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Plant Based Diet and Protein

I recently welcomed additional rat family members!  3 gorgeous siamese does!  They’re only 7 weeks of age at present so I’ve been gradually adapting them to what I feed my own girls here as they come up to 8 weeks of age.


I’ve been using the mix that the breeder gave me and have just started adding in my own mix in the last couple of days.  Besides the dry mix, the babies also get some Lily’s kitchen cat food and some dried mealworms for added protein.  I must say, as a vegan, the smell of the cat food makes me feel nauseous but I didn’t want to shock my girls into an all plant based diet at this stage.  They get the meat every other day so far but I’m adding in plant based alternatives as well such as chick peas, peas, chlorella, hempseed, lots of kale etc.   Eventually, these plant based protein foods combined with a good variety of mineral-rich fruit and veggies will provide all their protein needs for healthy growth and maintenance well into their adult lives.


Here is some nutritional data for one of the protein foods I use, chlorella

Also, chlorella contains a substance known as CGF (chlorella growth factor) For more information see here

Nutritional data for chlorella – the recommended daily intake in this table is for humans

Tables sourced from

Macro Nutrients In Chlorella
Macro Nutrient Percent
Protein 58.4
Fat 9.3
Carbohydrate 23.2
Fiber 0.3
Ash 4.2
Moisture 4.6
Calories 411 cal/lOO gm
Protein (per 100 grams)
Source Grams
Chlorella 58 gm
Beef 24-27 gm
Chicken 24 gm
Fish 18-29 gm
Wheat 13 gm
Eggs 13 gm
Rice 3 gm
Potatoes 3 gm


*Essential amino acids
Chlorella’s Amino Acid Content
by Percentage
Amino Acid Percent Amino Acid Percent
Alanine 4.3 * Methionine 1.3
Arginine 3.3 * Phenylalanine 2.8
Aspartic acid 4.7 Proline 2.5
Glycine 3.1 Serine 2.0
Glutamic acid 5.8 *Threonine 2.4
Histidine 1.1 *Tryptophan 0.5
* lsoleucine 2.3 * Valine 3.2
* Leucine 4.7 Others 11.4


*Daily intake of 3 gm chlorella provides 4 mcg of vitamin B-12, 70% of the U.S. RDA.
Chlorella’s Vitamin Content
(mg per 100 gm)
Vitamin mg/100 gm Vitamin mg/100 gm
A (activity) 51,300 IU C 10.4
B-1 1.7 E 1.5 (less than)
B-2 4.3 Folic acid 0.09
B-6 1.4 lnositol 132
B-12* 0.13 Niacin 23.8
Biotin 0.2 Pantothenic acid 1.1
Chlorella’s Mineral Content
(mg per 100 gm)
Source mg/100 gm
Calcium 221
Iodine 0.4
Iron 130
Magnesium 315
Phosphorus 895

Interview With Kim Sheridan on Plant Based Diet for Rats

The Natural Rat wishes to thank Kim Sheridan for the following interview on plant based eating for rats.



Q: How long have you been feeding vegan rats and what do you feel are the benefits?  Have you seen any longevity effects, improved health etc?

A: I’ve been feeding rats vegan for over 15 years now. I feel the benefits are twofold:  1. No other animal has to suffer in order to feed my own beloved companion animals. In other words, my actions don’t cause other innocent animals to suffer in ways that I’d never wish upon my own loved ones.  2. While I initially felt that the vegan ratties would be able to live just as long as rats fed a non-vegan diet, what I’ve actually discovered over the past 15 years is that vegan rats actually tend to live longer, healthier lives than rats who are fed animal products.

Q: How do you manage to achieve an overall balanced diet for vegan rats? What are the main food groups you feed daily to achieve this balance?

A: It’s really quite simple to achieve a balanced diet. As long as they get a good variety of organic veggies and fruits, along with some grains, a small amount of seeds, and other vegan protein sources, they do great! Variety is the key, and this could be said for any dietary regimen.

Q: Do you regularly include a source of EFA’s in your rats diet?  Which ones?

A: Their main source of concentrated EFA’s is in the form of whole flaxseeds, which we grind up and put in their breakfast most mornings. They also get the EFA’s that occur naturally in the whole, organic foods they consume, including the superfoods in their morning Mush.

Q: Many rat owners feed a staple dry mix as part of their rats diet.  Do you include a grain/seed mix as the dry aspect of the diet?

A: Not anymore. I used to think it was necessary, but now I realize it was just a habit engrained (no pun in intended!) in me by the pet food industry. Organic oats mixed in their morning Mush, and the occasional serving of organic rice, millet, buckwheat, or quinoa – or a bowl of hot-air-popped popcorn (a special weekend treat) – is the extent of their grain consumption. Flaxseeds are their main seeds, and they occasionally have other seeds such as chia or sunflower seeds. But I keep seed consumption pretty low, as seeds are high in fat. Rats don’t have gallbladders and are susceptible to fat-induced tumors, so I keep their dietary rat consumption very low.

Q: Can you tell us what some of the staple foods are that your rats enjoy?

A: For breakfast, they have Green Mush mixed with purified water and one or more of the following: Mashed organic banana, Organic aflatoxin-free peanut butter, organic oats, organic flaxseeds, and/or a little bit of gluten-free miso.

Q: Do you include any bee products eg bee pollen, raw honey?

A: Bee products are not a regular part of their diet. However, occasionally, if I have access to some truly cruelty-free honey from a bee caretaker who does it right, then the ratties might indulge in some sort of honey-sweetened homemade treat. I’ve actually mostly used cruelty-free honey (and yes, there is such thing as cruelty-free honey, thankfully) for medicinal purposes. Mixed with cinnamon, I’ve used it successfully for a rescued rat with ringworm and one with cancer. Please note: Just for the record, this is not a medical claim; I don’t wish to be harassed by the Medical Cartel. This is merely an anecdotal firsthand report of a real life experience.  ;)

Q: Many people feel meat is necessary for rats because they would eat it in the wild.  What reasons do you feel support NOT feeding meat to pet rats?

A: I could go on at length about this. First of all, companion rats are not in the wild. They are in captivity, so they have the luxury (hopefully) of eating whatever their human caretakers choose to feed them. They are no longer in survival mode, so basing their diet on what they’d eat in survival mode is somewhat irrelevant, other than just making sure they get all their basic nuts-and-bolts nutritional requirements. But the main thing is, rats really don’t eat very much meat in the wild. They are omnivorous, meaning that they’ll eat whatever they can get for survival. You’ll never see a rat going out and attacking a cow, yet many commercial rodent foods contain dead cows. And you’ll never see them sucking on a cow’s – or a goat’s – udder, yet such milk products are often touted as necessary for rats. The main animal products that rats actually tend to eat in the wild are insects. However, insects often carry parasites (not to mention the fact that they feel pain, too), so we’re all better off leaving them in the wild! The protein obtained from eating an insect (or any other animal product a rat might come across in the wild) is better obtained from high quality plant-based sources. This includes algae products such as spirulina and chlorella (which are included in their morning Mush), beans, nuts, and seeds. Ratties love these foods, and they’re extremely healthful, so there’s no deprivation or suffering going on here!  ;)

Q: Rat kittens need extra protein and fat in the rapid growth phase, how do you do this vegan style?

A: I actually do it the way nature intended. I make sure their mama has plenty to eat, and then I let mama’s body produce the perfect rat milk that is intended to give ratties the perfect kick-start in life. Then, as they wean off their mama’s breast, they just start eating the same foods she does. Over the years, I’ve taken in quite a few rescued pregnant mamas, put them on our healthy vegan diet, and watched as they’ve raised healthy litters of babies who have gone on to live especially long, healthful lives.

Q: Do you include superfoods or supplements in your rats diet?  What are they?

A: I feed them Green Mush daily. It’s their main supplement/superfood/staple. My husband and I originally developed Green Mush over 15 years ago when we took in a rescued rat named June. I’d had many rats while growing up, but she was the first rat in my life after I met my husband. By then, we were already vegans ourselves and determined to feed June vegan as well, so we developed Green Mush specifically to make sure all of June’s nutritional requirements were met on a vegan diet. When she first arrived in our lives, she was already old and not in the best of health. After a short time on Green Mush, she had a “second youth” – her once-sparse, greying fur grew back full and thick and dark and shiny, and she thrived into very old age. Based on June’s incredible turnaround, a friend of ours asked if we could make some of June’s mush and bottle it for her own ratties, and before we knew it, Green Mush had become an actual product. It has gone on to nourish hundreds of other rescued ratties – and other companion animals – over the years, and we’ve received some amazing testimonials.

Q: What dietary adaptations do you make for elderly rats, whose ability to chew food may decrease with age?

A: Well, their Green Mush is already soft; and I just make sure their fruits and veggies are chopped or mashed in such a way that they get their fill before the younger rats get a chance to stash it all away.

Q: Do you think many common ailments with pet rats are down to incorrect diet eg. kidney damage, HLD?

A: Yes, I do. While there is some genetic component, which has been aggravated by generations of laboratory experiments that have altered the gene pool in some cases, there is a lot that comes down to nutrition. Kidney damage in particular is related to a high consumption of animal products. As an example of a superior vegan protein, spirulina is actually GOOD for the kidneys and reverses the damage; whereas animal-based proteins CAUSE kidney damage. As for HLD, I’ve only seen a few cases of it over the past 15 years, and it was always in rats who lived an unusually long life. It seems that, if they live long enough, there might come a point where the hind legs start to give out. I’ve never seen a vegan rat drop dead instantly of a heart attack or stroke. On a healthful diet, they tend to just live a long, long time and then slowly wear out.

Q: Do your rats eat a mainly RAW vegan diet?  If they have cooked food, can you tell us what you include?

A: Yes, their diet is mainly raw. Their morning Green Mush meal is raw, and they also get fresh, raw organic juice, salad, and fruit every day. If they do have cooked food, it’s usually at dinnertime when they might partake in some steamed veggies, grains, beans, or popcorn. But not every night. It’s more of a weekend treat.

Q: What are your thoughts on soya?  Soya is often recommended for vegans, do you think it is a good protein source for vegans?  Do you feed it to your rats regularly?

A: As long as it’s organic and non-GMO, soy is a great food. It’s gotten a lot of bad press, but if you trace the source of much of this, you’ll discover an anti-soy marketing campaign originally driven by the meat and dairy industries, who don’t like competition. GMO soy, on the other hand, is just as bad as any other GMO food. But organic soy is a great source of protein. While the rats enjoy the occasional organic tofu lasagne, tempeh chunks, or edamame, it’s not a regular part of their diet. But they do consume miso, which contains organic soy. Soy actually has many great health benefits, including balancing hormones and helping to prevent mammary tumors, so I think it’s a shame that so many people have been duped by the tremendous anti-soy campaign out there in the alternative health arena.

Q: Many folk feeding their rats a vegetarian diet include eggs, what do you think of eggs as a suitable protein source for veggie rats?  It’s often included for it’s vitamin D and B12 as well.

A: There are a lot of problems with eggs, besides the cholesterol. They have been linked to hormonally based cancers, and they have all of the other problems associated with animal products, including kidney damage, parasites, and the risk of other food borne illness. The best source of vitamin D is the sun. If the ratties never get any sun exposure, then it can’t hurt to give them a little bit of vegan vitamin D2 (contrary to popular belief, D3 is NOT superior) mixed in their food several times a week
just for safe measure. As for B12, I’ve never had an issue. My ratties get all they need from consuming their daily Green Mush. But again, if a person is concerned, then they could always add a little bit of B12 to the rats’ food several times per week for safe measure. It can’t hurt, and it avoids all the risks (not to mention cruelty) associated with eggs. But a truly healthy functioning body produces all the B12 it needs in the gut and doesn’t need to get it from an outside source.

Q: What condiments do you use to flavor your rats food/meals?

A: Well, they get a little bit of Celtic sea salt and/or nutritional yeast flakes on their occasional popcorn; and they get a little bit of miso on some of their other foods. That’s about it. They love everything we feed them, so it’s really never been an issue.

Q: How do you balance the yin/yang, sweet/savoury aspect to your rats diet?

A: Well, their morning Mush tends to be either sweet or savory, depending on what we mix into it on any given day. Mid-day they have veggie juice. And at dinner they have both salad and fresh fruit. For snacks, they might have a bowl of soaked/dehydrated buckwheat, other grains, sea veggies, or chlorella tabs. We keep a variety of plates/bowls of such foods and juices in their dining area, and this variety seems to satisfy whatever cravings they might have.

Q: How would you help a rat needing to gain weight?

A: I’d probably mix a bit of extra mashed organic banana and/or organic aflatoxin-free peanut butter (which we make low-fat by pouring the oil off the top of the jar when we first open it) into their Mush. I might also give them a small amount of organic avocado, although I don’t overdo it because of the fat content.

Q: What might your rats eat in a typical day?

A: Again, they start with a big dish of Green Mush for breakfast. For lunch, they have veggie juice. For dinner, they have more veggie juice, along with a salad (containing a variety of veggies, which we vary each day) and some fruit (again, we vary this each day) and usually a bowl of some other treat, whether it be chlorella tabs or dehydrated buckwheat or popcorn, to enjoy
throughout the night.

Q:  You’re a very busy woman!  Do you find feeding vegan takes a lot of food prep, are there any tips you can offer people feeding mainly fresh food?  Do you menu plan at all!?  Do you feed mono style?

A: Well, we usually make their breakfast/lunch in the morning while making the people food (which is pretty much the same: green stuff and juice). That’s also when most of the fruits and veggies get chopped up for the day. And the reason we made Green Mush was so that all of their superfoods/algaes would already be mixed up and ready to serve. Then, at dinner, while we’re preparing our own food, we also prepare theirs. So it’s really just a matter of incorporating their dietary schedule into our own (or vice versa, I suppose). I used to menu plan – such as oats and sunflower seeds on Monday; buckwheat and chia seeds on Tuesday; etc., etc.) but that just got a bit tedious after awhile. So now I just make sure we rotate the types of fruits/veggies they get each day, and that works out great. So I guess it’s not really mono style, although occasionally if I’m in a huge hurry out the
door, they’ll just get, for example, a bowl of mixed greens, a sliced banana, and a bowl of chlorella tablets to keep them fed throughout the day until I return home that evening. They’re just fine with that!

Q: Finally Kim, what do you feel about feeding vegan in general to our pets and why would you recommend this way of feeding?

A: Most people who have pets feel a certain love and compassion for their beloved companion animals. We only want what’s best for them, and we’d do anything to make sure they okay. When they get old and approach death, we often fall apart if we think they might be suffering; and we can struggle terribly over the painful decisions surrounding euthanasia. So if we can look into their innocent eyes and realize that they are sentient beings worthy of our compassion and respect, then we must remember that other animals out there are no different, whether they take the form of a rat or a cow or a chicken or whatever. They are also sentient beings who can feel pain and misery, loneliness and terror. The only difference is that we don’t know their names and they don’t live in our homes. But if they did, we would dote over them just as we do our own companions. Compassion is about making that connection. It’s about treating ALL animals with the same love and respect as we treat our own. And the bonus payback that comes from that selfless compassion is a longer, healthier life – for us AND our companion animals. (

Somebody from a forum wanted to ask you – ‘It is often recommend for vegans to mix foods like beans and rice to make a complete protein, is this necessary for rats?’

A: Actually, the whole beans and rice combo thing is a myth that was created and then dispelled years ago. It was originally suggested in the 1969/1971 book “Diet for a Small Planet” by Francis Moore Lappe. At that time, she mistakenly thought we needed to combine beans and grains in such a way as to best mimic the amino acid combination in meat products. That was because, back then, it was assumed that meat was a superior source of protein, and therefore, this was the preferred combination of amino acids for our own consumption. That book was read by a LOT of people, so the idea made it out into the mainstream. Afterward, it was discovered that it is not at all necessary to combine beans and grains in such a way as to mimic meat. As long as a person eats a varied diet, which includes a variety of essential amino acids eaten over the course of a day or a week – but not necessarily all in the same meal – we thrive. And this is easily accomplished by eating a vegan diet that incorporates a variety of different foods, without giving any thought at all to specific combinations. Ms. Lappe actually explained this in a future book, but apparently that one didn’t reach as many people, so the original myth stuck. Again, it was based on a now-outdated notion that we need to mimic meat in our diet in order to be healthy. What has since been discovered is that we are far healthier if we DON’T eat meat or try to mimic it in our diets. It has been proven in long-term vegan humans (such as myself for almost 25 years), vegan dogs (the oldest one I’m aware of lived to be at least 27), and for the past 15 years, in vegan rats (who tend to live an average of a year longer than their non-vegan counterparts). Long live vegan ratties!  :)

Your Pet Rat Can Benefit from Reiki

Crystal Loves Reiki

Crystal Loved Reiki

Peaches Enjoys Massage from Mummy Nicola Bennett Taylor

Peaches Enjoys Massage from Mummy Nicola Bennett Taylor


You may have heard of ‘Reiki’, a Japanese system of healing that conducts ‘universal energy’ or ‘ki’ (life force) normally through the hands of the practitioner along with the ‘intention’ for healing purposes.  Reiki is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative healing support for any health issue and has been proven to have positive results.

There have been many studies carried out to test the efficacy of ‘reiki’ in humans and animals.  If you carry out some research, you will find them.   I find it upsetting to read the animal studies because they usually involve a control group that are subjected to the negative effects of something or other.  So, I am not reproducing such studies in this report but if you want ‘evidence’ on reiki and it’s benefits to animals, you can google it.  Also see ‘resources’ at the end of this article.

For the purposes of this article, I would like to share my own experiences with rats and reiki.

I am certified in reiki 2nd degree and I also have a Diploma in Animal Energy Healing.  I started out simply by practising ‘hands-on-healing’ with my rats, because I knew that hands-on healing has been in use for thousands of years as a healing modality.  We all know how healing it is when a friend puts their hands around our shoulders or gives us a cuddle.  Physical contact with another living system, whomever they are, has a healing effect.   Only, with the reiki system, there are ‘attunements’ given to a practitioner to enhance our connection and sensitivity to available ‘energy’ for healing.

Once I had the reiki attunements, I noticed that I could feel the energy in my hands much easier and could feel the rats were absorbing the healing energy.

I’ve been sharing reiki with my rat friends for around 3 years.  I was particularly interested in learning about reiki for use with my rats initially, and found it to be a very practical asset to my studies in Animal Energy Healing.  The reiki further enhanced my own understanding and practical experience of being a ‘conduit’ for Universal Life Energy, and how we can access this magnificent resource that is completely natural and part of everyday existence.

The reason why people find it hard to believe in ‘energy’ for healing is really because we cannot see it but we can feel it and witness it’s positive effects on the recipient.  In fact, when you are sitting casually with your rats on your lap and they are bruxing away as you stroke them, they are already accessing wonderful healing energy through you and your love for them!  I feel that reiki is UNCONDITIONAL LOVE in action.

When I first started learning reiki, I was more interested in how it could help my rats and also help me improve and maintain my own wellbeing.  My first experience was with Mindy.  She was a beautiful sweet agouti girl who always licked my fingers when I rubbed her bum!  At 22 months of age, she took a respiratory infection and things weren’t looking that good.  So, I sat with her most of the time holding her in my hands and I felt that she relaxed and found comfort in the healing energy.  It was my early stages with reiki so I wasn’t sure if I was doing it ‘right’ or helping at all.  I spent Mindy’s last night with her in my bed, with my hands around her which I felt helped to keep her warm as her vital signs dropped.  At 5.15am I suddenly awoke, gasping for breath.  I got up and drank some water and tried to calm myself down.  When I got back to bed, I checked Mindy and could see she was taking her last breaths.  I held her in my hands and asked for healing light and the Angels to surround her and guide her home peacefully.  Within a few minutes of doing this, she quietly left her body.  There was no struggle, she just let go.  I feel that I was ‘awoken’ just in time to be with her and she wanted to say goodbye and have me just Be with her in a state of love.  I have since found reiki to help me ‘tune in’ this way to my ratty friends intuitively when they need me most.  I feel it helps us to communicate more effectively with our animals because we are receiving information in the silent space that reiki creates.

In the days that followed, Mindy brought me various gifts, something I have witnessed time and again with my rat friends.  I had wrapped her body and decorated the container with lots of love hearts and written ‘I love you’ and ‘thank you’ all over it.  I thought about adding stars but just didn’t have the room.  After I buried Mindy’s body, I was walking home and suddenly noticed something on the pavement before me, shining.  I picked it up and was amazed to see that it was a sterling silver ‘star-shaped’ brooch with a love heart in the centre!  Coincidence?  I don’t think so anymore.  These kinds of occurrences have been happening for some time since I have become more sensitive to healing energy and felt a deeper connection with my ratty friends. I have also felt ‘blissful’ states of being in meditation that I am sure my rat friends share with me from the ‘other side’.  And there are always messages in small details that seem uncanny, I’m sure you may have experienced them yourself?

A few days later after Mindy’s leaving, a card came through the door with the words ‘thank you’ written all around the envelope just like I had done with Mindy’s container.  The card had a red rose on the front.  The postcode of the sender included the letters (code) ‘NRG4U’!  Since I was grieving at the time I felt Mindy was sending me a beautiful red rose which is traditionally thought of as very healing, which it was for me at the time. And when I read that postcode, it all made sense; ‘energy healing for you’!  It’s amazing when we look a little beyond the obvious, that there are signs and communications all over the place if we can see them with our hearts.

My second ratty reiki teacher was Crystal.  Since I had moved on a little with my reiki development by now, Crystal became my first real ‘client’!  She loved reiki.  She would come up to me for ‘reiki’ and lie for quite some time, going into a trance-like state and her body becoming so relaxed that I wondered if she was still alive sometimes!  That’s how relaxing reiki can be.  So, we spent many times together sharing reiki and I feel that when it came her time to pass at 26 months, the reiki helped her to gently let go.  She had been in a sleepy state for over 5 days before she peacefully left.  And of course, I had been stroking her gently and sending her love and reiki all the time.

In the days that followed, we received shortbread made by Scottish company ‘Crystal’s Shortbread’, real crystals and a reiki candle made by ‘Crystal’s Journey Candles’!!!  I would sit holding this beautiful candle which had a lovely healing quote on the label, and felt it was Crystal’s gift to me to help me feel peace through the grieving process.  So often there is guilt and blame after a loss and the message on the candle was about self-forgiveness and compassion and moving forward.  And so Crystal was my first great animal reiki teacher, allowing me to see how rats really appreciate the healing power of reiki.  But, it was also little Susie who first showed me that hands could conduct healing energy long before I ever encountered reiki!  All of the rats have been amazing teachers in their own individual ways with their own unique lessons in healing.  I could go on and on.  It seemed appropriate to acknowledge little Susie’s contribution in my reiki journey here. J

It seems the rats who have enjoyed reiki the most, have an easier time passing over.  They are very relaxed and know they are going to a place they have already ‘touched’ and somehow already experienced through the ‘spirit’ of reiki here in the physical.  I feel that reiki definitely acts as a ‘bridge’ to the non-physical spiritual world.  And it often feels like our animal friends become reiki Angels for us and can send some healing energy back here to help us when we are grieving.  It truly is amazing to witness. I am very grateful for the benefits of reiki in my life with my animal friends.

I strongly recommend you all try it and even if you don’t have the reiki attunements, you can still sit with your rats, and simply ‘ask’ for healing energy to come through your hands, along with your loving thoughts and healing intention anytime.  Let the rats show you how much they enjoy reiki!   They will often groom and lick your fingers afterwards J






Article copyright Anabrese Neuman May 2014

Chia Seed Porridge



This morning I decided to try something different for the rat’s breakfast.  Have you heard of chia seeds?  They’re tiny seeds that absorb a lot of water and turn into a gelatinous texture, resembling frog spawn!  However, they are a wonderful super food packed with essential fatty acids and minerals.  I had some left over wild rice from last night so decided to make a rice pudding and add some chia.  I only used around 2 teaspoons chia seeds because they expand.  I made hazelnut milk quickly by blending up the nuts with some water and straining.  I poured enough over the rice and chia to cover well and added some coconut palm sugar for sweetener.  I warmed this gently in the saucepan until the chia had bulged.  I served to the rats and also stirred in a little barley grass for added protein and milky flavour.  You could add a little cinnamon if you and your rats like it.  I omitted it this time round.  The rats really loved this especially Kitty who seemed to be at the bowl for ages happily eating.

The chia seeds and barley grass added some protein to the rice.  I think it’s always good to add some protein at a predominantly carbohydrate meal, this will satisfy the rats and means you can use less carbs.  Too much emphasis on carbohydrates can lead to weight gain and so it’s better to balance the carbs with some protein at each meal.  The rats give chia seeds the thumbs up.  They are enjoying the chia on it’s own too with the milk.  (see info below for more about chia)



  • Chia is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, boron, niacin.
  • Contains all essential amino acids
  • Vitamins B, D & E.
  • 20% protein by weight
  • More digestible protein than beans, soy or peas.
  • 8.7 times the omega-3 in wild atlantic salmon.
  • 5.4 times the calcium in 2% milk.
  • 2.7 times more iron than raw spinach.
  • More antioxidants than blueberries.
  • Mucin – reduces inflammation in digestive tract.
  • Chia seed contains large amounts of B vitamins and calcium. In roughly two ounces of chia (100 grams), there are 600 milligrams of calcium, contrasted with 120 milligrams of calcium in the same amount of milk. That’s five times as much calcium than milk!
  • Chia also contains boron, which is needed for bones. With much of the nation’s soil boron depleted, we simply are not getting enough boron in our daily diets. Boron is needed to aid the metabolism of calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus in bones and for muscle growth. Boron also can increase the levels of natural estrogen.

Chia seed has hydrophilic properties, and can absorb more than 12 times its weight in water. Because of this, Chia seeds can prolong hydration, helping retain moisture and regulate more efficiently the body’s absorption of nutrients and body fluids, including electrolyte balance.

Omega-3 Acids

Chia seed has higher levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) than flax seed. ALA is an essential acid because it is not produced by the body. In fact, chia seeds have the highest known whole-food source levels of Omega-3 acids, as measured by percent of weight. These oils, unsaturated fatty acids, are the essential oils your body needs to help emulsify and absorb the fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E, & K. When there are rich amounts of linoleic acid sufficiently supplied to the body through diet, linoleic and arachidonic acids can be synthesized from linoleic acid.


If you have any comments or have used chia before, please add them below.

Take care for now,



New Beginnings, Ratties House Move, Living By The Sea!

"Surfer Rat" by Kathy Clemente

“Surfer Rat” by Kathy Clemente


Hello!  It certainly has been a while since I posted and I apologise for that.  I have had a change of location and become single again within the space of a few months. The ratties are all taking it in their stride of course whilst I deal with the mayhem of unpacking and organising our new home together.   My girls and boys did get a nice new cage though, an SRS (savic royale suite) and a nice cage it is too.  Still getting used to the slightly noisy springy door handles but apart from that, my darlings and I are very happy with it.

I hope you are good and 2014 has been a happy year so far for you.  I reckon I will be busy settling in for the next month but after that, I intend to get straight back to writing informative articles and books for you about caring for your ratties holistically.  It really is a passion for me to share lots of supportive information that can help you heal and take care of your rats by yourself as much as possible.

We are living by the seaside now and it is very beautiful here on the Scottish Isle of Bute.  I’m disappointed that mine and the rat’s diet isn’t very ‘organic’ due to a basic lack of that type of produce.  However, it has been winter and we are nearly in the spring and I look forward to buying organic food from the local growers Bute Produce.  So, a pesticide detox may well be in order at some point!  Actually, I think I’m getting one just now since I’ve only been able to take liquids this week.  And there will be an abundance of wild food once again in the Spring/summer/autumn which I’m looking forward to.  I’ll let you know what wild pickings the rats will be sampling.

Since I’ve been here I made friends with a portrait photographer who has been taking some photos of the rats.  My crew were all over the place not sitting still as they were supposed to, so there is going to be another session sometime in the near future, hopefully some photos will be with their mummy too!  I’ll share them with you when they are ready.  So, that’s been really good fun and the photographer thought the rats were ‘cute’.  He may even use a large framed photo to promote pet portraits in his gallery, so will keep you posted about that!

So, that’s really all from us for now,  I look forward to writing more soon


Take care



Healthy Rat Tips for The Holiday Season

Faith Sarah Selley

courtesy of Faith Sarah Selley


With the holiday season almost upon us, I thought I would share some tips for those of you who are leaving the rats at home whilst you go out to socialise.


First off, the rats are in their cages 21 hours a day, so they really do enjoy those precious few hours with you in the evening to get out and stretch their legs.  It’s a good idea to give them enough ‘in-cage’ entertainment whilst you’re out partying.  Here are a few ideas:-


  1. Having an indoor wheel and other exercise toys are always a great idea and a big enough cage to run up and down in if you are frequently away from home for the odd night.
  2. Provide plenty of fresh fruit, raw vegetables and extra water bottles or small bowls of herbal tea for refreshments.  It’s a nice idea to make it a challenge for them to find their food to keep them busy, with the exception of any elderly more infirmed rats who will need to have food more readily available.
  3. A digging box is great fun and keeps rats well entertained.  Wheatgrass is good but if you’re not using soil, try just using a storage box and filling it with shredded newspaper and material.
  4. Whole nuts in their shell keep rats occupied for quite some time so you could even put these in toilet tubes and then wrap these up in newspaper like a xmas cracker.
  5. Left over wine corks are plentiful this time of year, they are a rats favourite for shredding.  You can tie some together on a string and hang up in the cage.
  6. A xmas stocking stuffed with newspaper and goodies is a nice boredom breaker


For more entertainment ideas, go to


Health Tips


Keep a bottle of rescue remedy handy for any emergencies, I have found this useful if a rat is sickly or highly strung for whatever reason.

If your house is hosting all the festivities, be mindful of too much noise or excitement affecting the rats and try to give them some piece to settle and sleep.  If moving them to a quieter room is easy for you to do, it’s probably a good idea to do so you’re not upsetting their routine too much.  We want to minimise stress whenever we can with rats as this lowers their immune system.

Remember to feed their vitamin supplements and supply medicinal herbs such as pau d’arco, Echinacea , oregano and thyme.

Remember to still keep doing your daily health check-in with your rats to catch anything early.

Have your first aid kit easily accessible

Remember to put candles out if you’re free ranging your rats.


Xmas Snowballs Recipe



1/2 cup dates

1 cup almonds

1 tablespoon shredded coconut

Pinch ginger

Soak the dates in warm water for around 10 minutes.  Grind up the almonds and coconut in a nut grinder and empty into a food processor.  Strain the dates and add to the food processor  and process with the ground nuts until you have fudgy mass.  Add a little water if necessary to bind. Take small amounts and roll into little balls, roll in more dessicated coconut to finish.  Store in the fridge and feed small amounts to the rats for a treat.  You can eat them too!

Optional – add a 1/8 teaspoon of spirulina to the ground nuts.

I like to make rat sized ‘snowball’s’ and add them to their xmas cracker along with other treats.

Other treats you can add to your xmas cracker include:- whole nuts, dried herbs like a sprig of thyme, pine cone, pine nuts, shredded coconut, raisins, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, willow sticks

Enjoy the Holidays!!!

Ahoy – Island Rats!

"Surfer Rat" by Kathy Clemente

“Surfer Rat” by Kathy Clemente


The rats and myself have been at the coast for nearly a month now.  Their daddy has some personal commitments and is taking the opportunity to do some indoor house painting.  So, it’s just been me and the furry crew enjoying some time out at my flat on the beautiful Isle of Bute, Scotland.


We have all been having fun and the rats have enjoyed exploring a new environment with lots of bumpy wallpaper to shred when mummy isn’t looking!  They were fine in the kitchen until they found a way through the kitchen cupboard that led to some piping that is part of my boiler system!  I wasn’t very happy about that and told the girls they were B.A.N.N.E.D. from the kitchen for good!  They were happy to ‘make do’ with shredding the bumpy wallpaper instead. Fortunately, most of their ‘artwork’ is behind my voiles and curtains so any visitors will be none the wiser. :-)


I have been surprised here by the locals lack of balking when I mention that I have rats. It is very refreshng to say the least!  Mind you, on reflection, I’ve only mentioned the R word to men so far.  Wait ‘til I tell the ladies! J


Incidentally, I bought some nice Christmas mice/rats in a lovely shop today and was disappointed by the noticeable absence of any tails!  I mentioned this to the lady and said that we were being short changed.  I thought I would find some wool and sew on some tails – got to give the rats their tails J  The nice lady reminded me of DIY expert and homemaker Linda Barker or even Anthea Turner.  I think it’s just as well I didn’t mention the R word. The little ratty Angels are very cute though and she said that maybe they didn’t have tails because they had wings – quite a fair point and intelligent excuse!


Something that happened since I’ve been here was that the SSPCA have been inundated with a massive ratty rescue comprising of over 40 rats needing rehomed.  There are so many little beauties needing homes.  If you are able to help out, please contact the SSPCA


So, I ran out of substrate and hemp litter and managed to find some wood based cat litter after a week of using shredded paper.  And, I’m finding the furret plus cages awkward for cleaning, I am so used to my explorer.  I have also tried to bring a little of the ‘seaside’ into the rats sensorial experience by bringing in some driftwood and pebbles.  The girls and boys enjoyed chewing and sniffing the driftwood.

The local radio station Bute FM played my Christmas CD which is nice.  Of course I didn’t mention that the main track ‘I Live In Christmas’ was inspired by my first rats!  That was how I felt and still do.  When I wake up each morning and go into the living room and see all my furry friends waiting to greet me and play with me, it feels like Christmas IS EVERYday.  It might sound corny, but it’s true for me. Is it true for you?

View/listen to my ratty inspired christmas songs below

I Live In Christmas

All As One (Fancy Rats Love Christmas Video)


And with that thought, Christmas is just around the corner, it has suddenly come upon me this year!  The rat calendar I wanted to create has been harder than I thought, purely because it takes time getting to know software and I still want to be spending most of my time writing informative articles for you. Still, I will do my best and see if I can get it done!  Thank you to everyone who has entered their photos, and at the very least, I will feature the winning photos on the Natural Rat page during 2014. View the winning photos here


What else?  I feel I have bonded more with my two little blonde girls since I’ve been here which is lovely.  They have always been a bit shy but I am happy they are enjoying coming up to me more now. They are such sweethearts. The boys have taken to sleeping under the sofa where they have built their nest. I really don’t want to have to clean that up!  Goodness knows what they’ve got stashed away in there.  I’ll let them enjoy it a little longer  before the big clean up :-)


The natural landscape here is spectacular, I’ve been enjoying walks along the beach although it rained almost constantly for two weeks when I first got here.  And then George also left us which was very sad.  I grieved profusely but he did give me some lovely signs in the days that followed that all was well and he was ok.  I am so grateful for these gifts and communications in Spirit they filter though to us from the other side.  The remaining brothers have gained a new found freedom as they didn’t have much use of the cage before.  I got a message that it was ‘the right time’ and I am grateful George just seemed to gently cross over and slip out of his body into the spirit realm. I was with him at the time.  I dedicate this article to George, my beautiful, gentle licky boy, I love you so much!


I have had to improvise with food as the rats mix is getting low now.  I bought some muesli and hempseed and I’ve made them spelt pasta with spirulina and barley grass which they love, thank goodness.  I’ve got a small dehydrator here which has come in very handy indeed. They’ve also been enjoying their usual fayre :- veggies, pasta, wild rice, peas, rye bread with coconut oil, oatcakes, green smoothie, and Kitty loves her garlic sticks!  Not all the food is organic because it’s harder to get here but the kind growers here at Bute Produce give me lettuce (for my ‘pets’) as the girls really love their lettuce and it’s rich and mineralised unlike the kind in the supermarket.  If you’re away from home, try looking under the ‘baby food’ section in the supermarket as they often have organic snacks.  I found ‘wotsits’ made from organic corn and carrot powder, some of the rats liked them, some didn’t. Breakfast is often a little smoothie with a small dish of sunflower seeds, hempseed, oatcakes, chlorella tablets and garlic sticks.


I am going through a lot of paper here, I usually recycle but I am having to put out lots of rubbish bags regularly.  I am using lots of newspaper!

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about our wee Island adventure and if you’d like to post comments or share your holiday experiences/tips with your rats, please do so below.

That’s all for now, as we continue to enjoy ourselves by the seaside,

Anabrese and the ratties xx

Dedicated to George xxx

How To Boost Your Rats Immunity

As winter approaches, it’s important to turn our attention to how we can boost our rat’s immunity against infection and give them the best defence possible during what is often a vulnerable time for rats, especially the elderly.

High humidity, coupled with the cold can create the conditions that affect the respiratory system of a vulnerable rat.  This is due to the increase in the water element which can aggravate mucus conditions or those susceptible to them.   It’s important to be aware that there is a greater need to balance the water element within the bodily system at this time, so that we can increase the body’s ability to cope with damp and coolness.

In Ayurveda (an ancient Indian healing system based on maintaining balanced health), there is more aggravation of the water element during the winter months. There is a tendency for more mucus conditions to flare up.  Therefore, it’s important to try and offset this tendency by creating ‘internal’ balance within the body whilst adjusting ‘external’ conditions to lower stress.   We can do this by addressing the environmental factors that may aggravate a watery condition e.g.  by using a dehumidifier, also avoiding sweet wet food, reducing stress and incorporating various immune building strategies (as suggested below).

Some rats are more affected by an aggravation of the water element than others, especially those who have already been having recurrent respiratory issues.  These rats are going to be more susceptible at this time but it’s important that all rats will need some extra help during this season.

Following are some ideas for you to help boost your rats (and yours too) immunity.   I always recommend and personally use human grade supplements because I believe that the whole family’s health is where the focus needs to be on.  Many of the supplements created in the pet industry are not that great and have a certain ‘novelty/profit’ value.  I feel it’s wiser to seek out better quality supplements that we ourselves would be happy using and then just ‘tithe’ some of these to our rats.  Our rats need us to be healthy to look after them so I figure it’s better and less wasteful to buy the kind of supplements that we can all benefit from J


Stress is a big factor in the body’s defences becoming rundown.  Often rats are under stress because of group incompatibilities or other factors.  Something we can do is to make sure we’re not putting rats, especially older rats under any undue stress during the winter season e.g. we can avoid big changes in their routine during this time i.e. avoiding new intros to other rats or changing cages/group dynamics etc.   Avoid mating/breeding as females would naturally be conserving their own energy during this time.  If you’re thinking that our rats are indoors and therefore not affected by the seasons, it’s simply not true.  They are energetic beings and intrinsically linked to the greater whole.  They are affected by the bio-rhythms of nature even if they are not ‘in’ nature.  That is why people can see the effect the moon has on their rat’s behaviour.   And why solstices and equinoxes often create a portal for many animals to take their transition.   It’s all in the web and flow of energy, yin and yang.

In nature, animals are hibernating at this time of year or keeping close to home, they are not in ‘breeding’ mode.  Nature knows it’s a time to withdraw and harness as much energy as possible for building reserves and keeping up resistance to the cold.  It is a natural ‘build and rest’ time, which is why most of us put on a few extra pounds during the winter/holiday season!  The energy is needed for keeping warm and the focus of heat is within.  The trees shed their leaves in the Autumn so that they can keep the sap for sustaining themselves during winter.

You might notice how your rats sleep more in the wintertime, this is their way of conserving energy and keeping in tune with the ‘slowing down’ of nature.  The time will come again in Spring when they emerge from their slumber and return to heightened activity levels again.  I’m not saying they don’t play, far from it!  I’m just saying that levels can fluctuate according to environmental factors/seasonal shifts.  There’s always a lot more activity around a full moon, for example.  Therefore, by being aware of environmental stress/seasonal shifts and making adjustments accordingly, we can help further boost immunity for our rats over the winter months.


A whole food diet of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, especially those rich in chlorophyll such as kale will supply vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemcials that will help to protect against cancer and also boost the immune system.  Think in terms of availability as in seasonal, organic fruit and vegetables and if you can provide a good ‘rainbow’plate of these, it will cover most of the nutrients needed for balanced health.   Here is a list of some of the essential supplements you might want to consider adding into their diet.

Multi-vitamin/mineral – always a good back up to provide essential vitamins/minerals that might otherwise be lacking in the diet.  I wouldn’t use them daily though.  Overuse of vitamin supplements is easily done and wasteful.  Just add them in when you feel they need a boost.  Otherwise, if you’re feeding a diet rich in fresh produce, simply use vitamin/mineral supplementation as you feel necessary.    I would think they are more essential for young growing bodies and elderly rats.

Omega 3, 6 and 9 (a good oil such as cool oil, flax or hemp oil will provide a rich source of these), as well as hempseed, flax and chia.  Flax and chia seeds absorb many times their amount when soaked in water.  I don’t recommend giving them dry to rats.  You can grind them up first and just add pinches into food or use them in biscuits etc.  Or, soak them first and use them in your recipes.  If you already use these, please comment below as to how you use them, I am interested and I’m sure it would be useful for other readers to know. J

Selenium (a good source is brazil nuts) stimulates the production of natural T-cells which fight viral and bacterial infections.  Selenium helps to make antibodies and in my studies, I have found it to be one of the essential minerals in cancer prevention.  I like to grate brazil nuts over the rat’s dinner or pasta like ‘parmesan’

Vitamin C – We all know that vitamin C supplementation is recommended for humans but rats are apparently able to manufacture vitamin C themselves.  Although I’ve heard this, I still think any extra vitamin C they are able to get will only be beneficial and indeed, if you are feeding fruit and vegetables, they are already getting a reasonable supply anyway.  I feel it’s just good to be aware and if you want to give them rosehip tea or something, then go for it.  I just bought rosehip/hibiscus tea for myself and the rats are enjoying it too.  I sweeten it with agave and dilute it a little and they are enjoying slurping it during free range.   So, just because they can make vitamin C, I wouldn’t hold off giving it to them anyway, you can’t go wrong! And recent studies have shown that very high doses of vitamin C are needed to ward off cancer and other viral infections.

Echinacea – It’s the echinacains in Echinacea that boost the immune system by promoting the activity of white blood cells which destroy bacteria and viruses.  There have been many studies done with Echinacea and it seems that it really does help to protect against colds and viruses.  I use capsules and just mix a little of the powder into food.

Probiotics - help to regulate the acidity in the gut and promote the proliferation of friendly bacteria thereby preventing the ‘unfriendly’ bacteria from multiplying.  They also produce natural anti-biotics, encouraging the immune system to produce anti-bacterial antibodies.  A lot of people feed yoghurt because of the probiotics but yoghurt is mucus and acid-forming as well as possibly having various hormones and vaccine variables from the dairy industry.   I don’t advise it for rats.  You can buy the probiotics themselves and add a capsule to a nut milk and then use that in your food preparations/meals.

Immunity boosting supplements – there are many ‘ready-made’ immune system supplements now available that contain things like medicinal mushrooms, vitamin C, astragalus etc.   These blends can be quite useful.  You can take them yourself and add small amounts into your rat’s food.

Iodine – this is my ‘must have’ supplement.  It tastes foul so I only put a few drops in my own smoothie or milk and then share a little of that with the rats.  Other ways of adding iodine into your rat’s diet is by providing a good variety of sea vegetables or by using a little kelp powder in food or the soaking water for pulses/wheatgrass.   In rat studies, iodine was shown to prevent tumours developing and has natural immune boosting properties.  It is anti-viral and anti-bacterial.  Many of the additives in our food deplete iodine from the body and so it is essential to add it back in.  I will be writing more about iodine later.

Thyme – my rats like to nibble on fresh thyme so I hang a little sprig in their cage.  Thyme has thymol as an active ingredient which is very good for clearing mucus passages and it also has anti-viral properties.  You could try making thyme tea as well for any rats with sniffles.  I have also put thyme in a little bowl of boiled water and the steam that comes from this can help any poorly rat with respiratory issues.

Pau d’arco – a Peruvian tea that helps builds resistance to infection and boost immunity.  I like to have this in good supply for my rats.  It helps to address candida and has been recommended for cancer prevention.  It has anti-viral properties.

You can view the above items in ‘Immune Building’ in the Store and read more about their benefits.  If you have any questions, please use the comment box below.


Consider the ‘stress factor’ in your rat’s lifestyle and work out how you can reduce it

Become ‘environmentally’ aware regarding the seasonal changes and prepare ahead

Feed a wholesome diet rich in ‘rainbow’ foods

Incorporate supplements as you feel necessary, especially immune building ones

Think how you can boost immunity and keep doing that (the lifestyle/dietary considerations mentioned above and herbal teas etc)


I hope you find this article useful, if you wish to add a comment below or tell us what you think about any of the points made, you’re very welcome

Ignoring Warnings – GMO

It always amazes me how people in the rat community ignore studies relating to something that has been shown to have negative health effects on their rats e.g GMO foods, and yet, they are happy to go on feeding sub-standard food to their rats because, er, the rats LIKE it! You know, rats LIKE food, it’s a fact. But, what they don’t know is how that food is produced and the possible effects of the ingredients contained therein. So, recently, when I had mentioned about the French study where GMO corn was fed to rats and they produced massive tumours, the rat people turn around and say, “oh, that study is rubbish’, I’m going to feed the GMO nuggets because my rats like them!”

It really baffles me.. This is not the only study that’s been done about the possible hazards of GMO in the food chain.   Isn’t it sensible to take precautions in case there is some truth?


Why tamper with nature in this way?  As the saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broken, why fix it?’ Everytime we ignore nature, it’s usually to our peril.  How many lessons or even proof, do we need to take heed?  How many innocent rats have to be tested on and suffer to prove to humans what common sense tells us, if we only listen?

GMO hazards and rat study

It is surprising how much of the kibble available on the pet food market often have very fancy names or titles that suggest you are buying a top quality food for your pets.  A little research into these products and you find the truth is in fact, the opposite.   It is misleading to the public to brand kibbles with names such as ‘supreme’ ‘complete’, ‘super science’ this or that, when in actuality, the ingredients used are by-products that are rendered unfit for human consumption.   ‘Animal by-products (ABPs) are entire animal bodies, parts of animals, products of animal origin or other products obtained from animals that are not fit or intended for human consumption’.     Frankly, if a food doesn’t qualify to be suitable for humans, why would I want to feed it to my beloved animal friends?  It’s not so much that I probably wouldn’t enjoy kibble when my animal friends might, it’s the fact that the ingredients going into these foods are of very poor quality in the first place.  I always strive to feed a healthy wholesome diet to my furry companions as I believe the foundation of good health starts with optimum nutrition.

Do you read the labels?  I have had the time to study many of the ingredients of quite of few of these ‘super’ brands to find that the ingredients are usually very basic.  They are often nothing more than wheat, maize, soya oil, salt, yeast.  If that’s the super version, I wouldn’t like to see the basic brand!   A common manufacturers trick is to add just one or two interesting ‘natural’ ingredients, e.g. Echinacea, which we all know and recognize is good for our pets. It is usually last on the list, meaning it has only be added in minute trace amounts.  Sometimes, it’s another herb or an added vitamin, but it’s enough for the consumer to think they are buying a quality feed.  But on the whole, the base ingredients of the kibble mainly consists of extruded grains and meat that have been classified as unsuitable for human consumption.    So, many of these (not all, there are some ethical companies out there!) processed foods are made from recycled ‘spoiled’ crops and meat salvage which our furry companion’s can end up paying for with their health and you end up paying for in vet bills!

Many veterinarians are well aware of the connection between processed pet food and disease.  But sadly, they are also sponsored to promote certain brands through their practices.  There are more common diseases now than there used to be 40 years ago when people were feeding table scraps to their pets, i.e. home-cooked food.  There was very little that came in a packet back then.

Many of the meats that find their way into our pet kibble include hormones that are used on  animals to increase meat or milk production, various antibiotics and other drugs that are given to the animals.  Regardless of whether the foods are rendered, extruded or baked, these processes do not affect the potentially harmful ingredients.   And whilst the animals classed as ‘dead, dying, diseased or disabled’ are considered unfit for human consumption, they are still considered suitable ‘ingredient’s’ for pet food!  Not very pleasant is it?  I don’t wish to be feeding the ‘energetic echo’ of animal suffering or disease to my pets, do you?

Apart from the basic ingredients that go into the kibble, another concern is that it is a highly processed food with production involving high temperatures.  High temperatures disrupt protein molecules, damaging them, denaturing the proteins and preventing the protein from performing its function i.e. to build/repair cells
In the textbook “Essentials to Human Anatomy & Physiology”, Elaine N. Marieb writes:
“The fibrous structural proteins are exceptionally stable; the globular functional proteins are quite the opposite. Hydrogen bonds are critically important in maintaining their structure, but hydrogen bonds are fragile and are easily broken by heat and excesses of pH. When their three-dimensional structures are destroyed, the proteins are said to be denatured and can no longer perform their physiological roles.”


The protein in kibble is far from being ‘nature’s food’.   Nearly all animals in the wild eat their food in the raw state and studies have shown that raw food is healthier and easily assimilated by the body.   Plant-based protein is easily assimilated by the body, is enjoyed by rats and people alike and can be easily obtained without contributing to animal degradation.
Corn or maize is a common’ filler’ ingredient in generic dry mixes as its cheap and commonly available even though it can be difficult for animals to digest.   Corn boosts the protein count of pet foods while providing a high amount of calories in a difficult-to-digest pellet. The other risk with corn is if it has been genetically modified.  In a recent study in France, GM corn was shown to cause kidney damage among other issues in rats.

The French study reported the following findings after rats were fed genetically modified corn.

*Scientists found that rats exposed to even the smallest amounts, developed mammary tumors and severe liver and kidney damage as early as four months in males, and seven months for females.”
* Up to 50% of males and 70% of females suffered premature death.
* The study fed these rats NK603, the Monsanto variety of GM corn that’s grown across North America and widely fed to animals and humans.

This is the same corn that’s in your corn-based breakfast cereal, corn tortillas and corn snack chips.

Wheat, another common ingredient, is often stored for long periods, is prone to mould and is a common allergenic food for pets and people alike.  The gluten in the wheat can be problematic for many pets and people and it is another highly processed food.   Refined salt is also not healthy but it is often added to kibble, whereas unrefined salt such as Himalayan salt contains many essential minerals necessary for health.
What about soybeans?  It’s important to note that, while soybean meal is a common ingredient in vegetarian diets, many of our pets lack the amino acids that are needed to properly break down and digest soybean matter. Feeding your pet soybean-rich foods can actually lead to an increase in digestive problems, including the life-threatening condition known as Bloat.  The other issue with soya is also the risk of it being genetically modified.  If the label doesn’t say it’s non GM, then it probably is.  Also, look out for where it says ‘modified’ anything on the label because that may mean it’s genetically modified.  Many US brands/products don’t have to label GM content.


Nutitional Based Diseases
Many of the diseases and conditions that our pets suffer from may be the result of their current diets, especially if it is highly processed.  While many of these conditions may be caused by other factors other than poor diet, they can all result from what we feed our pets as well. Here is a list of the most common nutritional-based diseases and conditions affecting animal companions.
– Blindness
– Bloat
– Chronic Digestive Conditions (vomiting, constipation, diarrhea and Inflammatory Bowel    Disease)
– Dental Disease
– Heart Disease
– Obesity
– Urinary Tract Disease (UTD)
– Kidney Disease and Renal Failure
– Hyperthyroidism
– Contamination and/or Poisoning


So, how can we best ensure we are feeding our animal companions the best nutrition available to us?  Do your research and go with the companies that care about what they produce as food for animals.  Many people are starting to choose vegetarian options for their dogs and small animals where appropriate, or at least, include more ‘pure’ ingredients along with some fresh vegetable/fruits and other suitable foods relative to the species.

The safest alternative for those of us with small companions e.g rats, is to make your own museli-style mixes and supply plenty of organically sourced fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholegrains.

For full details of the French GM study, see


copyright Anabrese Neuman