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Unsafe Food for Rats

Although Rats have a reputation for eating anything and everything this could not be further from the truth. Rats are very intelligent animals and in the wild will avoid many foods they find due to the possibility of illness from eating certain foods. However, the domestic Rats that no longer pick and choose their own foods have to eat what is given to them which can sometime lead to poisoning and illness because the foods we have offered are not suitable for our pets.

This list has been made with the help of Mr & Mrs Wiggerman who have cared for and rescued thousands of animals. They have had hands on experience and have dealt very closely with Vets.

Foods not to feed Rats or give with caution.

Alfalfa Canavanine in alfalfa seeds and sprouts may cause hypersensitivity illness.
Apple Seed Contains cyanide compounds, as do practically all seeds in fruits
Avocado Both skin and pit contain toxins. Giving avocado with skin still on, should pose no problems, rats instinctively disregard the skin. We err on the side of caution and only offer the flesh.
Beans - Lima & Kidney Both beans are toxic uncooked. They contain cyanide producing
compounds, which can be destroyed by adequate cooking.
(Genius of plants in
the mustard family)
Cabbage, brussel sprouts and kohlrabi contain  progoitrin in the range of 65-140mg per 100gram of   fresh vegetable, which may interfere with thyroid function, promoting thyroid  enlargement (goitre). Cooking reduces the goitre effect of these vegetables. Brussel sprouts and  Kohlrabi should be avoided in the rats' diet as these contain the highest levels of progoitrin.  Fresh cabbage given in moderation. Goitrogens are also found in turnips, soybeans, radishes, rapeseed and mustard seed.
Canned Food Should be checked for Sodium levels, preservatives and colouring matter. All of which can be harmful to rats.  Apart from the food content of canned food, all else are considered non-foods. Keep canned food to a minimum.
Canola. Canola oil comes from the rape seed, which is part of the mustard family of plants. Rape is the most toxic of all food oil plants. Officially, canola oil is known as LEAR oil -Low Erucic Acid, Rape.  It is claimed that through irradiation, it is no longer rape seed, but canola and safe to use.  Rape oil was widely used in animal feeds in England and Europe between 1986 and 1991 when it was thrown out.  Cows, pigs and sheep went blind, lost their minds, attacked people and had to be shot.  Some peanut butters have the peanut oil removed and replaced with rape oil. Rape oil is also the source of the infamous chemical warfare agent - mustard gas.  Canola oil is found in many foods, including margarines.
Carbonated beverages Rats cannot burp. Can cause severe gastrointestinal discomfort. Many contain high sugar levels. Artificial sweeteners are nearly all carcinogenic. Alcohol is poisonous to rats.
Cat and Dog Food. Can occasionally be given to rats but is generally too high in protein. Rats do not require the same high protein levels that cats and dogs require. Prolonged high protein levels in food for rats will lead to medical problems.
Corn/ Sweet Corn. Aflatoxins are produced by moulds which favor corn. Corn should be given fresh to rats.   Corn with dark or black discolouration on  leafy sheaths and the corn itself, should be  discarded. High concentrations of these toxins may produce acute symptoms such as jaundice (hepatitis) and they are also carcinogenic if eaten in low concentrations over a longer period of time. Some of these fungal metabolites are also neurotoxins.
Cottonseed Oil. Cottonseed oil and food products processed with this oil contain toxic fatty acids which are suspected of causing severe illness
Comfrey. A popular herb that is known to cause increased incidence of bladder tumors in Rats.
Fruit Tree Leaves Almond, Apricot, Peach, cherry, Plum, Fig etc  contain a variety of poisons that cause  different symptoms, which can include skin irritations and rashes, diarrhea, abdominal pains, tremors and kidney damage.
Fruit pits Contain cyanide producing compounds.
Green Potatoes The greening effect on potatoes is caused by light. Potatoes should be stored in the dark. The green potato contains toxic compounds similar to those found in the leaves of the plant. Solanine poisoning from green potatoes will produce throat burning, weakness, diarrhea and even convulsions with collapse and coma. The potato is a member of the nightshade family of plants, sometimes referred to as deadly nightshades. These also include tomato, peppers , eggplant and tobacco
Green Bananas Inhibits starch digesting enzymes. Okay if given occasionally.
Herbs- Medicinal Medicinal herbs are drug containing plants which should not be used every day. Like other drugs, medicinal herbs have side effects, toxic effects and allergenic effects, and they may not be helpful. The problem with whole plant medicines is that the active ingredients are mixed with everything else in the plant. This means that the control over the drug effect that is achieved with purified substances is not possible with plant preparations. Investigate thoroughly any herbal medicine intended for rat illnesses before use. Establish their beneficial and detrimental properties and dosage rates. Scaled down dosages from human dosage for any medication is not necessarily correct. Rats metabolise drugs differently than humans.
Lettuce. Generally of low food value and high moisture/water content.  Lettuce regularly in diet may lead to diarrhea and subsequently dehydration. Can be given in small quantities or as a treat
Licorice Licorice has been found to have substances that aid healing of stomach ulcers however, it also causes sodium and water retention and loss of potassium. High blood pressure may result from excessive consumption of licorice
Margarine Margarine is a hydrogenated fat. It is made by adding hydrogen atoms to the fat molecules to make them more saturated, raising the melting point of the fat so it remains a solid at room temperature. This is a process that requires the presence of a metal catalyst and temperatures of about 260 degrees C, for the reaction to take place. A side effect of hydrogenation is that a residue of toxic metals, usually nickel and aluminum, which are used as catalyst, are left  behind  in the finished product. They accumulate in the cells and nervous system where they poison enzyme systems and alter cellular functions, causing a wide variety of problems.   Fats in margarine are partially hydrogenated (not fully saturated) therefore the manufacturer can claim it is polyunsaturated, and market it as a healthy food. There are at present, known   and unknown health effects of hydrogenation.  Butter also has some problems, but it is a natural food product, while margarine is often considered a non-food.
Morning Glory Hallucinogenic
Nightshades  Plants of the nightshade family contain toxic substances. Deadly - refers to the toxicity of the leaves of this plant group, which includes tomato, potato, peppers and eggplant. Never feed leaves to rats.
Nutmeg  Hallucinogenic. Another chemical in nutmeg, safrole, induces liver cancer in mice
Onions The chemical n-propyl disulfide which denatures hemoglobin. This will in turn destroy red blood cells. Can cause anemia, jaundice and bloody urine in rodents.
Orange Rind.    Contains  d-limonene, has proven to be carcinogenic to male rats.  d-limonene and some other   chemicals bind to a naturally occurring protein, alpha2u-globulin in the male rat's kidneys. The protein then builds up and causes cancer.  This protein is not found in female rats.  d-limonene is found in the rind of oranges and most orange juices, but not in peeled oranges.
Peanut Butter. May stick to the roof of their mouths, and they can choke on it. Do not give too much.  It is also high in fat. Most peanut butter brands contain sugar or corn syrup that stresses the pancreas and is easily converted to fat by the body.  Should only be given as a treat or mixed with medicine which has a disagreeable taste.   Most rats love peanut butter.
Peanuts It is generally suggested that rats not be given peanuts. Sun drying organic peanuts avoids the growth of a common mould that produces aflatoxin, which has been shown to cause illness in rats. This drying process is not always used. Most commercial peanuts reportedly have  aflatoxin  and pesticide residues. Almonds and walnuts contain healthier fats than peanuts, without the mould problem.
Periwinkle  Also known as Myrtle, and has been used for centuries in herbal medicines.  Considered to be hallucinogenic to rats.
Rhubarb  High in acids which are toxic to rats and mice.
Spinach High in acids which are toxic to rats and mice.
Stone Fruit Seed Contain cyanide compounds
Raw Beans Raw dried beans should be cooked, before being fed to rats.  Most contain cyanide
producing compounds which can be destroyed by adequate cooking
Sweet Potato Sweet potato supports a fungal growth, especially when the tuber's surface is damaged. Ipomeanol is one such chemical that is liver and lung toxic.  Lung disease in cattle is caused by infected sweet potato. No similar human syndrome has been described.
Sweeteners Toxic sweeteners (Avoid) Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal )  The word Aspartame may not appear on the label, but the phrase "Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine" appears instead. They are considered carcinogenic and are found in a wide variety of drinks and processed foods.
Sucralose (Splenda )
Refined sugar - use in very small amounts. Sweeteners that are safe to use:- Stevia (safe for Diabetics )
Barley Malt
Evaporated Cane Juice
Fruit Juice
Rice Syrup
Table Scraps Are suitable, providing they are predominantly vegetables and plain cooked. Avoid table scraps that are fatty or cooked with oil, or cooked with salt and spices. Fatty foods will make  our couch potatoes (rats) overweight, and they do not metabolise most spices well.
Wild insects Wild insects may be a good source of protein for rats, but are often carriers of various diseases or harbor harmful bacterium which the rat will ingest along with the insect. Many other forms of safe protein are available without the high risk of contracting disease as would be the case with insect ingestion.