Rats are opportunistic animals in many different ways. This includes not only where rats choose to live but also pertains to what they elect to eat. Understanding what rats eat can prove helpful when it comes to attempting to control rats from nesting near or at your home or place of business. Hence, this general overview of the diet of rats is presented for your consideration.
Different Types of Rats
There is a fairly large number of different types of rats. Each type of rat that exists on the planet, including different variations in the United States, do have some slightly different diet preferences. For example, some rats – like the roof rat – prefer fruit. Other types of rats gravitate towards meat, typically in the form of some sort of animal carcass. Others still prefer nuts and seeds. Noting these potential preference variations between different type of rats, the fact remains that these rodents are opportunistic animals. Thus, in the final analysis, rats of all types will eat whatever they have access to in most cases.
Rats and the Human Environment
For centuries, rats have gravitated towards living near humans. Indeed, one of the greatest pandemics in human history – the infamous Black Plague – was the result of flea-infested rats living in very close proximity with humans in much of Europe. Rats likely ended up in what is now called the Americas because they stowed away on boats heading from the so-called Old World to the New World.
In any event, the propensity of rats to live in close proximity to human populations has had a direct and substantial impact on the diet of these rodents. Human communities have resulted in an abundant amount of different types of foods being available to rats.
The Human-Created Rat Buffet
Human communities end up inadvertently creating a proverbial smorgasbord for rats. A key way of proactively protecting against rats is controlling the proverbial buffet humans are apt to create in the first place. Barring that, a key to eliminating rats and the hazards they can present is barring access to the grub.
Rats are inclined to take advantage of multiple types of human-created resources that can provide them with sustenance. One of these sources of food sufficient to sustain a rat’s diet is garbage or trash cans. People prove to be pretty careless when it comes to securing trash cans. Indeed, some folks don’t even bother with trash cans and discard garbage, including food scraps, in plastic bags. Improperly sealed garbage cans and easily accessible trash bags are primary targets on a mission for food.
Pet food bowls present another dining option for rats. This includes pet food bowls that might be kept outside but also those inside your residence. You must bear in mind that rodents like rats and mice have a fairly easy go of gaining entry to your home. For example, they can squeeze into your residence through holes the size of coins. Once inside, rats will beat a direct path to things like pet food bowls.
The reality that rats are understandably drawn to pet food suggests the need to not leave food in bowls readily accessible to your furry family members throughout the course of the day. Rather, food should be set down for your pets at specific meal times. When those meal times have come to an end, you should collect bowls containing left over food and securely seal them in order to prevent access to them by rats.
Even a marginally untidy home can be an invitation to a hunger rat. Because of this, you really need to focus on making certain your home is kept reasonably clean. This includes not leaving food sitting out as well as regularly cleaning the kitchen and other rooms in your residence to eliminate any stray crumbs and other residues of food that collectively could become a meal for rats.
One way to underscore the fact that rats truly will eat almost anything is underscored by the cannibalistic nature of some rats. There are rats that will feed on the carcasses of their dead “peers.” Simply, if a rat is in need of food, and if the remains of a rat’s cohort is found nearby, a rat will feed on the remains of one or his or her own.
The Aftermath of Rats
Try as you may to proactively defend against rats in or around your residence, the day may come when you have rats nesting or foraging at your property. Oftentimes, this calls for the need to engage the services of a professional exterminator.
You need to keep in mind that eliminating a rat population is only part of the issue of restoring your home and property. You also need to take care when it comes to the removal of rat droppings. Rat feces can be highly hazardous. Rat feces can contain highly dangerous pathogens like the hantavirus. This virus remains alive in dry rat droppings and can become airborne when dry feces are crushed. Thus, in addition to a professional exterminator you also need to consider retaining the assistance of a rat droppings cleanup specialist with a background in biohazard remediation.