Why Doesn’t My Rat Eat Alfalfa Pellets in Rat & Hamster Seed Food Mix?

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Why Doesn’t My Rat Eat Alfalfa Pellets in Rat & Hamster Seed food Mix?

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Alfalfa pellets are commonly found in poorly made rat foods in many chain pet stores. These pellets are not very delicious for rats, and they simply don’t like this rabbit food.

For beginner rat owners, the easily accessible, cheap, brightly colored hamster and rat food seed mix looks like a great choice. It’s got a massive amount of variety in it, and to be fair, it does smell good. Very fruity. They then notice that the rats leave those little green pellets of hay either laying in the food dish, or stashed in a “I’ll never eat it, but I still want to keep it just in case” corner within their huts. Rats just don’t seem to eat them, and for good reason: they just don’t like alfalfa pellets.

Why Don’t Pet Rats Like Alfalfa Hay Pellets?

Medicago sativa sativa LIN. = Alfalfa - Albatera, Camino de la Azarbe de (San) Patricio, 23.5.10 16.54h.
Alfalfa plant while flowering.

Rats just don’t have a liking for these grass pellets. Alfalfa pellets are dehydrated, chopped up, formed, and pressed bits of a popular grass. They are eaten by a select few rodents, but are found in lots of rodent foods as a filler. It gives the food bulk, while keeping it at a lower price. Rats just aren’t rabbits; the hay isn’t very appealing for them.

Are Those Rabbit Pellets Bad for Pet Rats to Eat? Will It Make Them Sick?

dumbo rat eating cheerios
Dumbo eared blue rat (Squiggy) eating cheerios.

Hay pellets will not make a rat sick. For the most part, rats simply avoid these pellets and pick other tasty foods offered to them, such as oxbow regal rat food or fresh fruits, veggies, and meats. Rats aren’t very picky with food; pellets are just something they truly don’t like. It’s like giving a child raw broccoli. Rarely will you see a rat that actually enjoys eating these crunchy dried plant pellets. They are, however, good for their teeth to gnaw on.

What Happens If a Rat Eats a Lot of Alfalfa Pellets? Will They Poop a Lot After Eating Pellets?

1280px-Alfalfa_round_balesAs previously stated, it is highly doubtful that anyone’s rat will munch down on alfalfa pellets like it’s a stack of delicious crunchy Cheetos. Unless a rat has an eating disorder like Pica,  they will choose other foods. Then again, if the rat actually has a disorder like that, you would probably see him or her eating OTHER items. Now,  if this unlikely occurrence happened, the side effects would likely be poop. Lots and lots of rat poop! Those pellets are nothing but fiber, and will move through the rat like a train. If you notice your rat is pooping a lot more than normal, then this could be the culprit (high fiber foods in general, actually).

Why Do Rat Owners Buy Rabbit Food Pellets for Pet Rats?

Beautiful siamese point rat Photo Credit: Alexey Krasavin
Beautiful siamese point rat
Photo Credit: Alexey Krasavin

Usually if you see rat owners buying rabbit food alfalfa pellets for their rats, it’s definitely not for their diet. They actually buy them to use as litter for the litter boxes, or as cage bedding. Using rabbit food for rat cage bedding is actually an ingenious idea when you really think about it.

Rabbit food is clearly edible and safe should the rats ingest it, giving it some advantages over other rat beddings. It is also free of chemicals and is all natural, since it is made of compressed hay. This dried compacted alfalfa is also super absorbent, helping to eliminate moisture buildup. The odor control is amazing, as alfalfa is just a naturally fragrant plant. I personally LOVE the smell of alfalfa; it reminds me of playing in hay lofts in barns while I was growing up.

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