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Can Rats Eat Cheese & Do They Like It?

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Rats can eat cheese, but it’s not their favorite food, as some people think. Not all types of cheese are safe for rats either. Cheese with dyes or spices is bad for rats, and they typically don’t like cheese that is soft or creamy.

Cartoons taught us that rats and mice love cheese and would do anything to get it. But that’s not the reality. 

Rats see cheese as any other food. They don’t consider it a delicacy, and they certainly won’t fight a cat to get to it.

Most cheeses are fatty and/or contain additives and spices, elements that are unhealthy for rats.

In the wild, rats will eat any piece of cheese they can get their hands on. But if you have a pet rat and want to take care of its health, you need to know what cheeses are safe.

In this article, you will learn if rats can eat cheese, what kind of cheese is safe for them, if they like it, and more.

Do Rats Like Cheese?

Yes and no. Rats do like cheese, but they are not crazy about it. They do not see cheese as a treat, as most people think. Rats prefer sweet foods, some vegetables, or meat instead of cheese.

Rats like cheese but it’s not their favorite food. If they had a choice between cheese and other things they like (such as meat or sweet fruit), they wouldn’t choose cheese.

They prefer fruits, some vegetables, and meat instead of cheese. 

Here are some foods rats like over cheese:

  • Small pieces of fruit, especially banana and apple
  • Green peas
  • Green beans
  • Boiled sweet potato
  • Corn (not dry corn)
  • Meat, especially bones
  • Mealworms
Do Rats Like Cheese

Can Rats Eat Cheese?

Rats can eat cheese, but not all types of cheese are safe for consumption. For example, blue cheese mold can be poisonous to rats. Cheeses that contain dyes or spices are also contraindicated. It doesn’t provide rats with the essential nutrients they need.

There are many types of cheese on the market, and some are not safe for long-term consumption. Most cheeses have added dyes, additives, or spices, all of which are bad for rats. 

Many kinds of cheese are also very salty.

Rats can eat cheese as long as it is plain:

  • No additives
  • No dyes
  • No mold
  • No spices
  • No large amounts of salt

Cheese does not provide rats with the essential nutrients they need to lead a healthy life, so an exclusively cheese-based diet is not recommended.

Here are some of the types of cheese rats can and cannot consume:

Cheese safe to eat for rats

  • Cheddar
  • Colby
  • Edam
  • Emmental
  • Goat Cheese
  • Gouda
  • Gruyere
  • Red Leicester
  • Muenster
  • Parmesan

Cheese not safe to eat for rats

  • American Cheese
  • Brie
  • Blue Cheese
  • Camembert
  • Cream Cheese
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Feta
  • Gorgonzola
  • Mascarpone
  • Mozzarella
  • Monterey Jack
  • Pepper Jack
  • Ricotta
  • Swiss

If you decide to give cheese to your pet rat, always offer small pieces in moderation. Excessive consumption of cheese in rats can lead to health problems.

Can Rat Eat Cheese

What Cheese Can Rats Eat?

Rats can eat all cheeses that don’t contain spices, mold, dyes, or additives. When feeding cheese to rats, go with hard or semi-hard cheese that doesn’t contain a lot of fat. Too much fat leads to gastrointestinal issues.

Rats can eat any kind of cheese, but that doesn’t mean that all types of cheese are safe or healthy for them. 

If you own pet rats and want to give them cheese, choose semi-hard and hard varieties. These cheeses are low in fat and lactose. 

Although studies show that rats are lactose tolerant[1], there are some individuals that develop digestive problems from the lactose in cheese. 

It is advisable to offer rats dairy products that contain little or no lactose as a safety measure.

Almost all plain cheeses made from cow’s or goat’s milk are acceptable if they do not contain spices or other harmful ingredients.

Here are some common types of cheese rats can eat:

  • Cheddar
  • Red Leicester
  • Sharp cheddar
  • Parmesan
  • String cheese
  • Goat cheese

Can Rats Have Cheddar Cheese and Red Leicester?

Can Rats Have Cheddar Cheese and Red Leicester

Rats can eat both cheddar cheese and Red Leicester cheese. Give your pet rat Cheddar or Red Leicester cheese in moderate amounts to avoid possible digestive problems.

Cheddar cheese is a natural semi-hard cheese obtained from cow’s milk. Red Leicester cheese is obtained in the same way as Cheddar cheese and is similar in both taste and appearance.

Can Rats Eat Sharp Cheddar Cheese?

Rats can eat sharp Cheddar cheese in small amounts in moderation.

Sharp Cheddar cheese is an aged cheese with a much more pronounced flavor than Cheddar cheese[2]. This type of Cheddar cheese is aged for up to a year to develop a strong flavor.

Can Rats Have Parmesan Cheese?

Can Rats Have Parmesan Cheese

Rats can eat Parmesan cheese in moderate amounts. You can also give your pet rats shredded or grated Parmesan cheese.

Parmesan is a hard cheese made from cow’s milk. It is part of the cheeses that have a long maturation period.

Can Rats Eat String Cheese?

Cheese strings are safe for rats to eat as long as they come from a type of cheese pet rats are allowed to eat. As with any other type of cheese accepted for rats, give cheese strings in moderation.

Can Rats Have Goat Cheese?

Can Rats Have Goat Cheese

Yes, rats can have goat cheese. Goat cheese has less lactose and salt and a higher content of vitamins and minerals. In addition, it has fats with smaller molecules that are easier to digest.[3]

There is soft, semi-hard, and hard goat cheese. Choose semi-hard and hard types that contain nothing but goat cheese for your pet rats.

What Cheese Can’t Rats Eat?

Rats should not eat soft, creamy, or moldy cheese. The soft and creamy ones are choking hazards, and moldy cheese can cause poisoning in pet rats.

Rats can choke on creamy or soft foods as they do not have a natural gag reflex. They therefore can’t vomit, meaning anything that gets stuck can kill them.[4]

Soft cheese can do the same. They are contraindicated for rats’ consumption because they can cause choking. 

Soft cheese to avoid include the following:

  • Feta
  • Cottage
  • Cream

Highly processed cheeses are also not recommended for rats:

  • American cheese
  • Colby Jack cheese

Moldy cheese such as blue cheese can cause rat poisoning. Avoid these cheeses.

Can Rats Eat Feta Cheese?

Can Rats Eat Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a soft and creamy cheese made from sheep’s, goat’s milk, or a combination of the two. As a soft cheese, feta cheese is not recommended for rats because they can choke on it.

Can Rats Eat Cottage Cheese?

Rats should not have cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is a type of fresh cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk. It is a soft cheese with high protein content, not suitable for rats.

Can Rats Have Cream Cheese?

Can Rats Have Cream Cheese

Cream cheese is made from cow’s milk. Some products have other ingredients that are not recommended for rats, such as garlic. Avoid giving cream cheese to rats, especially if it contains other ingredients.

Can Rats Eat American Cheese?

American cheese is a soft cheese that has added additives and preservatives in its composition. It is also high in fat and cholesterol. For these reasons, American cheese is not a cheese recommended for rats.

Can Rats Eat Colby Jack Cheese?

Colby Jack cheese is obtained from Colby and Monterey Jack cheese. Rats can eat plain Colby cheese, but not Monterey Jack cheese. It is high in fat and calcium, both of which are bad for rats.

Can Rats Have Blue Cheese?

Can Rats Have Blue Cheese

Blue cheese, Roquefort cheese, or blue-veined cheese is a product obtained from sheep’s milk. This cheese is special because it has Penicillium roqueforti[5] mold cultures.

This mold produces two mycotoxins:

  • PR toxin
  • Roquefortine

The toxic effects of PR toxin[6] have been observed in rats and other animals:

  • Abdominal contortion.
  • Decreased motor activity.
  • Decreased respiratory rate.
  • Weakness of the hind legs.
  • Incoordinated walking.

Overall, the PR toxin can directly damage the lungs, heart, liver, and kidney, causing death.

For these reasons, feeding rats with blue cheese is contraindicated because it can cause intoxication and the death of your pet.


Can Rats Have Mac and Cheese?

Rats can eat mac and cheese as long as they are homemade and not bought. The commercial ones contain additives and preservatives, salt, and other spices. Avoid sticky sauces because rats can choke on them.

Can Rats Eat Vegan Cheese?

Rats can eat vegan cheese. It is made out of soy, and rats can consume it. Avoid vegan cheese that contains spices or a lot of salt.

Can Rats Eat Smoked Cheese? 

Rats can eat smoked cheese as long as it is made from cheeses that are safe for rats. Smoking does not change the composition of the cheese. Offer smoked cheese in moderation. 

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

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