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Many years ago, when my sister was in 4th grade I think, her class did an experiment with two feeder rats. They were fed the exact same diet, but one was only given water to drink, and one was only given skim milk. Of course this was not scientific at all, being a 4th grade class, but I remember the milk rat was much bigger and stronger than the water rat, more active, and bolder than the water rat. The teacher's friend was a vet, and examined the rats, and said that the milk rat wasn't fat, she was just overall sturdier, with stronger bones (thanks to the calcium). (This little story was also my first introduction to rats, when my sister brought them home for a weekend, and let me take care of them.)

I haven't read anything about giving milk to rats to drink, so I don't know if this is even safe or not, but the milk rat definitely seemed to be quite healthy. So I was wondering if maybe milk is good for them? I wouldn't think it would be as a substitute for water like that experiment, but offering it regularly in addition? Or even on occasion? I'm curious about this in particular because I'm planning on getting females, which are naturally smaller than males.
 

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I know they were given a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains. I remember feeding them pieces of bagels and some green veggies, and grapes. They were also given some kind of pelleted food daily, but I'm not sure exactly what that was. All of this food was given to them in the exact same amounts.

Would soy milk be a good substitute for cow milk?
 

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Soy milk would probably be better... rats aren't meant to digest cow's milk (neither are humans, but that's another story).
 

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It seems like fortified milk would make a big difference in the health of a rat that's not getting an optimum diet. However, if you're feeding a nutritionally complete food like Harlan blocks, I wonder if it really is necessary to supplement with extra calcium. After all, Harlan food has been formulated from the results of decades of research.
 

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Milk contains the Growth Hormone. Its purpose is to stimulate growth in a youngs overall cells. If any of those cells have a proclivity towards cancer, it will also stimulate those cells.
I believe this is also why we see such an abundance of tumors and such in Rats lately as everyones feeding Lab Blocks and Mixes that are fortified with tons of Vitamins and Minerals which are Synthetically made and given in a shotgun approach, that the Rat doesn't need most of them but to just cover all the bases.
The Rat is the only creature on earth that knows what he's deficient in and will be drawn to foods that contain that substance, He will eat that food until he's no longer deficient.
Spider
 

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so by what i can understand on this thread, milk is like a fatty thing (sorry im tired) so is it ok 2 give milk to a skinny rat to chub him up a lil bit?
 

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Cultured, fermented dairy such as kefir,Yogurt changes the composition of milk into a digestable, stomach friendly form.
If you can afford it Plain Goats Milk Yogurt, is probably the healthiest thing you can offer your Rat.
Trader Joes has it for $5 for 32oz..
Spider
 

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growth hormone in milk is usually the bovine growth hormone that dairy cattle are injected with in order to repartition energy usage towards milk and muscle production instead of fat, and since it's species specific, growth hormone in milk will not cause growth in other animals. sorry, as a student at an ag school, i get to hear professors try to defend their jobs in farm animal production by explaining common myths about the safety of our foods, etc. :D

also, almost all other mammals that drink milk as babies lose the ability to produce the enzyme lactase to break down milk, so that's why giving milk to adult cats, etc can actually make them sick unless they never stopped drinking it from kittenhood to adulthood. so for your rat, i'd say skim milk is the best, since it's mostly dirty dishwater anyway (can you tell i'm a whole milk or more lover? lol) if you wanted to give them real milk. but i do agree with spider that the cultured stuff would be easiest to digest.

the milk rat in that 4th grade class could have gotten bigger from a bunch of other healthy stuff in milk, since pretty much everything has more nutritional value than water, lol. but yeah, like 2manyrats says, i think that if you're feeding your rat a nutritionally sound diet, you shouldn't need to supplement with anything else. i suppose it couldn't hurt too much to give them a little skim milk though, if you wanted.
 

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Forensic said:
Soy milk would probably be better... rats aren't meant to digest cow's milk (neither are humans, but that's another story).
Actually, technically, the only thing supposed to digest cow's milk is young cows >.>
 
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