In general you can feed your pet rats whatever you eat and while some might be picky eaters, most rats will eat just about anything. There are however a few human foods that male rats especially should never be given because they could cause cancer. Orange juice is one of these human foods that should never be given to male rats.
Why Is Orange Juice Harmful To Male Rats?
D-Limonene is found in the skin of oranges and when an orange is squeezed, the D-Limonene gets squeezed into the juice as well. Most orange juice companies use the entire orange to make their orange juice and then strain it, so the skin and the skin oil from the orange is in orange juice.
According to The Rat and Mouse Gazette, "It seems that d-limonene and some other chemicals bind to a naturally occurring protein (alpha2u-globulin) in the male rat's kidneys. The protein then builds up and causes cancer."
Can I Feed My Male Rats Fresh Oranges?
Yes, as long as you peel the orange first and rinse it under running water before giving it to your rats. The orange meat is not harmful for rats, just the skin or rind of the oranges.
Is D-Limonene Harmful To My Female Rats?
Female rats are safe because they do not have the protein in their kidneys that male rats have. Only male rats have the protein in their kidneys called alpha2u-globulin.
After finding out that orange skins might cause cancer in my rats, I started peeling and washing all the orange segments I gave to them.