Food & Water
A water bottle is definitely better than a bowl because in the bottle the water will stay clean. Use dechlorinated water. Be sure to check the bottle regulary to make sure it is working properly and isn’t leaking. Water should be changed every two days or so.
A good rat food has a well-balanced base that makes up a large proportion of the diet. By base I mean the main thing that the rats are eating. The best bases I know of are lab-blocks and Nutro Lite dog food.
If you drop by most pet stores there are usually two options for rat food – seed mixes and lab blocks. Seed mixes are not a good option for the majority of your rats’ diet. Most of them contain a lot of dried corn which isn’t good for rats and small animals because it can be contaminated by fungus which produces toxic byproducts (mycotoxins). Secondly, if your rats are fed a seed mix they will always pick out the highly fatty seeds and leave the less desirable ones. This leads to an unbalanced, deficient diet high in fat. If a child was given a dinner that always consisted of gumdrops, jellybeans and broccoli we all know what the outcome would be. As a supplement given every once in a while seed mixes are fine to give to your rats (but pick out the corn first), but they are not a good choice for the main diet of your rats.
Lab blocks look like large pieces of dog food and have been formulated with rodents in mind so that they are well balanced nutritionally. Protein should be 16% or lower (this is true for all rat food). If a food is too high in protein it can cause skin and other health problems. Lab blocks (and Nutro Lite dog food) are a good base for a rat food and can be supplemented with seeds and fresh veggies. I usually give my rats small portions of the vegetables, rice or potatoes I have for dinner. As their main diet, my rats get a mix of lab blocks and Nutro Lite dog food.