On hot summer days, a slice of cold fruit is amazing to cool off – both for your and for your rats. We’ve talked about feeding your rats watermelon, but what about other melons, like cantaloupe?
Can pet rats eat cantaloupe? And if so, should you remove the seeds and the rind before feeding it to them?
Cantaloupe is a healthy choice of fruit to offer your mischief. There are many health benefits to eating cantaloupe, but it’s important not to offer too much of it, as it may cause diarrhea. Generally, fruit should only make up a small portion of your rats’ diet.
Here’s all the info on cantaloupe and how to prepare it for your pet rats!
Can You Feed Your Pet Rat Cantaloupe?
Are Rats Allowed Cantaloupe?
Let’s have a look at what cantaloupe consists of. Like watermelons, cantaloupes are mainly made up of water (roughly 90%)1. They contain only negligible amounts of protein and fat, with their main macronutrient being carbohydrates at around 8 grams per 100 grams of fruit1. Even though its main nutrient is sugar, cantaloupe is still rather low-carb overall.
On a micronutrient level, cantaloupe boasts more than decent amounts of vitamin C1. This vitamin is important for the immune system, as well as connective tissue and skin health2-4.
Cantaloupe also contains beta carotene, which is then converted to vitamin A in the body. In fact, orange-flesh melons like cantaloupe contain as much beta carotene as carrots5! They also have decent amounts of folate, which is especially important for pregnant rats6,7.
Looking at mineral content, we can see that cantaloupe contains potassium, a mineral that is vital for cardiovascular health8,9. While it’s not super rich in fiber, cantaloupe still contains some – and fiber is great for gut health and overall well-being10!
All these are good reasons to offer cantaloupe as a snack to your pet rats. Compared to other fruits, cantaloupes are quite low in sugar, but they still taste sweet and your rats will love them!
On a warm day, offer cantaloupe melon straight from the fridge to help your rats cool off a bit.
How Much Cantaloupe Can a Rat Eat?
Most fruits can cause diarrhea in rats if consumed in large amounts, due to their high water content.
This is no reason to worry – it just means that you should limit their fruit intake and make sure you also offer a well-balanced rat pellet diet. Cantaloupe can be fed multiple times per week without issue.
As opposed to other fruit pips and stones, cantaloupe seeds are non-toxic. If you normally discard your cantaloupe seeds, why not offer them to your rats instead? They may just love them. Cantaloupe seeds contain a decent amount of various minerals and some protein, so there may even be benefits to eating them11.
Can Rats Eat Cantaloupe Rind?
It’s not that easy to find conclusive information on whether cantaloupe rind is edible. While it is not inherently toxic, it is known to be contaminated with bacteria and sometimes mold. Washing the rind with water and scrubbing it with a brush can reduce the risk of food-borne illness12.
As rats will probably not find the rind very tasty, I doubt that offering it will offer many benefits. If your rats ingest some cantaloupe rind by accident, there’s no reason to worry. They’ll likely be just fine.
Can Rats Eat Honeydew?
Honeydew melons contain a bit more sugar than cantaloupes and fewer vitamins13. This makes them the slightly less healthy choice of the two – however, the difference is marginal. Honeydew is just as safe for rats to eat as cantaloupe and the two can be offered interchangeably.
What Fruits are Rats Allowed to Eat?
Most fruit is good for rats, but it’s important to only offer it in moderation. Think of fruit as a treat or dessert, not as the main dish. Good choices are low-calorie fruits like berries, which are also bursting with antioxidants.
Other options include pears, apples, kiwis, watermelon, apricot, and other stone fruit. Always remove stones and pips before serving fruit! Some fruits – like banana and grapes – are very sugary and should not be offered to overweight rats who are trying to lose weight.
To Sum Up
Cantaloupe is a healthy and safe treat for your mischief! The seeds are perfectly edible. The jury’s still out on whether it’s a good idea to feed the rind, but there are probably not many benefits to it. As too much cantaloupe can cause diarrhea, be sure to limit the amount you offer.
1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central – Melons, cantaloupe, raw. 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169092/nutrients.
2. Abdullah M, Jamil RT, Attia FN. Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid). StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing Copyright © 2022, StatPearls Publishing LLC., 2022.
3. Shaik-Dasthagirisaheb YB, Varvara G, Murmura G, et al. Role of vitamins D, E and C in immunity and inflammation. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents 2013;27:291-295. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23830380/.
4. Sorice A, Guerriero E, Capone F, et al. Ascorbic acid: its role in immune system and chronic inflammation diseases. Mini Rev Med Chem 2014;14:444-452. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24766384/.
5. Fleshman MK, Lester GE, Riedl KM, et al. Carotene and novel apocarotenoid concentrations in orange-fleshed Cucumis melo melons: determinations of β-carotene bioaccessibility and bioavailability. J Agric Food Chem 2011;59:4448-4454. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3544477/.
6. van Gool JD, Hirche H, Lax H, et al. Folic acid and primary prevention of neural tube defects: A review. Reprod Toxicol 2018;80:73-84. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29777755/.
7. 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.
8. 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/.
9. Bolton KA, Trieu K, Woodward M, et al. Dietary Intake and Sources of Potassium in a Cross-Sectional Study of Australian Adults. Nutrients 2019;11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31817767/.
10. 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.
11. da Cunha JA, Rolim PM, Damasceno K, et al. From seed to flour: Sowing sustainability in the use of cantaloupe melon residue (Cucumis melo L. var. reticulatus). PLoS One 2020;15:e0219229. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31895921/.
12. Fu Y, Bhunia AK, Yao Y. Abrasive brushing reduces pathogen biofilms at cantaloupe rind surface. Int J Food Microbiol 2020;329:108685. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32497791/.
13. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central – Melons, honeydew, raw. 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169911/nutrients.
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.