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 Post subject: Updating diet for older girls
 Post Posted: Sun May 22, 2016 9:55 pm 
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Location: Hitchin, Herts
I am planning a rat rations order and wondered if I need to buy anything different now that my girls are getting older.

I have been feeding them on about 1/3 11a rat rations mix to 2/3 HBB based mix (6 scoops HBB, 1 scoop Arden Grange kibble, 2 scoops of low sugar versions of weetabix and cornflakes cereals, 1 scoop of a mix of different seeds + sometimes some dried herbs on top)

They also get a daily piece of Denes mixer and will get calcium/daily essentials supplements in wet food though maybe not every week, which I think has been ok as they are getting vitamins from HBB and the Denes.

For treats at playtime for games or doing tricks, they have mealworms and the cornflakes that I put in their mix, though I'm trying to switch to using cereal more than the worms now.

Now that they are about a year and 9 months should I be changing their diet? I think that 11a is already supposed to be kidney friendly but I'm not sure if I need to change the proportions of how much I use or maybe switch to using mix 8?

I'm not actually sure what kidney friendly is other than maybe it means reduced protein hence why I'm easing off on giving them mealworms. Should I be cutting down on the proportion of kibble in their mix too? Is there anything I should be feeding more of/less of as they get older?

They are in good health/condition and mobile etc now. If that changes in say a few months are there any other diet changes I may need to look at? For example if they struggle to keep on weight?

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 Post subject: Re: Updating diet for older girls
 Post Posted: Mon May 23, 2016 1:33 pm 
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As I understand it, kidney-friendly rat diets involve not too much protein, with the protein source preferably being egg/fish/soya rather than red meats, and not too much high-phosphorous grains (primarily oats and certain varieties/preparations of wheat, as far as I can tell – don't worry, Weetabix is surprisingly low in phosphorus, according to the USDA nutrient database). There is such a thing as too little protein and too little phosphorus though (and too little salt, or fat, or any of the other things that are commonly thought of as "bad for you") so unless a rat has been diagnosed with a health problem that requires specific dietary changes, I wouldn't be too drastic with limiting things in their diet just because they're older.

I suspect your girls will be fine to continue on what they've been having – a healthy diet for younger adult rats is much the same as a healthy diet for older adult rats (barring any actual health problems) – but if you did want to make changes, perhaps a higher proportion of 11a would be a reasonable idea as it looks a bit easier on kidneys than the HBB and Arden Grange.

(Incidentally, if you put supplements in wet food anyway, and are ordering from Rat Rations anyway, I personally recommend DailyRat3 instead of Calcivet & Daily Essentials 1. The latter option is convenient for putting in water, but I switched to supplementing in wet food a while back and then realised that DailyRat3 was so much cheaper than the Dr Squiggles combo.)

For older rats that are struggling to keep weight on, fresh meals of easily digested carbs and healthy fats are often recommended (e.g. cooked pasta with a drizzle of olive oil). Fat is very useful in this regard as a gram of fat contains more than twice the calories of a gram of carbohydrate or protein, so it's ideal for getting a lot of calories into a rat with a limited appetite. And cooked, processed carbohydrates are both delicious to eat and easy to digest. So basically all the things that you would want to limit in the diet of a fit and healthy rat because they're very calorie-dense get rolled out for the frail older ones. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Updating diet for older girls
 Post Posted: Mon May 23, 2016 6:51 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2014 9:18 pm
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Location: Hitchin, Herts
Thanks, cub, that's very helpful - I think I'll roughly keep going as I am then without cutting out too much protein and just keep an eye on them not eating too many meal worms as I was doing and maybe cut down slightly on the Arden Grange in my mix too.

I did get DR3 early on and then tried the combo because I thought it would be easier if they'd drink it from the water, but they don't like drinking it and I ended up putting it on food anyway, so I think i will switch back to DR3.

My rats haven't been diagnosed with anything and they act like they're older than say 9 months ago, but not elderly, and are running around and eating and drinking fine. I haven't noticed them drinking more water. There is the occasional time I think they - or one of them, as I never catch them doing it - seem to be leaving more pee drops than normal or even little puddles in free range, but I can't tell if that is just because they didn't go properly in the cage before I took them out or hormones or if it's just normal and age related so maybe they can't last as long as they used to without needing a pee, rather than suggesting a kidney problem is starting... can you tell I am not sure how I'd even tell if there was a problem! I'm basing it all on peeing and drinking water.

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