:

Other treats my lot get are nuts and seeds (in moderation), low salt/sugar human cereals (basics/economy cornflakes tend to be both healthy and cheap so they're excellent for treats, and snap up nicely into little pieces so you can get a lot of mileage from one cornflake), and mealworms (again in moderation). I'd say each rat gets several mealworms, several small (5-10mm?) pieces of nuts/seeds, and a tablespoon of cereals (plain puffed rice and basics cornflakes) per week. EDIT: I make my own mix, and I account for all of the above treats when I do my calculations, so I know their overall dry food intake is balanced. If I were giving treats on top of a nutritionally complete mix or nugget, then I'd be much more sparing.

Rats do need salt to survive just as we do, but they don't need that much, and as you noted their tendency towards kidney issues means it's a good idea to watch their intake, particularly as they age. Commercial mixes should contain at least the right amount of salt anyway, so anything more they get would be extra.

Yoghurt and dairy in general:

I'm lactose intolerant (go me!) so I'm going to wax lyrical a bit. So. All mammals normally lose the ability to digest lactose as they mature into adults. (Lactose is a sugar present in almost all mammal milks, except for some marine mammals, for those of you who don't know.) The only exceptions are certain populations of humans who have evolved adult lactase persistance. (Freaks and mutants, the lot of you. ;) ) For the rest of us, human and non-human alike, eating significant quantities of lactose in adulthood leads to gastrointestinal upset: once the undigested lactose makes its way to our lower digestive tract, the gut bacteria there feast upon this unexpected influx of delicious sugar, and produce a lot of gas as a result. This leads to the trademark symptoms of lactose intolerance: bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain if the gas gets trapped and builds up, diarrhoea if you're really badly affected. It's not terribly dangerous, just a bit unpleasant for the end user (and anyone else in the same airspace :lol: ).

A lot of rats probably get some lactose in their diet: yoghurt is not an uncommon treat, as are yoghurt drops. In moderation it's probably fine (even I can still have a little splash of milk in my tea without much trouble); if you're really giving too much, you'll probably know it in a few hours. :P Young rats in particular shouldn't have much if any issue with it; I hid medication in yoghurt when mine were still kittens. I have however decided not to give them anything I couldn't tolerate myself now that they've all matured, mostly because I know what it's like and while it's not all that bad, I'd still feel a hypocrite if I did.

Egg:

Depending on the background of your girls, you may want to give them high-protein things like egg every two or three days for a couple weeks longer maybe? As adults, it depends on the protein content of their standard diet, but once a week is usually plenty. Mine get egg roughly every fortnight – one egg between four just like you – and on the alternate weeks they get fish.

Further reading:

To start off with, there are many articles covering a variety of rat feeding topics here: http://www.fancyratsforum.co.uk/viewforum.php?f=14

For a more in-depth treatment of the topic, The Scuttling Gourmet is an extensive guide to the feeding of pet rats. The latest edition can be purchased at various places I think? including a shop called Rat Rations, a stockist of loads and loads of rat foodstuffs: http://www.ratrations.com/the-scuttling-gourmet-4th-edition-p-1577.html

Rat Rations have all sorts of ingredients that may be of interest if you want to add to your rats' diet. They also carry some complete mixes developed by various rat-keepers – these need separate vitamin/mineral supplementation, but Rat Rations also carry suitable supplements, including their own DailyRat3 which I use as it's quite economical. (Commercial mixes need supplementation too, but they just spray it on the mix, or blend it into the pellets.) Sit down with a cup of tea before you have a browse, and be warned it's easy to get carried away on there. :lol:

Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals is an academic reference which is both free online and has a chapter on rats, and is my go-to for a basic guideline on rat nutrition. Note however that because laboratory rats live a very different lifestyle to pet rats, and are kept for very different purposes, information from the lab cannot be directly applied to the home environment; this reference is mostly useful for getting a ballpark idea of what rats need: http://www.nap.edu/read/4758/chapter/4

Hope that helps and I haven't bored you to tears? (Or spoken too much out of my arse... :oops: )

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 Post subject: Re: Some feeding questions
 Post Posted: Sat May 21, 2016 10:02 pm 
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*lazy reply*

[cub] wrote:
Dandelion leaves and flowers:

I don't know how often is too often for that sort of thing. Dandelion is allegedly a diuretic so I suspect there is such a thing as too much of it, but I don't know how much one leaf is going to do. Mine get the odd handful of dandelion from time to time, but not that often. I suspect so long as you're not going crazy it's fine?

I would be careful (as in avoid) dandelion stems and leaves with rats who have a current health issue which could be influenced by diuretics. On the basis that even though the strength of the diuretic effect isn't scientifically confirmed in humans, there seems no reason to risk it in the ill given the many other leafy green options. But in healthy (or those with unrelated health things) animals I wouldn't be concerned with that, although I wouldn't personally feed it day in day out.

The roots are a laxative though (although not as potent as something like liquorice root, which is very dangerous for rats), so be aware of that too with regards to the health status of those you're feeding it to.

squeakrat wrote:
If you want a quick response, it's often best to ask one or two brief questions, rather than a longer post. You will get a complete response eventually, but it might take a little more time as people need to put more time into their reply.!

Agreed. But also it had only been 6hrs between your first and second posts, which isn't really very long at all - especially during the day on a weekend ;) In an urgent health situation that might be considered a long time to wait on advice, but for a general question it would be relatively quick. The forum search function is very good if you are feeling impatient though :lol:

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Beri with all at Dandelion Soup
Pow, Nessa, Orin, Liffey, Aoife, and Petra (bundle of multis), Whimbrel, Dotterel, and Kestrel (zebra mice), Woodbine and Speedwell (gerbils), a large selection of fancy mice, and Moril (cat)


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 Post subject: Re: Some feeding questions
 Post Posted: Sun May 22, 2016 10:10 am 
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Ah, thanks for all your replies guys,
As you can imagine it's an interesting subject for me, and lots of it is similar to humans! Lol.
Thanks for going into such depth.

Apologies for sounding impatient. It was more that I realised my mistake re the title of my post and wanted to change it somehow. It's impossible on the internet to get across exactly what you mean and how you mean it, isn't it!?

I'll be looking into that book.
I'm happy that I'm providing an interesting enough diet without needing to worry about switching from nuggets while we still have a bag full... Maybe later on when it's finished. It's a bit like me having porridge for breakfast every morning day in day out! Presumably these high quality muesli you talk about are only available online?

Of course animals need salt, lol! But salt occurs naturally in all foods, so WE don't need the added stuff that's in cornflakes, bread etc. (like I tell people every day!) however our bodies can cope with a bit, often quite a lot, extra. I wonder if rats can too?

Thanks for being patient with me, it's been a long time since I used an Internet forum, over ten years! It's all about Facebook for me these days!


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 Post subject: Re: Some feeding questions
 Post Posted: Sun May 22, 2016 11:10 am 
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One important point that has been touched on - the quality of ingredients in nuggets... I know that some people have seen an increase in the incidence of mammary tumours in rats fed on certain brands of nuggets (perhaps due to the strong likelihood that cheap animal protein is used which may well contain growth hormones), so if I were in your position, I would discard the PAH nuggets asap. ;)

I recommend having a browse through the Rat Rations website (the link is in the banner at the top of this forum section), you'll find some excellent mixes there. :luck:

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my websites: Cyber Rats (picture site) / Zephyr Stud (rattery site)


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 Post subject: Re: Some feeding questions
 Post Posted: Sun May 22, 2016 2:03 pm 
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Puffin74 wrote:
I'm happy that I'm providing an interesting enough diet without needing to worry about switching from nuggets while we still have a bag full... Maybe later on when it's finished.

I agree with cyber ratty about the health implications of nuggets. If you had large numbers of rats and thus when mixed up with a museli you'd get through them fairly rapidly then fine, or even if you were using them for under 50% of a home made mix with other ingredients as an initial base for a SD-type mix e.g. I was looking after some rats earlier in the year and they came to me on nuggets and obese (just on account of the nuggets, everything else was being done well, including food restriction). I put them on an SD mix using nuggets as the base, and they'll be moving to a rabbit food museli based mix shortly. But for a smaller group of rats and a large bag I wouldn't feed them until they're all used up just on the back of other variety in the diet.

It might seem like a waste, and in a way it is. But on the other hand the obesity risk as a result of a food high in nuggets isn't to be taken lightly - both at face value, and because it's incredibly difficult to get rats to lose weight again due to how they've evolved. Also if you're concerned about the waste money-wise then just think of the vet bill savings and the potential extra value for money of a longer life :lol:

If you really don't want to waste them completely what you could save them for if/ when you have a health issue to deal with. Rats don't stop eating unless they're practically at death's door, but they can loose weight quickly when ill, so providing easy access easy to digest enticing food with a high calorific value is a good supportive care tactic. You can provide nutrition like this in lots of ways, but rat nuggets when soaked in warm water turn into an excellent smush to use as a base for this sort of thing (and the health points are of lesser concern as in those situations short term health overrides long term health).

eta
Puffin74 wrote:
It's a bit like me having porridge for breakfast every morning day in day out!

If you're wanting comparisons, it's more like you having a fast food burger every day.

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Beri with all at Dandelion Soup
Pow, Nessa, Orin, Liffey, Aoife, and Petra (bundle of multis), Whimbrel, Dotterel, and Kestrel (zebra mice), Woodbine and Speedwell (gerbils), a large selection of fancy mice, and Moril (cat)


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 Post subject: Re: Some feeding questions
 Post Posted: Sun May 22, 2016 8:57 pm 
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Ah, right,
You both make some interesting points. So nuggets are less like me eating porridge daily and more like me eating a McDonalds daily! Calorie dense, and suspect ingredients!
Certainly they could be very handy for a sick rat, they seem to like them, unlike my previous rats, and the ones I fostered while my housemate went travelling.

So it seems dry ingredients need to be the main part of the diet, and only the occasional fresh food. I may have been overdoing it with the dandelion, chives, basil, coriander, mint, carrot, peas!
Also someone mentioned the sugar in fruit (yes it was dried fruit, but same amount of sugar as fresh) is fruit to be given only in very small quantities too?

I'll carry on with the yoghurt them if it's a lactose intolerance not a protein intolerance. As there's very little lactose in yoghurt. I've not noticed any ill effects yet. They only take tiny licks of it off a spoon. (Less than a quarter of a spoon each)

Thanks again for your replies.


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 Post subject: Re: Some feeding questions
 Post Posted: Sun May 22, 2016 8:58 pm 
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Lol, just read the end of your message! Great minds ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Some feeding questions
 Post Posted: Sun May 22, 2016 9:19 pm 
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Puffin74 wrote:
So it seems dry ingredients need to be the main part of the diet, and only the occasional fresh food. I may have been overdoing it with the dandelion, chives, basil, coriander, mint, carrot, peas!
Also someone mentioned the sugar in fruit (yes it was dried fruit, but same amount of sugar as fresh) is fruit to be given only in very small quantities too?

Different rats cope better or worse with more fresh food. And different people prefer/ find it easier to feed more or less. Talking about healthy adults here of course - those who're rapidly growing, ill, or old usually get more fresh food than otherwise as it's easiest to feed to their needs in a mixed age group like that. I've done up to 50% fresh with mine with great success, but I had to rein it back to 20-30% a day after I got some newbies whose tummies just wouldn't settle on those sort of amounts. If your present rats are doing well on larger amounts of fresh food then so long as it's varied rather than only the same few things there's no particular reason to change.

In general it's better for the majority of the fresh food to be leafy and vegetabl-y, with smaller amounts of fruit and herbs. Similar guidelines to people with regards to not overdoing oxalic acid heavy leafy greens, a range of colours etc. Rats are usually happy to eat some bits that we people usually decide are too bitter or weird textures too - great little compost bins :lol:

Having said that, depending on where your rats are from and when you plan to tail off their rapid growth baby extras, do take care on amounts of fresh veg and things for now. Baby rats only have small stomachs and if you're feeding them a lot of greenery they can quickly and easily fill up on that and potentially consume less than ideal amounts of extra protein and such per day. However even if they're weedy petshop or rescue babies that should only be relevant for a couple more weeks.

I definitely recommend buying a copy of The Scuttling Gourmet, as squeakrat mentioned earlier in the thread. It's written from a pretty sciency yet still accessible angle, and well worth the money. It's one of the few books that I feel all rat owners should have.

This list is a good starting point
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=318

And this thread might give you more ideas
viewtopic.php?f=43&t=432

_________________
Beri with all at Dandelion Soup
Pow, Nessa, Orin, Liffey, Aoife, and Petra (bundle of multis), Whimbrel, Dotterel, and Kestrel (zebra mice), Woodbine and Speedwell (gerbils), a large selection of fancy mice, and Moril (cat)


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