Organic Rat Food

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 17, 2009 in Rat Articles | Subscribe

Rats are naturally opportunistic omnivores. If they have the opportunity, they will indulge in insects and other small invertebrates, such as snails or caterpillars. However, as any farmer will attest, rats can also thrive on a predominantly plant-based diet made up of grains, corn, fruits, vegetables, and other plant material. So, not surprisingly, a pet rat’s food can be primarily vegetarian, if supplemented with fresh animal-based foods to provide additional beneficial nutrients.

Currently, most available rat foods are of mediocre quality, containing mostly low quality plant-based, and low-grade animal-derived ingredients which may be unhealthy over the long run. Even if higher quality, safer, and more nutritious organic ingredients are used, these are usually processed at high temperatures, which devitalize endogenous nutrients in the pet food products that contain them. High heat is used for most extruded rat food, i.e., pellet foods or ‘lab block’-type foods, even those products that are USDA certified organic.

A more ideal rat food would be composed of unrefined USDA certified organic ingredients and would not contain any artificial ingredients. These quality ingredients would not be exposed to, and therefore devitalized by, high heat processing. USDA certified organic ingredients are healthier because they are free of pesticides residues, are not genetically engineered, and are significantly more nutrient-rich than non-USDA certified organic ingredients. Moreover, organic certification assures that no toxic pesticides or cleaning agents are used during the handling, storage, and processing of food ingredients or final products. Currently, only organic certification assures that the pet food manufacturer uses the organic ingredients as claimed. Non-USDA certified organic claims are not yet regulated or enforced by US law. As you might gather from the foregoing, even USDA certified organic rat foods aren’t necessarily perfect foods for your pet rat, particularly those containing refined ingredients or ingredients that have been processed at high heat, which destroys the nutrients contained in those ingredients. Even though in such cases, excesses of supplementary nutrients may have to be added to achieve minimally acceptable nutrient levels after heat processing, these nutrients are generally synthetic and of questionable quality, and are also easily degraded and deactivated when exposed to air or light. Therefore, the nutritional value of organic rat foods that have been supplemented with isolated nutrients may rapidly fall below promised levels soon after these foods are manufactured or purchased by pet owners.

An alternative to supplementation with isolated synthetic nutrients is to provide nutrients through the primary food ingredients and to preserve these nutrients by using a gentle processing method, such as freezing or gentle dehydration. Currently, we know of only one pet food manufacturer which uses such a mild processing method to provide live raw dehydrated pet foods for pet rats and other pet rodents. If you don’t have the time or resources to provide your pet rat with fresh, healthy, and safe foods, then you would be well advised to search for the best available foods on the market and actively support those companies that supply such foods. Only in this way will more companies that are providing quality pet foods survive and be able to compete in the pet food market. In the case of rat foods, since there seems to be a general lack of interest and demand on the part of many rat owners, the market for such foods tends to be underexploited or even ignored by the majority of the pet food manufacturers.

Eric Taylor has years of expertise on pet care and pet rearing. He writes on dehydrated pet products, USDA certified organic rat food, holistic dog foods and pet treats that could be used as diet for your pets and ensure their health and wellness.

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