Can Rats Eat Cheese? – Is It Healthy Or Harmful For Them?

Rats love cheese! – is this reputation well-founded or just another lure about rats?

You might remember that there are dozen of cartoons with rats enjoying a big piece of cheese. Are these cartoons based on true facts or just made for fun?

In this piece of writing, you’ll find out the truth and provide the best for your pet rats!

Rats And Their Diet

Although their reputation of being dirty street animals is most common, domestic rats can be great house pets. Moreover, they can be very clean and quick learners.

rat's diet

These domestic rats typically eat a pelleted diet, fruits and vegetables. Since they are at risk for obesity, it is very important to monitor their daily food intake.

Since rats are omnivores, it seems logical to conclude they will eat cheese and enjoy it. Rats will feed on vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy products, and everything they manage to get their claws on.

Is cheese an exception? Let’s check.

Should Cheese Be A Part Of Rat’s Diet?

Cheese is the food that is mostly associated with rats, but do they like it? Of course, rats will eat the remains of human food, including cheese and other dairy products.

wild rat

Beyond any doubt, the favorite rat food is meat, since it contains all the nutrients rats need.

The myth that rats love cheese is actually just a myth. They will eat it like they will eat everything else, but it isn’t their favorite food.

The cheese won’t provide all nutrients rats need, and this is the info all rat owners should know. This means, they can eat cheese in small amounts, but this isn’t the healthiest food they can get.

Why Cheese Is Potentially Bad For Rats?

There are a few issues with cheese that can cause problems.

First, cheese is quite high in calories. A big problem with pet rats is obesity, so high-calorie food and snack should be limited for them. If your rat is already overweight, skip cheese as a snack.

cheese half

Second, a lot of salt in cheese. After sodium consumption, blood pressure goes up, so a low-sodium diet is healthier for pet rats.

Third, cheese with a sticky and soft texture. Since rats don’t have molars, soft cheese is a potential choking hazard for them.

Fourth, Listeria. Soft cheese can be contaminated with this bacteria that can infect rats, so avoid soft cheeses in general.

What Cheese Can Rats Eat?

While giving your rat cheese in moderation can be perfectly fine, it is still very important to know what kind of cheese they can eat.

Some people believe rats are lactose intolerant, but that isn’t true. After giving your rat a cheese snack, watch its behavior. If the result of cheese consumption is diarrhea or loose stool, then you should remove the cheese from his diet completely.

many cheese types

Give your rat hard or semi-hard cheeses that go through the washing process – they have less whey (that means less fat and lower lactose content). This kind of cheese is safe for rats.

Other cheese types safe for your pet rats are:

  • Gouda,
  • Cheddar,
  • Edam,
  • Emmental,
  • Appenzeller,
  • Goat cheese,
  • Parmesan
  • Vegan cheese (made of soy, less fat cheese)
  • Colby.

These cheese are safe for your pet rat because they come from cow or goat milk and don’t contain extra added ingredients. They are safe also as a part of a dish such as macaroni with cheese.

Actually, any plain milk cheese is okay to give your rat, since it doesn’t contain nuts, chili peppers or certain green vegetables.

How Much Cheese To Give Your Rat?

Of course, it is important to take care of the amount of cheese you want to give to your pet rat. If you give your rodent buddy too much cheese, that will cause some health issues, such as stomach issues.

Ideally, give your rat a small piece of cheese once a week.

What Cheese Can’t Rats Eat And Why?

You shouldn’t give them old cheese. Also, some cheese types are extremely toxic for rats, that includes blue cheese. This cheese is dangerous for rats because of mold that grows on it.


Stay away from soft and too creamy cheeses, they are too chewy for rats and can cause choking. Soft cheeses require molars to break down before swallowing. Rats lack molars, so they can easily choke with this cheese type.

Avoid these cheese, too:

  • Ricotta,
  • Gorgonzola,
  • Mozzarella,
  • Mascarpone,
  • Cream Cheese,
  • Cottage cheese,
  • Brie,
  • Feta,
  • already mentioned Blue cheese and
  • Queso.

Of course, there are more cheeses that aren’t good for rats. Always research before offering certain cheese to your rat.

What To Give Instead Of Cheese?

There is nothing wrong with offering your lovely rat a piece of cheese, but there are treats that are safer and healthier for it. Cheese is high in fat, so could be harmful to rats’ health.

apple slices

You can give your rat some fruit such as apple slices, peaches, and grapes. Also, they will love to eat hard-boiled eggs.

To Sum Up

Rats will eat everything they can find or you give them, which doesn’t mean they love that food. They are often considered cheese-loving creatures, but cheese should be given in small amounts and not every type of cheese.

Portia has a Bachelor’s degree in Management and experience in freelance writing. She’s an animal enthusiast who volunteered in an animal shelter where she has gained the knowledge and experience she uses while writing educational articles and reviewing pet products. After 6 years of work in management, she has joined the Petovly team and became an experienced writer. Spending about 50 hours per week on researching and discovering, she is always up to date with pet trends.