So, you cleaned out your fridge.
Or, perhaps you have a beautiful garden that is providing you with more fruit than you know what to do with.
Yet again, maybe you have a tomato left over from your salad and you just want to see what your ratties think about it.
You stop and think… “But, CAN rats eat tomatoes? Or will it hurt them… Maybe it’s too acidic? Maybe I should wait…”
What Are The Benefits of Tomatoes for Rats?
I’m here to tell you that YES! They can have tomatoes! Even better: they are a GREAT food to offer to your beloved pets. Tomatoes are a great source of Vitamin K, Potassium, and Vitamin C. These added vitamins are not the only good news. Tomatoes are high in lycopene and other phytochemicals, which has been linked to reduced rates of cancer in humans. A study performed also reported that lycopene and those additional phytochemicals found within tomatoes lowered the rate of prostate cancer death in male rats. This is a pretty significant finding, as many rats wind up with tumors in old age.
What Are the Cons to Feeding Tomatoes to Rats?
I’m going to be honest with you: tomatoes, aside from their nutritional content, are terrible to feed to rats. I’m not joking when I say that you will be finding tomato pulp (and seeds!) for weeks! The rats have an absolute blast with their tomato slices and cherry tomatoes. However, it’s much like leaving a 12 month old human child with a container of pureed baby food alone for 10 minutes. The entire area will look like a war zone! There is so much more juice inside of tomatoes than you thought possible. When feeding the rats tomatoes, try to keep it closer to cage changing day. You’ll be so much happier when you don’t have to clean the cage and hammocks twice as often!
How to Prepare Tomatoes for Rat Diets
Tomatoes are quite large, so I recommend using cherry tomatoes. Aim to feed approximately 1/2 of a cherry tomato to each adult rat. Younger rats should have between 1/4 to 1/3 of a cherry tomato each. You can either feed them in quarters, or you could dice the tomato. Leaving the tomato in bigger chunks is more fun for the ratties, and less work for you during feeding time!
Why Didn’t My Rats Eat the Tomato Skins?
How else can I say it…
Rats are spoiled, rotten, picky little brats.
Now that I got that out, you probably already noticed the insane amount of picking and tossing that rats do. They avoid eating skins or rinds, they may only eat the outside layer of a food, maybe only the inside, or sometimes only the seeds… other times, they want one little bite of everything. As much as we love them, there is no denying that they are beyond spoiled!
If you notice that your rat is consistently leaving behind the skins, simply remove them from the cage when feeding time is over to prevent fruit flies from gaining interest.