There are so many misconceptions and negative views on rats, but owners of the cute little things know that, despite popular beliefs, they’re extremely smart, playful, and fun critters to have as a companion!
Rats can easily provide you with large amounts of love and entertainment, so it makes sense that owners would want to keep their rat’s well-being in check. All of these things can be influenced heavily by your rat’s diet. The food that your rat eats impacts it’s health, growth, and happiness, so providing your rat with the best rat food available is a key to successful rat ownership!
There are several things to consider when picking the best rat food for your little friend, so we’ve created a guide to make sure you’re as informed as possible about what should be fueling your rat.
Table of Contents
OUR #1 RATED
OxbowEssentials Adult Rat Food
An all-around great rat food that’s nutritionally-balanced, prevents selective feeding, and comes from an industry leader.
Supreme Pet FoodsScience Selective Rat Food
Quality rat pellets that are made from excellent, natural ingredients that taste good and are very healthy.
OxbowEssentials Young Rat Food
For younger rats, this food can’t be beat with its specially-formulated pellets that give young rats the specific nutrients that they need.
OxbowGarden Select Fortified
A great plant-based food that’s well-balanced nutritionally and also tastes great and promotes dental health.
MazuriRat and Mouse Food
These are large, hardy pellets that do a great job delivering essential nutrients to rats and are suitable for all life stages.
What Do Rats Eat In The Wild?
In order to better understand the rat and what they need from their diet, it’s important to first learn about what food rats eat in the wild. This lets us know what rats’ bodies are designed for so that we can look for those features in a good rat food.
Wild rats are opportunist omnivores, meaning that they eat really anything that they come across! Most of the time, the food that they would find and eat consists of grains, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts, with insects and other small animals caught and eaten occasionally.
Taking a look at this diet, it’s pretty clear that rats need a diet that consists of a good amount of grain, fruits, and vegetables with decently low protein and fat. Fortunately, all rat food manufacturers take this into account when crafting their food, with some slight variations, so less work is needed on your part.
What Makes Up A Good Rat Food?
Above we determined that rats have some basic requirements for their food, but the best rat food takes into account more than those basic ingredients. Below is a list of traits of healthy, and frankly the best, rat foods:
- Nutrition – This is a big one, so there’s a reason why it’s first. Rats have dietary needs that have to be met by their food or else they won’t get the nutrients that they need to survive. Aside from the ingredients of grains , fruits, and vegetables, rats need decently low protein (around 15%), low fat (around 5%), and low simple carbohydrates. If your rat is eating the same food every day, it needs to have all of the necessary nutrients.
- Brand – While brand may seem unimportant, when it comes to rat food, it’s something that could be considered. Cheaper food made by an unknown brand is usually cheaper because of it’s lack of quality ingredients and presence of fillers, which may fill your rat but cause malnutrition. Reputable brands have more to lose if their food has bad results, so it’s almost always a better investment to get your rat food from established brands.
- Flavor – You probably already know that rats are very smart and complex, but did you know that they also have taste buds? Rats can tell if a rat is sweet, sour, or bitter, meaning that the taste of your rat’s food is something that should be considered, since they may not want to eat food that’s not tasty! Since you can’t taste your rat’s food, read reviews from owners, and start with small quantity purchases to make sure that your rat likes it.
- Form – Taste isn’t the only tiny aspect to consider… Texture is important too! Your rat food should be in block or pellet form. This style of food is better for your rat because the uniform style helps prevent selective feeding. Additionally, the shape is more enticing for rats, as the big hard blocks help to keep their teeth healthy when they’re gnawed on.
- Aroma – Rats have a ridiculously strong sense of smell, meaning that a food’s aroma is very important to consider. While most foods will not put off a rat from just it’s smell, it can contribute to picky eaters rejecting a food.
- Life Stage – All rats are not equal throughout their lives. Younger rats need a different diet from older rats. The best rat food for young rats is slightly higher in calories and fat, with older rats requiring fewer calories, fat, and protein. Most foods are labeled by what life stage they are intended for.
How To Properly Feed Your Rat
It’s important to note a rat’s eating habits, as feeding your rat incorrectly could result in some unnecessary problems. The main idea here is that your rat generally needs to be fed ad libitum, meaning that they are given a constant supply of food and can eat whenever they want to. Most rats will self-regulate how much they eat, meaning that you generally don’t have to worry about overeating.
Some rat owners opt to limit their rat’s access to food slightly, providing food around 18-20 hours out of the day. However, this does take planning and steady monitoring, so most owners tend to give their rats constant food access and simply make sure that they’re eating correctly.
Additionally, most owners want to supplement their rat’s pellet diet with some extra foods, and this is a great idea to add a bit of variation and give your rat a treat. Veggies and a dry mix of grains is great a couple times a week, but make sure to not over-do it. Rats eat between 15-30 grams of food a day, and about 25% of that is healthy to have as supplemental food daily. Just make sure that your rat is getting the proper nutrients.
A final point to note is that rats will generally take a small amount of new food and leave it alone for a while. Don’t view this as a rejection of the new food – they’re simply testing it to make sure that it doesn’t make them sick. If they’re fine after this little test, they’ll go back and start eating the new food. Patience is key.
What Is The Best Rat Food?
We’ve taken a look at many different rat foods, taking into account things such as the quality of ingredients, the price per pound, and the physical health and enthusiasm of the rats that consume each food. Through this, we’ve found five foods that would make an excellent choice for your rat.
Remember, every rat is different, so while there is a very good chance that your rat would respond well to the foods listed below, they may also reject it, especially if they’ve gotten used to another food already.
our #1 rated
OUR TOP PICK
Essentials Adult Rat Food
Oxbow is easily the leading, most trusted authority when it comes to rat food, and the Essentials Adult Rat Food lives up to the high standards that Oxbow has set for themselves. It’s been formulated to directly fulfill the nutritional needs of a rat and is overall one of the healthiest options on the market. This rat food gives your rat healthy energy through brown rice and oats, fiber from oats, and healthy protein through fish and soy. On top of all of this, Essentials has no artificial flavors or preservatives, giving your rat a diet that’s very close to natural.Rat owners that feed their rat this food by Oxbow have great things to say both about the food and their rat’s health. Most rats, when given the option, choose this food over other foods consistently. Rats on this diet do get all of their nutritional needs met, meaning that owners don’t have to worry about supplementing the diet to get their rats all the nutrition that they need. The kibble shape of the food is also easy to hold, prevents rats from selective feeding, and is hard enough to keep rats’ teeth in check.The one downside that some owners note is that it is not the most flavorful food on the market. This results in some rats being slightly picky, but most of them come around and start eating the food once they’ve gotten used to it. Other than this, most rats absolutely love this food by Oxbow.
- Nutritionally balanced
- Low fat for adult rats
- Prevents selective feeding
- Resealable bag for freshness
- Not the most flavorful
our #2 rated
Science Selective Rat Food
The Science Selective Rat Food by Supreme Petfoods is a very close competitor to the Oxbow food discussed above. So close, in fact, that there are very few differences between the two foods. The main difference is that this food has a slightly lower protein level (14% compared to 15%) which is a better choice for some rats that can develop skin conditions from high protein diets. The quality is high, the nutritional balance is optimal, and rats definitely like the taste of this food. A lot goes on behind the scenes, too, with low amounts of cholesterol and saturated fatty acids, zero added sugar, and great antioxidants and vitamins.Owners that feed their rat Science Selective also have great things to say about the food. The taste is a big plus, as even picky rats tend to love this food and eat it readily. Additionally, some owners have noticed healthier coats and skin, good amounts of energy, and better overall health in their rats. This low-ingredient food does a fantastic job at keeping a variety of rats happy and healthy.Like the Oxbow food, some rats are picky about this food at first. However, when rats are given adequate time to warm up to it, they do – and the benefits of this food discussed above really start to come through. Once again, the pickiness can be fixed by slowly introducing a new food to a rat’s bowl over the course of about 2 weeks.
- Nutritionally complete
- Natural ingredients
- Prevents selective feeding
- Zero added sugar
- Stronger smell
our #3 rated
Essentials Young Rat Food
Rats are complex creatures, just like us. Because of this, younger, active rats need higher levels of certain kinds of nutrients to help them grow to reach their full potential. This Oxbow Essentials Young Rat Food takes the specific dietary needs of young rats into account and is formulated to be high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This nutritional combination, along with vitamin C, D, and E, gives rats the calories and overall nutrition to have strong immune systems and grow to be healthy and active rat adults. While the first Oxbow food mentioned is great, this young rat food is especially designed for rats in their first few months of life.Young rat owners tend to have great experiences with feeding this food to their rats. Most of them notice that rats eat the food readily and note that the absence of selective feeding is a plus, especially at that young age. The combination of protein and fat gives young rats noticeably large amounts of energy and no clear deficiencies in areas.Once again, like the other foods above, some rats can be picky when it comes to this food. Additionally, once rats reach 4-6 months of age, some of them will simply stop eating this food. This actually isn’t a bad thing due to the fact that at that age, they need to start eating adult rat food.
- Nutritionally complete
- Excellent for young rats
- Good vitamins and fiber
- Good for pregnant mothers
- Not for adults
our #4 rated
Garden Select Fortified
Yet another Oxbow creation, the Garden Select Fortified rat food is another excellent food that’s packed with balanced nutrients for your rats. This food differs from the others because it takes a more garden-fresh approach, featuring ingredients such as carrot, spinach, banana, and tomato that rats absolutely love. The non-GMO ingredients provide a natural foraging feel for your rats with the hard identical pellets providing for excellent tooth care. Additionally, the plant-based makeup of this food makes it suitable for younger and pregnant rats.Rat owners that give their rats Oxbow Garden Select Fortified have noted several benefits. First of all, the fact that the ingredients are natural and non-GMO is a huge perk to many owners. Rats on this diet also have noticeably shinier coats and healthier skin while their internal health seems to be great as well.Some owners have noted that their rats have some intestinal issues with this food, noticing irregular or stinky poops. Additionally, some rats simply refuse to eat the food, which is either due to them not liking the taste of it or the fact that the owners incorrectly introduced the food to their rats. Regardless, these problems appear to be rare for rats to experience.
- Non-GMO ingredients
- Includes many vegetables
- Balanced nutrition
- Uniform, solid pellets
- May need supplementation
- Some rats respond negatively
our #5 rated
Rat and Mouse Food
Even as the #5 food in this list, Mazuri Rat and Mouse Food is an excellent dietary option for most rats. Generally running cheaper than the other foods listed above, this rat food is a great value for the quality that you’ll be getting. Because of the fact that this food is also acceptable for mice, that means that it would be better served as baby rat food than food for full-grown adults, simply due to the ingredient makeup.Many rat owners that feed their rat this food love how affordable it is, noting that it’s a great value for its price. The pellets are big and easy for rats to hold and gnaw on, with the food itself doing great for rats’ overall health. Owners note that their rats have a good amount of energy, a good coat, and hardly have a smell if at all. Most of these owners are owners of younger rats, but some older rats still eat this food as well.There are two main characteristics of this food that need to be noted. First of all, the food has ground corn as a second ingredient, which is commonly seen as a problem for rats that can cause health issues. The validity of this is still shaky, as this corn is usually processed in a way that removes most, if not all of the risk, but it could be something that turns owners away. Additionally, this food has a very high level of protein (23%), so both young and adult rats will need to eat this combined with some low-protein food to help them achieve a good balance.
- Nutritionally complete
- Nice large, hard pieces
- Solid ingredients
- Contains ground corn
- Very high protein
All of the foods that we have reviewed are more than suitable for rats and contain all of the essential nutrients that they need to live a happy and healthy life. Rats are extremely advanced creatures have specific dietary needs, but despite this, there’s a good chance that your rat will thrive on any of the foods above.
After analyzing all of the rat food available on the market, we’ve determined that the best rat food is Oxbow Essentials Adult Rat Food.
This well-priced rat food has been specifically crafted for rats by the leading rat food manufacturer, and it really shows. The benefits that this food brings rats, along with its lack of apparent flaws and big focus on fulfilling the needs of a rat’s diet, makes it a very safe choice for the staple food of any rat.