If you thought that cucumber is a vegetable, think again: it’s actually a fruit. While famous for being low in calories, cucumber boasts a fairly good nutrient profile. Since rats should get fresh vegetables and fruit daily, you may wonder if cucumber should be on the menu, too.
So, can your pet rats eat cucumber? Is cucumber safe for rats?
Cucumber is not only safe to eat for rats, but it’s also good for them. Especially overweight rats can benefit from this low-cal snack. Due to its high water content, large amounts of cucumber could cause diarrhea.
Here’s a rundown of cucumber as a food for your fancy rats.
Pet Rats & Cucumber
Can I Feed My Rat Cucumber?
A whopping 95% of cucumbers is actually water1. They contain virtually no fat, and very little protein. A serving of 100 grams of cucumber contains 3.6 grams of carbohydrates, which is also very little1.
Overall, cucumbers are very low in calories. They do contain some fiber, which can have a beneficial effect on gut health2.
In terms of micronutrients, cucumber offer a few important vitamins: vitamin K, which is a blood clotting factor and important for bone health3; and vitamin C, crucial for many processes in the body, including the downregulation of inflammatory processes4.
Magnesium, potassium, and manganese can also be found in cucumbers1.
Like most fruits, cucumber also contains antioxidants. These compounds help combat oxidative stress, and high dietary amounts of antioxidants have been linked to improved health and lower inflammation markers and cancer incidence5.
Among the antioxidants found in cucumber are tannins and flavonoids, which are especially powerful at combatting oxidative stress6.
Since cucumbers are mainly water, they can improve hydration7. On the other hand, foods with high water content can cause diarrhea in rats if consumed in large amounts, so it’s best to limit their cucumber intake to a small piece a day.
However, cucumbers make a great food for rats for all the reasons listed above. Especially overweight or diabetic rats may benefit from eating cucumber, as it may help regulate blood sugar8.
Do Rats Like Cucumber?
Generally, rats do like cucumbers. Since they don’t contain much fat or sugar, cucumbers are probably not their favorite treat in the world, but most rats will eat cucumbers if given the option.
Should I Peel Cucumbers for My Rats?
The peel of cucumbers contains many nutrients and fibers – in fact, the peel is the most nutrient-dense part of the fruit1,9. Whenever possible, you should feed cucumber with the peel still on.
The only issue is that conventionally grown cucumbers are high in pesticide residue, as the waxy peel holds on to these chemicals10. Washing cannot fully remove pesticides; ideally, you would soak cucumbers in a soda and water solution11.
However, it’s probably safer to just offer conventional cucumbers peeled. Whenever possible, opt for organic cucumbers and offer them with peel intact.
Cucumber seeds are – just as the peel – more nutrient-dense than the rest of the fruit12. There is no reason not to feed cucumber seeds to your rats, as they are just as healthy as the cucumber itself.
Can Rats Eat Pickles?
Pickles are very salty and therefore not an appropriate snack for pet rats. If your rat accidentally eats a bit of pickle, there shouldn’t be any harmful effects, but it’s best to generally omit this food from their diet.
What Foods are Toxic to Rats?
Not all foods that humans consume are safe for rats. Did you know that chocolate can be toxic to rats? Generally, foods that contain a lot of sugar are not suitable for rats. While not immediately toxic, they have detrimental health effects including obesity.
Any fried, heavily processed, or strongly spiced food should also be avoided.
When in doubt, keep it clean – rats do well with a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables, as well as a pellet mix tailor-made for rats.
Have a look at our other articles on fruits and vegetables that are safe for rats.
- Can Rats Eat Celery Leaves & Stalks? Is It Safe Raw & Cooked
- Can Rats Eat Carrots? Are Raw, Cooked & Carrot Tops Safe?
- Can Rats Eat Broccoli? Raw or Cooked is it Safe?
- Can Rats Eat Spinach? Is It Safe or Toxic? A Vets Advice
- Can Rats Eat Blueberries? Are Fresh, Frozen & Dried Safe?
- Can Rats Eat Strawberries? Flesh & Tops, Fresh or Frozen?
- Can Rats Eat Watermelon Flesh, Seed & Rind: How Much is OK?
- Can Rats Eat Apples: Fresh or Dried? Are Seeds & Skin Safe?
- Can Rats Eat Bananas? Are the Peels, Chips & Bread Safe?
- Can Rats Eat Tomatoes (Cherry/Grape)? What About the Sauce?
- Can Rats Eat Bell Peppers: Green, Seed, Raw – Are They Safe?
To Sum Up
Cucumber is good for rats and can be fed to them frequently. Avoid offering large amounts, as they could cause diarrhea due to the water content. If you have organic cucumbers, you can offer them unpeeled.
1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central – Cucumber, with peel, raw. 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168409/nutrients.
3. Bügel S. Vitamin K and bone health. Proc Nutr Soc 2003;62:839-843. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15018483/.
4. 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/.
5. 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/.
6. Kumar D, Kumar S, Singh J, et al. Free Radical Scavenging and Analgesic Activities of Cucumis sativus L. Fruit Extract. Journal of young pharmacists : JYP 2010;2:365-368. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21264095.
7. Guelinckx I, Tavoularis G, König J, et al. Contribution of Water from Food and Fluids to Total Water Intake: Analysis of a French and UK Population Surveys. Nutrients 2016;8:630. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27754402.
8. Roman-Ramos R, Flores-Saenz JL, Alarcon-Aguilar FJ. Anti-hyperglycemic effect of some edible plants. J Ethnopharmacol 1995;48:25-32. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8569244/.
9. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central – Cucumber, peeled, raw. 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169225/nutrients.
10. Leili M, Pirmoghani A, Samadi MT, et al. Determination of Pesticides Residues in Cucumbers Grown in Greenhouse and the Effect of Some Procedures on Their Residues. Iranian journal of public health 2016;45:1481-1490. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28032066.
11. Yang T, Doherty J, Zhao B, et al. Effectiveness of Commercial and Homemade Washing Agents in Removing Pesticide Residues on and in Apples. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2017;65:9744-9752. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.7b03118.
12. Mukherjee PK, Nema NK, Maity N, et al. Phytochemical and therapeutic potential of cucumber. Fitoterapia 2013;84:227-236. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23098877/.
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.