The Rat-besity Epidemic
There is an outbreak of cataclysmic proportions in the rat community. Scrolling through instagram I have noticed that many of our pet rats seem to be quite chubby, too chubby. We don’t do it to hurt them, but because we love our pet ratties so much, we tend to overfeed them to an unsafe degree. There is an old saying that you always hurt the one you love, and in this case, it's very true. I am guilty of this myself. Sometimes I reward my little critters with fattening snacks simply for being so darn cute. I can’t help it. I truly just want them to be happy, but I now find this method of treating my rats to be misguided. We all need to educate ourselves on the proper way to feed our rats and treat them to the lifestyle they deserve. Rat-health information is widely available if you know where to look.
In many cases the testing of rats is unforgivably cruel, but if I may put a positive spin on this scientific trend, it should be noted that as rat owners we have a wealth of knowledge about our critters that is not afforded to the owners of different animals. These experiments, however cruel, can give us significant insights into the minds and bodies of our beloved pets. I will implore you to look into some of the research that has been done on rats and obesity. One study, that I found quite interesting, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3482633/) details how there are several different models of rat obesity that are pertinent to rat owners: cafeteria diet-induced obesity and high-fat diet-induced obesity. The “cafeteria diet” simply means that rats are offered a wide variety of food. The study states that “rats become obese when offered a varied and palatable diet which mimics the so-called Western diet of humans.” Simply put, our rats overeat because we give them too many options. Imagine that you are at a buffet, you undoubtedly are going to fill your plate to the point of spilling over because you want to taste everything available. You will probably go back for seconds and then desert. When faced with a plethora of food choices, rats have the same predictable behavior. New foods are exciting to humans and rats alike, so it is best to use restraint when introducing new foods into your rats diet. The research also concluded that rats with no choice of food exhibited reduced meal size and frequency.
The alternative diet that this study finds to be a cause of rat-obesity is a high-fat diet. High-fat, low-carb diets are a popular diet trend for humans today, but this scientifically unsubstantiated pop science trend does not translate well to the physiology of rats and other small rodents. Rats with high-fat diets were found to experience unhealthy changes to their insulin sensitivity, leptin sensitivity, and intercellular signaling pathways. These changes occurred only several days after high-fat exposure. The increased dietary fat also showed a causal correlation to the amount of fatty tissue that the rats carried.
Based on this extensive study, which drew from decades of research, it seems that rats benefit most from a low-fat diet with restricted food choice. If you believe that your rat is obese or overweight, I would first recommend weighing them. Female rats should weigh between 230 grams to 400 grams, and male rats should weigh between 300 grams to 600 grams. If your rats fall above this safe weight, it is imperative that you put them on a diet
Here at igotrats.com, we do our own independent research. Many of you have unknowingly participated in several studies. We have found through extensive statistical analysis that over half of our followers admit to having overweight rats. Bear in mind that this data was gathered through self-reporting, so there will be a significant percentage of people who are in denial about their rat’s/rats’ weight problem. We estimate this number to be around 10% to 15% conservatively. This puts the obesity percentage of our rats at 65%. What a disappointment we are. Something’s gotta give. One of our polls found that over 75% of your rats prefered cheese to broccoli. Although cheese might seem fine to treat your rat with, it will harm them in the long run given that cheese is a high-fat food. Rats do not live long lives, and feeding them poorly will only shorten their time here with us. A sedentary lifestyle may also be a contributing factor to your rats obesity, and that is why at igotrats.com we have a limited time sale on rat leashes. Now you can get your rat out of the cage and walk him/her. Sounds fun right? Well, I can assure you that it is. Please DM us photos and videos of you walking your rat and we just might feature it on our account. We want to encourage more of this healthy activity. Thank you for the support, guys. See you next week with a new blog for Rat History Month. Say “hi” to your rats for me!