Forbidden Foods

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Here is a list of foods and their effect on rats. This is not to be considered a complete listing, just a guideline that will be updated (as of August 25, 2013) as new information is found. Please feed your rats responsibly.
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Foods NOT to feed to your rat

  • Bitter Almond – Bitter almonds may yield from 6 to 8% of hydrogen cyanide (Wikipedia Article), a deadly substance.
  • Blue Cheese – Contains Toxic Mold (thought to be incorrect – 08/25/2013)
  • Fats (from meats) – Rats do not have gall bladders and therefore they do not have the enzymes needed to digest the fat of meat (credit to spazrats).
  • Green Bananas – Inhibits starch digestion
  • Green Potato Skin and Eyes – Contains solanine, a toxin
  • Licorice – Contains a suspected neurotoxin (thought to be incorrect – 08/25/2013)
  • Orange Juice – May contain d-limonene which can cause kidney cancer in male rats
  • Poppy Seeds – Can cause neurological damage, or may cause death!
  • Raw Artichokes – Inhibits protein digestion
  • Raw Bulk Tofu – May contain bacteria (packaged tofu is safe)
  • Raw Dry Beans or Peanuts – Contain anti-nutrients, causes red blood cell clumping (note: the peanuts that you buy in stores are almost always roasted so are okay. Frozen beans from veggie mixes are okay because they have been pre-cooked)
  • Raw Onion – Can lead to anemia and an upset stomach
  • Raw Red Cabbage and Brussel Sprouts – Contains an anti-nutrient that destroys thiamin
  • Raw Sweet Potato – Contains cyanide-forming compounds
  • Rhubarb – Contains high levels of oxalates which bind up calcium
  • Wild Insects – May carry parasites

Foods to be used with caution when feeding to your rat

  • Apples – Apples are fine, except for the seeds. Apple seeds contain a cyanide derivative that is deadly.
  • Avocados – Avocados are high in fat and are a good treat to feed rats that need to gain weight quickly (make sure the fruit is ripe). However, the pit, rind, skin and leaves of avocados are toxic. The part of the fruit in contact with the pit has a higher concentration of toxins.
  • Carbonated Drinks – Rats Can’t Burp!
  • Carob – Contains vitamin A, B vitamins, and lots of protein. Contains vitamin A, B vitamins, and lots of protein. Carob pods have been used to treat diarrhea for centuries. Carob should be taken with plenty of water. Too much Carob will produce the opposite effect and cause constipation.
  • Chocolate – Contains stimulants that can lead to heart failure or neurological poisoning in high quantities. A very small bit of chocolate is okay and can actually temporarily alleviate respiratory distress.
  • Dried Corn – Can have high levels of fungal contaminates which can lead to liver cancer. Make sure to inspect commercial seed mixes with dried corn. A little fresh corn is fine.
  • Iceberg Lettuce – Full of water (which can be good), but has no nutritional value
  • Peanut Butter – This can cause choking in rats. If you want to give your rats peanut butter, mix it with jam or something liquid to make it less sticky, or spread it in some bread.
  • Plums – Good source of potassium, Vitamin A and fibre. The pit of the Plum has cyanogens in it, which are bound molecules of sugar and cyanide. When this bond is broken, the cyanide becomes free and able to act. The cyanogens don’t leak at all into the flesh of the fruit, for some reason, but should it ever occur to you to try fermenting Plum pits, or to break them up and roast them as snack food, it might not be such a great idea.

with thanks to Food! forums.

Last updated August 25, 2013 – Please remember this is a guideline only.
Your best reference is always your pet’s health care professional.