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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Me and my mom were having a little argument. I believe they don't need meat to live and thrive, she does. She even thinks they got their respiratory infections because I don't feed them raw meat, but I think that's ridiculous because URIs are so common in rats. Just wondering what people think about this.
 

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As I understand it, rats CAN eat food of animal origin. (You're talking about doestic rats, who are descended form the Brown rat, Rattus norvegicus- right? At least I think that's the Latin name...) Compared to the black rat and many other rodents, I've heard that they're more prone to eating meat.

On the other hand, I don't know that they need it... but I've never kept rats- just read up on them a bit back when there was a chance I might have been adopting some from a local shelter. I'd think that their nutritional needs are pretty well-known.
 

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I feed my ratties fruits, veggies, and their basic "kibble" type food. They don't seem to be sickly or anything. They also get tofu, and little scraps of whatever I'm eating.
 

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Rats do need a protein source, but they don't need to eat meat. I don't know of a single store-bought brand of rat food that has animal protein in it. I did used to feed my rats meal worms every now and again and they loved it.
I don't know if the study is true, but someone once told me that soy is estrogen based and can cause higher chances for developing female cancers. Rats (male or female) are highly likely to develop mammary tumors, so that's something to keep in mind.

And you are right, rats are omnivores, like people. They are scavengers too, so they'll eat whatever they can. Something like eggs or quinoa works instead of meat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
But how can male rats get mammary tumors if they don't have nipples?
But both females and males can defiantly get tumors, but in my experience I had less males have tumors than females.
Right now, one of my boys has a tumor... on his chin, but if the vet gives the 'okay' Monday I'll get it removed.

Their main source of food is Harlan Teklad 2018%.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pirate Huntress View Post

But male rats cannot get mammary tumors... They have no nipples. But other types of tumors are possible... I have a male rat with a tumor on his chin.

Their main source of food is Harlan Teklad 2018%.
That's what I feed mine too
 

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Meat would probably be too much protein for them anyway. As they get older they need less or they can get fat and sick. Mine are on HT 2014 right now and are extremely healthy and beautiful. 3 females and one male and all of them have amazing coats and great bodies (except one who has been rather large from the get go do to breeding) They also get fresh veggies every night and a few supplements to keep them tip top. No meat at all.

URIs and tumors are incredibly common because of how poorly rats are bred. My friend who I get my rescues from feeds all hers the same diets and they are incredibly healthy and her rats tend to live from 4 to 6 years! I started copying her when I realized how extraordinary her life spans are.
 

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Really really rare. I tell her all the time she's magical. She's been working with rats for years and years and she is really close to a magnificent vet who specializes in small animals. It's really not something normal. If I haven't known her this whole time and known her elder rats myself I wouldn't believe it. She's my hero.
 

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For the record, I'm not trying to say this diet is the reason she can pull that off. It's just a point that obviously having no meat in the diet isn't killing these rats off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yeah, I understand that. It's just my rats tend to live 2-3 years, so hearing about a rat that lived 6 was a big shock to me. I've even had rats that didn't make it to their second birthday, but I also had a neutered male who lived slightly longer than 3 years.
 

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Yeah, my average has been around 2 but it usually is caused by unstoppable things like pituitary tumors and such. Right now I have a girl going on 4 but she's slowing down a lot.
 

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I lost a few of my rats to respiratory infections. They're just very common. And no, your rats don't need raw meat, that's ridiculous.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pirate Huntress View Post

But how can male rats get mammary tumors if they don't have nipples?
But both females and males can defiantly get tumors, but in my experience I had less males have tumors than females.
Right now, one of my boys has a tumor... on his chin, but if the vet gives the 'okay' Monday I'll get it removed.

Their main source of food is Harlan Teklad 2018%.
It's probably a mammary tumor. Rats aren't like people. They have mammary tissue (the tissue that secretes milk in females that, in people, are found in the breast) all over their body, not just where their nipples are (and male rats have nipples too, they just aren't very defined). I had a male rat develop a very large mammary tumor on his chest. I work as a vet tech with a very knowledgeable exotics vet and she confirmed my guess that it was a mammary tumor.
 

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We used to feed our rats kibble, but we found they were very prone to kidney infections, we started feeding them soya instead and they haven't had a URI since. If you are feeding your rats kibble make sure it is the kibble for senior dogs as the other types have too much protein.
We currently feed our rats straight grains and stuff(for the past 2 years) and I genuinely have noticed an increase in their general health and they have shinier coats.
I was especially pleased that our rat who was most prone to kidney infections when fed kibble went on to live another year on straights and reached the ripe old age of 3 and a half!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I feed them lab blocks, Harlan Teklad 2018.. so 18% protein. I've once gave them kibble with subee's mix (with Natural Balance veg. formula) but I did not use it long term because I found the mix to be expensive, although I did have more rats at the time, so maybe I could try again..
I'm going to be getting them a nebulizer, so I'm hoping that helps my rats with their chronic URI... Unfourtantly, Victor passed away this morning.. The rat I got surgery on three weeks ago. He was just suddenly gasping for air, and passed within minutes.. But I was glad that he was able to life his last three weeks tumor free, it's a choice I am still proud of.
I'll also try to get an air purifier, to help with the quality of air in the house.. I'm thinking of getting Moso - it's charcoal based, and lasts two years.
I'm pretty sure two of my rats are almost four... I got them three years ago, around Christmas - from someone who's parents were getting ready to kill them - in the garage, with car fumes.. When my sister brought them home, they were both fully grown. So I'm guessing they had to be around a year old.. maybe a few months younger.. Those brothers could not stand each other, so for the last three years I tried introducing with no success, except very recently - now I see them cuddling and it makes me so happy they finally get along, like brothers


Sorry, I keep going on LOL...
 

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Rats *can* eat meat, but they definitely do not *need* to, they aren't carnivores, and are better off not eating meat. They need a source of protein but there are obviously other non-animal options for that. Meat would be too much protein, which can definitely make your ratty sick. Your rats did *not* get a respiratory infection due to not eating meat, that's completely untrue. Rats are prone to respiratory problems in general, like I said, if anything, your rat would get sick from eating meat because the protein level would be too high. The protein level in your rats food shouldn't be more than 18% at the absolute most.

That all said, there are very few brands of lab blocks for rats that actually contain the proper nutrients and protein level rats need to thrive and be healthy. Most are full of corn fillers and have way too much protein. The only lab blocks I would ever suggest feeding your rats are Harlan Teklad, Oxbow, or if these are no accessible to you like they aren't to me, Hagen's Rat Extrusion (or even hamster Extrusion, which is nearly exactly the same as their rat food & usually easier to find) is good stuff too and is generally available in any pet supply store. Anything else... and I literally mean anything else... is full of yucky fillers and will not give your rat the proper nutrients they need to be healthy and live a good life. I've actually never looked into it enough *but* I'm pretty positive all 3 do have an animal source in them, so it's unfortunate. I choose to feed my rats this regardless because I need to put their health first and a rat's diet is so incredibly important. I also give them a good mix of fresh veggies everyday along with their lab blocks and I give them the odd table scrap, piece of tofu, etc. Apparently tofu has been shown to reduce tumors in male rats, not sure if that's 100% true but I heard it from a pretty reliable source. I've also known a couple people who fed their rats a high quality, low protein (no higher than %18). This was a last resort after their rats refused regular lab blocks though, but she seemed to do well on it.

There are also a few good recipes online by Rat experts for homemade rat food. If I was able to afford all the ingredients I would LOVE to make my rats food myself... one day soon, I hope.
Here's an excellent recipe with lots of detailed info if anyone is interested: http://www.ratfanclub.org/diet.html
 
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