What Do Rats Eat?

If you’ve ever struggled to control rats in or around the home, you may have wondered– What do rats eat? Rats eat a wide variety of foods.  Norway rats and roof rats are the most common species of rats in the United States.  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.

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.