do rats eat hay

Do Rats Eat Hay?

Written by: Gemmali Dizor

The short answer is yes, they can. But like many things in nature, the answer may not be so straightforward. In this article, we’ll investigate the relationship between rats and hay, including whether or not they eat it, why they might do so, and if feeding your pet rats hay is beneficial for their wellbeing.

Why would rats eat hay?

Rats are omnivores, meaning they can consume a variety of foods such as plants and animals. Their diet should be balanced to ensure they get all of the essential nutrients for health. While rats in the wild do not usually eat hay, some pet rats may do so if provided with it.

One reason rats may eat hay is to keep their teeth healthy. Like other rodents, rats have teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives; if these become too long it could cause issues with feeding and other health concerns. Chewing on hay helps wear down these teeth and keeps them at a healthy length.

Another reason rats may eat hay is that it provides them with fiber. Fiber is essential in promoting digestion and avoiding constipation in rats; thus, adding hay to their food supply could be beneficial.

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Is Hay Beneficial for Rats?

While rats can eat hay, it should not be the main component of their diet. Rats require a balanced diet consisting of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins/minerals; hay provides none of these essential nutrients so should only be given in moderation.

Furthermore, not all types of hay are suitable for rats to consume. Some, like alfalfa hay, contain too much calcium and may lead to health issues like bladder stones in rats. Timothy hay on the other hand is lower in calcium and higher in fiber content – making it a safer option for rodents.

If you are thinking about adding hay to your rat’s diet, consult with a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about rat nutrition. They can advise you on whether hay is beneficial and how much of it to feed them.

How to Feed Hay to Rats

If you are planning on adding hay to your rat’s diet, there are a few things to consider. First and foremost, ensure you select the appropriate type of hay; Timothy hay is ideal as it contains low amounts of calcium and plenty of fiber.

Next, ensure that hay is fed in moderation. No more than 10% of your rat’s diet should consist of hay. Overfeeding can lead to digestive issues and lead to excessive weight gain in your pet.

Finally, ensure you store hay properly. Hay should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent mold or staleness. Alternatively, you can place the hay inside an airtight container to maintain freshness.

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What other foods can rats consume?

Hay can be an excellent addition to a rat’s diet, but there are other foods that rats can eat as well. Here are some examples of safe foods for rats to eat:

Fruits: Apples, bananas, strawberries, and blueberries are all suitable fruits for rats. However, it’s best to give these in moderation as they contain high levels of sugar.

Vegetables: Rats can eat various vegetables such as carrots, peas, broccoli, and kale without issue.

Protein: Rats require protein in their diet for optimal health. Healthy sources of this essential nutrient include cooked chicken, eggs, and tofu.

Grains: Rats can also eat grains like rice, pasta, and whole wheat bread; however it’s important to remember that these foods should be given in moderation as they contain high levels of carbohydrates.

In addition to these foods, there are commercially available rat pellets designed to provide rats with a balanced diet. These pellets may be ideal for pet owners who want to ensure their rats get all of the essential nutrients they require.

What not to feed rats

Rats can eat many types of foods, but some should also be avoided. Here is a list of examples of foods that may be harmful to rats:

Sugary or Fatty Foods: Sugary and fatty foods such as candy or fast food can lead to obesity in rats, along with other health issues.

Processed Foods: Rats should avoid processed foods like chips or crackers since these tend to contain excessive salt and preservatives.

Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits such as oranges or lemons may be too acidic for rats to digest and cause digestive problems.

Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine which is toxic to rats and causes serious health complications.

It is essential to avoid giving rats foods that are toxic, such as avocado, garlic, and onions. If you are uncertain whether a certain food item is suitable for your pet rat to consume, consult with a veterinarian first.


In conclusion, while rats can eat hay, it should only be given in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. Timothy hay is especially beneficial since it contains low calcium and high fiber levels. In addition to hay, rats also enjoy fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains – however, be sure not to feed them foods that contain sugar or fat, processed foods, or toxic items. If unsure what to feed your pet rat, consult with a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about rat nutrition for guidance. By providing your rodent an appropriate balanced and healthy diet through proper nutrition education, you can help ensure they live a long and contented life!

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