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When to feed and how to offer fresh food and a cooked meal.

Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:06 pm
by Pabboo
Day 2 with our new babies...
I fed via the scatter method this morning, about 15g mix per rat. We also gave them half a cherry tomato each, and a little apple core. So that was sort of breakfast time.
I want to move feeding to after afternoon/evening free play (but I could see no scattered food when we changed their water, so wanted to make sure they had enough for the day, so they had some free play this morning instead and I fed them when they went back)

We happen to have some leftover chicken and pasta (plain) and I want to serve this to them with some sweetcorn as a little home cooked meal. Am I best waiting till tomorrow to serve this once their current scattered food is finished, or does it not matter?
We may take them out again this afternoon if they come to us when we open the cage (will not disturb them if they don't want to come out) so we could give it when they go back in later.

Would it be ok to offer fresh food (fruit/veg) on and off throughout the day (ie in the morning, and later when my son comes home from school) or is it best to have set feeding times (ie fresh food in the morning, scattered food after play in the afternoon) and stick to it for consistency?

I guess I am a little concerned about over feeding, or perhaps over thinking.....

Re: When to feed and how to offer fresh food and a cooked me

Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 3:37 pm
by [cub]
If the rats have been given their dry mix for the day and have already had some veg as well, you can probably save the pasta for tomorrow, especially if there's still food left in the cage.

Incidentally, I wouldn't take an absence of food to indicate that the rats need to be fed again straight away; some rats will just keep hoovering up any and all available food until there's nothing left, scoffing a whole day's worth in under an hour. :roll: There's no harm in them having one big meal and then nothing again until the next day; similarly, there's no harm in having a longer gap between meals, if you've been feeding them in the morning but want to shift it forward into the afternoon or evening. If you're concerned, however, you can split their dry mix into multiple meals the day before you switch over – say half in the morning, half in the evening – so they'll have at most a 24h gap between meals.

What sort of feeding schedule you have, and how rigidly you stick to it, is really up to the needs of your family and rats. So long as they're getting the right amount for them overall, and meals aren't too spaced out (e.g. not once a week :lol: ), and nobody has any relevant special needs, they'll be fine. I do find that having multiple, fairly reliably timed meals each day is helpful when I have rats on medication that needs to be given more than once a day; that way the rats are already used to being awake and active at two or three well-spaced intervals in the day, and that's usually a convenient time to give them their medication as well. (Having breakfast is particularly helpful; some rats seem to find mornings as difficult as some people, but breakfast provides that extra incentive to haul themselves out of bed.) You don't need to time it precisely though, and it's probably good to have some variability from day to day, just so they don't get used to meals being exactly at certain times on the dot, and then end up confused on those days when their dinner is delayed for whatever reason.

In general, I think having a roughly reliable schedule with some variability is nicest: just as with people, a totally chaotic life where you never know what's coming is just confusing, but a life where everything happens in exactly the same way every single day would be a bit dull.

Re: When to feed and how to offer fresh food and a cooked me

Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 5:56 pm
by Pabboo
Fabulous, thank you!

Re: When to feed and how to offer fresh food and a cooked me

Posted: Sun Jun 19, 2016 7:42 pm
by squeakrat
Also worth bearing in mind that the smaller pieces of the mix will disappear into the substrate, so you might not necessarily be able to see them, but the rats will dig them out. When I first feed mine, they pick the bigger and nicer bits off the top, but then the next morning, they're burrowing along the bottom of the substrate, hovering up all the little bits!

Re: When to feed and how to offer fresh food and a cooked me

Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:32 am
by [cub]
Oh yes, just noticed: be careful with apple cores, as the seeds are slightly toxic. (Apologies if you know this already; just wanted to make sure!) I wouldn't worry too much about a one-off exposure though; the seeds are bitter, so a rat is unlikely to voluntarily eat enough for it to be a problem. Still, given how little sense of self-preservation some rats have, it's best to save them from themselves where possible. :P