Read this before giving your pet rat chocolate
Can you feed rats chocolate?
Chocolate is one of, if not the greatest, inventions of man-kind and is loved by billions of people globally. However, some pets including dogs can not eat chocolate due to the presence of theobromine components which is toxic. Luckily, unlike like dogs, chocolate is technically safe for your pet rats consumption. Although this doesn’t mean you should go out and start feeding your pet rat bars upon bars of chocolate.
Chocolate is comprised of many trace elements, one of which is Caffeine. Excess amounts of caffeine can act as as stimulate to your rats, causing an increased heart rate which can be dangerous for rats with underlying heart conditions. A study on pregnant rats by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine showed that daily consumption of 4mg or more caffeine had multiple effects including “decrease in the birth weight of offspring and developmental malformations” GILBERT, E. F., & PISTEY, W. R. (1973). Dark chocolate contains 4.3mg of caffeine per 10 grams.
Types of chocolate safe for rats
There are 3 widely known types of chocolate; Milk, white and dark. All of these are non-toxic to your pet rat so technically you can feed your rat all of them, however there is other aspects to consider before doing so.
Milk chocolate is the most common chocolate consumed among humans. However with an almost 30% content and 50% sugar content is not the healthiest treat for you rat if you choose to give them chocolate. Try to avoid giving rats milk chocolate in the form of M&M’s due to the additional sugar.
White chocolate is fattier and contains more sugar than milk chocolate containing 32% and 59% respectively. Although technically rats can eat white chocolate, due to the high fat and sugar content it isn’t recommended. If you wish to feed your rat chocolate you give them dark chocolate as an alternative.
Dark chocolate is the best chocolate option when it comes to rat treats. Containing less than half the amount of sugar than white chocolate (24%) and only 43% fat content. We recommend feeding pet rats dark chocolate over other chocolates as it is the least fatty and contains less sugars. Although dark chocolate is “healthier” than other chocolates for rats it still needs to be feed in moderation as a treat not a main component of their diet.
How to feed rats chocolate
Chocolate can be fed to rats in a variety of forms, whether it be as a chocolate chip or baked into goods. You can give rats chocolate from a block, but be sure to chop the chocolate into small enough pieces for your rats to hold and to help easily monitor how much you are feeding them.
Benefits of feeding rats chocolate
Feeding your pet rat chocolate every now and then has is not only a tasty treat, but an excellent option for a well balanced diet. Chocolate also contains anti-depressants like phenyethylamine which can give your rat a good mood as a side effect.
A study conducted by Huang-Brown KM, Guhad FA for the Europe PMC found that chocolate is “an effective method of administrating drugs to rats by mixing the drug with chocolate to provide a consistent and reliable method of oral drug delivery, for a long period of time.” This makes chocolate an excellent way to deliver oral medications to rats such as Doxycycline or Baytril.