Diet Change

July 28, 2009

I am changing my rat’s diet again. Mainly to try and cut down on wastage and make feeding them as economical as possible. They were getting Pasture Mix, Rabbit Food, Pasta and dog kibble but they were leaving so much of the Pasture Mix, I gave up feeding them that and they have been having P@H Guinea Pig Food as the staple, as that’s what the piggies get. However, they still leave the pellets in that.

The only thing they’ve had where they’ve eaten everything is when they had straights so I’ve bitten the bullet and bought bags of Mixed Flakes (maize, barley & flaked peas), low sunflower Parrot Food and Whole Wheat. This will be mixed with the Rolled Oats I already have here and the usual pasta and dog food. They will also get a multivitamin in their water once or twice a week and they will still get a varied selectio of fruit, veg & left overs so they should get a balanced diet. Hopefully the food I ordered will be here soon and I will of course document how they get on.

Goodbye furry cushions

October 17, 2008

I finally got round to booking Beau into the vets for his castration. He’s going in on 5th November and I really hope it helps. He can be such a grumpy git. Poor Luke has a few scratches or bite marks on his back, which i’m assuming is due to Beau. Hopefully it is, as the castration should solve the problem, however, if it’s one of the other boys it may mean splitting them up, which I don’t really want to do. I’m still undecided on whether to put Beau back in with the boys or in with the girls. I think i’ll start with him back in the boy’s cage, then if things don’t improve, or he ends up getting picked on, then i’m sure he’ll be fine with the girlies.

I’m a bit worried about Treacle at the moment, she’s lost a whole load of weight and is so skinny, her sides go in behind her ribs. She has a wee bit of sniffling which has developed over the last couple of days, but she still seems pretty bright, coming out to play, eating and nest building! She stole a bit of dog food off of Fudge earlier. She doesn’t seem as if she feels ill but I think i shall get her up the vets next week. I’ve been reading through my ‘scuttling gourmet’ book and I’m planning on adding some of the kidney-friendly additives suggested to their food, in case it’s kidney problems causing the weight loss.


October 6, 2008

I have been doing a bit of thinking and research into alternative rat food recently. This isn’t because my rats are not doing well on their current diet, I am just looking for a way of feeding them that works out a bit cheaper and I also liked the idea of a base mix I could use for rats, piggies, rabbits and the hamster with species specific bits added in.

I have recently changed the base of my ‘shunamite diet’ to pasture mix horse food as I was having trouble getting alpha herbal rabbit food. I tried the pasture mix after purchasing some for the piggies as that is what their breeder fed them on. After discussing the ingredients and analysis on the NFRS forum I decided to give it a go, and it seems to be a success. I have noticed a particular difference in Pepper, who’s fur around her eyes is now lovely and dark and her coat has darkened and started to shine. Rupert and Jools’ coats are shinier too and they’ve lost their paler eye circles too. The ingredients of the pasture mix are:

Oatfeed, barley, wheat, cereal straw (treated) cane molasses, maize, wheatfeed, peas, vegetable oil, dehulled soya bean meal, herbs, limestone, dicalcium phosphate, salt, carrots, linseed, full fat soya, minerals, fruit.

And the analysis is:

  • moisture – 14%
  • Protein – 9%
  • Oil – 4%
  • fibre – 14%
  • ash – 8%
  • calcium – 1%
  • phosphorus – 0.4%
  • sodium – 0.4%
  • vitamin A – 10,000 iu / kg
  • vitamin D3 – 1,500 iu / kg
  • vitamin E – 100 mg / kg
  • copper (as cupric sulphate & copper proteinate) – 30 mg / kg
  • selenium – 0.3 mg / kg

The high levels of copper and added selenium were the two things that encouraged me and several others to try it.

The other thing that I was reading about on the NFRS forum was the feeding of ‘straights’, which is basic ingredients, ie; purhasing your own barley, maize etc and making your own cereal mix. So I have orderd a 25kg bag of mixed flakes (barley, peas & maize) and a 20kg bag of rolled oats from greenmule, which should arrive in the next couple of days. The plan is to mix 40% pasture mix, 40% straights, 10% pasta and 10% dog kibble. That way, they get the cereals from the straights mix, which is pretty much what alpha herbal was made of so I know that’s a good combination, the added vitamins, minerals and copper and also some wheat from the pasture mix, plus the protein in the dog food and the carbs in the pasta. Some people recomend not adding pasta as it can make rats fat, however, I feel that during the winter at least, the extra carbs should help towards their energy levels and keeping themselves warm. Hopefully by buying in bulk it will work out a little bit cheaper than purchasing cereals from the supermarket as I do get through quite a bit and this mixture seems to have a good blend of ingredients for them.

Hopefully, the straights will arrive soon, so I will be able to report what they think of their new diet.


May 31, 2008

Sugar has gone down to 452g. Hooray. They have had nearly all their fresh food cut out completely, apart from a bit of veg a couple of times a week. None of them are looking worse for it, I think it’s because the weather’s warmer, they don’t need to use up energy keeping warm, so are maintaining their body weight fine.

Saffron gave us a scare last week. I went out on Monday to let them out and she came out absoloutely covered in (hopefully) poryphrin. All browny / purple round her head and nose and the inside of her feet where she’d been cleaning herself. She was also really skinny across her back and had seemed to have forgotten how to use the water bottle! I put a water bowl in for them and she splashed about in that quite happy and was a lot better on Tuesday, all clean again and just a wee bit skinny across her back and then by Wednesday was totally back to normal and has been fine ever since. I’m not sure what caused it. I’m wondering if it was actually blood and she’d had a nose bleed or smething. I noticed on Tuesday that Fudge had a cm long gash on her side so I wonder if the two of them had been fighting and Saffron had fallen off something. Fingers crossed she remains fine.

because Sugar has so far managed to lose not a single gram. Bless her.

The Alpha Herbal food finally arrived and is now the base of the shunamite mix and they seem to really like it. Their bowls are empty in the evenings and because of the lack of fresh food i’ve had to put another bowl in the boys cage as they’re eating more dry food.

I think the alpha herbal is a better mix as a ‘kidney friendly’ diet for Treacle and Charlotte. As rats get older most of them have a degree of kidney failure. One way that has been suggested of controlling this is controlling the protein intake by reducing it and providing digestible protein such as eggs and fish. Both Treacle and Charlotte are about 20 months now which is classed as ‘old’ so even though neither of them are showing symptoms I thought it would be good for them to modify the diet. It’s not exactly as recommended in the Scuttling Gourmet book which is detailed here: Kidney friendly rat diet but I do have the recommended cereals in my mix and the dog kibble I use is a fish and rice one (from James Wellbeloved). My next mix will contain the higher proportion of salt crackers and I will need to get some egg noodles. I am not adding the extras at the moment as they are not recommended for younger rats, but I will get some nature diet lite to give them more regularly. Fingers crossed it will help prolong the lives of my two old ladies.  

Rats on a diet

May 2, 2008

The ratties are all on a diet. And it’s mostly Sugar’s fault! Well, really it’s my fault for letting Sugar get so fat. She is very rotund and even though she is perfectly healthy, it’s not good for rats (just like everything else!) to be too overweight. I weighed her yesterday and she is 477g. She could probably lose 75 – 100g and be perfectly fine.

The diet is being accomplished by cutting down on the fresh food. Rather than getting cooked carbs every day they’re only getting them 2 – 3 times a week and they’re getting just veg the other days. I’ve ordered a sack of Alpha Herbal rabbit food to use as the base for their Shunamite, which is lower in fat than the rat food mix that is the current base, so hopefully that will help. I will try and remember to weigh her about once a week and I will keep you posted.

… is Nutmeg! Well it was yesterday anyway. The girls have two fresh food bowls in their cage, one on the top level and one on the bottom – the theory being that they share and not all fight over the same food. Yesterday evening I put their bowls in (they had wholemeal toast and peas) and 11 of them rushed down to the bottom level and dived in the bowl, leaving Nutmeg all alone to gorge herself on peas from the top bowl. She was so cute, munching through them as fast as posible so she got them all and wouldn’t have to share 😀

The Rat Tea Tray

November 7, 2007

Since the babies were split into separate cage I have had an awful lot of food bowls to fill every day, so instead of walking backwards and forwards (especially now they’re outside) I put their bowls on a tray. For whatever reason this amuses me – this tray full of bowls and waterbottles! Here is a piccy:

rat tea

Tonight the baby rats had a bowl of wholemeal bread soaked in lactol and a bowl of apple and carrot per cage. The little bottles with the white stuff in is lactol. The girls had a whole carrot which goes into their veg holder and wholemeal toast and apple in their fresh food bowl. The bag at the back is curly kale, which the babies had a handful of per cage. There is also clean water per baby rat cage and two for the big cage. They have two in case one stops working and now there are nine in there they do drink a lot and there is a small chance of them drinking a whole bottle. As well as the fresh food they all have a bowl of Shunamite grain mix as well.


August 18, 2007

I weighed Mustard again yesterday. She’s gone from 223g up to about 250g. I was hoping she’s got heavier than that, but wasn’t really surprised she’s only gained a small amount of weight. She’s very active and doesn’t seem to be particularly ‘foody’. I want to get her up to the 270g mark which is what Pepper was when she first arrived. I reckon when she’s got to 270g she shouldn’t be able to get out of the bars and I can take the evil mesh off of the cage!

She’s getting so much better at being handled now though. She’s still not too keen and if she’s in the cage she’ll grab hold of the bars if I lift her, but I can still get her out, she does let go eventually! As I said, she’s a very active rat. I only have to open the door and she’s there coming over to try and get out, and she’s often awake during the day when the older, lazier ones (Doughnut and Tinks) are still asleep.

Hot Chocolate

July 19, 2007

My girls shared my hot chocolate yesterday! I sat on the floor with the mug in my hand and they climbed up my arm and stretched up from my lap to peer in the cup. Doughnut put her nose in, then Tinkerbell thought she’d put her foot in it, but it was a bit hot, so she jumped out, leaving a trail of hot chocolate down my jeans! When i’d finished it and it had cooled down a bit I laid the mug on it’s side and let them get in for a taste. Doughnut was well impressed, she put her nose in and then was really cute, taking little sips, then licking her lips, then putting her nose in again. Treacle and Pepper had some too, but it was Doughnut who was most impressed.

I would not normally feed them chocolate and I would never let them have a lot of Hot Chocolate. As with us, the high fat and sugar content isn’t good for them.