The Shunamite diet has been developed, modified and refined over a number of years; the product of a growing interest in rat nutrition and the result of a great deal of reading and research. It is now used widely amongst rat owners within the UK and seems to be a diet that is well received by the majority of rats. I find that rats on this diet maintain excellent condition, and are generally robust health wise. It can be easily adapted to meet the needs of kittens or elderly rats.
ii. The ingredients
Percentages are by volume of the whole mix. I will explain how to measure these in the â€˜making up the mixâ€™ section.
a) Base food. 45-50%. I use a pellet free rabbit food called Alpha Herbal Deluxe. This is well suited to the mix, as all of the ingredients are palatable, it does not contain artificial colours and it has a high enough copper level to support adding foods with lower copper levels (e.g. breakfast cereals). If you canâ€™t get Alpha Herbal Deluxe I would recommend 25% Pets at Home Rat Nuggets and 25% of a base food from this list:
Pets at Home Rat Muesli
Burgess Supa Rat
Burgess Supa Fruitti Rabbit - not suitable for elderly rats
Harrisonâ€™s Banana Rabbit Brunch â€“ not suitable for elderly rats
Burgess Supa Rabbit Deluxe â€“ some ingredients will be left
Burgess Supa Natural â€“ some ingredients will be left
But the base food can also be all of one of the above, or a mixture of them.
b) Dog kibble. 10%. I use Burns brown rice and chicken complete dog food. Other suitable kibbles are:
James Wellbeloved Senior/Lite turkey and rice
Autarky Nature Lite
Nutro Choice Lite
Pascoes Complete Lite
c) Uncooked pasta. 10%. I generally use wholemeal pasta spirals, but tricolour or white pasta can also be used. Spirals seem to be a good shape for the rats to eat easily.
d) Breakfast cereals. 30-35%. Try to select a mixture of grains. I use 4 or 5 cereals selected from the following:
Shredded Wheat (broken or â€˜bite sizedâ€™)
Weight Watchers multigrain flakes with apple
Whole Earth cornflakes (low sugar and salt)
Plain wholegrain rice cakes (broken)
Kashi seven grain cereal
Jordanâ€™s 4 grain porridge oats
Sugar free puffed rice cereals
Sugar free puffed wheat
e) Extras. Not part of the overall mix but may be added in small quantities from time to time for interest:
Low salt crackers
Dog biscuits (e.g. Pedigree milk bones)
Plain banana chips
Broken uncooked noodles
iii. Making up the mix
To measure by volume simply use the same container to measure all of the ingredients. This can be a jug, or large scoop or something similar. Using this method the mix becomes:
Base mix 45-50% 4.5-5 scoops/jugs/cups
Dog kibble 10% 1 scoop/jug/cup
Dried pasta 10% 1 scoop/jug/cup
Breakfast cereals 30-35% 3-3.5 scoops/jugs/cups
Store the mix in a suitable container. Depending on the number of rats you own this could be a lidded bin, or a large Tupperware container.
iv. Common mistakes
The overall mix has too little copper - a potential problem with many rat diets. Be sure to choose a base mix with an adequate copper level (preferably about 15mg/kg). This information can be found on the pack.
The cereal contain too much sugar - unless you are careful about selecting breakfast cereals it is possible to add a lot of hidden sugar to this diet. This may lead to obesity, tooth abscesses and reduced immune system health.
The dog kibble is too high protein or fat - many dog kibbles have protein in excess of 20%, and hugely varying fat content. Be careful to choose a suitable product and not to add it to the mix in excessive quantities.
v. Additional fresh food
In addition to the above mix, which should make up at least 80% of an adult rats diet, you may choose to feed your rats a portion of fresh food every day. This food should be carefully chosen to supplement the dry diet with suitable nutrients. Stay away from moderate/high fat foods, high protein foods and anything with added sugar.
Nutrient rich vegetables (such as curly kale, spring greens, broccoli and carrot) and high carbohydrate foods (such as buckwheat, bulgar wheat, rice, cous cous, noodles, sweet potato, chick peas, sweetcorn) should make up the bulk of any fresh food offered. Some fruits â€“ particularly berries â€“ also have excellent nutritive qualities.
For a special treat now and again replace a portion of the daily mix with Nature Diet dog food (Lite variety).
I had been feeding the Rat Fan Club Diet with molasses and soy, but I altered it a bit and switched from tofu to tempeh after reading much literature about how bad tofu is.
I have friends in England and they use the Shumanite diet with good results and I was considering trying it.
Anybody else using the Rat Fan Club Diet? with what results?