Do Rats Need Hay?

There are many things that pet rats need throughout their lives, but there are also a lot of things that they don’t need too.

One of the things that usually comes into question is hay, so do rats actually need hay?

Rats do not need hay because it doesn’t provide any nutritional value for them and they won’t be able to digest certain types of hay to get any benefits from it either.

That being said though, there are some types of hay that you can give them for them to be able to use and play with, even though they don’t actually need it for something like nutrition.

Do Rats Need Hay?

Hay can be fun for them to play around and nest with sometimes, but rats don’t actually need it.

When it comes to their nutrition, rats don’t need it because they won’t really be able to get any nutritional value from hay.

So they don’t need to have it available for them to chew on or eat like they need their regular diet that they’re fed.

That means that there aren’t really too many benefits that they can get from having it given to them.

Plus rats can have a hard time digesting certain things and they won’t be able to digest most types of hay anyway.

The reason why is that their stomachs just aren’t designed for digesting it and they’re really not that used to having it available for them to have.

Most of the time some rats won’t even like to chew on it or eat it, they’ll just use it to play around with and mostly use it as nesting material.

But just because they don’t actually need it, that doesn’t mean that you can’t give certain types of hay to your rats every now and then though.

Some of them can prefer to have a little bit of hay mixed in with their bedding because it makes their bedding easier to mold to how they want it.

So while rats don’t need hay for any nutritional value, if you do decide to give some to them, just make sure to let them have it in moderation.

However, when you do that you’ll also have to make sure that you only give them the types of hay that are safe for them to have.

Is Hay Safe For Rats?

So rats don’t need hay for a healthy nutritional diet, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t have some of it every so often, but which type of hay is safe for rats?

Certain types of hay, like oat hay and timothy hay, can be safe for rats but only as long as it’s not too dusty for them.

The type of hay that should be avoided because it isn’t safe for rats is alfalfa hay because it can be bad for them and they won’t be able to digest it at all.

So if you do decide to give some of it to them, and they eat the hay that’s safe for them to have like oat hay or timothy hay, then it’s fine if they only eat a little bit of it.

That being said, it’s not something that you should keep in regular rotation with everything else that you feed your rats.

When it comes to your rats’ safety, one of the things that you’ll have to look out for is the amount of dust that’s in the hay that you give them.

The reason why you’ll want to look out for that is that too much dust can irritate their lungs which can cause health issues over time.

So if you do decide to get hay for your rats make sure to go with either the timothy hay or oat hay that’s high quality and as dust-free as possible.

There’s also another thing to look out for when it comes to their safety and that’s the small possibility that the hay can poke them in the eye.

This can happen if they’re playing around with it too aggressively or if too much of it gets in their way, so that’s also something to consider before getting hay for your rats as well.

How Much Hay Should You Give Your Rats?

When it comes to how much hay you should be giving your rats you basically shouldn’t be giving it to them on a regular basis.

They don’t need more than a handful of hay each time you take out and replace their bedding.

You can even try to give them slightly less than a handful of it and that actually might be a little better for them.

That way they have some of the hay available to them for them to be able to use it how they want to use it.

But they won’t have enough to cause unnecessary problems for them or get in their way.

They’ll mainly use it for nesting anyway, so you can add and mix just enough of it with their bedding that you already give them.


So pet rats don’t need hay to eat because there’s no nutritional value in it for them and it shouldn’t be their main source of nutrition.

Rats don’t digest hay that well, especially alfalfa hay, so if you do want to give some of it to them then it’s best to stick with oat hay or possibly timothy hay.

Owners that keep rats as pets don’t always give them only what they need though.

Because if that was the case, then that would mean that they would never have any of the extra luxury items that you could possibly give them to have in their cage.

So just because they don’t need it, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be given to them.

Because it can be used as nesting material that some of them can enjoy playing around with.

If you do give them hay then make sure not to give them too much of it, but just enough so that they can mix it in with their regular bedding, because that’s mainly what it’ll be used for anyway.


Hi, I'm Mason, I've kept small animals as pets since I was 8 years old. I love to learn and talk about them basically every day. Over the years I've adopted small pets like hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs.

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