Feeding African Pouched Rats

Two young Pouched Rats at thier food bowl

My rats have a wide variety of food and they seems very keen to try new things. Generally they prefer fruit to vegetables but they are always given both. Different rats have different tastes and what’s favourite with one individual wont necessarily be a favourite with all.

If I feed them the same things everyday they get bored of them and leave them so I rotate the diet. It isn't very easy to know what they’ve eaten because Pouched Rats hoard their food in stashes. They store food around the edge of the nest and in the corners of the cage. There is always lots of food in these stashes when I clean them out.

They always has fresh water available however as none of my rats have ever been seen drinking from a water bottle they are given a dish of water when they are out playing. They will occasionally drink from this but it appears they get most of their water from their food.


Pouched rat in nest eating

For breakfast they are hand fed a few live mealworms, mostly as a bribe to get them out of their nests, the main part of breakfast is a fruit and nut parrot mix with a pelleted rat food, such as Suparat, mixed in. The variety of parrot food changes but it always has a high nut and fruit content. They always finish up all the mealworms and then pick over the parrot mix for their favourite bits.

I scatter the food around their house and mix it in with their litter. This keeps them occupied as they forage for the food.

When training and socialising the rats I feed them monkey nuts by hand and as they get more confident they really seems to like to come and snatch them from me. They may let out delighted squeaks as they carry them back to their nest. They don't seem to eat the Monkey Nuts and when I come to clean them out, I find most of the monkey nuts intact. They seem to enjoy collecting them rather than eating them!

There is strong evidence that some nuts can be fatal to Pouched Rats. They should not be fed hazelnuts and the quantities of other nets should be kept to a minimum. The Exotic Keepers Forum has some vital information about the harmful effects of nuts.


When the rats are still growing they get an extra small feed at tea time. Between six and seven in the evening they get a small handful of sunflower seeds. I scatter these around the floor of the house and wake them up to come and collect them. Kali used to let out a little squeak every time she found one my other rats have been less appreciative and as they've got older they haven't bothered to wake up and collect the seeds at all. This usually happens by about four months old and shows it is time to stop the afternoon feed.


Playtime is the time the rats have their treats. The treats are usually small bits of walnut, cooked peas or flavoured dairy drops. I hide these around the play areas for the rats to find. A few are always in the same places but the rest are hidden in different places each time.

Pouched rat eating spinach

Pouched Rats are intelligent and get bored easily. To keep them interested the treats can be hidden under things, wrapped in pieces of paper or stuffed into wire cage balls. The rats enjoy these food puzzles and will very quickly work them out.

I also sometimes put out a small bowl of mealworms or a dish of tomato juice for the rats to tuck in to.


Last thing at night the rats have a small bowl of fruit and vegetables, see list in the next section. To stop them getting bored with their food I vary the exact make up from day to day. A few things remain favourites no matter how often they have them. They also enjoy small amounts of a few cooked items in the evenings left over from our meal.