Good nutrition is important no matter how small you are – so just like any other pets, mice and rat diets have very specific dietary requirements. Rats and mice thrive when fed on a diet of nutritionally balanced pellet, supplemented with fresh fruit, vegetables and sources of protein.
Rats and mice should always have access to a high-quality mouse or rat specific diet, which will make up around 80% of their daily food intake. Varieties such as Supreme Science Selective or Burgess contain the essential nutrients for a complete, nutritionally-balanced diet.
Rat pellets contain a hearty mix of grains and seeds to provide a nutritionally balanced diet for your pet rat. Rich in natural ingredients, rat pellets are designed to promote dental wear, support digestive health and muscle growth. They are also highly palatable – so your rat will love munching on their pellets!
Mouse pellet contains a specific blend of vitamins, minerals and amino acids for your mouse’s long-term health and general vitality. Packed with wholegrain goodness and rich in natural ingredients, mouse pellets are highly palatable and are an excellent source of protein to keep your pet mouse happy and healthy.
Rats and mice also benefit from having supplemental foods such as vegetables, protein and some cooked foods as part of their daily diet. Providing a variety of choices helps with enrichment, encouraging natural behaviour and these can also be used as treats. Mouse specific treats are also available to help with training, rewards and bonding.
Most popular supplemental foods for mice and rats include cooked egg, cooked chicken and bones (great for their teeth) cooked pasta, peas, carrot, cooked corn, dates, cooked kumara, broccoli, sprouts, carrot, blueberries, banana, grapes and strawberries. Be mindful of excess protein or any added salt during the cooking process. To avoid stomach upsets, keep vegetable/fruit quantities small and introduce new foods gradually and one at a time.
Remove any uneaten fruits and veges after 4 hrs to prevent spoilage. Mice in particular love to ‘stash’ their food, usually close to their sleeping area. Try to locate your mouse’s favourite hiding place and check regularly to ensure that the food he/she has hidden hasn’t become mouldy or spoiled. Avoid sudden changes to the diet as this can cause diarrhoea.
When serving up your furry friend’s meals, we recommend using chew-resistant dishes that are either attached to the sides of the cage or that are heavy enough that they cannot be tipped over (e.g. a ceramic bowl).
Do NOT feed list
There are a several types of foods that you should avoid giving your pet rat or mouse for various reasons. Some foods can be poisonous, some are too high in fat or sugar, some are a choking hazard, some have no nutritional value.
These foods to avoid include:
- citrus fruits
- raw peanuts
- raw potatoes or kumara
- uncooked beans
- carbonated drinks, alcohol or caffeine
Be careful with sticky foods such as peanut butter as it can cause choking.
Water should be available at all times. Drink bottles are recommended rather than bowls or in addition to them, as mice and rats may toilet in bowls. We recommend having a minimum of two water bottles available in case one runs out or has a blockage, these should be placed at different levels within the cage.
Tips to remember:
- While rats and mice have similar nutritional requirements, they are very different animals and should never be housed together.
- With their high metabolic rates, it is important that rats and mice have access to food at all times. Mice will eat approximately 3-5 grams of food per day and rats approximately 15-20 grams per day.
- Like humans, rodents will eat when they are bored and therefore can be prone to obesity. They love foods which are high in fat and sugar. For this reason, treats should only be given occasionally.
- Hiding food around their enclosures, in lots of different places can give them many things to explore and do each day! Taking time to train your little rat or mouse friend to do this can be a rewarding way to increase your bond with them while keeping their brains occupied!
- Rats are highly inquisitive and have been known to ‘taste’ almost anything they get their teeth on. For this reason, it is important to supervise rats when they are out of their enclosure and limit what they have access to.
If you have any questions about caring for your pet rat our mouse, pop into your local Animates store and talk to our friendly Animates team members for advice and information. Your local Animates has a fantastic range of foods and accessories to help keep your little furry friend healthy and happy.