Bananas are not only for monkeys – the sweet fruit is a favorite for humans and pets alike.
So, can rats eat bananas, too? Is there such a thing as too much banana for a rat? And what about banana peels?
Bananas are safe for rats to eat. They tend to contain lots of sugar and should therefore be reserved as a treat. Though it might surprise you, the banana peels are edible, too, and can also be fed to your rats.
In this article, we’ll give you a rundown on bananas for pet rats.
Can You Feed Your Pet Rat Banana?
Are Bananas Safe for Rats?
Bananas contain mostly carbohydrates. In unripe bananas, they are present in the form of starch. During the ripening process, the starch is then converted into sugar1. A ripe banana can be made up of 16% sugar1!
Even though they are therefore quite sweet, bananas still have a rather low glycemic index, so they don’t raise blood sugar excessively.
Bananas also contain lots of fibers, such as pectin and – depending on the ripeness of the banana – resistant starch2. These fibers can promote gut health and regulate the rise of blood sugar after eating.
Vitamin C and vitamin B6 can also be found in plentiful amounts in bananas3. The tropical fruit is also high in potassium, which has a protective effect on cardiovascular health4.
Like most fruit, bananas contain antioxidants such as catechin and dopamine5,6. These antioxidants have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and a positive effect on many chronic and metabolic diseases7,8.
Therefore, bananas are perfectly healthy for rats to eat. Most rats love them, too!
Can Rats Have too Much Banana?
Since bananas contain a lot of sugar, you shouldn’t feed them too frequently. Bananas should be reserved as a special treat for once or twice a week. You can offer your rats one or two thin slices of banana each.
Avoid feeding too much unripe banana, as large amounts of resistant starch can cause digestive upset.
Overripe bananas, on the other hand, are higher in sugar. When the banana is a nice yellow color – not green, but not brown throughout either – it’s perfect for feeding to your mischief.
Yes, bananas are perfectly safe for both bucks and does/dams to eat. There is no reason to avoid bananas for female rats.
This may come as a surprise to you, but banana peels are perfectly edible for humans and rats alike. Just like the rest of the fruit, they are rich in potassium, antioxidants, and fiber9,10. By consuming the peels, you can contribute towards reducing food waste.
A word of caution, though: Banana peels often contain pesticide residues11. If you want to feed your rats banana peels, it’s best to opt for organic bananas.
Your rats may find the peels of very ripe bananas more palatable. You can cut the peels up into small pieces before offering them raw or boil them beforehand.
Can Rats Eat Banana Chips?
Store-bought banana chips tend to contain added sugars and are therefore unsuitable for your rats. If you can find freeze-dried bananas with no added sugars, you can feed these to your rats.
As dried fruit contains more sugar per unit as fresh fruit, this treat should only be given rarely and in moderation.
Can Rats Eat Banana Bread?
Most bananas breads that you can find in stores are high in sugar. It’s therefore best to avoid feeding them to your pet rats. If you make your own banana bread without sugar, you can offer this to your rats.
Steer clear of artificial sweeteners, too, as they have been linked to cancer development and harmful effects on brain health in rats12,13.
What Fruits Can Rats Not Eat?
Most fruits are high in sugar and should only be fed to your rats in moderation. The best choice of fruit for rats is berries such as strawberries and blueberries, as they are rather low in sugar, but boast many health benefits. Other good options include apples, pears, melon and watermelon, kiwi, peaches, seedless grapes, cucumbers and apricots.
You should avoid feeding your rats fruit pips and stones, as they are toxic to them. If you feed them avocado, remove the skin and pits. Mango and citrus fruits such as oranges should only be fed without skin and in moderation, if you have bucks in your mischief.
To Sum Up
Bananas are a beloved snack for rats, and for good reason! Just make sure to feed in moderation as they are high in sugar. Banana peels are a great option, too – but opt for organic.
1. Zhang P, Whistler RL, BeMiller JN, et al. Banana starch: production, physicochemical properties, and digestibility—a review. Carbohydrate Polymers 2005;59:443-458. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0144861704004023.
2. Duan X, Cheng G, Yang E, et al. Modification of pectin polysaccharides during ripening of postharvest banana fruit. Food Chemistry 2008;111:144-149. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814608003440.
3. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Bananas, ripe and slightly ripe, raw. 2020. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1105314/nutrients.
4. 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/.
5. Kanazawa K, Sakakibara H. High content of dopamine, a strong antioxidant, in Cavendish banana. J Agric Food Chem 2000;48:844-848. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10725161/.
6. Someya S, Yoshiki Y, Okubo K. Antioxidant compounds from bananas (Musa Cavendish). Food Chemistry 2002;79:351-354. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814602001863.
7. Wang X, Ouyang YY, Liu J, et al. Flavonoid intake and risk of CVD: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Br J Nutr 2014;111:1-11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23953879/.
8. Neha K, Haider MR, Pathak A, et al. Medicinal prospects of antioxidants: A review. Eur J Med Chem 2019;178:687-704. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31228811/.
9. Giri SS, Jun JW, Sukumaran V, et al. Dietary Administration of Banana (Musa acuminata) Peel Flour Affects the Growth, Antioxidant Status, Cytokine Responses, and Disease Susceptibility of Rohu, Labeo rohita. Journal of immunology research 2016;2016:4086591-4086591. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27294156.
10. Sundaram S, Anjum S, Dwivedi P, et al. Antioxidant activity and protective effect of banana peel against oxidative hemolysis of human erythrocyte at different stages of ripening. Appl Biochem Biotechnol 2011;164:1192-1206. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21369778/.
11. Mendez A, Castillo LE, Ruepert C, et al. Tracking pesticide fate in conventional banana cultivation in Costa Rica: A disconnect between protecting ecosystems and consumer health. Sci Total Environ 2018;613-614:1250-1262. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28962073/.
12. Soffritti M, Belpoggi F, Esposti DD, et al. First Experimental Demonstration of the Multipotential Carcinogenic Effects of Aspartame Administered in the Feed to Sprague-Dawley Rats. Environmental Health Perspectives 2006;114:379-385. https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/abs/10.1289/ehp.8711.
13. Erbaş O, Erdoğan MA, Khalilnezhad A, et al. Evaluation of long-term effects of artificial sweeteners on rat brain: a biochemical, behavioral, and histological study. J Biochem Mol Toxicol 2018;32:e22053. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29660801/.
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.