Micah Feeding

Vet Speak

In this section, Dr. Micah Kohles, Oxbow’s Director of Veterinary Science and Outreach, answers all of your animal health related questions.  If you have a question for Dr. Kohles regarding the health or behavior of your small animal, send it to web@oxbowanimalhealth.com.

I have an 11 month old rat. I've always fed Oxbow, with a few treats thrown in (such as Timothy hay, kale, and sunflower seeds), and once a week a small, low fat senior dog biscuit. He doesn't seem interested in eating the hay; is it a necessary component to his diet?  What foods can he have that are good for him, and which ones should i avoid?

That’s a good question. Hay is not a required part of a rat's nutrition. Certain types of hays (like oat) are really good though, as they often contain immature seed heads that rats and other rodents forage and feed on. Grass hays like Timothy and Orchard are not something they will likely eat, but will truly love digging in the hay and using it to build nests.

Rats are very similar to us in how the behave and what they want to eat (keyword "want").  In all reality, a good pelleted diet like you are feeding is the most important staple in a rat's diet, but I really challenge owners to think outside of the box and include a diversity of items, including seeds, fruits, veggies, greens and even an occasional insect or other protein source. Rats are omnivores, like you and I, so they have a very diverse array of foods you can offer them. Quality is the key and not introducing more than one new item at once is always recommended.

Sincerely,

Dr. Micah Kohles, DVM, MPA
Director of Veterinary Science and Outreach
Oxbow Animal Health