These furry little critters are both adorable and hyper-intelligent, making them far better pets than hamsters and other oft sought after rodents. However with the resurgence in popularity there's been a vast number of no-nos committed by new rat owners.
If protein in rats is too high they are at much higher risk of tumors and other issues such as obesity which can cause diabetes and heart problems.
Other problems with diet in rats are fats, since rats are omnivores and can eat most foods (there are certain foods they can't eat) a lot of rat owners like to give them various treats.
One issue with this is that you can make your rats ill by giving them the wrong foods, or by simply giving them too much of a certain food, throwing the delicate nutritional balance they need out of whack.
Since there's not a lot of knowledge on this subject within newer rat owner circles, there's been an explosion in dangerous and irresponsible diets recommended.
One such diet is the dog / cat food diet, where rat owners recommend mixing tinned dog or cat food with a mixture of household items such as oats, pasta and similar.
These kinds of diets are recommended in pure bred dog circles, but as I mentioned this isn't so good for rats since they need a delicate balance of the right nutrition.
Dog food or cat food for that matter is way higher in protein than what a rat should be having...
Since rats are tested on in labs, scientists have had foods formulated for decades that perfectly provide the right nutrition for rats.
These foods are commercially available, but it's not always paid attention to by all rat owners.
The key to remedying the common diet problems seen in rats today is education, after all if most of 'the new guard' of rat owners knew they were doing things wrong they would stop.
There are in fact websites out there that have very comprehensive nutrition sections for rats such as RatCentral that focuses on research driven advice.
When writing this article I was careful to investigate several rat groups, websites and forums online, and there was a huge number of rats suffering from diet based diseases.
It's clear that some kind of change needs to happen in this community and it's good that a few websites are spearheading that change.
A little research goes a long way, and diets like the dog/cat food diet need to go away for good.
What do you think about these kinds of diets? Should people do their research first or is it their choice what they do with their pets?
Let me know in the comments what you think!