Apricots are safe for Rats to eat. They make a great treat and are full of vitamins and antioxidants. They are best served fresh as a treat and contribute greatly to a well balanced diet. However; it is important to note that not all forms of apricot are safe for rats.
Dried or dehydrated apricots can be a potential choking hazard for your pet rat. Store brought dried apricots often use chemical additives to prolong their shelf life. This chemical treatment (often sulphur) can be harmful to your rat so best to be avoided all together.
How to prepare Apricots for Rats
When feeding rats apricots fresh is best, although frozen and thawed is also fine. Make sure to wash the apricots skin just like you would for human consumption. This assists in removing any unwanted nasty chemicals used in agriculture.
After washing the apricot use a knife to cut a 1/4″ – 1/2″ (6mm – 12mm) slices, proceed to cut these slices into match sticks the same width as the slice then continue by turning these into cubes. These cubes make perfect pieces that fit perfectly in your rats little hands.
Feeding Rats Apricot
Depending on your rats size and age will determine how much you should feed them. For an average mature rat 5-10 cubed pieces is sufficient. Remember to discard any uneaten apricot from the cage to prevent spoiling and rotting, usually after 2-3 hours is ideal.
Mixing Apricots alongside other fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots and peas, makes a great meal for your rat offering them a wide variety.
Note: too much fruit due to the high fiber content can lead to giving your rat diarrhea.
Can Rats eat Apricot Seeds?
Apricots seeds, also known as the apricot stone or kernel, contain trace amounts of cyanide similar to that of apple seeds. Although there is not enough cyanide to kill a rat from a single seed it is best to mitigate risk and avoid it all together.
The kernels do however contain relatively high amounts of D-Limonene. This chemical compound is specifically dangerous to male rats with carcinogenic effects. There have been studies into the effects on male rats by the APANational Center for Biotechnology Information finding ‘That d-limonene produces renal tubular tumors in male rats’ (source).
Because of these factors we recommend that you do not feed pet rats apricot kernels.