Fancy rats are small, cute, and smart animals. They make great pets and it is absolutely fun to play and cuddle them. However, adopting a pet rat or a group of rats comes with responsibilities for a pet parent. The right housing, care, bedding, medicines, and food play a crucial role in rat care.
In terms of pet rats’ care, a quite common question is, when can baby rats eat solid food? Once a rat turns two-three weeks old, they are ready to get introduced to solid foods such as almond nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, wheat grains, etc. However, you can also feed them human baby foods like homemade buns, pieces of bread, cooked rice grains to provide extra nourishment for growth.
Adopting a fancy rat can be a whole new experience especially for new pet rat owners. Pet parenting comes with a lot of responsibilities, efforts, researches, and caring skills to help your pet get the best possible life. If you are a new pet rat parent and want to learn about raising them with a proper food habit, I welcome you onboard.
How To Raise Baby Rats With Right Foods?
Pet rats are also known as fancy rats, originated from rural Norway because of their beautifully soft and colorful small appearance. Smart, curious and quick learners, these per rats are owned globally by pet lovers. A newborn rat is also called a puppy or kitten.
Pregnant mother rats carry their babies in the womb for only twenty-one to twenty-five days. During this time a mother rat develops swollen mammary glands with twelve nipples to feed all her babies at once.
Mother’s milk is the only source of food for her newborn fancy rats. This weaning period ends as the rats turn 21 days old and now they are ready to take in soil food slowly.
A pregnant mother rat can give birth to a litter of eight to twelve pups every year. If you are adopting a pet rat for the first time, it is important to know that a female rat matures to become a mother as soon as they turn five weeks old. However, it is not the right time for rats to mate as they are still young and weak.
Baby Rats are born with scanty and delicate fur on their body. It takes around ten to twelve days for a newborn to grow fur, open eyes, and ears. However, fancy baby rats have baby teeth and light whiskers around their mouth. These teeth need to get developed to have solid food.
It is important to keep the babies with their mothers during this first twenty-one to twenty-eight days period.
The first five to six weeks are extremely important for baby rats to fully develop their body and gain strength to survive further. You can start with soft soil foods such as milk yogurt, ripened sweet fruits like bananas and small cuts of cookies or bread softened with milk or water.
Some pet rat owners ask if cow milk is good for their baby rats. The answer is NO! Cow milk does not contain enough nutrients to help the rat babies. However, evaporated milk can be tried under proper observation.
Also, do not be surprised if the newborns reject your food at once. Babies will often continue to suckle over their mother’s nipple for a few more days. Being a pet parent, you need to be quite patient and careful with both the mother and babies.
If all this process of babysitting seems tricky and scares you, I suggest seeking help from a professional small animal breeder. Certified fancy rat breeders have all the necessary knowledge about rat parenting and offer the best care for the mother rat and her newly born babies as well. Once the weaning period is over, it will be easier to welcome the rat babies home.
Feeding pet rats is not any rocket science if we know the right nutritious food to offer them. As suggested by many pet nutritionists, ready-made foods are not as healthy as they seem.
A holistic approach to rat feeding is comparatively healthier. Homemade rat food diets are easy to make, healthy, and provide ample nutrition for baby rats to grow healthy as well.
However, it is important to closely follow the food formulas to avoid a lack of nutrition in pet rats. However, if you still want to try some readymade food mixtures for your pet friend here are the basics you need to follow.
Readymade Rat Food Basics
- Choose readymade store-bought rat food formulas that are available in small round pellets and blocks for easy consumption of your pet friend.
- Stick to buying pet food that is specifically made for pet rats only. Treating your rats with food formulas made for other rodents like hamsters, rabbits, or guinea pigs is not right. The nutrition content is usually different and can leave your rat malnourished.
- Readymade seed mixes are always in high demand when it comes to feeding baby rats nutritious food. A mix of pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, broken rice grains, wheat granules is a favorite to rats. These seed mixes are nutritious and are loaded with ample nutrition.
While buying these readymade rat food it is important to keep in mind to choose low-calorie and fat-free diets only. However, if you want variety and holistic healthcare foods for your small furry friend try some homemade foods.
Homemade Foods For Rats
Before starting with the list of homemade food that your baby rats will love, here is an important note to keep in check. Offer fruits and vegetables in small quantities only. Chop veggies into tiny squares and cubes and large amounts in each meal to save rats from diseases like diarrhea.
Listed below are some easy homemade meals for rats:
- Vegetables like raw potato, peas, small cubes of carrots, broccoli, celery leaves, cooked squash, boiled sweetcorn, and kale leaves are rat favorites. Cooked beans also fall in the above list.
- Soft mashed banana chunks, avocado, watermelon, plums, and strawberries are the rat’s favorite fruits. However, citrus fruits should be strictly avoided.
- You may offer small pieces of boiled chicken meat and soft bones.
- Nuts and seeds are nutritious food sources. You may feed rats with watermelon and pumpkin seeds. Almond nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and broken rice and wheat grains as well.
- In dairy products, a pet rat owner may offer yogurt, milk, cheese, and small pieces of soft sweets.
- Rats also feed over small pieces of homemade buns, pieces of bread, cooked rice grains, and cooked unflavoured pasta.
However, there are also homemade foods that must be avoided by rats as these can cause health hazards. The list includes chocolates, citrus fruits, raw beans, potatoes, Brussel sprouts, white cabbage leaves, orange, mango, tomatoes, raw green bananas, nutmeg, and black pepper spices. In drinks, highly carbonated soft juices, readymade fruit juices, and liquor should be strictly avoided. Also, as a responsible pet rat parent avoid offering junk food that you are having.
These small food care habits can save our pet rats from unhealthy bodies, excessive weight gain, and respiratory diseases. Right nutrition on the other hand will help your rats with a healthy and happy playful life.
When & How To Feed Baby Rats?
Raising baby rats with proper food and care requires effort and the right techniques. If the mother rat is in her best health and is provided with all the necessities to raise her babies, chances are she will raise her babies well.
However, when babies are orphaned by the mother rats, chances of the baby rat dying are always high. They can be saved only by delicate care. Feeding orphaned baby rats need the right techniques, skills, and products. We will discuss it below.
- Milk is the only food baby rats need to survive. If the mother is not feeding her babies, you are the one who needs to take the lead.
- A small 1ml syringe or a dropper would do the work of gently hand feeding the baby rats with milk formulas.
- Cover the babies in a towel to keep them warm as their bodies are not ready for the outer environment.
- Place the small baby rat upright in your palm and hold the head up using your thumb. Place the syringe near the baby’s mouth and allow them to suck it slowly.
- Do not drop milk directly into the mouth of the baby as they may inhale the milk. It is dangerous for babies to inhale liquid as it may cause pneumonia and finally cause death.
- Also, keep the cage warm during the first two to three weeks after birth. You may use plastic covers or a warm towel to warm up the surroundings. However, remember to allow enough ventilation as well.
Baby rat feeding may not be an easy task for many pet rat owners. In such cases, my advice is to hand over the babies to a local vet to ensure the best possible care.
Week By Week Baby Rat Care
Birth is a beautiful as well as a painful process both for the mother and the kids. A fancy pet rat is no exception. Transitioning into a fully developed rat from a newborn infant is a quick process as compared to other animals. This fast pacing change makes things harder for the babies.
Understanding the week-by-week growing process of baby rats can help you care for your furry friends much better.
|Weekly Developments||Food Practice|
|First Week||-One & only mothers’ milk.|
|Second Week||-Preferably mothers’ milk.|
-Completely liquid nutritious external foods (skin temperature).
|Third Week||-Continue mothers’ milk.|
-Introduce water slowly (skin temperature).
-Slowly shift to soft soil foods like yogurt, moist bread or biscuits, or soft sweet fruits.
|Fourth Week||-Feed soil foods.|
-Make a regular water habit.
-Slowly introduce tiny solid foods.
|Fifth Week||-Continue feeding nutritious soil foods. |
-Give good solid foods periodically.
In the first week of the newborn fancy pet rats, their body has no fur on and appears bright pink. The babies can not move until they turn at least five or six days old. It is also during this time that they start developing hairs. However, babies can wiggle and move their tails and whiskers to locate their mother’s nipples to feed on milk. This is the most nutritious food for them now. Never try to feed them something else during this crucial period. During the end of the first week, you will see the babies gaining pigment on their skin.
In the second week after the baby rats are born, you will see beautiful soft and smooth hairs start covering up their body. The litter will help each other push to stand on their own. These efforts depict that their mother’s milk has provided them with all the necessary nutrients, hence your pets are healthy.
Around day twelve to fourteen you will witness the baby rats stand on their feet all by themselves. It is indeed a beautiful process to witness these pups grow up into adults.
You will also be surprised to know that fully developed rat ears can detect sound ranging from 200 to 90000 Hz frequency. The newborns squeak using ultrasonic sound and communicate with the mother rat to express hunger or any other needs.
As we move on to the third week of the baby rats, pet parents get more excited. Finally, It is time for our pups to open their eyes! By now the babies have developed senses of smell, feel, sound and sight. This is also the time when we will be slowly starting with external food for them.
Baby rats seem to have a thin and even fur cover all over their body. The size of each baby also doubles and they appear fuller and bigger as compared to the second week. Baby rats will feed on their mother’s milk for a few more days and then slowly shift to soft soil food.
From this point onwards, being a responsible pet parent, you can try feeding your baby rats with yogurt, tiny pieces of moist bread or biscuits, or some soft sweet fruits.
If you observe that your baby rats stopped weaning, it is a good sign for you to provide them with soft soil food. The mother rat will now need to rest and relax after this tiring process of pregnancy and birth.
As the baby rats arrive in the fourth week of age, they are exploding with cuteness. It is absolutely cute and beautiful to have a look at them. The mother rat is also getting done with her mother duties as she watches her babies grow.
A beautiful thick velvety fur covers the growing babies and their sight and hearing become more clear. The tail grows and becomes thicker and the wobbly footsteps of the baby rats are an absolute delight to watch.
If the babies appear to have enough strength and can move easily on their own, breeders usually give the babies back to the owner by the end of the fourth week. Their teeth have finally got developed enough. It is the time that actually starts fulfilling your desire to feed your baby pet rats with solid food.
It’s the fifth week already and our fancy baby rats are all done with huddling, weaning and are doing great with solid foods. However, more importantly, this week baby rats are turning ADULT! Male rats finally mature for their mating period, the females may take a week more or so.
Being a responsible parent, you need to separate the male and the females to stop them from mating. Though adults, they are not strong enough for mating yet! However, It can be stressful for the rats to be lonely. So, It is advisable to keep females along with more females in a group and males with other males in a separate cage.
During this period, you need to feed them with the utmost care to give them healthy adulthood. This is the period you can feed your pups with any type of solid rat food. You can opt for either homemade food or readymade food, whatever you want. Just always feed them with proper nutritious food for their good health. You can choose anything from the list mentioned in the food lists section above. [Source: The Rat Report]
Final Tips For Baby Rat Care
As a pet parent, your responsibilities have doubled as you welcome home the new mother along with her litter of pups. You must take the best possible care from now onwards. Here are some final tips to help you with baby rat care.
- Proper Housing: Provide your rats with proper housing in their cage with soft cloth bedding, play toys, food, and a water bowl. With these basic needs met, your pet rats are going to love their cage home better along with one or more companions.
- Healthcare: Right food, healthy living space, timely cage cleaning all contribute to providing a healthy space for your pet rats to grow and live. Also, if you own a sick pet rat, be extra careful with providing timely medications.
- Litter Training: Litter training is one of the most important steps in rat care. Rats usually pee and poop a lot to mark territory and communicate with other rats. Litter training them from a very tender age can save you from a lot of future mess cleaning and it also keeps you and your rats in a healthy environment.
Rat parenting is exciting to work. Giving these small animals a beautiful life, they return you with unconditional love and unlimited cuddles, and stress-busting moments. I hope these simple rat care tips will help you be the more responsible pet parent that you wish to be. Happy Rat Parenting!