Rats are omnivorous, being able and doing best with a combination of both animal foods and plant matter in their diet. But what about eggs? Are these safe, healthy and even beneficial to feed? With these questions in mind, I decided to do some research into this food and its suitability for rats. I’d like to share this information with you so that you know how to approach the possibility as an owner.
So, can rats eat eggs? Rats can eat eggs, in moderation, and there are many benefits in doing so. Eggs are good sources of protein and rich in vitamins A, D, various B vitamins and minerals, such as phosphorous, zinc, iron, potassium, iodine and sulfur. However, rats should only be given cooked eggs (boiled/poached) and never raw or fried. Equally, egg should be served in smaller chunks and less frequently, around once per week, as a treat.
Eggs are highly nutritious, and there any many types of eggs to seek out for your pet rat – whether it be from a chicken, quail, duck etc. All can be a great addition to the diet. Generally speaking, the larger the egg, the less of it you should look to feed at any one time.
While feeding eggs to your rat can be done; there are some considerations that you will want to take into account.
Let us now take a look at the most common questions of the topic to ensure you know exactly if you should offer this food, how, when and in what kind of quantity.
Do Rats Eat Eggs?
First and foremost, its important to consider whether a pet rat would eat an egg given the opportunity.
Many owners report that their pet rats do consume eggs when offered. However, this is not true for all rats. Here is why.
Rats have quite the reputation as being scavengers – this is of course how the majority of wild rats are seen. Eating any, if most foods, if presented with the chance. For wild rats, food is survival, and there is no certainty around when the next meal is coming.
For pet rats, the situation is different. Very different.
In fact, pet rats can become picky eaters. They will do so when food is abundant.
When keeping a pet rat, food is always going to be more available to them – we like to treat our pets and we usually give them more than they need.
Sometimes, this can lead to preferences for particular foods, avoidance of others and in certain contexts, it can result in protest in the hope of a favorite food being fed.
Rats develop a fondness for particular and favorite foods; so we need to be careful about what, when and how we feed food.
This is true for eggs – just like any other food. Most rats will enjoy them, others will take to them.
Therefore, we need to be careful with how you offer eggs, in what quantity and when.
Lastly, we must respect the needs and preferences of our pet rats (within reason). Some rats do not enjoy eating eggs – irregardless of the type of egg and the way it has been cooked and prepared.
We should never force our pets to eat particular foods against their will. We need to respect their own unique tastes. So, if you attempt to offer some egg and it is simply left – take note, remove it from the cage, and if this happens a couple of times, perhaps refrain from offering them again.
That being said, most rats will enjoy some egg – and there are many benefits in eating them. Let us now take a closer look at the nutritional profile of eggs.
Nutritional Value of Eggs
Eggs are widely regarded as a very nutritious food – if prepared in particular ways and if eaten in moderation. The same can be said for humans, and rats.
There is a diverse range of vitamins and minerals in eggs. Most of which are contained in the yolk.
Studies have confirmed that rats require several vitamins and minerals to thrive. Some of the most important ones are:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B12
So can eggs help meet these requirements?
Let us now take a look at some of the different types of eggs and what they can provide:
|Per Egg||Quail Egg (9g)||Chicken Egg (50g)|
|Energy||14 calories||71 calories|
|Protein||1.17 g||6.2 g|
|Fat||0.99 g||4.76 g|
|Vitamin A||48.9 IU||270 IU|
|Vitamin D||4.95 IU||41 IU|
|Vitamin E||0.097 mg||0.525 mg|
|Vitamin B-12||0.142 µg||0.445 µg|
|Calcium||5.76 mg||28 mg|
Benefits To Rats Of Eating Eggs
There are many benefits available to rats whom consume eggs from time to time.
While at first, the quantities of vitamins/minerals supplied seems low, its important to remember that rats requirements is much lower than what it would be for a human. Equally, its important over-nutrition does not occur.
Therefore, the quantities in the table referenced above are actually ideal for rats; especially when you consider that they will be eating other foods in the diet which will be adding to their nutritional requirements.
Eggs contain several of the required vitamins (A, D and B vitamins) and minerals (phosphorous, zinc, iron, potassium, iodine) which contribute to good health.
Going further, eggs are a complete protein, with the whites being very digestible when cooked. Rats can therefore absorb the protein very well and this can lead to healthy growth and muscle maintenance.
Quail Eggs, if you can get them, are in many ways more ideal to offer. They are lower in being lower in calories, fat and protein while simultaneously offering all of the necessary vitamins and minerals that chicken eggs can provide.
That being said, chicken eggs are also excellent to feed. As they are larger you will need to consider the serving size.
How Much Egg To Feed A Rat
When it comes to feeding eggs to your pet rat, more is not better. Like most, if all foods, there is an appropriate amount to serve and feed.
The amount to offer does depend on the type of egg you offer. The larger the egg, the less you should look to offer at any one time. Therefore 1 Quail egg is a good serving size for most rats, whereas 1 Goose egg would likely be too much.
That being said, rodent experts and veterinarians would generally advise that eggs be offered more infrequently in the diet. They should not become a daily staple.
Additionally, younger rats can typically eat more egg than an adult. This is because they have a higher requirement for protein (as they are growing).
Here are some rough guidelines as to appropriate serving sizes and schedules to follow:
|Serving Frequency||Quail Egg||Chicken Egg (Medium 50g)|
|Young Rat||One Egg (9g) 2-3x per week.||Half an Egg (25g) 1-2x per week|
|Adult Rat||One Egg (9g), 1-2x per week||Quarter/Third of an Egg (17g/25g) 1x per week/2 weeks.|
When offering egg to your rat for the first time, be sure to do so gradually. This will allow your rat to get used to the food and help their digestive system learn how to process it.
It will also let your rat get used to the flavors and texture and should result in more of a liking for the food.
Risks To Rats Of Eating Too Many Eggs
When eating eggs in moderation, and appropriately prepared, eggs should not pose a risk to your rat.
Generally, the risks of eggs come from over-consumption. Eggs are naturally high in protein and fat so you need to ensure that they are not being eaten to regularly as this can lead to excess weight gain.
Excess weight will place extra demand on their bodies (bones/frames) and will can also result in other negative health outcomes.
The second risk has already been briefly discussed up above. It is that your rat will develop a preference for eggs – and may even do so at the consequence of other foods in the diet.
If your rat becomes fussy, or picky, in favor of eggs, it can displace other foods that they should be eating – or a variety in which would serve them better.
Some rats are even known to protest – literally to stop eating in the hope that you would serve them more of a particular food.
Lastly, while the chances are very small – egg consumption does include the risk of Salmonella. This is one of the reasons, among others, to ensure that you feed eggs properly cooked. this will ensure that bacteria is killed during the cooking process and you do not subject your rat to them.
How To Feed Eggs To You Rat
So, we know that eggs can be a great addition to a rats diet. In fact, there are many benefits in doing so if offered appropriately. So, how would you go about serving egg to your rat?
Eggs should always be cooked, so this means that you should look to offer egg that has been boiled, poached or microwaved.
You should never fry an egg in oil/butter as this will add/calories and fat that can be dangerous to your rat. It will likely lead to digestive upset and distress in the short term and weight gain in the long term.
So you can boil/poach an egg for a couple of minutes (~ 5 minutes) until the white has become solid and the yolk hard. Microwaving is generally quicker, just place an egg into an appropriate bowl and cook for a minute or two.
From there, let the egg cool down to a safe temperature. You do not want to risk your rat burning their mouth!
When it has cooled, and depending on the egg being offered, cut it down into small chunks.
From there you can feed it in a few ways:
- From your hand,
- Mixed into other foods in their bowl
- Left on its own in their bowl.
It can be nice to offer it from your hand, especially if your rat is fond of egg. This helps you to build trust and bond with your rat – especially if they are young and you have recently gotten them.
Mixing with other foods in the bowl is a good way to improve the nutritional composition of the diet. It can also be effective if your rat does not tend to eat, or enjoy egg, when offered on its own. Sometimes other foods can mask the flavor/texture and this is enough to get your rat to consume some of this healthy food.
Lastly, offering a small amount in their bowl is a good way to see if your rat likes egg. You can observe how much they eat, how quickly it takes for them to eat it and their natural inclinations to do so This will also allow them to carry the egg and handle/eat it whenever/wherever they want!
Either way, be sure to offer an appropriate amount of egg and to do so infrequently and as a treat. Also be sure to remove any egg that is not eaten and left behind.
Rats can eat eggs, and many owners report that their pets generally enjoy to do so. While not all rats will willingly eat eggs – this is a food that you can look to provide as an owner and see how your rat responds.
Eggs are very nutritious and can serve the health of your rat, when prepared appropriately and offered in moderation. Generally, 1-2x per week is a good schedule to follow if you are offering hard-boiled chicken eggs.
Remember, eggs should always be fed cooked, never be offered fried, and should be cut into manageable chunks.
So, why not give them a try. Your rat will likely be thankful that you did!
Can rats eat scrambled eggs? Rats can eat scrambled eggs if they are cooked plain. No butter, oils, milk or seasoning should be used. Scrambled egg also needs to be offered after a period of cooling to prevent your rat from burning their mouths.
Can rats eat eggshells? Rats can and sometimes do eat egg shells if provided. They will benefit from the calcium that they contain. However, eggshells can be a choking hazard and can cause digestive distress if offered in excess. Therefore be sure to offer only a small amount of appropriately sized shell. Sometimes, rats will peel off the eggshell if you offer an egg whole as they go for the white/yolk in preference. Other times they eat the membrane from the shell.
Can rats eat egg yolk? Rats can eat egg yolks in moderation. While they contain a lot of the vitamins and minerals they are also high in fat so should not be over-consumed. Be sure to only offer the yolk cooked, be it through poaching, boiling or microwaving.
Can rats eat raw eggs? It is not recommended to offer raw eggs to a rat. Raw eggs can cause digestive issues and are more likely to contain germs and other bacteria. Cooking the egg, through poaching, boiling or microwaving is known to kill off any bacteria and germs, making them more safe for your rat.
Can rats eat hard boiled eggs? Rats can eat hard boiled eggs. In fact, it is the preferential way for eggs to be eaten. It is recommended that you cut a hard boiled egg down into manageable chunks and only offer a third/half an egg to a rat at any one time.
Do rats eat bird eggs? Rats will likely eat any eggs that they come across and find – this includes bird eggs. Wild rats are known to go for bird eggs and are even titled ‘thieves’ for such behavior.