Rats are well-known as omnivores and creatures that will eat just about anything. However, when you have a pet rat, you have to make sure you’re feeding them foods that are nutritious and not harmful. And if you’re a concerned pet rat owner, you’re probably wondering whether the can eat cockroaches or not.
So, do pet rats eat cockroaches? Yes! Pet rats, just like wild rats, eat cockroaches. In fact, they can pry them out of glue traps without getting trapped themselves. Rats eat insects for protein. However, domestic rats shouldn’t eat cockroaches since they could be carrying pesticides and diseases.
Rats are complex creatures, smarter than most rodents. They make excellent pets, and you should learn how to take care of them if you want them to live a long and happy life. Read on to find out what rats can and should eat and what they shouldn’t eat.
Rats and Insects
Rodents and cockroaches cohabitating is not uncommon, but this is a risky plan for cockroaches since both mice and rats feed on them. This is so severe that the biggest predators to cockroaches are themselves — since they eat each other — people, and rodents, according to research.
Lab and field reports share the same findings. Cockroaches get eaten even if they end up trapped or in the wild. Professionals in the extermination business have also reported that mice and rats eat roaches and bugs. They noted that the rodents they spotted eating roaches were already skilled at it.
They also noticed that mice could kill moving roaches and capture them. Catching cockroaches isn’t easy for them since the roaches are fast. This is a bit easier for rats who are bigger and able to contain them for longer.
In general, cockroaches can be a great meal for rodents. A study has concluded that cockroaches have 62% protein while containing 25% of fat. They have vitamins and minerals which fortify the rodent’s immunity, especially through the winter.
However, rodents don’t feed on them regularly, mostly because they are hard to catch. They use them as supplements to their diet.
Rodents in the wild need extra protein to survive, so they hunt roaches. But your rat is probably getting enough nutrients through their food. Besides, roaches are dirty, could carry diseases and pesticides that could harm your pet rat. This goes for all other insects.
What Can Rats Eat Instead?
In order to be healthy, rats need specific elements. Their diet is simple, yet giving them the wrong thing could harm them. This is what your pet rat has to eat to be healthy:
- Carbohydrates, especially whole wheat and whole grains products
- Lean protein and meat without bad fats since they gain weight quickly
- Vegetables and fruits are necessary sources of vitamins and minerals for rats
In addition to this, you can give them an occasional snack or human food. However, make sure that you don’t give them anything spicy or too salty. Sweets and carbonated drinks are also not preferable for rats.
You should feed them properly — in appropriate quantities for their sex and age — in order to keep them healthy. They can get fat pretty quickly, so make sure that they eat properly but not too much.
To put their weight in perspective, you shouldn’t be able to feel their bones on hips and their spine, but there shouldn’t be too many wobbly parts. They do look cute when they are chubby, but this can reflect poorly on their health.
The optimal diet for domestic rats is usually a dry mix bought at a pet store, mixed specifically for rats and snacks that consist of fresh vegetables and occasional fruit.
A dry mix is a base of any pet rat’s nutrition. You can make your own mix or buy one at the pet store. Either one will work, especially if you pick the right ingredients. A mix should have:
- Whole wheat grains
- Lean meats full of protein or soy elements
- Vitamins and minerals
You can also get this food in pellets or blocks, which are just larger pellets. The dry ingredients from the mix above are just pressed in pellets. Everything else is pretty much the same.
Most owners pick pellets because that way, rats can’t be picky and eat only some pieces. Every pellet looks and tastes the same, and they will have enough of all nutrients. Some rat owners speak against pellets since they don’t agree with the natural way rats eat.
They love to rummage around, dig for the stuff they like, steal food, and play with it. In truth, pellets do take away the fun part of eating for rats. Whether you feed them to your rats or not is your choice, in the end.
Either way, the food you choose needs to have different types of grains, protein, a low amount of good fats, and no sugar.
In addition to the dry mix, you should also feed your rat plenty of fresh food. The amount you provide will depend on your preferences and what you think is best for your rat. Some experts recommend that you should give it daily, some only twice a week.
Since rats are omnivores, they can eat a lot of fresh food.
Fruit and vegetables — especially veggies — are perfect for rats. If something is bad for humans, don’t feed it to rats either. Avoid sticky food like peanut butter because they could choke.
Vegetables you give them should be colorful and fruit low in sugar. Don’t give them mango or citrus fruits since those are bad for them, especially males. For protein, they can have some eggs, poultry, or even fish, but only in small amounts.
You can also give them supplements such as vitamins and minerals. This is not necessary but you can if you think that it’s necessary. Consult someone before you do so.
Calcium and copper are often less than ideal in rats. The copper deficiency can be seen through the yellowing of the fur, and you can make up for it by feeding them kale. Calcium deficiency is visible when your rat gets osteoporosis, but too much calcium is also possible. If you give them too much of it, they will have issues with their heart.
Make sure that you are giving your rat enough calcium. You can get chewable supplements, and that’s plenty of options for your rat. They will be healthy and happy, given this amount of minerals and vitamins, as well as other nutrients.
Here are some great foods you could give to your rat:
- Tomatoes, broccoli, carrot, red pepper, bell peppers (in small amounts), sweetcorn, sprouts, peas, lettuce, kale
- Apple, blueberries, bananas, plums, strawberries, cherries, grapes, melons
- Chicken bones or chicken, cooked liver, yogurt
There are also some foods that you should not give to your rat:
- Sticky food like peanut butter or mashed potatoes (although cooked or fresh potatoes are great for them)
- Carbonated drinks and sugary treats — no food given to rats should have more than 10% sugar
- Raw beans
- Green bananas
- Insects, especially cockroaches
- Citrus fruits, especially to males
In general, strive to provide enough nutrients to your rat without giving them any of the food that could be dangerous to them. Pair food properly and don’t give them too much sugar or fat. Keep in mind that they gain weight quickly and that they will eat more than they need to. Give them sized meals based on their age and health. Insects shouldn’t be a part of their nutrition.
If your rat happens to eat an insect or a cockroach, that’s okay, but if you feed them enough, they will hardly bother to capture them.