Owning rats, or as some say, being owned by rats, is a journey. For me it began with being intensely rat-phobic to where I am now, rat-obsessed (ok, i admit it).


Review: The Scuttling Gourmet (2nd edition)

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I was interested in this book when I first read about it on the Shunamite Rattery website (the owner, Alison Campbell, is the author), but because it is located in the U.K. I didn't order it. If you are on that side of the globe, the website has several sources that stock it linked at the bottom of the page.

I recently discovered that Linda from The Crafty Rat has it here in the U.S. and is reselling it for $15.00, so I purchased one from her. She doesn't have it listed on her site, so she may have a limited number of copies available. (update 11-5-05: Linda informed me that she has added it to her website. She also passed on an interesting link to a breeder feeding rats a natural, raw diet, Sparticles Rattery.)

I am so happy I bought this book. I've been trying to read as much as possible on the web and elsewhere to figure out what a nutritious rat diet would really look like. I've found that there is a lot of conflicting information out there and much of the information has no explanation so that you cannot really make an informed decision.

This book is very thorough and goes into detail outlining the nutritional needs of rats at different stages of development and with specific medical conditions. There are several examples of good diets and healthy snacks and lots of recipes. There is also a fun section on food toys.

And there was also important information that i'd never heard or read before. One example is that mango flesh is as dangerous as oranges to male rats because of the d-limonene which can cause kidney cancer (more info about d-limonene and male rats can be found here).

Lots of people say "just feed lab blocks, then you don't have to worry". I've always felt that approach was wrong somehow, but didn't know how to argue against it. I like this author's philosophy. It is gratifying to see that a well-known and respected breeder feels that the pleasure that rats get from eating is reason enough not to feed just lab blocks and that rats can eat healthy and enjoy their food.

As a large person who is trying to eat healthier, I see it as the rat taste equivalent of the difference between a "Jenny Craig or Slimfast"-type diet compared to a well-balanced diet, high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with minimal and healthier snacks, and more exercise.
It is my personal belief that 'balance' should be interpreted as feeding a diet wide and varied enough to provide overall balance, rather than needing to find a homogenous, pelleted diet, where every mouthful contains the same balanced nutrients (but also the same flavour, smell and texture)...Like us, rats are omnivores, who naturally eat extremely varied diets. They also seem to derive a great deal of pleasure from eating.

-Alison Campbell
My only suggestions for future volumes would be an index and reviews of commercial mixes that are available in the U.S (oh, and maybe a couple of blank pages for notes to add interesting information such as ways to grow and feed sprouts - *thanks Linda).

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