As a new rat owner it is hard to know if you can feed this or that to your rat. Often it makes you nervous to give them little treats if you don’t know what is good or bad for them. Here is a great cheat sheet for a lot of those Rat Rumors many of us have heard about FOOD. Thank you!! to Jessie Stein from Maximum Mischief Rattery!who came up with this list and posted it on Facebook for me to find! (published with her permission)It is a wonderful comprehensive list(I may have added a few things, can’t keep my mouth shut)!


Male rats and CITRUS

Rumor:  Male rats should have no mango, oranges or citrus peel or male rats can have citrus as long as the peel is removed.

Truth:  While D-limonene is in the skin of citrus, and has been linked to kidney issues and or cancer. Researchers have discovered that it takes A LOT of exposure to d-limonene to potentially be an issue… like GALLONS worth. They now know for sure that the exposure rate for any issue would have to be by the gallon. So, please don’t give your rats a gallon of citrus peels. One good way to give them citrus would be from fruit cups or canned fruit(in juice would be better than syrup of course)


Rumor:  Avacado is toxic.

Truth:  Remove the skin and pit of an avacado (same you would do if you ate it).


Rumor:  Raw onion is toxic to rats.

Truth:  Raw and cooked onion are both fine. The raw onion myth probably came about because of dogs not being able to eat raw onion, but it is perfectly safe.


Rumor:  Garlic is toxic to rats.

Truth:  Garlic is safe both raw and cooked.

Apple seeds and fruit pits or stones

Rumor:  Apple seeds and fruit stones or pits are bad for rats.

Truth:  Apple seeds and fruit pits or stones contain a chemical which breaks down into cyanide.

Exposure to cyanide can harm the heart and brain, and can cause seizures and death. You should avoid feeding the seeds of apples, and pits of peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, and cherries. (It takes about 200 apple seeds to be close to a lethal dose in humans)


Rumor:  Beans are bad for rats (or cause too much gas)

Truth:  Dry beans that you buy in a store and have to soak and cook before eating. Raw beans contain chemicals which destroy vitamin A and enzymes needed to digest protein and starches. It also causes red blood cells to clump. Cook your beans and your rats can enjoy them just like you.

Raw Peanuts

Rumor:  Raw peanuts are bad for rats.

Truth:  Most of the time when you buy them they are roasted. If they are not put them in the oven at 200 degrees F for about 30+ minutes and they are roasted. Easy Peasy.

Sweet Potato

Rumor:  Raw sweet potato is bad for rats.

Truth:  Cooked, canned, baby food sweet potato, and freeze dried are all just fine. When it is raw it contains a chemical which turns into cyanide. Exposure to cyanide can harm the heart and brain, and can cause seizures and death.


Rumor:  Rats cannot have raw white potatoes (“normal” baking, red, white, potatoes)

Truth:  Rats can have white potatoes raw. Remove any green skin which contains a toxin known as solanine and any eyes on the potato.

Poppy seeds

Rumor: Rats cannot eat black poppy seeds.

Truth: Small amounts of normal poppy seeds would be okay. For example if you have a few on a bagel you don’t have to be super picky about getting them off. However, Mexican Poppy Seeds contain a hallucinogen that could cause neurological damage in large quantities(no, I don’t know what consists of large quantities so just don’t feed this kind) But most foods containing poppy seeds have the normal kind (like 99.9%).


Rumor:  Bananas are bad for rats.

Truth:  As long as your banana is ripe (yellow to yellow-brown) it is safe. Green bananas are not good for rats.


Rumor: Tofu has bad bacteria for rats.

Truth: Raw bulk tofu can contain bacteria that is bad for rats. Pre-packaged tofu is safe.


Rumor: My rat can eat bugs.

Truth: Rats can eat crickets or mealworms from your local petstore, farm raised or raised by you. It is great enrichment for them to chase them down and bite their little heads off. It is also great fun to watch if you don’t mind the crunching noise.


Rumor:  Corn is good for rats.

Truth:  Dried corn can contain high levels of fungal contaminates which has been shown to cause liver cancer in rats. (This includes deer corn) It has also has been known to contribute to cancer. (It contains high levels of nitrates and amines which when combined in the stomach form nitrosamines which are carcinogenic)  Small amounts of cooked corn (in a pet food seed mix or I give my rats leftover corn on the cob)would be fine.

Other foods that are high in nitrates are beets, celery, eggplant, lettuce cucumber, radishes, spinach, collards, and turnip greens. Therefore, I suggest you limit the amount of these foods in your rat’s diet.

Blue Cheese

Rumor: blue cheese is bad for your rat.

Truth: The mold found in blue cheese and other similar cheeses IS TOXIC to your rat.

Spices and sugar (and leftover people food)

Rumor: Spices, sugar, anything I add to my food is bad.

Truth: Everything in moderation, but sharing your leftovers with your rats is a healthy way to add some enrichment to their little lives. My rats always eat spaghetti with us. Some rats will like things spicy and some will not. Most spices used for cooking or baking are just fine. Salt is NOT toxic to rats. Some sugar is okay if you want to share a little dessert. Try not to feed foods that are too greasy. Just like humans everything in moderation and you will be okay.



Rumor: Rats are lactose intolerant.

Truth: This is another rumor probably started from cats and dogs. A little milk or milk based food is not going to hurt your rat. All things in moderation.


Rumor: Tea or anything with caffeine is unsafe.

Truth:  A small amount occasionally of caffeine is not going to hurt your rat. Teas are perfectly safe and have many health benefits(even with a little honey added).


Rumor: Because rats do not burp or vomit, carbonation will hurt them.

Truth:  A small amount of carbonation is not going to hurt. They do not burp or vomit but they do fart. (I’ve heard it) Just don’t let them drink tons of carbonation all at once. If you have ever chugged anything carbonated you know how uncomfortable that could be.


Rumor: Honey will cause botulism.

Truth: Honey is a great treat in small amounts and it has many amazing health benefits.



⋆A great site to determine what a fruit is⇝ http://www.thefruitpages.com/

⋆These foods help to prevent strokes! Recommended for older rats or those with a family history of strokes⇝ celery, prunes, parsley, oranges (no orange juice for males).

⋆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.