Rat Forum banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello~ I'm living in Japan and looking into getting some rats. The major problem is that they're not common pets here. At all. There's zero commercial food for them (most people just feed them hamster food) and the few imported options are quite expensive. I've been able to find, for example, oxbow for $50 for one bag. Or Burgess for $30 per bag. It's not sustainable.

So instead, I've decided to look into making my own food. Problem here is that Japan isn't really fond of fortified foods. I suppose because the common diet is varied and most nutrients are obtained through diet naturally. So I'm really fearful of accidentally making a diet that won't be nutritionally complete. My goal (although this is a far future goal that I may never actually pursue) is to make something that is entirely nutritionally complete, though, and maybe to sell it similarly like rat rations to people here in Japan. Because I find it appalling that the only real option here is hamster food or absurdly expensive imported food and I want to help stop this. To this end, I'm hoping to make it complete on its own so I won't have to suggest "but please also feed x on the side".

My biggest issue so far has been cereal. Japan doesn't "do" cereal. I can access cheerios, however. It's one of the only cereals I can get with any consistency but if it's possible to make it without then I'd prefer that as the cereal is quite pricy here since it's an import ($6 for 300g...lol). Apart from that, I can list some ingredients that I've considered and think may be good to use. I'd love some advice on what would be good to include and what wouldn't be and if I'm missing anything or what might be possible to add.

Ingredients I can access: plain rice (brown, white) [keep in mind it is pure rice; no nutrients added. Same for every other ingredient unless otherwise stated], barley, buckwheat, soybean, oats, quinoa, popping corn, dried cranberry (I have concerns about sugar though), small dried fish (sardine, shrimp), sesame seeds, flaxseeds (kind of pricy though), pumpkin seeds, rapeseed, dried vegetables intended for dogs (cabbage, carrot), general dried herbs (parsley, oregano, basil, etc), pasta (none of that tricolor kind though), cashews (pricy though), pepitas (nuts), good quality dog food kibble.

I was hoping the use of dog food, sesame seeds and the dried sardines would help cover the major needs for calcium, vitamin d and copper.

Anyway, I'd love some help and guidance. Thank you so much. I'm new to rats but very passionate and I want to do my best to provide them everything they'll need. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
761 Posts
I'd suggest getting the Scuttling Gourmet ebooks. These books are the basis for the Rat Rations mixes. I don't know how specific they are to what's available in the UK but I believe they would give you a good idea of proportions for foods.

-edit- ...and not even the Rat Rations mixes are totally complete. In addition to recommending supplemental fresh foods, Rat Rations suggests using a vitamin supplement with all of their mixes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thanks! Ive been considering to pick that book up. I could only find it for a ridiculous price and I didn't see an ebook for it (admittedly didn't look too hard since I found the main one and thought it'd be listed there with it, just assumed it was out of print now). Thanks!

Hmm, so is it not possible (or else, quite difficult) to make your own nutritionally complete mix? I don't mind if there needs to be supplements personally but I'd feel worried that, if I sold it to the general public, they may not heed my advice and some rats would get sick because of it. (although I suppose it can't be much worse than feeding them hamster food in that case)...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Just wanted to ask, I noticed rat rations has a multi vitamin (Daily Rat 3) that gives calcium, vitamin D and copper. Is it possible to make something similar to this myself? Or can I just crush up some vitamin D / Calcium tablets and mix some of it into yogurt or something to feed the rats?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
You can supplement with human multivitamins. Grind up tablets with something like a spice or coffee grinder. Vitamin D gels can be pierced and dripped onto wet food too.

Also look for soluble vitamin supplements that can be added to water. Generally these are marketed for birds, goats, general livestock.

Powdered calcium and vit D supplements can also be found for reptiles.

These probably won't be available there, but if it helps I use Centrum Adult Multivitamins for grinding + adding to wet food, 68 Soluble by Ameri-Vet for a broad spectrum in their water bottles, ZooMed Calcium + Vit D powder and also have just pure Vit D gels on hand. Bones also give a big calcium boost.

I wouldn't worry about vitamins (like human vitamins) giving them issues. They'd need to be consumed in obscene amounts to cause any kind of toxicity. Just be sure to keep the fat solubles (A, D, E, K) in a reasonable balance.

If you supplement regularly you can keep them on a straights-based mix if that's what you have available to you. Human cereals aren't really necessary; if needed they can be subbed for things like wheat pasta/egg noodles/rolled oats/barley flakes/parboiled rice.

Look around a bit though, it can take a lot of creativity. Good rabbit mueslis (good for rats, bad for rabbits lol) can work well as a base. Also look at textured horse feed or goat feeds. Some are actually excellent for rats, some aren't. Pigeon/dove mixes can also be amazing and tend to be high in low phosphorus grains with the right protein/fat ratios. Can you get reasonable shipping from global pigeon supplies? That's where I get my Versele Laga Junior pigeon seed which makes up the bulk of my own mix, plus they have 68 soluble supplement, as well as Calcivet (and given it's called "global" pigeon supplies I just assume they might ship to you... I dunno?)

I second buying The Scuttling Gourmet also.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thank you so much for your reply! I did end up buying the scuttling gourmet (at least, the section for making your own mix) and found it to be immensely helpful. Though, I really wish they had gone into detail on how to make your own rat vitamins rather than just linking you to rat ration's or mentioning a few other brands, since those are obviously not viable for everyone!

But, I could always get a vitamin D and calcium tablet intended for humans and grind them up. I was thinking perhaps one tablet for two rats, once per week should probably be enough but I'd have to double check the values. Getting ones intended for birds would be a great idea, though. I wonder if it's common to supplement birds here. When I went to the pet shop, I didn't see many bird vitamins but I saw some intended for rabbits and small rodents - but really only vitamin C supplements for some reason. I'll have to keep looking!

Might I ask, which supplier are you getting pigeon supplies from that offers global shipping? I've looked at a lot of general pet sites and most don't cater to world wide shipping. Or if they do allow it, it's obscenely expensive because they don't do it regularly which means they can't offer special rates. But if there's a supplier that does ship globally, regularly, then they may be able to offer affordable rates. I haven't found any but admittedly I haven't checked for pigeon ones. So if you know of any, I'd love to check them out!

As far as rabbit muesli goes, I haven't seen any. All rabbit food I've seen here has been pellet type or hay. But I think I should be able to make my own mix using the information from the scuttling gourmet. It was very thorough and full of great information.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
The amount you need to supplement depends on how much of your mix ends up being unfortified; before I found a good water soluble supplement, I found that I needed to add a multi to their (dampened) food at least every other day for a group of 6, with probably around half of my mix at the time being fortified. You kind of have to just figure out through experience what frequency works for your rats. It's probably better to start on the higher end of things to begin with as they'll probably need more than you'd think (in my experience)!

Just a small detail but I prefer to halve the tablets and offer smaller doses more frequently, versus larger doses every few days, since most vitamins aren't withheld in the body. Especially with just two rats, half a human tablet will probably be more than enough for one sitting.

We don't have any rabbit mueslis around here either, that I've seen. Making dog food the main protein of your mix will still go a long way to upping the vitamin content. I also just checked on the pigeon site I order from (its really just called Global Pigeon Supplies, lol) and it does look like shipping would be obscenely expensive for you unfortunately.

If you haven't already watched them, Isamu Rat Care has YouTube videos on making a complete mix. Might offer some ideas, although some is obviously UK-based stuff. Best of luck on putting your mix together though. It's such a great way to enrich the rats and plus, my rats have looked and felt in noticeably better condition than they ever did on the blocks, after getting the right balance. It can be fun. Though I imagine it's more nerve wracking when it's your only option aside from just hamster mix... Hopefully you can also help others living in your area feed their rats better too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Yeah, I'm just concerned because I'm not entirely sure how to tell if it's enough or not. This will be my first time ever owning rats so I haven't a lot of experience to go on, making it a very scary prospect. But I'm doing my best to do as much research as I can before I pick up the little guys (getting them in June or July). I'll definitely try the smaller doses more frequently though - or just supplement with fresh foods. Would you still give vitamins even if you were feeding, for example, eggs and vegetables?

I was deliberating on giving dog kibble or dried shrimp and sardines. I'm leaning a bit on the fish side though, since I can get it quite easily and cheaply. But maybe I should include all three? Following the scuttling gourmet as a guide, I've kind of decided that I want my mix to look like this:
Maize, Barley, Millet, brown rice (minimally processed)
Buckwheat, Quinoa and oats (more processed)
Brown Lentils
Dried Shrimp & sardines, maybe some fish flakes too.
Linseed, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
Dried carrot, cabbage and mushroom

I have confidence that I can find these ingredients at reasonable prices. I'd like to include some more dried vegetables and some dandelion leaves, too. But I'm not entirely sure if I can find them. I'd also love to add some spelt as it's apparently rich in copper but I had never heard of it before reading the book and neither has my husband so I have no idea if that's a possibility for us or not.

Does that sound like a solid mix? I'm going to try to find everything as minimally processed as possible. Outside of that, I'd definitely be feeding them some yogurt as treats, cheerios as snacks (I may include them in the mix but they're pricy...), frozen vegetables and occasionally fruit (fruit is very expensive in Japan so even I don't eat it so often). Perhaps some scrambled egg as well.

I've been subscribed to isamu rat care, actually! I find her videos to be very helpful as well. :) I had specifically commented on that video and she mentioned the most important to make sure I'm getting are vitamin D, calcium and copper. So I was hoping that I could cover those with sesame seeds, dried fish and dried mushroom in the mix. But, I'm not sure if it's still inadequate.

But yeah, rats in Japan are very ...hm, unpopular? I spent awhile just trying to find a breeder that didn't make me cringe. There's one breeder who is even associated with the american fancy rat and mouse association or whatever it is and I'm kind of confused on HOW she is because all the reviews complain about her horrible conditions she keeps the rats in, one person posted a picture and they're kept in very small plastic containers - like the kind you'd keep insects in - and she charges you just to go see the rats, over charges for the rats themselves and doesn't even answer emails that ask her questions - I emailed her to ask questions and never got a reply. She does have a rat mix she made and sells herself but she won't post the information (protein, fat, carb ratio) or the full ingredients and apparently people have asked and she refused to tell them so that's a hard no from me! The breeder I found who I'm going to buy from is primarily a reptile breeder but also does rats. Both feeder and for pets. I'd rather just a pure "pet only" breeder but at least they keep them in a large cage and were quick to respond to my concerns.

When I look up info on rats in Japanese, the information in general is terrible. People recommending tanks as cages or just generally cages that are way too small, recommending hamster foods, dangerous bedding, showcasing small cages with no climbing opportunities, etc. It breaks my heart. They are completely unaware of how to take care of rats and even if they actually wanted to do right by their rats, the information they can access is just completely wrong. So I've actually been captured with a passion to inform Japanese people. I'd like to make some youtube videos to promote them as pets since they aren't too popular but also to educate on proper care. I guess you could say I want to be the ambassador for rats in Japan? lol. And, I have no desire to make a huge profit off it since I'm a housewife with no kids (my husband and I never want kids, either), so money isn't an issue for us but I'd like to make rat food to sell just to help make sure Japanese people have an option for quality food for rats. Because right now, I'm stressing so hard on how to feed them! I don't want that to be a huge barrier that makes people disinclined to welcome rats into their lives. I've been considering breeding as well.... in the far, far future. But that's a huge undertaking and I don't know that it's something I really want to do. Honestly, I wouldn't want to at all if I were in the states or the UK but from what I can tell, Japan is lacking good breeders as well.... but, even if I wanted to do that... I can't find any information on how to do it if you can't start from great lines. So meh. I probably won't ever do any breeding. But it would be nice to help build up the rat community here in Japan.

Anyway, wow, that was long. Sorry. n__n;;
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
I might put some of those items from your more processed section into minimally processed, like the quinoa, which is more like brown rice than something more processed like parboiled rice or instant oats. But it depends on the age of your rats and how well they assimilate nutrients as to how much of your mix ought to be more processed vs less.

The lentils are high in copper, as are dried shrimps and sesame seeds. Dog food is also high in copper, vit D, calcium so it's worth including along with your other protein sources if you want to up the vitamin content.

I'd still supplement them regularly, since it's very hard even with whole foods like fish and greens to give them everything they need. It really is mostly the calcium, vit D, and copper that are hard to meet their needs for. The mix you have now is all unfortified straights so it's extra important to have that safety net.

Almost all of the condition issues I've had, have just been because I wasn't supplementing frequently enough, so just keep an eye on how they look as you're working with your mix, and don't be afraid to go "off the books" when you're meeting their individual requirements... if that makes sense??

Yeah and sadly with the rat clubs, pretty much anyone can register with them, it's just something you pay for and you're a member. A lot of unscrupulous breeders that I'd personally never want to associate with, are club members of the national clubs like AFRMA, so it's not a sure sign of quality. Screening the individual breeder's methods and ethics is definitely more important than what clubs they're a member of, since they can vary drastically.

I won't go into detail on the subject of breeding since I know it's not allowed here, but I can always recommend good resources if it's something you decide to undertake in the future. Joining the NFRS gives you access to an enormous wealth of info via the member's board. And you probably noticed that Isamu Rat Care has a good series on the subject as well. It is definitely hard when you can't access good lines, but every fancy has to begin somewhere. Definitely isn't for everyone though, it's hard work and can be draining (emotionally and financially) but it's also very rewarding if your heart is in it.

Of course, it's not the only way to make a good difference to rats, there's also rescue work, as well as positive advocation and education which clearly you're interested in already!
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top