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So when DH took Pumpkin in to the vet today the vet asked what he ate. We told him we are weaning him slowly from the breeders food (which contains peanuts and a decent amount of sunflowers) to another home made one that contains organic grains, 18% protein dog food, dried fruit and veggies and some other bits and pieces. We also provide fresh fruit and veggies. The vet went off at DH saying they should ONLY be fed commercial rat food.

Then, this evening he phones with the fecal results and once again goes on and on about how we should only feed commercial rat food (remember we only got him Monday and until then he was eating a lot of nuts and seeds, so extra fat in his body has absolutely nothing to do with the diet we have them on). He then specifically said "foot with seeds in it is bad and fattening for your rats".

Well blow me backwards - I went through ever major commercial rat food, and pretty much all of them contain either sunflower seeds, flax seeds, or sunflower / flax meal (ie the extracted oils from the seeds). This includes the baby version of oxbow regal. My boys are not old enough for regular oxbow yet. My mix has a much much smaller amount of seeds than any of these - they'd be lucky to get 5 seeds a day each - that would be a special day for my boys. And they all pretty much contain ridiculous filler ingredients, including dried corn. many seem to contain peanuts too - especially the ones offered at the major chain pet stores.

So, expert veterinarian - if I can't feed my seeds, it seems ALL commercial rat food is out.

Grrrrrr. Just felt like venting.
 

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I understand your frustration. I no longer buy any commercial mix other than one which I scatter a little bit of on the floor during free range; yes it has seeds, but each rat only gets a few. What dog food are you using if you don't mind me asking? It's difficult to find any below 20% that actually still contain decent ingredients.
 

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Vets are very rarely trained in nutrition, let alone rat nutrition.

Kksrats, Solid Gold Holistique Blendz is an excellent dog food for rats. Terrible for dogs, but a really great block alternative for rats.
 

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kksrats
I used Natural Balance weight loss - it was the only one I could find with 18% protein. All the rest were much higher. I had been told to try Innova senior, and since I had used Innova with my dog I had looked into that, but apparently most dog foods in the past few years had started changing their senior formula after studies showed seniors needed more protein than had originally been thought, so now the senior dog foods also contain protein levels higher than 18%.

If you are going to use dog food, make sure it is a great quality one, not one that gets advertised on TV. We used to have to shop in specialists stores, even two years ago with my dog, but recently my DH discovered that Pet Co has started selling some of the better brands too, so now when we run out of cat food on a Sunday, when the locally owned pet store is closed, we can still pick up our cats Wellness brand at Pet Co. We still choose to buy from the local company than the major pet stores though.

Also, I would really like to go completely unprocessed and drop the dog food, but do not have the confidence or knowledge of rat nutrition to just give them a balanced diet.

cagedbirdsinging: I completely agree with you. I always used to get so frustrated at our vet when they would try to push science diet on us for the dogs and cat. I actually was interested in the rat diet you created, even before I picked up the ratties, but couldn't seem to access your shop so I just assumed you were closed for business. What I feed my rats contains mostly what you put in your mix, but using proportions related to those in the camarattery mix. It may not be perfect, but my ratties are only going to pick out what they want anyway, so if the mix is a little off, at least it is not loaded with stuff I don't think they should be eating.

If you read this far, I do have a question for you regarding rat diet - do male rats need soy? I see many places advocate a diet with soy / soybean, but we avoid soy like the plague in our house, and especially for my son. It is a hormone disruptor. I can't imagine why male rats need soy, but it seems to be all over the internet. Some of the DIY recipes include soy nuts or tofu - and it seems weird to me to go to the trouble to make your own recipe and the go add in something like soy if it isn't needed. Any thoughts on this?
 

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Your vet is both right and wrong. Rats are actually brilliantly designed to live, survive and even thrive on almost anything that vaguely resembles food...

I won't debate what is better or best... but if you take a look at a map of the world where rats thrive you will find that their diet is varied by region, in some areas they eat rice, in others corn and in some whatever winds up in landfills. I have no doubt that rats can do well on certain commercial rat blocks while others will do just fine eating garbage.

For this reason alone, different people have different opinions... again I'm not suggesting what is better or what is best, just that different people's opinions and experiences will vary. Shades of grey aside, everyone is more right than wrong.
 

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Ratdaddy- I think the thing that bugged me was his smuggness - he had told my hubby to use commercial food as soon as he asked what we fed and it was pretty clear when he phoned with the results of the fecal exam that he was pretty pleased to be able to tell us how the results had backed up his original claims. The problem is, the fat that he was seeing was not from our diet, but from the breeder - these are new-to-us rats remember. Plus, the diet we provide is not high in seeds compared with commercial diets and we are eliminating the daily raw peanuts as we wean them from the breeders diet. I really think that it is not that he has a right or wrong opinion on this - just that he has been brainwashed by food companies. I may be wrong about that but it is highly reminiscent to be of when I breastfed my babies and they grew a lot slower than formula fed babies generally do (this is totally normal by the way - studies consistently show that formula fed babies grow faster than breastfed) and they were constantly trying to force me to give them formula. They have formula posters all over their waiting room and office - they give it out free when you are pregnant etc etc. I just feel it is the same thing. (my kids are still smaller than many their age, but then, so was I, my sister, my grandmother, my great grandmother).
 

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I use this website to determine quality of dog food. I won't feed anything below a 4 star rating (now granted this is for dogs, but they are rated on quality of ingredients and quality is quality regardless of who is eating it). The food at petsmart that you listed would be a 2 star (although I think the ingredients list reads pretty well)

http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/
 

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Saying that, Natural Balance reduced calorie is only rating 3*, which is strange cos Natural Balance used to be a good one. Maybe it is because it is the reduced fat - all the other versions are 4*.
 

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Unfortunately, ingredients are subject to a lot of opinion, most of which are not based on scientific fact, so I'm not sure I completely trust ratings. I'm just concerned mainly about some of the animal meals and by products since corn is easy enough to avoid in dog food these days. My rats tend to get tiny bits of whatever I'm eating as well, which will include bits of meat (I only eat fish, chicken and lamb), but there's never really any discussion on what types of meat are bad for rats. I know meat would probably not be in their "natural" diet (especially lamb and chicken lol), but is there any research on how it may affect them?
 

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So, I should feed them bacon...got it. lol That was a fairly surprising article though I'm not sure why it surprised me since I've done excessive research on the keto diet (high fat, high protein) to ensure that husband isn't maiming his kidneys and liver. What's funny is that even though my work involves diabetes, which is a fairly diet oriented disease (in type 2), I don't look into diet research all that much. When I see our leptin knockout rats that are designed to develop type 2 diabetes, it makes me wonder if my fat boy, Odin, is at risk for developing diabetes. Because of this, I do not believe in graze feeding for any animal. I know that's slightly off topic, but related to diet more or less. It's not just about what you feed but how you feed as well.
 

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As a diabetic, staying away from fats, meat and dairy proteins is just about the hardest part of the condition. But seriously, healthy rats can live on almost anything... so it's easier to think you are more right than you are and you are less likely to be too terribly wrong.

I once "befriended" a huge wild rat that lived in a cookie factory, despite traps and bait stations all along the inside walls. Mostly I saw him eating unsalted crackers, despite the abundance of sweet cookies, but I could say with some conviction that rats can live mostly on cookies, which would be a terrible conclusion if we were discussing a good rat diet. So yes, I'm sure some vets have seen rats raised entirely on lab chow and some years ago, there were lots of people taunting prepared foods over homemade mixes. Some folks argued that rats would only eat the wrong foods and leave the healthy ones behind, even if the mix was good.

I'm not surprised to find a vet that recommends prepared foods, nor am I too astonished that some doctors recommend formula for babies... When my mom was pregnant her doctors recommended she smoke more... yes 56 years later at three packs a day who am I to say it was bad advise? Although at my funeral, it's likely to come up.

I don't get into the best foods debate, basically in my experience young healthy rats will thrive on almost anything and rats don't actually get very old no matter what you do. Most rat problems are genetic in origin and a better diet may or may not buy some rats a few more healthy months. This shouldn't be interpreted as me discouraging people from feeding their rats the best diets they deem possible, a few more healthy months is a very good thing. But like a friend once told me, sometimes there is more than one right answer and when that happens you wind up with the biggest debates. When multiple people are right it's hard to win or lose an argument so it just goes on forever.

As to prepared lab blocks, I've worked in a top notch human food facility and it really wasn't too bad... I certainly ate the products, but there was a whole lot going on that wasn't on the ingredient list. So it makes me just a little nervous when I realize that lab blocks aren't considered human grade foods... think about it... why not?
 

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cagedbirdsinging: I completely agree with you. I always used to get so frustrated at our vet when they would try to push science diet on us for the dogs and cat. I actually was interested in the rat diet you created, even before I picked up the ratties, but couldn't seem to access your shop so I just assumed you were closed for business. What I feed my rats contains mostly what you put in your mix, but using proportions related to those in the camarattery mix. It may not be perfect, but my ratties are only going to pick out what they want anyway, so if the mix is a little off, at least it is not loaded with stuff I don't think they should be eating.

If you read this far, I do have a question for you regarding rat diet - do male rats need soy? I see many places advocate a diet with soy / soybean, but we avoid soy like the plague in our house, and especially for my son. It is a hormone disruptor. I can't imagine why male rats need soy, but it seems to be all over the internet. Some of the DIY recipes include soy nuts or tofu - and it seems weird to me to go to the trouble to make your own recipe and the go add in something like soy if it isn't needed. Any thoughts on this?
My website is currently undergoing a change in domain hosting, so it's been down for longer than I'm happy with. It should be back up soon.

Soy is not needed in any rat diet, and I don't prefer it. You are precisely right about the hormone disruption. It is known to cause adverse fluctuations in estrogen levels, which are not advisable in either sex.
 

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Thank you!

My website is currently undergoing a change in domain hosting, so it's been down for longer than I'm happy with. It should be back up soon.

Soy is not needed in any rat diet, and I don't prefer it. You are precisely right about the hormone disruption. It is known to cause adverse fluctuations in estrogen levels, which are not advisable in either sex.
 

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Roundup is mostly a herbicide but it is usually also used in conjunction with pesticides to clear fields of weeds and bugs. Now anyone here who has ever gardened knows that weeds will overgrow your flowers and food plants if you don't pluck them and bugs are going to beat you to any food you try to grow outdoors. Imagine what it would take to weed thousands of acres.

So the brilliant people at Monsanto came up with a really bright plan... defoliate everything with herbicides. Spray the fields and everything is dead all the weeds and grass are gone in one fell swoop.... There was only one problem, you don't produce much food from a field of dirt. To overcome this little problem the discovered that nature in it's diversity actually created plants that were herbicide resistant and if you splice the genes from herbicide resistant plants into food crops you can spray a field with herbicide and the new genetically modified food crops will be the only thing to survive. And GMO for fun and profit was born!

As a business model, you sell Roundup herbicide and Roundup resistant seeds to farmers. Farmers plant your resistant (GMO) crops and then spray with your herbicide and then harvest the profits. Everybody wins.

Unfortunately some research seems to indicate that these new transgenic (GMO) plants (especially soy) and their food products are really bad for rats. I'll let everyone look this up for themselves... and form their own opinions.

Keep in mind these plants are substantially different from their progenitors. They contain genes from other species and best of all can survive being sprayed with toxic chemicals. Worst of all... well that remains to be seen... But for better or worse, GMO frankenplants are here to stay and the foods they produce don't need warning labels.

So we're likely to come up with some very interesting food related issues with our rats and ourselves... some rats that eat normal soy might be benefited by adding it to their diet, while other rats that are fed GMO soy foods are going to get sick and die or develop tumors etc... As most soy containing products aren't going to be labeled as to which they are both sides of the debate are going to have good data to support their arguments. And folks that used to have great luck with soy based products are going to start having problems because their soy source has changed.

Years ago, when I was a kid, betta fish were treated for velvet and ick by dropping a penny into their bowl. The copper in the penny was toxic to the parasites. It worked a treat. In the late 1970's things went terribly wrong and not only didn't the penny method work, but it killed the fish. What happened? The US Mint, stopped making pennies out of copper and started making them mostly out of zinc. So if you ever find an old book that recommends treating your fish with pennies... you best find some old copper pennies or your fish are going to be as out of circulation as that book is.

I've followed the soy debate for a few years now and what used to be a good idea is slowly starting to look like a really bad one. I'm far from convinced that the people that used to recommend soy were wrong, but I do know that soy isn't soy anymore, just like pennies aren't copper anymore.

Oddly rats are remarkably adaptive which is going to lead to an interesting future... first there was a herbicide, then there was a GMO plant that could survive the herbicide and soon to come will be GMO food resistant rats. As a footnote, the research that indicates that GMO Soy kills rats isn't necessarily being taken as a bad thing by farmers. Rats destroy crops and eat tons of food every year before it can get to market... raising soy beans that are toxic to rats might well be seen as a benefit in some circles.

I'm not going to address whether GMO is safe for humans, that's for other people to decide. But for now, if you do intend to feed soy to your rats, I'd say stick to the NON GMO stuff for now. Better safe than sorry.
 
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