What do Rats Eat?


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 Rats are omnivores, this means they eat both vegetables and meat. which means rats can live in a wide variety of different environments. This is one of the reasons why rats have been so incredibly successful as a species. But being an omnivore also means that an individual has a lot of choices about what to eat, and this poses great risks: the wrong  choice could be fatal.

 If you’ve ever struggled to control rats in or around the home, you may have wondered– What do rats eat? 

Before birth:

  In utero, fetal rats detect odor-bearing particles that come from their mother’s diet and cross the placental barrier. Shortly after birth, newborn rats respond positively to these foods. Therefore, they start  learning about what to eat from their mother before they’re even born.

 During nursing: 

Nursing rats receive information about their mother’s diet through her milk. They prefer the foods she ate during lactation.


  When young rats are weaning and eating solid foods for the first time, they use adult rats as guides. They forage where the adults are foraging or where adults have previously scent-marked .

• Adulthood:

 when rats forage on their own, their food choices are influenced by social interactions that may take place far away from foraging sites. They smell foods on the fur, whiskers and especially the breath of other rats and strongly prefer the foods those rats had previously eaten.

 Norway rats and roof rats are the most common species of rats in the CANADA.While they do eat some of the same foods, their diets are unique.Norway rats are more likely to be around raiding your pantry.These rats eat grains, cereals, nuts, fish, meats, and sometimes fruit.  When several options are available, Norway rats often choose fresh food that offers a balanced diet.Roof rats eat a lot of different fruits.Their preferred produce is avocado and citrus fruit.  These rats are known to eat fruit right off the tree. With some fruits, such as lemons, roof rats eat the rind but leave the flesh. When eating oranges, roof rats make a small incision in the outer peel and suck out the inside.  Roof rats also eat snails, slugs, berries, and nuts.

Rats also learn what not to eat, and this is where poison avoidance comes in:

Rats are very neophobic when it comes to food: they tend to avoid new foods. Rats have extremely sensitive learned food-aversions. If a rat does taste a new food it may try only a small amount the first time. If the food makes the rat feel ill, it scrupulously avoids that food in the future.

 When rats infest a home, they can use various things as a food source.  Pet food is a common reason for rat infestations.Be sure to properly secure pet food, and quickly clean up any food that is not eaten by pets. Rats are able to chew through cardboard and thin plastic, so be sure to store grains in cans or rat-proof plastic.Periodic sweeping and vacuuming can remove dropped crumbs and other sources of food.When searching for food, rats do not typically travel over 300 feet from their nests.This means that removing food sources in your home can quickly discourage rats from living there.


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