What Foods Are Dangerous for Rats to Eat?

Pet rats require a varied diet, but be sure to avoid harmful foods.
Pet rats require a varied diet, but be sure to avoid harmful foods. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Certain foods can be dangerous to rats for a variety of reasons. Some may contain chemicals that are toxic to rodents, while others may cause cancer over time or simply cannot be processed by the rat's body. Feeding your pet rat a variety of foods is healthy, but avoid feeding foods that may cause death or disease.

Carbonated Beverages

You have probably never though to feed your pet rat a carbonated beverage, which is a good thing! The digestive system of rats contains a strong muscle located between the stomach and the esophogus. This muscle cannot be opened using the force of the gas in the stomach, which prevents rats from vomiting or burping. Carbonation often causes a build-up of gas, which must be released from the stomach by burping. Since rats cannot burp, this gas dangerously builds up in the stomach and can cause death.


Corn can be a dangerous food for rats to eat when it is not fed to them in moderation. Corn often contains a toxic contaminant produced by fungi, which can cause death in rats. In addition to the death of your pet rat, mycotoxins can also cause colon, liver and kidney cancer when fed to your rat over a long period of time.

Other Foods

Several other foods can be toxic or cause health problems to rats. For instance, licorice contains a toxin that can cause neurological poisoning to rats. Additionally, certain foods, such as cabbage and artichoke, can cause a build-up of gas in rats, which can cause digestion problems and discomfort. The skin of certain foods can also be harmful to rats, including the skins of avocado, orange peels and green potato skins. These peels and skins can cause cancer or can prevent protein absorption, decreasing the rat’s health. Fatty and sugary foods should be avoided to promote the health of your pat rat as these foods can cause cancer. Additionally, the mold in bleu cheese is considered toxic to rats.

Nurtritional Supplements

There are, however, a number of table scrap foods that can be safely fed to rats to vary their diet and supplement their nutrition. Fruits and vegetables, especially mustard, collard greens, spinach, peaches, tomatoes, mango and blueberries are all healthy supplements to a rat's diet. Because rats are omnivores, excessive feeding of fruits and vegetables can cause diarrhea. Provide your rat with plenty of protein in the form of chicken, tuna or liver, as well as grains such as natural oats, cereals containing oats and grains, and cooked pastas.

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