Can Rats Eat Spinach?

Can rats eat spinach leaves? The short answer is yes! But you have to consider a few things to make the leaves a healthy treat. In this article, I’m going to break down all the important facts for you. After reading you will also know, why some rat owners are cautious with feeding spinach.

Can You Own A Pet Panther?
Can You Own A Pet Panther?
Can rats eat spinach?

Wild rats are omnivores and so are our beloved pets. Over the years manufacturers have developed several good rat food options, reaching from pellet blocks to mixed seeds, dried fruits and vegetables. No matter which of these versions you choose for your pet rat, you will also need to cater a variety of fresh foods. [1]

Is Spinach Safe For Rats?

You might have heard that spinach is a dangerous food for rats. Some rat owners have this safety concern because of the oxalates that it contains. Oxalic acid can harm the health of your critters when they eat too much of it. Most common are issues with the urinary tract and kidney stones.

That said, most likely your rats will do fine if you give the leafy green in moderation. You can also reduce the amount of oxalic acid by cooking the leaves. The amount of oxalates in cooked spinach is reduced between 30 and 87 % compared to raw spinach. [2]

Rats like everything they can chew on and so fresh spinach salad might be the tastiest choice you can make for your little friends. It’s upon you to weigh in the above-discussed advantages of cooked leaves. If you opt for the latter, leave oils and salt away.

Oil adds unwanted fat and you don’t want to get a heavy rat, right? Nearly everything contains salt so that there is no need for additional. None the less both are bad for your rats’ diet. 

How Much Spinach Can Rats Eat?

It is suggested that 20 % of a rat diet should be fresh food. Of course, this can’t all be spinach. So if the leafy green is on the list of food your fancy rats like you have to be careful to not feed too much. Offer it only once a week and in small amounts.

Cater a few leaves or, if cooked, not more than a teaspoon per pet. There are a lot of other fresh foods that can be mixed up with spinach. If you keep more than one pet rat in a single cage make sure that not one individual eats it all. 

Nutritional Value Of Spinach

Spinach is low in calories and fat and high in vitamins and minerals. Sounds like the perfect healthy treat, right? Below you find a table of the nutritional value of raw spinach per 100 g

  • Calories: 23
  • Carbohydrates: 3.6 g
  • Fiber: 2.2 g
  • Protein: 2.9 g
  • Fat: 0.4 g

All the values are from nutritiondata.self.com. Be aware, that values change if you cook the leaves.

As you can see spinach has some nutritional advantage. You don’t need to worry about the weight of your little friend. A high amount of fiber supports the digestive system and overall the tasty treat consists of over 90 % of water.

Let’s dig into the micro nutritions. Spinach is full of different vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B9
  • Vitamin E
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • and many more

Many of the contained vitamins function as antioxidants. These substances help to improve the immune system and are also known to prevent tumors. [3]

One thing that comes to mind is that the vegetable contains large amounts of both, iron and calcium. These minerals are essential for the well-being of your critter but also contradictory nutrients. This means that calcium reduces the ability to absorb all the iron while digesting. Because of this characteristic spinach is often referred to as an antinutrient food. 

Spinach Alternatives

Alternative vegetables for rats

Spinach is tasty for rats and a great occasional treat that most pet rats really enjoy. However, oxalic acids can have a negative impact on the health of your critter. As the diet should contain 20 % fresh food you are in the need for some alternatives. Luckily there is a bunch of vegetables and fruits that make an excellent treat:

As you see it is not difficult to find some healthy snacks for your little friends. Just make sure that you inform yourself well before you give your rats any new food. This way you will avoid feeding anything that is toxic. 

Wild rats are known to eat anything even our waste. That is not for pet rats. Everything you cater should be fresh, rotten food is for the garbage bin only.

Wrapping Things Up

Some pet parents are uncertain if rats can eat spinach. While there is an ongoing discussion about oxalic acid and its negative health influences, most rats have no problems at all eating the green vegetable. Oxalates can cause kidney stones and urinary issues when ingested in huge amounts.

That said, spinach has a lot of health benefits when served as an occasional treat. Giving it from time to time or once per week is safe and won’t do any harm. Additionally, many rats really enjoy chewing on the green leaves. 

If you are too concerned about oxalates, just cook the spinach before you give it to your rats. This will reduce the amount of the substance drastically. But have in mind that you don’t add oil, sugar or salt.