Rats are not picky eaters, but they are smart. In the wild they eat fruits, nuts, grains, and insects. In urban settings, they’ll chow down on human food, pet food, and garbage, and spend their time hoarding as much food as they can while constantly seeking out new sources.
Though rats have near-unlimited appetites, they’re ironically careful around new foods. Because they lack the muscle structure to vomit, they’ll sample small amounts of new foods to be sure they won’t experience nausea after eating them. This means curious rats in your home or business will want to sample as much as possible before digging into your pantry. Here’s what you should know about what the rats around your home will want to eat, and how you can keep them from getting it.
What Can Rats Eat?
Rats are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal-based foods. The type of foods they prefer can depend on the species of rat. The two most common rats in Michigan are the Norway Rat and the Black Rat.
The larger Norway rats prefer foods high in fat, protein, and sugar content. The smaller black rats (sometimes called roof rats) tend to be more interested in fruits and nuts. In the wild, both species are opportunistic and will eat fallen fruit, insects, and rotting animals.
If you are creating a bait station to trap rats, foods like bacon, peanut butter, chocolate, and dried fruit tend to work best. It’s important to bait the area around the trap and not just the trap. Rats are careful animals and will sample the food, let it gestate, and return to the source if they liked it.
What Can’t Rats Eat?
There are a few foods that rats don’t like or are toxic to them. These include:
- Citrus fruits
- Green bananas
- Green potatoes
- Blue Cheese
Male rats are especially vulnerable to these and can experience kidney failure as a result.
Rats may not digest the wood, plaster, or electrical wiring in your home, but they certainly will chew on it. Rat’s teeth are constantly growing, sometimes 4 to 5 inches per year. This means that rats need to continually gnaw at whatever is on-hand to keep their bothersome biters from getting too long. In fact, rats gnaw so constantly that the bite marks they leave behind are one of the telltale signs of infestation. The worse your rat problem, the more evidence of gnawing damage you’ll find over time. Rats will even gnaw on electrical cables, which can make this behavior quite dangerous!
How Do Rats Find Food?
Rats are nocturnal scavengers who forage under cover of night and social creatures that travel in tight family packs.
Rats locate food through their exceptional sense of smell. They are genetically wired to pick up different smells via their olfactory epithelium. They also have a secondary organ that specializes in pheromone and chemical smells called the vomeronasal organ (VNO). The VNO is key to their communication, courtship, and parenting. The net result is that rats have a very sensitive sense of smell that allows them to locate food sources quickly. Their heightened pheromone sensitivity and smell senses mean they can even tell other rats what food is available and where to find it.
Rats outside your home or business can smell foods inside very easily through tiny cracks or even walls. Once they smell it, rats are very adept at literally following their noses to tiny access points where they can sneak inside.
How Do I Keep Rats Out of My Food?
Rats are unhealthy creatures that you don’t want in your home, let alone your food. According to the centers for disease control, rats and mice spread over 35 types of disease through their urine, feces, saliva, and bites.
An adult rat can crawl under a door or through a crack ¼” wide. Keeping rats out of your home or business means keeping all potential entrances sealed. This is especially important in late summer and fall when they seek new food sources and nesting grounds.
Keep rats out of your space by:
- Sealing all cracks in your foundation and siding.
- Weather stripping around doors and windows.
- Moving firewood at least 20 feet from your home.
- Trimming tree branches near your home.
- Securing trash and compost.
A certified pest control technician can assess your property, point out high risk areas, and even do the work to secure you against rat infestation.
What Do I Do if I have Rats?
Killing rats is a tricky job. There are many different over-the-counter traps and poisons you can try, but rats are cunning and good at evading them. Disposing of dead rats isn’t a fun job either.
If you’re in Michigan and want guidance at any level, call or contact Griffin Pest Solutions today. Our certified staff are rat control experts. We can eliminate on-site invaders and rat-proof your home or business against future infestations to be certain your would-be rodent restaurant stays closed for good.