Eating the same thing all the time gets boring, even for rodents. Feeding pet rats and mice a special treat now and then offers a way to give them some of their favorite foods without letting them overindulge or ignore a balanced diet. There are plenty of treat sticks for sale at any pet supply store, or you can try whipping up a homemade batch of treats.
Commercial Treat Sticks
There are dozens of treat sticks on the market, but it can be difficult for pet owners to judge just how safe these treats are for their pets. The following treats are recommended for their restricted use of chemical preservatives and sugar, as well as their inclusion of healthy foods and vitamins.
Henry's Peanut Stix
Rats and mice love peanuts, and they're one of the first things they'll pick out of the average seed and nut mix. While peanuts can be a healthy food, eating too many can make your pet obese. It's better to reserve them for treat time only.
Henry's Peanut Stix are made with peanuts and whole grains. The company also claims these treats do not contain sugar, sodium, soy, artificial coloring or preservatives.
The package directions instruct pet owners to feed one stick a day as a treat, but you should still keep an eye on your pet's body condition. If he appears to gain too much weight, you should cut back on the treats to just a couple times a week.
Willow Gardens Pretzel Sticks
Treats can be tasty and still serve a purpose. Rodent teeth grow continuously, so these small pets need to chew a lot to wear down the excess growth and keep their mouths healthy.
Willow Gardens Pretzel Sticks are made from 100-percent natural willow, and they provide excellent chewing action for your pet. Chewing is a natural behavior that also helps rodents relieve stress, so keeping one or two of these sticks available helps create an enriched environment where a rat or mouse can live a little more naturally.
VitaVerde Banana Treat Sticks
Another treat that provides a safe outlet for chewing, VitaVerde Natural Treat Sticks are formulated for specific types of pet rodents. The banana treat is made for rats and mice, and contains dehydrated bananas, as well as honey, seeds, grains and vitamins.
These treats do contain calcium propionate as a preservative, but it considered safe for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Homemade Rodent Treat Sticks Recipe
Not only is it less expensive in the end to bake treat sticks, you have the added advantage of knowing exactly what goes into them. Give the following recipe a try, and see how easy it really is to make fresh treats for your furry little friends.
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup cornmeal
- 2/3 cup dried fruit mix
- 1 tablespoon hulled sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup banana juice
- 1 teaspoon corn oil
- Preheat oven to 250°F.
- Combine all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, adding the liquids last, and mix together with your hands.
- Shape the dough into individual sticks about the size of your pinky finger.
- Lay the sticks on a greased cookie sheet about 1/2-inch apart.
- Bake about 40 minutes and turn off the oven, but leave the tray inside until the oven is cool. Removing the excess moisture this way will make the sticks very crisp and good for chewing.
- Store the treats in an airtight container, or freeze and pull out a few sticks as needed.
Variety and Moderation
Offering treats spices up your rodent's life, and this benefits his mental health, as well as his tummy. Pick a few different types of treats, and be sure to rotate them so your pet doesn't get a chance to become bored with them. Also, keep in mind that treats should never replace a balanced diet for your pet. Fed in moderation, treats can enhance your rodent's life without any ill effects. If you go overboard with them, your pet is going to need a vet.