In association with The Rat Whisperer (

Daily Diet & Supplements

I recently made the decision to stop feeding my rats Oxbow Regal Rat, and switched to Solid Gold Holistique Blendz dog food,  for a couple of different reasons.

1.) Oxbow contains GMO (genetically-modified organisms) ingredients- specifically soy and canola. As per Solid Gold Health Products for Pets Inc, the company states " Our ingredient specifications, for all products, are for non-GMO ingredients." I am determined not to avoid GMO's for all my rats' food and treats, after reading a research study has linked both an herbicide and a GM corn to organ damage, tumors and early death among rats. No thank you, I want my ratties to live a long and healthy life! For more information on this study, please check out my previous post titled "Attention Your Rat's Food Might Kill Them, Part One".

2.) Oxbow contains soy products. Animal and human studies suggest that soy phytoestrogens can behave like estrogen and potentially increase breast cancer risk (ref: Cornell Univeristy and Spreacher Institute for Comparative Cancer Research). Since I keep primarily female rats, the risk of mammary tumors is greater with a diet that contains soy, in my opinion, based on these studies. Oxbow lists soybean meal as the fifth ingredient and soybean hulls as the seventh, and soy oil as the thirteenth ingredient.
Oxbow Regal Rat- no longer part of the AQUA rats' diet

Solid Gold not only contains no soy but it also contains no corn, which is the top genetically modified crop out there!It does contain canola, but as per the company, their specification are for non- GMO ingredients.

3.) Oxbow is more expensive per pound than Solid Gold Holistique Blendz. At regular price, Petsmart sells the Oxbow Regal Rat for $12.99 for a 3 lb bag- making it about $4.33 per pound. Petco sells Solid Gold Holistique Blendz for $15.98 for a 4 lb bag- making it about $3.99 per pound. Its not a big difference in price but Petco more often than not has the Solid Gold Holistique Blendz available to Petco Reward card holders for $12.99 and it comes in more sizes (4 lbs, 15 lb, and 28.5 lb bags) so depending on how much I want to buy at one time, I have more options. Oxbow Regal Rat comes in only two sizes, 3 lbs and 40lbs (40 lb bag available at Doctors Fosters & Smith's website). I am sure other sites sell the Oxbow at lower prices, but you usually have to pay shipping or have to have a minimum purchase amount to qualify for free shipping. I like the convenience of just running to the pet store to stock up on food when I run out so I took that into consideration as well.

The biggest concern I had when I made the switch was the protein and fat percentages. Solid Gold Holistique Blendz's protein is not less than 18% and the fat is about 6%- similar to the needs of young rats and nursing mothers. Oxbow Regal Rat has 14% protein and 4% fat, which is the maintenance needs for all other rats. So in theory, the Regal Rat has better protein and fat percentages, but when I considered that I am mixing just a bit of the Solid Gold Holistique Blendz into my homemade seed/grain/cereal mix, and the fact that it did not contain possible cancer-causing ingredients, I felt much more comfortable making the switch.

Many of you are familiar with my RWD Supplement that I sell to be used in conjunction with a high quality lab block such as Oxbow or Harlan Teklad (You can purchase the RWD Supplement HERE or in the right side bar of my home page). You will note that I have not changed this as I still feel it adds much benefit to those who continue to feed these lab block/kibble type diets. My seed/grain/cereal mix is a altered version of that supplement (left out some seeds/grains, added some additional herbs and some dried mealworms), just in case you were wondering.

The more I read about the nutritional needs of rats, the more I am convinced that rats don't necessarily need lab blocks as their staple diet. So many factors affect the nutrient requirements of rats and like people, they don't get all their daily requirements in one type of food or even in one meal, in any one day. But many people are not comfortable with this belief and choose to continue to feed them, which is why I feel my RWD Supplement is so beneficial for them- it adds special properties and some variety to the diet.

It is not possible to establish separate requirements for every stage of life when so many other factors influence what a rat's nutritional requirements are. Things like surgical procedures (neuters, spays, etc) may produce stress or otherwise alter food intake- stressed rats eat less and therefore even the most "complete" diet may be lacking due to required nutrient concentrates needed while rats recover. Even housing types can affect the amount of nutrients needed. Rats housed in galvanized cages have a lower dietary requirement for zinc because of the availability of zinc from the feces and cage materials (yup, rats eat their own poo and chew on cage bars after all!).

 So in my opinion, since no one food can be complete in nutrients, why not aim for getting them the closest you can without jeopardizing their health with otherwise harmful ingredients, plus give them the same wide variety of foods that they would forage for themselves in their natural, wild state?  Face it, unlike dogs that have been so specifically bred away from their ancestral wild relatives (i.e Bulldog, Pomeranian, Dachshund, etc), a rat has a higher wild instinct. They still build nests out of shredded paper despite the softest fleece hammock; they still bury their food to save for later even though we owners are quick to offer food whenever they beg; etc. And rats, like people, like variety- no one wants to eat the same hard cereal day in and day out! Anyways, that's all a conversation for another time...

The point is, I feel its better to provide a diet that is adequate in nutrients that is free form ingredients that have the potential to do more harm than good, that also adds variety so I decided for my rats, I feel the Solid Gold Holistique Blendz dog food mixed in my homemade organic grain and seed mix is best. Diet in general is a controversially in itself- plenty of conflicting opinions on which food is best so my advice is to do your own research and made an educated decision for yourself and the well being of your rats. 

Missing Link Small Animal Formula
Besides the Solid Gold Holistique Blendz dog food/ grain/ seed/ cereal mix. I also supplement my rats' daily diet with The Missing Link Ultimate Health and Beauty Small Animal Formula. Flax seed, specifically ground flax seed- the main ingredient in this formula, is extremely beneficial for the health of pet rats. It's loaded with omega-3's (the good fats), antioxidant qualities, both the soluble and insoluble type fiber, and have a protective effect against cancer based on research studies. It also contains lots of B-vitamins which also help fight cancer. Cancer is the #1 killer of pet rats since rats are predisposed to tumor growths. As per the operations manager of Designing Health Inc, producer of The Missing Link Ultimate Health & Beauty Small Animal Formula , they also state that their products are GMO free, another plus in my book!

Solid Gold Seameal
Finally, my rats get Solid Gold Seameal daily, which is also great for the skin and coat. I use this as an alternative to the Green Mush by Healthforce Nutritionals that I was such a fan of. It just got too pricy to feed daily for this many rats and I didn't feed they would truly get all the health benefits of it if they didn't have it daily. My males' coats have become so soft having since using a combination of 1/4 tsp Solid Gold Seameal, 1/4 tsp Missing Link Small Animal Formula, a jar of fruit or veggie flavored baby food (alternating daily), and a enough infant baby cereals and water that makes a runny porridge that feeds all 10 of my pet rats.

So that's what the rats of Aquarius Mischief eat daily and I have to say I am quite pleased with the results so far!