Raisins are a beloved treat for us humans – just like grapes are. We know that fruit is generally healthy for rats and should be a part of their diet.
So, can rats eat raisins? And what about fresh grapes? Is there a limit on how many raisins are healthy?
Overall, both raisins and grapes can be fed to your pet rats. They are rather high in sugar – especially raisins – and should therefore be offered in moderation. Dried fruit in general should be limited due to its very high calorie content.
Read on below to see how you can offer raisins to your rats, and how many are okay.
Can You Feed Raisins to Your Pet Rat?
Can I Feed My Rats Grapes?
Since raisins are dried grapes, it’s best to first have a look at the “original” fruit. Grapes are a healthy snack for pet rats and are loaded with nutrients1. They are a good source of vitamin K, which is involved in blood clotting2.
Grapes also provide good amounts of B vitamins, like thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamin B61.
They contain lots of copper, an essential mineral that is required for many processes in the body.
Grapes are packed full of antioxidants, such as quercetin, resveratrol, and anthocyanins. These compounds have been shown to reduce inflammation and cancer incidence as well as improve lifespan and general health3-6.
While grapes are quite high in sugar, their glycemic index is low7 – this means that the consumption of grapes does not spike blood sugar and is therefore not a problem for diabetic individuals.
For all these reasons, grapes make a great food for your mischief.
Just keep in mind that fruit should not make up the largest portion of your rats’ diet. Their fresh food diet should be heavy on the vegetables, with fruits being more of a treat, since they tend to contain a lot of sugar.
Also, the high water amount in grapes can sometimes cause diarrhea, so make sure not to offer too many grapes at a time. Half a grape per rat every day is usually enough.
Can Rats Eat Raisins?
So, if grapes are safe, does that mean that raisins are, too?
In theory, yes. Raisins do not contain any compounds that grapes don’t. They are, however, significantly higher in calories8. Since all the water has been removed from the fruit in the dying process, raisins are far more energy-dense than grapes.
Therefore, they should be offered even more infrequently than grapes. Raisins should really only be reserved as a special treat. One raisin per rat once a week is more than enough.
The good thing about raisins is the amount of fiber they contain. Dietary fiber helps regulate digestion and improves gastrointestinal health9.
Some sources describe raisins as a choking hazard to rats, though I’ve never found this to be a problem. If your rats tend to struggle with gooey textures, you might want to offer raisins in small pieces instead of whole.
If raisins are fine to feed your rats, you may wonder about other dried fruit, too. ‘
In general, if the fruit itself is good for rats, it can also be fed in its dried form. However, the same issue applies as with raisins: Dried fruit is just far higher in sugar and calories than the unprocessed fruit.
Since the bulk of the water has been removed, the filling effect of the fruit is also delayed. This can easily lead to overeating.
Dried fruit can be offered to rats, but only as an occasional special treat. Keep an eye out for added sugars in store-bought dried fruit, too.
A good choice of dried fruit is freeze-dried berries, as they tend to contain less sugar than other dried fruits.
Depending on the brand, yogurt covered raisins contain about 75 grams of sugar per 100 grams10. That means that they are three quarters sugar! That’s a lot.
Since raisins should already be offered in moderation, the yogurt covered version is best avoided altogether. If you must offer your rats some, really only give half a yogurt covered raisin every other week or so.
Can Rats Eat Raisin Bran?
Raisin bran contains raisins (obviously), whole grain wheat, wheat bran, and sugar in various forms. All of these ingredients are safe for rats. However, raisin bran is also high in sugar and calories and does not make the best snack for rats.
If you absolutely want to share your breakfast cereal with your rats, only offer them a very small piece of raisin bran occasionally. These types of processed foods should not be a staple of your mischief’s diet.
What Foods are Poisonous to Rats?
Some foods that are safe for humans are toxic to rats. Peanuts and peanut butter, for example, tend to contain high amounts of aflatoxins which can be problematic for your rats11-13. Chocolate is also toxic in high doses due to its theobromine content14.
Some vegetables are toxic if they are offered raw, such as beans, sweet potatoes, and potatoes. All of these are fine when fed cooked, though.
Mango and citrus fruit contain a compound that has been linked to kidney cancer in male rats, so these are best avoided if you have bucks in your mischief.
To Sum Up
Grapes are a good choice of food for your rats. Raisins are also fine, but higher in sugar and should therefore be fed only occasionally. Dried fruit in general is very high-calorie and its intake should be limited.
1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central – Grapes, red or green. 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174683/nutrients.
2. Ferland G. The discovery of vitamin K and its clinical applications. Ann Nutr Metab 2012;61:213-218. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23183291/.
3. Murakami A, Ashida H, Terao J. Multitargeted cancer prevention by quercetin. Cancer Lett 2008;269:315-325. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18467024/.
4. Stewart LK, Soileau JL, Ribnicky D, et al. Quercetin transiently increases energy expenditure but persistently decreases circulating markers of inflammation in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat diet. Metabolism 2008;57:S39-46. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18555853/.
5. Edirisinghe I, Banaszewski K, Cappozzo J, et al. Strawberry anthocyanin and its association with postprandial inflammation and insulin. Br J Nutr 2011;106:913-922. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21736853/.
6. Wahl D, Bernier M, Simpson SJ, et al. Future directions of resveratrol research. Nutrition and healthy aging 2018;4:287-290. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29951589.
7. The University of Sidney. Glycemic Index Research and GI News. GI Search. https://glycemicindex.com/gi-search/?food_name=grapes&product_category=&country=&gi=&gi_filter=&serving_size_(g)=&serving_size_(g)_filter=&carbs_per_serve_(g)=&carbs_per_serve_(g)_filter=%E2%89%B7=&gl_filter=.
8. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central – Raisins, dark, seedless. 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168165/nutrients.
9. Slavin J. Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients 2013;5:1417-1435. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23609775
10. Nutritionix. Yogurt Covered Raisins – 1 cup. 2016. https://www.nutritionix.com/i/nutritionix/yogurt-covered-raisins-1-cup/575ed55b1049f34055960254.
11. Ikegwuonu FI. The neurotoxicity of aflatoxin B1 in the rat. Toxicology 1983;28:247-259. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6138886/.
12. Wogan GN, Paglialunga S, Newberne PM. Carcinogenic effects of low dietary levels of aflatoxin B1 in rats. Food Cosmet Toxicol 1974;12:681-685. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/4375655/.
13. Norlia M, Jinap S, Nor-Khaizura MAR, et al. Aspergillus section Flavi and Aflatoxins: Occurrence, Detection, and Identification in Raw Peanuts and Peanut-Based Products Along the Supply Chain. Frontiers in microbiology 2019;10:2602-2602. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31824445.
14. MsD Vet Manual. Chocolate Toxicosis in Animals 2021. https://www.msdvetmanual.com/toxicology/food-hazards/chocolate-toxicosis-in-animals.
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.