This law is called the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act says that your animal has five groups of welfare needs. These are five groups of things that animals need to be healthy and happy. These five welfare needs are called the Five Freedoms.
Under the Animal Welfare Act all animal guardians (owners) need to provide these five groups of things for their animals. One of these Five Freedoms is: Freedom from Hunger and Thirst. In this section you will learn about this freedom and how you can make sure your rats are always free from experiencing hunger and thirst.
Rats will eat just about anything – even things they should not eat. Therefore, it is very important that your family provides your rats with a balanced nutritious diet to ensure they live long, healthy and happy lives.
Many store-bought rat food mixes contain a large amount of fatty seeds and coloured pellets; they are bit like mixing dinner and dessert together into one meal. As most rats have a big sweet tooth, they will often pick out and eat all the sweetest, fattest ‘treat’ parts (the dessert) from their bowl and leave all the healthy stuff (dinner) behind – it would be like you eating dessert for breakfast, lunch and dinner! This can cause rats to become over weight and lacking the important vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy.
Rats should be fed a combination of fresh fruits and vegetables and small amounts of good quality rat pellets or rat cubes (ensure they have a protein content of at least 16% & fat content of 4-5%).
Here are some examples of the type of fruit and veggies you can feed your rat:
Remember that just like humans, rats love variety.
Branches from apple trees can also add variety to your rats’ diet and gnawing this hard material can help to keep your rat's teeth in good condition.
Rats are nocturnal, meaning they're most active at night. This is a good time to feed them since they're likely to be awake and alert. Rats should have continual access to food and water so don't skip their meals.
Selecting a food dish for your rat isn't complicated, but there are a few factors to keep in mind.
Look for a small bowl. Larger bowls take up valuable enclosure space and may encourage you to feed too much.
Provide a separate dish for fresh produce to prevent your rat's pellets or cubes from becoming a soggy, unappetizing mess.
Choose a ceramic food dish rather than a plastic one. Ceramic dishes are sturdy, chew-resistant, and difficult to overturn. They're also durable and shouldn't need to be replaced unless they become cracked or chipped. Plastic bowls are easily scratched, and those scratches can be havens for bacteria.
Place the food bowl in an area of the enclosure that's far away from your rat's bathroom area.
Wash the bowl with soapy water and rinse and dry thoroughly during the weekly enclosure cleaning.
Your rats should always have easy access to fresh, clean water.
For hygiene reasons, water should be available to your rats in a water bottle. Make sure the water bottle is within easy access for the rats, especially for older rats who aren't as mobile as they used to be.
Having two water bottles available for the rats is also a good idea - if one bottle runs out or gets stuck, there is another source of water available until the problem is fixed.