Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rats and Rat Food.

Since 2007, I have mainly used Nutro Natural Lite dog food for my rats base diet. It had all natural ingredients and the fat and protein contents were low. When I first started feeding them Nutro, the protein was around 15-18% and the fat 7-8% over the years.

Fast Forward to 2012. Nutro has decided to change all of their foods to a 'New and Improved' formula. The fat is still 7% but the Protein is now 23%! Which is really too high for adult rats. I'm very disappointed, as I've been using Nutro Natural Lite for almost 5 years. All of their other formulas the fat and protein contents are just too high.

(Pet rats should have no more than 8% fat and their protein should really be no more than 20% in a base food. Less is better, 5% fat and around 15-18% protein is ideal).

Sooo... the search for a new food begins. I've fed Harlan Teklad lab blocks in the past. They are just hard to buy in big quanities because the brand mostly sells to labs or rescues. You can buy Harlan Teklad lab blocks on MRR or The Rat Shop
  
(Lab Blocks are the most nutritionally complete diet to feed pet rats).

Harlan does sell their product under the name 'Native Earth' on Pet Food Direct. A 40lb bag of Native Earth 4018 (4018 is equivalent to Harlan Teklad 2018), only costs $20. The shipping is $13 though, (to Philadelphia).



I've also heard of Oxbow Regal Rat. Which is supposed to be almost as good as lab blocks. Though I've never tried it.



There are also two more dog foods I was considering:

Natural Balance Reduced Calorie dog food. (Very similar ingredients to Nutro Natural Lite, but the protein is 18% the fat is 8%)



And a food one of my rat blogging friends recommended: Solid Gold Holistique Blendz. Another all natural dog food. With 6% fat and 18% protein.
 

  
There are also mixes you can feed like Suebee's diet, but I myself don't like those so much for their staple diet, because the rats can pick & choose what they want to eat out of the mix.

(The Rat Whisperer sells a pre-made supplement mix (to be fed daily with another base food). You can order here).

For now I've just decided to go back to ordering the 40lb bag of Native Earth (Harlan Teklad) lab blocks. Eventually, I may try either Natural Balance or Solid Gold. I was thinking about it though... and spending $14 on a 5lb bag of Nutro Natural every month, compared to the 40lb bag of Native Earth for $20, does save me some money. (The 40lb bag may last 2-3 months.)

Of course remember, you should try to incorporate fresh vegetables and fruit into your pet rats diet. And it's always best to check the Forbidden Food List before feeding any new food to your rats.  

Another tip for new rat owners: That bag of "rat" food from the small animal aisle at the pet store; (Petco, Pet Smart, etc), is usually no good for rats at all. Foods like Kaytee pellets, contain alfalfa which is hard for rats to digest. And other bagged mixes contain dried corn (may cause cancer) and other fattening nuts, etc; that rats should not have as a staple diet. The foods mentioned above are much better choices for the health of your pet rats.

Check out my blog article about pet rats: Why Rats?!?

(I do use Amazon Associates, but not because I've made any money- because I haven't! lol! But I like that I can show a picture/link with a product when I'm blogging. Plus I do recommend Amazon.com for their low prices. That or Ebay! 
 

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