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 Post subject: Very confused about food.
 Post Posted: Sun Jul 02, 2017 10:50 pm 
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Location: Bristol
I will soon be getting 2 female baby rats from a breeder and I'm confused about diet. I'm used to having hamsters where you just fill up a food bowl, give a few raw veggies and leave them to it.

I've tried to do as much of my own research as possible but there's an awful lot of info on here and I'm a bit bamboozled!

Can anybody please give me a basic diet that would be a good starting point and give them everything they need whilst I get the hang of it and I can then experiment a bit?

Am I correct in thinking it's not just a 'fill up the food bowl' situation, it's more timed feeds?

Sorry, I know this is very basic but thought it best to ask.

Any advice greatly appreciated!


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 Post subject: Re: Very confused about food.
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:56 am 
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I actually basically just do what you described :P

I use a quality lab block as my main staple, and I free-feed this at all times. Some people like to scatter feed (where you scatter the food all over the cage, promoting foraging), but I stick to feeding out of a bowl. Every other day, I check the food bowl, and top it up as necessary. I also give veggies to my girls, as well as occasional fruits. However, as I enjoy training my rats, I usually save these to be used as training treats.

As rats have a very fast metabolism, its best to always have food available for them. Also, rats are one of the few animals that won't usually over-indulge on their own. So when you see fat rats, its usually because the owner has been feeding them too many sweets :P


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 Post subject: Re: Very confused about food.
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:01 am 
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Actually I completely disagree with Ratties4Shadow... rats require a limited amount of good quality mix, scattered over the loose substrate on the floor. :D

I have to head out now but will add details later.

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 Post subject: Re: Very confused about food.
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:11 am 
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Yeah, like the OP I've found that opinions on this disagree. I know I mentioned scatter feeding in my post, but I am curious about why you prefer mix over lab blocks. Is it because its more natural and varied? I prefer feeding lab blocks due to nutritional balance, but I can see the benefits to feeding a more natural "foraging" diet as well.

As a note, I have read the feeding sticky here on scatter feeding and "lean periods" increasing the life span of rats. Have you found this to be true?

Lol, its kind of like the debate over feeding dogs/cats raw food or kibble. Everyone has a differing opinion.

Sorry to confuse you even more, OP :P


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 Post subject: Re: Very confused about food.
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 10:19 am 
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Location: Bristol
Ratties4Shadow wrote:

Sorry to confuse you even more, OP :P


Haha, no problem. I guess there will always be a lot of different opinions on what's best what what works for different rats. I'm just at a bit of a loss as to where to start!

If anybody can recommend any specific brands that would be great. I hear a lot about RatRations11, Banana Brunch and Reggie Rat, but then some of these also require a supplement?! :?


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 Post subject: Re: Very confused about food.
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 11:05 am 
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Rats are omnivores who take great pleasure in varied tastes and textures of food, so a block or nuggets doesn't meet their psychological needs. Also, here in the UK, the most common nuggets are positively bad for rats.


As an easy option, I would suggest mixing together:
2kg #11
2kg harrisons banana brunch
250g seed mix
250g barley rings (broken up)
scatter 15g per rat per day plus some leafy green veg (such as curly kale)
and sprinkle daily rat 3 over other veggies 3 or 4 times a week

This will cover all the bases. :D

While they are still young (under 3 months or under 250g), give several fresh meals a week of cooked carbs(rice/pasta/potato), and good quality protein (egg/chicken/fish) with their veg.

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 Post subject: Re: Very confused about food.
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 11:35 am 
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Thank you! Off I head to RatRations! :lol:

Would you ever suggest putting this in a bowl? My concern is if I scatter it all, how will I know when they need more? I was thinking scatter half, and put half in a bowl so I can ensure they always have a bit of food?


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 Post subject: Re: Very confused about food.
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:47 pm 
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You don't want them to always have a bit of food ;)

Give 15g per day, and if they gain weight, reduce it to 12 or even 10, if they look like they need more, give up to 20g. :luck:

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 Post subject: Re: Very confused about food.
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 4:15 pm 
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Ahhhh gotcha! ;)

I must get out of the hamster mindset. I suppose a rat isn't going to starve without getting very skinny first, so I'll be able to to tell if they're not getting enough.

Thanks very much for your help! :D


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 Post subject: Re: Very confused about food.
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 6:33 pm 
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Note that rats actually should be gaining weight until they're 9-12 months old. ;) It won't be an even rate of growth either; they have growth spurts just like juvenile humans. So you do want the number on the scales to be going up (or at least not going down) from week to week until they're fully grown, but you don't want it going up too fast. "How fast is too fast" is a bit like "how long is a piece of string", but if you're getting yours from a breeder they should be able to advise you on how their lines normally grow and how much their lines normally need to eat.

The amount of food needed does depend on the ambient temperature as well. Mine definitely need more in the winter than in summer; if I fed them winter quantities all year round they'd end up spherical. :lol:

Also, you can generally tell if they're out of food if somebody's been searching through the substrate for several minutes and not found anything. :lol: Or you can have a dig around yourself and see if you're finding anything other than seed husks.

Finally, there are literally mountains of papers on the effect of calorie restriction on laboratory rats (and mice, and other rodents, and other animals) going back decades. Obviously they don't all point in the same direction, but the general trend is very much towards calorie restriction promoting longevity in a laboratory setting. Or from another perspective, it points towards lifespans being reduced by ad libitum feeding in small cages with few opportunities to exercise, which is standard in laboratories and generally how the control group in calorie restriction studies are kept. Either way, reducing food intake from ad lib and encouraging/forcing the rats to exercise more (large cages, exercise wheels and other active toys, scatter feeding) should, on average, increase lifespan. Here's a paper; there are many, many more:
http://www.pnas.org/content/107/14/6127.full

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 Post subject: Re: Very confused about food.
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 6:56 pm 
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Thanks for that info cub. I'm sure at some point I'll wonder if I'm doing OK and post another topic on here but for now that has eased my mind. I'll make sure I speak to my breeder about feeding quantities. Can't wait :D


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 Post subject: Re: Very confused about food.
 Post Posted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 8:35 am 
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[cub] wrote:
Note that rats actually should be gaining weight until they're 9-12 months old. ;)

Lol, yes, perhaps I should have said 'gaining unwanted weight' :P

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 Post subject: Re: Very confused about food.
 Post Posted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 2:22 pm 
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I have the scuttling gourmet book ( 3rd addition) if you would like it. It's all about rat nutrition. If you pm me your address I will post it out. I don't own rats now so I have no need for it.


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 Post subject: Re: Very confused about food.
 Post Posted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 2:25 pm 
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I will post pictures after school run


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 Post subject: Re: Very confused about food.
 Post Posted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 3:26 pm 
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Jenni2317 wrote:
I have the scuttling gourmet book ( 3rd addition) if you would like it. It's all about rat nutrition. If you pm me your address I will post it out. I don't own rats now so I have no need for it.


Thank you Jenni that's very kind! :) Although it's not letting me PM you :?


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