Featured in pretty much any health food blogger’s recipes, avocado has a bit of a reputation as a superfood. As a rat owner, you’re probably always on the lookout for healthy treats to feed to your mischief.
So, is avocado good for rats? How much avocado are they allowed? And should you remove the skin and pit?
Avocado is a healthy and nutritious food for rats. It offers many great micronutrients and health benefits. It’s rather high in calories and fat, though, so it should be offered in moderation and maybe limited for overweight rats.
To find out how to feed avocado to your rats, and how much avocado they are allowed, read right on below.
Can You Feed Your Pet Rat Avocado?
What Does Avocado Do to Rats?
Like all fruit – yes, avocado is a fruit, not a vegetable – avocado is mainly made up of water (73%)1. It contains a lot more fat than other fruits, though, coming out at almost 15 grams of lipids per 100 grams1.
If you think this is bad, think again! Fat is not inherently bad for you, and avocado contains healthy fats that fulfill important functions in the body.
Its protein content is rather low, but it does boast a good amount of fiber. Dietary fiber has been linked to improved gut health as well as better weight control due to its filling effect2,3. In fact, even though avocados are quite high in fat and calories, their consumption has been linked to weight loss in humans4.
Looking at micronutrients, avocados are quite impressive as well. They are rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and various B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, and pantothenic acid)1. They also contain a lot of folate, which is especially important for pregnant humans and rats5.
Next, you’ll find that avocados are rich in potassium, the consumption of which has been linked to improved cardiovascular health6.
Additionally, avocados are packed with bioactive compounds like carotenoids and phenolic compounds, all of which have a strong antioxidant effect.
Dietary intake of antioxidants is crucial for long-term health, as they are required to counteract the cellular damage that naturally occurs on a daily basis.
The consumption of foods with high antioxidant content has been shown time and time again to reduce inflammation, lower cancer and chronic illness rates, and improve cardiovascular health and cognitive function7,8.
All in all, there are countless health benefits to feeding your rats avocado. Avocado is safe and healthy for pet rats to eat, so you can feed it without worry.
Do Rats Love Avocado?
Rats tend to love avocado, as it is a nutrient- and calorie-dense food. Generally, rats have a preference for fatty foods9, so it’s no wonder that they love avocados with all their healthy fats!
How Much Avocado Can a Rat Eat?
As we’ve seen, avocados contain a lot of calories, especially when compared to other fruits and vegetables. Granted, they are still a very healthy choice of food and offer a wide array of nutrients.
Interestingly, studies on humans have linked avocado consumption to weight loss and decreased abdominal fat4,10. So, it seems that avocado does not need to be limited as much as treats that are high in sugar and offer no nutritional value.
However, it’s still probably best to limit avocado consumption to a small piece per rat per day. If your rats are overweight, prioritize low-calorie nutritional foods such as broccoli or bell peppers and reserve avocados as a special, occasional treat.
Can Rats Eat Avocado Pits?
Avocado pits contain cyanide and a few other toxins that can potentially harm your rats. Cyanide is found in many fruit pips and stones and is toxic to rats and humans alike11.
It’s therefore crucial to always remove the pit before feeding avocado to your rats.
Can Rats Eat Avocado Skins?
Avocado skins don’t contain cyanide, but they do have a decent amount of persin, another potentially toxic compound12.
While it’s not clear if there is enough persin in avocado skins to really cause severe health issues in rats, it’s still a good idea to remove the skin before feeding avocado to your mischief.
What Foods are Toxic to Rats?
Not everything that is safe for human consumption can also be offered to your pet rats. As we’ve covered above, most fruit pips and stones contain cyanide and are thus toxic to rats – they should always be removed before serving the fruit.
Chocolate also contains compounds that are potentially harmful to your rats.
Some foods are only toxic when fed raw – such as artichokes, beans, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. All of these are perfectly fine when cooked, though.
Other foods only cause issues in male rats. This includes fruits that contain d-limonene, a protein that can cause kidney damage in bucks but not in does and dams. D-limonene is found in high amounts in all kinds of citrus fruit and in mangos. If there are bucks in your mischief, these fruits should not be on the menu.
While not immediately toxic, heavily processed, sugary, and fatty foods are harmful to your rats in the long term.
They lead to obesity, which is directly correlated with a shorter lifespan and an increase in disease rates.
Also, they can lead to shunning of more nutritionally adequate food, therefore potentially causing malnutrition.
To Sum Up
Avocado is a perfect food for rats! It’s nutritious and full of healthy phytonutrients. Rats tend to love avocado due to its high fat content.
If your rats are overweight, you may want to limit their avocado intake. Otherwise, you can even offer avocados daily, but only a small amount per rat.
Make sure to remove the pit and skin before feeding, as they can be toxic.
1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central – Avocado, raw, all commercial varities. 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171705/nutrients.
2. Miketinas DC, Bray GA, Beyl RA, et al. Fiber Intake Predicts Weight Loss and Dietary Adherence in Adults Consuming Calorie-Restricted Diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) Study. J Nutr 2019;149:1742-1748. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31174214/.
3. Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis Jr RH, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews 2009;67:188-205. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00189.x.
4. Heskey C, Oda K, Sabaté J. Avocado Intake, and Longitudinal Weight and Body Mass Index Changes in an Adult Cohort. Nutrients 2019;11:691. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30909592.
5. Tagbo IF, Hill DC. Effect of folic acid deficiency on pregnant rats and their offspring. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 1977;55:427-433. https://doi.org/10.1139/y77-060.
6. D’Elia L, Barba G, Cappuccio FP, et al. Potassium intake, stroke, and cardiovascular disease a meta-analysis of prospective studies. J Am Coll Cardiol 2011;57:1210-1219. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21371638/.
7. Liguori I, Russo G, Curcio F, et al. Oxidative stress, aging, and diseases. Clin Interv Aging 2018;13:757-772. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29731617/.
8. Wang L, Tao L, Hao L, et al. A Moderate-Fat Diet with One Avocado per Day Increases Plasma Antioxidants and Decreases the Oxidation of Small, Dense LDL in Adults with Overweight and Obesity: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The Journal of nutrition 2020;150:276-284. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31616932.
9. Kasper JM, Johnson SB, Hommel JD. Fat Preference: a novel model of eating behavior in rats. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE 2014:e51575-e51575. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24998978
10. Khan N, Edwards C, Thompson S, et al. Effects of Avocado Consumption on Abdominal Adiposity and Glucose Tolerance: Findings from the Persea Americana for Total Health (PATH) Randomized Controlled Trial (P21-005-19). Current Developments in Nutrition 2019;3:nzz041.P021-005-019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6578444/.
11. Salkowski AA, Penney DG. Cyanide poisoning in animals and humans: a review. Vet Hum Toxicol 1994;36:455-466. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7839575/.
12. Yasir M, Das S, Kharya MD. The phytochemical and pharmacological profile of Persea americana Mill. Pharmacognosy reviews 2010;4:77-84. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22228945.
Nina has a degree from the Veterinary School in Zurich, with a special focus on microbiological research. Nina has a passion for sports, nutrition and the outdoors and she loves all pets, but rats have a special place in her heart. When she’s not working or reading and writing about all things related to pet health, she loves to travel and surf.
As a small animal veterinarian, Nina is your go-to expert on pet health and nutrition.