Feeding Treats to Small Mammals


January 2nd, 2014

Apart from just feeding the dry complete mixes of food to mammals and birds, other foods can be fed to add nutrition and variety.  Feeding the foods mentioned below will also provide essential vitamins and minerals, which will help prevent nutritional deficiencies, as many animals are fussy eaters and do not eat all of their dry food.  Fresh foods can be fed little and often and variety is important as digestive upsets may occur.  

Offering these foods helps build a trusting relationship between animal and human if offered in small pieces by hand. 

Fruits and Vegetables

As we know, lettuce has hardly any nutritional value and can cause diarrhoea, which can be fatal; and avocado is highly toxic to parrots and can mildly be toxic to other mammals and birds so it is best not to feed this either. 

Most other fruits and vegetables can be offered, cooked or raw depending on the type.  All fresh foods must be rinsed with clean water and fed fresh daily, or bacterial growth will develop that would be harmful if ingested.  Remember not to feed degu’s fruit, as this can cause diabetes!

 If large groups of animals or birds are housed together they can be given larger pieces of fruit or veg so they have to work at it to get bits off.  You can do this for single animals and birds too but watch they don’t eat too much!  Feeding it this way can help prevent boredom and keeps teeth and beaks trim.

Who Like's What...

Nearly all fruit and vegetables can be offered, but as mentioned above do not feed lettuce or avocado.  Raw potato isn’t very good to feed, as it is too starchy, lemon or lime are also not ideal, as these are too citric. Onions and vegetables from the same family are also not a good idea to feed.   

Birds seem to like many different fruits, especially hand reared birds, whereas your herbivores (hay eaters, like bunnies and guinea pigs) are best suited to vegetables rather than too much fruit.  Most small rodents seem to like a little bit of both fruit and vegetables.  If an animal doesn’t like what you have offered, then try something else.  Many animals are not brought up on a large variety of fresh foods so do try them all until you find what they like. 

Fruits to Try

Apples, pears, banana, grapes, pomegranate, cherries and mango, also strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and currants.  All dried fruits can also be offered too such as raisins, currants, banana and papaya.

Vegetables to Try

Sweet corn, peas, beans, carrot, cabbage, broccoli, parsnip, celery, tomato’s, cucumber, spinach, baby corn, mange tout, bell peppers (with the seeds removed), water cress, pak choi and curly kale. Vegetables should if possible be offered raw.

Other Foods to Try

  • Freshly picked and rinsed dandelion leaves, chickweed and grass can also be offered to all mammals and birds. Be careful where you gather these from, be aware of the risks of pollution. The safest way to provide your pet with these yummy items it to grow them yourself in a safe and clean environment.
  • Dried brown bread until it is really crusty is a favourite for some mammals, especially for rabbits and guinea pigs. These should be fed only as a treat in small amounts. 
  • Natural cereals like shredded wheat can be fed too, most breakfast cereals that do not contain lots of sugar are usually fine as a treat in small amounts. 
  • Omnivores like hamsters, gerbils, rats and mice enjoy cooked meats and insects as they would naturally eat insects. Giving them the odd dried mealworm or slither of cooked chicken usually goes down well. 
  • Boiled eggs are a big winner with hamsters. Egg is high in protein and very palatable. Be careful not to over feed and only give a treat in small amounts. 
  • Some omnivorous birds also like cooked meat left on a bone, and cooked pasta and rice now and then can  also be offered.  Dairy products like cheese and natural yoghurt can be fed in tiny amounts, as they are high in calcium. 
  • Hard dog and cat biscuits can be offered to omnivorous mammals and to birds too. Why not try Canagan or More? High in meat content for that extra yummy goodness. 
  • Sprays of millet that you feed to birds can be given to all mammals too; the smaller mammals appreciate millet more than the larger animals, as the seeds are too small. 
  • Most seeds and grains can be offered to small mammals and birds like hemp, sunflower seeds, nuts in shells, plain canary, millet seeds, mixed corn, maize, barley, dried peas and many more.
  • For yummy treats that are low in  sugar and packed with natural goodness, check out our Naturals range from Rosewood, free from artificial colours, flavours and additives these treats give your pets everything they could possible want from a treat but in a healthy way.

What Not to Feed

Alcohol, fizzy drinks, tea or coffee, sweets and chocolate can be harmful so shouldn’t be given to animals or birds at any time.