The question has been asked time and time again, what is best for my rat? Rats have nutritional needs unique to them. They are not dogs nor humans, they require more or less than other species. Companies like Harlan Teklad and Oxbow have put in time and energy and cost in finding out exactly what the rat needs in nutrients, in vitamins, minerals, macro and micro minerals. They have produced an excellent block which contains everything a rat needs. Rats fed a high quality block don't need anything extra in their diets but supplementing with fresh veggies daily is a huge benefit to them and gives them variety in their diet. Dog food is formulated for dogs, it contains mostly proteins because that is their primary energy source. Rats need carbs as their primary energy source. Which is why dog food is not energy dense enough for rats. It is not impossible to create a fresh natural diet for rats but you need to research in order to provide all the daily required nutrients. Nutrient Requirements of the Laboratory Rat The Lab rat's needs are closer to our pet rat's needs than the wild rat's needs. For a natural diet, the rats would require a protein source not necessarily from animals. They require lots of carbs as their energy source so grains, nuts, seeds... fresh veggies for excellent nutrients such as calcium and vitamin K.(raw and cooked yellow, orange and green ones) also fresh fruits like red grapes, apples, blueberries, etc...) But again, you would need to do your research in order to formulate the best possible diet for your rats. When making your natural diet, a commercial rat block as well as a commercial dog food may be a good supplement to their daily fresh foods. But don't forget to balance out the high protein and high fat in the commercial pet foods. Corn and alfalfa is not bad for rats. They do have nutritional value. They do however contain cellulose which reduces somewhat but not entirely it's digestibility. They provide energy, protein and fiber. It has been said that corn may contain fungi but all grains cultivated in fields, kept in silos may contain fungi, nitrates and nitrites... Cheerios anyone? ...not to mention all the vegetables! Here's an excellent article on alfalfa: http://onestaorganics.com/blog/?cat=5 Don't take other people's word for it!! Research! And don't forger: low protein, low fat, no sugar, no salt. :thumbup: A list of foods that are not recommended or could cause harm to your rat raw dry beans or peanutsâcontains antinutrients that destroy vitamin A and enzymes needed to digest protein and starches, and causes red blood cells to clump. Roasted peanuts are fine. raw sweet potatoâcontains compounds that form cyanide in the stomach. Canned sweet potato is cooked and is fine. green bananasâinhibits starch-digesting enzymes green potato skin and eyesâcontain solanine, a toxin wild insectsâcan carry internal parasites and diseases raw bulk tofuâcan contain bacteria; packaged raw tofu is safe orange juiceâforbidden for male rats only, d-limonene in the skin oil, which gets into the orange juice during squeezing, can cause kidney damage and kidney cancer due to a protein that only male rats have in their kidneys. Pieces of the orange fruit are okay if you wash the orange-skin oil off of it after peeling it. Foods to feed with caution carbonated beveragesârats canât burp (but they can fart!) Dried corn can contain high levels of fungal contaminates which has been shown to cause liver cancer in rats. Corn also contains high levels of both nitrates and amines. These two compounds can combine in the stomach to form nitrosamines which are carcinogenic. Other foods high in nitrates include beets, celery, eggplant, lettuce, cucumber, radishes, spinach, collards and turnip greens. Spoiled or moldy food can contain deadly toxins. Never give nuts, grains, vegies or other food that looks or smells odd or spoiled. Donât buy too much food ahead. Molds can grow even in sealed plastic bags. When cutting up veggies, cut off the dried part that has been exposed from previous cutting and throw it away. If you see mold growing on a food, throw the whole thing away. Do not attempt to cut away the moldy section. Invisible mold filaments penetrate deep into the food. Foods with special properties These foods have some antibiotic properties: banana, prunes/plums, garlic, tea, eggplant, raspberries, onion, mustard. These foods may have some anti-virus properties: cranberries, prunes/plums, strawberries, onion. These foods are good for arthritis: clove, dates, ginger, garlic. Taken from Debbie D's Rat Health Food.http://ratfanclub.org/diet.html An excellent recommendation from a past member: No added sugar, No added salt, None, or very limited amount (if it can't be avoided) of additives, preservatives and colourants. No pips/seeds (or pits as you seem to call them ) Nothing greasy or fatty No chocolate No caffein of any sort No sweets/candy My personal rule when feeding rats: low salt, very low sugar, low protein and low fat. NutritionData - Know what you eat http://www.nutritiondata.com/ This website was written in the 'additional / useful information' section at the back of one of my parrot books. It will give you the nutrional information of pretty much everything - including fruit and veg. It also tells you the nutritional information of food once it has been cooked, and also fresh and frozen. It comes in handy if you want to try something new (a treat, or a diet addition) with your pets but aren't sure if it is healthy, or actually beneficial. Supplements by mamarat2 Many people are intrigued that I have a cabinet in my kitchen devoted to my rats. Along with meds and herbs, I also keep many supplements that my rats are fed to keep them healthy. Please read the full post as it answers many questions in full context. Below is a list of the supplements and their uses: Over the counter flax seed oil fish oil CoQ10 Vitamin B complex glucosamine/chondroitin/msm complex Cosequin for small dogs - vet otc greenmush missing link powder nutrical Why do I use these supplements? First let me say, in the course of my life I've found it is very helpful to turn to healthy supplements and in doing so I have applied such things to my pets as well, as I want them to lead long and healthy and happy lives. Everything here, I have incorporated from my own findings and am not being backed by a vet, let me make that clear. All of the supplements used, rats only get a small amount as in a sprinkle in some food once a day. I usually mix up something wet to put all of the stuff in at once.....instant baby cereal with ensure or something yummy. Flax Seed Oil - Its been shown that flax is very good for one's skin and hair health, and many other healthy properties. It also contains omega-3's and many other "good" fatty acids. Although you can actually eat flax seeds, they are not broken down by the body so ingesting the oil or ground flax seed meal is a better alternative. Few drops of oil in food once a day. Please note when you use the oil form, watch for loose stool......which is why I saw a few drops. Fish oil - benefits of omega 3's and fatty acids. Few drops of oil in food once or twice a day. CoQ10 aka CoEnzyme Q10 - helps to boost the immune system, cardiovascular health. Really only use this with rats that I suspect have cardiovascular issues. Can be very expensive. Normal dosages for my kids who do not have heart problems, once a week in food. Comes as capsules with liquid inside. Vitamin B Complex - neurological health, spinal nerve health, overall metabolism of fats and carbs in the body, cell health. The grocery store or pharmacy usually has some form of it on sale, I usually get the chewable fruit flavored kind and grind them up or you can use any kind and grind them. Sprinkle small amount in food once a day. Glucosamine/chondroitin/msm complex - over the counter joint medication for people, I take it for my own joint problems. Good for the joints and cartilage health. Its NOT cheap. Chondroitin is the shark cartilage. They come in large capsules that are not easy to grind up, but its possible. Sprinkle small amount into food once a day. Cosequin for dogs - Get it from the vet. Cheaper animal version of joint health supplement. Does not contain as much chondroitin, which is the shark cartilage that promotes excellent joint health. Comes in capsules with powder inside, easy to open and close capsules. Sprinkle small amount into food once a day. Green Mush - Love the stuff. Its considered a super food. Also contains CoQ10, which is why I normally do not feed CoQ10 separately. Has a long list of ingredients that are dried whole foods, lots of GREEN stuff. Lots of fiber. I like to add this to some baby cereal and they go nuts. Very potent stuff and quite litereally smells green, don't ask me to explain that one. The green mush is made for pets, they also make one for people, same thing just called something different. I have literally made myself a "smoothie" with green mush before and drank it and take it from experience, it does amazing things for your digestive tract. For more green mush info and ingredient list check out the link: http://www.healthfoodemporium.com/prod_page.php?id=178 Missing Link Powder - Not much experience with this stuff myself, but a fellow rat friend gives it to her kids in place of the green mush. I beleive its also considered a type of super food. Google for more info. Nutrical - Purchased from the vet or many pet stores. High calorie supplement for older rats or sick rats having problems keeping weight on. Another great read, a research project on rat nutrition by Sorraia. http://nom-ology.blogspot.com/ This next part will be an ongoing post, I will keep adding as I do more research on "super foods" for rats. I also want to give credit to Alex Kolenoff, she is helping me in this research as she's dedicated herself in finding the best fresh foods for our critters. Quinoa is a super grain with extremely good properties, it is an almost complete protein derived from a plant. Berries are an excellent source of antioxidant, amla being the absolute best. (indian gooseberries) Blackberries, raspberries, goji berries, cranberries (no sugar!) blueberries make excellent treats for rats. Blueberries were shown to improve the memory in elderly rats, in a study made 12 years ago. Pomegranate seeds are high in antioxidants as well. Sweet potato is high in antioxidant and rats love it. Must be cooked. Flax Seeds! It's not a grain but it sure packs a lot of nutrients. It's high in the b vitamins as well as rich in the omega 3 fatty acids. It's also low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fat and fibre. If you are looking for a dietary supplement, ground up some flax seeds for your rats. It contains phytoestrogens like the soybean so it might not be something you want for your spayed rats. But definitely a good supplement for your intact girls. Kale. It's packed full of nutrients as well antioxidant. It boosts the immune system. In humans it helps enhance the defence against viruses, bacteria and toxins. A study shows kale to improve coronary artery disease risk factors. It lowers the bad cholesterol while raising the good.