Having a pet rat is completely different from keeping other pets. Taking care of them is not as same as you do in the case of a cat or a dog. When it comes to keeping your pet rat healthy, it becomes quite overwhelming for the owners.
The only reason is, there is minimal information available on rats, like what rats eat, what is healthier for them, and how they behave. Knowing the proper dietary needs of your rat is a must if you want your rats to be healthy and happy.
Yes, rats are omnivorous, and they will eat whatever they get, but everything is not healthy for them. In fact, some healthy food (from a human perspective) can be proven to be dangerous for them. When it comes to feeding them spinach, people (rat owners) often get confused if it is healthy for them or not.
So, can rats eat spinach? Yes, spinach is completely safe for rats but it should be fed in moderation. Spinach is rich in oxalic acid. Though it is not bad for your rats, sometimes it acts as an antinutrient (when the nutrients have a negative effect) for them. While some rats are absolutely fine with this veggie, some might face issues with it. Therefore, it is recommended to feed your rats a moderate amount of spinach once in a week.
Spinach, an excellent source of vitamins and minerals
Spinach is a wonderful green leafy vegetable that contains an ample amount of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K1, Folic Acid, calcium, iron, and other minerals.
Only 3.5 ounces or 100gm spinach contains 91% water, 23Kcal calories, 3.6 gm carbs, 2.2 gm fiber, 2.9 gm protein, 0.4 gm fat, and 0.4 gm sugar. This is why feeding spinach to rats can be a healthy option.
Is spinach the superfood or a health hazard for your rats?
Spinach is one of those antinutrients that can be considered both a superfood and dangerous food for your pet rats. Spinach is often considered as a dangerous food because it is rich in oxalate that might cause urinary tract infection. It can also be the reason for kidney and bladder stones.
On the other hand, the phytochemical elements in spinach help your rats to stay healthy by preventing cancers and inflammation.
It is also high in Vitamin K, which improves their bone density and strength. So, if your rats love to eat this food, feed them. It will be a healthy treat for them. However, include just a small amount of spinach once in a week.
Do rats love spinach?
Rats are omnivorous. They eat everything. But when it comes to their favorite food list, it varies rat to rat, just like humans. They can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian (let me clarify, vegetarian rats don’t mean they don’t touch meat. They just prefer veggies).
So, if you have a breed that is vegetarian, I am sure he is going to love spinach.
Basically, rats like to chew on. They even love garbage. So, you need to keep in mind that you are giving a healthy treat to your rats.
You can give them pet food along with some natural supplements to maintain a complete nutrition balance.
However, if spinach is in your rats’ favorite food list, then also you should limit the food. Make sure they are having a moderate amount of spinach that will give them only nutritional value, not the side-effect.
Why feed spinach to your rats?
Feeding spinach to your rats can benefit them the same way it benefits humans. However, since they are small creatures, they can be more sensitive to this veggie. So, keep the amount in mind when feeding them.
Say goodbye to anemia
Yes, your pet rat can suffer from anemia just like you do, and eating spinach is the best option for them, just like yours. Having a moderate amount of this veggie in their diet can help in improving the level of hemoglobin in the blood. So, if your cute little pet has anemia or a bleeding issue, it can be a great option for them.
The anti-ischemic effect of spinach
Spinach improves the blood flow in the brain and has an anti-ischemic (Ischemia is a condition in which the blood flow and oxygen flow get restricted in any part of the body) effect. The research found, after stroke in rats, the size of infarction or brain damage is significantly less to those who were having spinach than those who were not.
Your rat’s brain can be severely affected by aging. Aging affects their brain and damages their cognitive functions. Spinach is full of antioxidants that help to delay aging and protect their brain cells.
A great immunity booster
The beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and chlorophyll elements in spinach boost immunity and improve their eye-sights. Therefore, to keep your rats healthy with a boosted immunity, spinach can be a must-have green for them.
It repels bacteria and viruses
One major problem with pet rats is, they love eating garbage. So, bacterial and virus infection is quite common for them. Spinach contains vitamin A that reduces the chance of bacterial or viral infection.
Why should spinach be limited to your rats’ diet? – The safety concern
Spinach contains lots of vitamins and minerals that can sometimes be overdosed to your rats. It is a type of antinutrient food that affects your rats’ health when overdosed.
Nutrients in plants are not always easy to digest. Antinutrients are the natural compounds in plants that might interfere with the absorption of nutrients.
The oxalate in some plants (read spinach) is known as antinutrients. The oxalic acid oxalate binds with calcium and other minerals. Calcium restricts the ability to absorb iron. So, we can say spinach is a plant with contradictory nutrients or antinutrients.
In raw spinach, the level of oxalic acid is quite high. This oxalic acid can absorb both calcium and iron. This is why consuming a large amount of raw spinach can be threatening for small animals, like rats.
Despite the anti-nutrients factor of spinach, the benefit of having this vegetable is undeniable. To get the best out of it, all you need to do is to limit the quantity of spinach while feeding it to your rats. Give them a small amount from time to time so that they can enjoy only the nutritional advantage of it.
How to feed spinach to your rats?
Your rats love chewing food. So, you can give raw spinach to let them chew it. However, keeping the health concern of your little one in mind, feeding them cooked spinach can be great. When cooked, the high heat degrades the antinutrient content in it.
The research says the calcium oxalate content in spinach is reduced by 19% to 87% when boiled. So, if you want to give your rats a healthy treat by avoiding all the spinach’s antinutrient effects, serve them a tiny bowl of cooked spinach.
The final thought
There is no denying the fact that spinach is a great snack option for your little loving pet. But their stomach is delicate, and their digestive power is not as strong as ours. So, try to give them the best out of everything. Spinach is a great option for them only when it is served in a moderate amount.
Your little rats can eat spinach, and they are indeed a healthy treat for them. Just ensure you give them the right amount and at the right time. If you feed raw spinach, don’t give it more than once in a week. However, when cooked, it can be served from time to time in a week in a small amount.