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Old 01-04-2011, 05:12 PM   #1
I_Monster
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Default picky eatter

Okay, so 2 of my 3 have ate Mazuri brand blocks all their life, but I recently got a hand me down rat from a friend of a friend. It came form a university hospital research lab, and the guy gave me a ziplock bag of their food from the lab that he had at home with the rat. I remember once being there and seeing a calender on the wall that was "Lab One" brand food blocks. I can't find the brand in stores and a google search turned up nothing. I can't really rely on getting food from this person I'm not that close with nor do I want to ask him to regularly steal food from his work to give to me. Might get him in trouble.

The problem, the lab rat wont eat the food I can buy in the store. The other two really preferred the lab food but when it ran out they got over it and eventually started eating the store food again. The lab rat isn't. It's been a few weeks now, so it must eat them every now and again, but I've seen it shun the store food and eat turds several times now. I know that rodents eat turds now and then but I'm getting worried with the frequency. Also there's a calcium bird perch in the cage and they've eaten the hell out of it. The little dumbo especially with the bird perch.

I guess I'm looking for advice... I'm I being overly concerned about the lab rat? I worry that she's not eating good because she want her food. Or that they they can somehow sense that this other lab food was nutritionally better, that's why they snub the other stuff and scarf down the calcium perch.

kay... I'm getting long winded here and I've got a paper to work on, so lets stat discussing. What have you got for me RatShack?


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Old 01-04-2011, 05:29 PM   #2
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Default Re: picky eatter

You could see if mushed lab blocks (lab blocks with cool water on them, stored overnight in the frig til it becomes mushy) would make it more appealing. The others would probably like it, too. If that is not a hit, you could always mix it half-and-half with something irresistable like baby food corn or some baby cereal. Then gradually reduce the proportion of the tastier food until the ratty is enjoying plain Mazuri.

You could also try the Harlan-Teklad 2014, which is available by mail order from a couple of sources, e.g. Mainely Rat Rescue. Many labs use it, and it is an excellent food that most rats love.

As far as I know, rats don't do hunger strikes. Mine would rather eat mostly treats if they could get away with it but, when there are just blocks and water, they eat the blocks (even Oxbow, when the Harlan runs out).


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Old 01-04-2011, 05:36 PM   #3
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Default Re: picky eatter

Well, as for the perch, they're probably not ingesting it, just chewing the heck out of it. Those things really grind down to dust so you're probably not seeing huge gnawed on chunks laying around.

If the lab rat is not looking overly skinny you're probably just not seeing her eat. But if she feels boney or is actively losing weight then you've got a problem. We have heard of rats going off food to the point of drastic weight loss but you should be able to tell.

Chances are good that they did just prefer the lab blocks over the Mazuri. My rats have only ever been indifferent to the brand. But you're in a bit of luck since living in the states good rat food is easily bought over the internet at a reasonable cost. Harlan is one of the best foods for rats and chances are good it was the food that you got from the lab, since it is made for lab animals. At $1 per pound it's the best deal for ordered lab blocks and most rats go absolutely mental for Harlan.

We recommend the 2014 but lots of people feed the 2018 (14% protein vs 18%) with no problems.
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Old 01-04-2011, 06:00 PM   #4
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Default Re: picky eatter

Yeah, I haven't noticed her looking bad yet or anything. It was the eating of turds and the behavior that generally is the "hey give us some food" when they had a dish full of food that bothered me. I did not think of the soak then mash bit at all, I would have perceived that as gross but I guess that's a human standard, wanting your crunchy food crunchy. I'll give that a try.

And maybe they are just chewing the perch but it seems like she (the little dumbo) gnaws on it till a chunk comes off, then holds it like food and, what looks to me anyway, eats it. I'm not worried about it hurting them, it's made to be edible for birds so I figure it shouldn't hurt the rat, but I know animals (including humans) will instinctively eat things their body is lacking. So my concern was that they needed the calcium.

For a while I bought the mixed foods, but I found that most of them use alfalfa pellets as filler, and rats apparently (so I've read) can't digest alfalfa so they just don't eat it. A lot of waste.
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Old 01-04-2011, 06:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: picky eatter

Yeah, don't bother with mixes. They work out to be the equivalent of rat junk food
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:40 PM   #6
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Default Re: picky eatter

There are several places online that you can order Harlan 2014 from. We haven't had a rat yet that didn't like it.

We've used Mainely Rat Rescue and others, depending on who has it in stock.
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:01 PM   #7
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Default Re: picky eatter

I'm guessing the food was similar to Purina lab block which to be honest is not the best but then neither is the Mazuri commercial bland.
If you can try the Harlan teklad, it's a much healthier block.
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:13 PM   #8
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Default Re: picky eatter

Is the former lab rat eating veggies of any kind?
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Old 01-05-2011, 06:28 PM   #9
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Default Re: picky eatter

I myself can rarely afford fresh produce. But any of the 3 will munch down a baby carrot in a flash. But really the only veggie I hardly ever buy is lettuce heads for sandwiches, I'll give them pieces of it sometimes. And Raisin Bran cereal, they get that now and again. And I always buy whole grain bread, they get pieces of that sometimes too.

I leave a countable handful of the blocks I have now, LM Farms or something like that, in their dish in the mornings/evenings and it always goes down, I just never see the lab rat eating them, just the two pet store ones. Last night they all shared a packet of instant oatmeal, that went over pretty well.
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Old 01-06-2011, 12:02 AM   #10
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Default Re: picky eatter

You can always grab bags of frozen on sale, and dethaw a few pieces for them every day.


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