Celebrities have long since made celery famous as a top choice of low-calorie, healthy snack. No matter how you feel about it, you may be wondering if your pet rat can eat celery.
Is celery safe to eat for pet rats? Can celery be fed raw and with leaves?
Raw or cooked, celery is perfectly fine for rats to eat. It’s low in calorie and high in fiber, so it can be a good snack for overweight rats. Celery also contains antioxidants that can be beneficial to many areas of your pet rats health.
If you want to find out about the nutritional profile of celery and how to prepare it for your rats, read right on.
Can You Feed Your Pet Rat Celery?
Is Celery Safe for Rats?
Celery is 95% water1. Other than that, it consists mainly of carbohydrates and soluble and insoluble fibers. The dietary fiber in celery can have a positive effect on the gut microbiome and thus on digestion in general2.
Celery is a decent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium, and folate1. It is not as nutrient-dense as other vegetables, though, and therefore it should not be the main staple of your rat’s daily vegetable ration.
However, on a micronutrient level celery has a lot to offer. It contains a ton of antioxidants: caffeic acid, coumaric acid, luteolin, tannin, and saponin, among others3. Celery has been shown to have antimicrobial properties, therefore inhibiting the growth of certain “unwanted” bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract4.
Studies have shown that celery consumption can lower blood glucose and blood lipid levels, thus preventing the onset of diabetes5. It has also been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory properties in both rodents and humans6.
So even though it does not provide many macronutrients, there are certainly good reasons to feed celery to your rats! Especially overweight or diabetic rats may benefit from the blood-sugar regulating effects of this vegetable.
Some resources say that celery can have carcinogenic properties due to its high nitrate content. This would only be a concern if the nitrates combined with amines to form nitrosamines. Since celery has extremely low amine concentrations7, there is absolutely no need to worry about any negative effects.
Can Rats Eat Raw Celery?
Celery can be offered cooked or raw. The cooking process (especially boiling) can deplete the nutrient content of celery8. It’s therefore best to offer it raw.
You can cut the celery stems up into small pieces before you offer them to your rats.
Celery is ranked 11th on the “dirty dozen” list of the most pesticide-laden vegetables9 – it’s therefore crucial to wash it well before serving it to your mischief. The best way to remove pesticide residue is to soak the celery in water and baking soda.
Whenever you can, opt for organic celery instead of conventional.
Celery leaves are just as healthy as the stem of the vegetable. You can absolutely feed celery leaves to your rats, just like the rest of the celery.
Celery greens can contain lots of d-limonene, though10. This compound can cause kidney problems in male rats11, so if you have bucks, it’s best to avoid celery leaves or only feed very small amounts. There is absolutely no concern for dams and does.
What Vegetables are Poisonous to Rats?
Not all vegetables are good for pet rats. Some veggies should only be fed cooked, as they can cause health issues when consumed raw. These include raw artichokes, raw beans, and raw potatoes and sweet potatoes. All of these are perfectly fine when offered cooked, though.
Many resources will say that rats shouldn’t eat raw cabbage, either, but it’s fine in small amounts. Too much raw cabbage can cause bloating, though – just like in humans!
Whenever you’d like to offer your rats a new food, it’s a good idea to read up on it first. Some foods should only be offered in moderation, such as fruit that contains a lot of sugar, spinach with its high oxalate content and lettuce with its low nutrient density.
If any of your rats has a chronic health issue, make sure to check with your veterinarian if there are any specific foods that should be avoided.
To Sum Up
Celery is a low-calorie, high-fiber vegetable that is safe and healthy for pet rats to eat. It’s not particularly nutrient-dense, but it has some beneficial health effects due to its antioxidant properties. You can feed your rats raw or cooked celery, but raw is best.
1. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Celery, raw. 2018. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169988/nutrients.
2. Bourquin LD, Titgemeyer EC, Fahey GC, Jr. Vegetable fiber fermentation by human fecal bacteria: cell wall polysaccharide disappearance and short-chain fatty acid production during in vitro fermentation and water-holding capacity of unfermented residues. J Nutr 1993;123:860-869. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8387579/.
3. Kooti W, Daraei N. A Review of the Antioxidant Activity of Celery ( Apium graveolens L). J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med 2017;22:1029-1034. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28701046/.
4. Powanda MC, Whitehouse MW, Rainsford KD. Celery Seed and Related Extracts with Antiarthritic, Antiulcer, and Antimicrobial Activities. Prog Drug Res 2015;70:133-153. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26462366/.
5. Li MY, Hou XL, Wang F, et al. Advances in the research of celery, an important Apiaceae vegetable crop. Crit Rev Biotechnol 2018;38:172-183. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28423952/.
6. Hedayati N, Bemani Naeini M, Mohammadinejad A, et al. Beneficial effects of celery (Apium graveolens) on metabolic syndrome: A review of the existing evidences. Phytother Res 2019;33:3040-3053. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31464016/.
7. Moret S, Smela D, Populin T, et al. A survey on free biogenic amine content of fresh and preserved vegetables. Food Chemistry 2005;89:355-361. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/223875082.
8. Yao Y, Ren G. Effect of thermal treatment on phenolic composition and antioxidant activities of two celery cultivars. LWT – Food Science and Technology 2011;44:181-185. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643810002550.
9. EWG. Dirty Dozen – EWG’s 2021 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. 2021. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php.
10. IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Some Naturally Occurring Substances: Food Items and Constituents, Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines and Mycotoxins. 1993. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513608.
11. Hard GC, Whysner J. Risk assessment of d-limonene: an example of male rat-specific renal tumorigens. Crit Rev Toxicol 1994;24:231-254. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7945892/.
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.