What Do Rats Like to Eat?

Table of Contents

If you suspect rats in your home, it’s a good idea to know what they eat so that you can stop being their food source. 

What do rats like to eat? They’re omnivores, so they’ll eat nearly anything. Let’s explore further to determine what foods tempt them most and what you can do if you have a rat problem.

What Do Rats Like to Eat?

What do rats eat? Rats are omnivores that like to eat all types of foods. However, if you have a rat problem or want to prevent one, it’s good to know what they like to eat.

Rats like to eat:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Grains and seeds
  • Nuts
  • Meat
  • Small animals and insects
  • Sweet and salty treats
  • Everything else you leave behind

Fruits and Vegetables

If you have fruit-bearing trees or a vegetable garden, rats may view them as a personal banquet table. Overripe or rotten food that you failed to harvest on time can be especially tempting. On that note, a compost bin full of veggie and fruit waste can be another food source for them. 

Grains and Seeds

If you feed wild birds or have a chicken coop, the grains and seeds you use to feed them can attract rats. 


Rats go crazy for nuts because they are high in fat and are an excellent source of condensed energy. Rats love to forage for nuts under nut-bearing trees like walnut trees. They will also take advantage of nuts you leave out for squirrels. If they can detect the scent of nuts from a plastic peanut butter container in your pantry, they’re happy to gnaw through to get to the nutty goodness inside.


Meat provides an excellent source of protein for rats. They’re attracted to meat in dog dishes, trash, kitchen sinks, and dumpsters and eat any available.

Small Animals and Insects

Rats eat several types of protein-dense animals and insects. They’re known to eat a variety of small mammals, birds, lizards, fish, small turtles, snakes, other rodents, eggs, and roadkill. 

Sweet and Salty Treats

If it’s a treat to a human, it’s a treat to a rat. You don’t necessarily have to leave a treat out for rats to find it. It’s always disappointing to reach for a box of snack cakes, jerky, or chips in the cupboard only to find that the box or bag has been chewed through by a treat-seeking rat, leaving behind nothing but droppings.

Everything Else You Leave Behind

Rats are some of the best scavengers on the planet. A hungry rat is industrious enough to find and eat whatever you leave that they can eat both inside and outside your home.

What Foods Do Rats Not Like to Eat?

Luckily, there are a few foods that rats do not like to eat that you don’t have to guard so carefully. The following foods are foods that rats either don’t like or are toxic to them:

  • Blue cheese
  • Citrus
  • Rhubarb
  • Unripe bananas
  • Unripe potatoes

Male rats are the most vulnerable to these foods and may experience kidney failure if they eat them.

Rats’ teeth are constantly growing, which leads to their gnawing habit. One indicator that rats have invaded your home is finding places where they’ve gnawed through wood, plaster, and electrical wiring to file down their teeth. However, they can’t digest these items. 

How Do Rats Find Food?

Since rats are nocturnal scavengers, they rely primarily on their exceptional sense of smell to help them find food. They pick up a variety of scents through their olfactory epithelium. Because of their extraordinary sense of smell, rats outside your house often follow their noses to scents leaking through small cracks in your home, alerting them to the bounty inside.

How to Keep Rats Out of Your Food

Rats can get through holes as small as ¼”. To keep rats away and out of your food, you should:

  • Seal any cracks in your walls and foundations
  • Seal doors and windows with weather stripping
  • Move firewood at least 20 feet away from your house
  • Remove brush piles
  • Trim tree branches touching or within jumping distance of your home
  • Securely cover trash and compost bins
  • Plant mint around your garden as a deterrent
  • Use rodent-proof bird feeders and clear spilled food beneath
  • Remove extra pet food from bowls
  • Harvest veggies, fruits, and nuts promptly
  • Place pantry food in rat-proof glass or metal containers with lids

If you want to deter rats, it’s a good idea to:

  • Protect fruits and vegetables in your garden
  • Keep grains and seeds out of their reach
  • Harvest any nuts they might eat
  • Don’t tempt them with meat
  • Discourage small animals and insects from frequenting your yard
  • Put away your sweet and salty treats
  • Try not to leave any foods behind that could be a temptation

What Is the Best Food to Bait a Rat Trap?

What is the best bait for rats? You can catch a rat with nearly any food, but they’re also intelligent, so providing a rat’s favorite foods can be the key to tempting them beyond their ability to restrain themselves. What food is irresistible to rats?

  • Peanut butter
  • Bacon
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Cereal
  • Meat

What to Do If You Have Rats

According to the CDC, rats and mice are responsible for spreading over 35 dangerous diseases through bodily fluids and droppings. 

Thus, if you have rats, it’s essential to eliminate them, make your property unappealing, and secure your house so that no more new ones can get inside. 

There are several over-the-counter traps and poisons available for rats. However, they’re especially good at avoiding them, especially after one of their comrades has succumbed. 

Because they’re fast learners and intelligent enough to avoid most traps, it’s always best to call pest control services if you discover that you have rats. Rats reach sexual maturity at 4-5 weeks and have up to 40 babies per year. So, your population of two can swell to 1250 rats within a year if left unchecked. 

Final Thoughts on What Rats Like to Eat

What do rats like to eat? Nearly anything. However, if the idea of the potential for 35 dangerous diseases and having 1250 rats on your property within a year sounds terrifying, it’s time to do more than just hide food from rats. The faster you take action, the quicker you can get your rat problem under control. 

If you’ve noticed signs of rats like droppings, odor, scratching sounds, nests, food tampering, or gnaw marks, Contact Hama Pest Control to take care of your rat pest control needs. We’ll locate any rats on your property with a guarantee to eliminate them. Call us any time, day or night, for a free quote.

Jake Garza
Jake Garza
Jake is the founder of Hama Pest Control, the preferred choice for pest removal and extermination in the Greater Toronto Area. With over thirty years of experience, Jake prides himself in bringing quality, knowledge, and care to Hama Pest Control's customers.
Related Articles

How to Clean Mouse Droppings

Have you recently found foreboding evidence of a mousey invasion? Chewed up boxes, shredded newspapers, or maybe you’ve heard them chattering about you in the …

How to Get Rid of Mice: 11 Tips

Mice are a common household pest and can cause many problems, from being a nuisance to ruining your food and belongings. It is crucial to …

Saw a Mouse in Your Apartment? Here’s What You Should Do

Spotting even one mouse in your apartment can indicate big problems. Mice spread disease, damage property, and cause a host of other issues. Even worse, …

Find out why our +500 customers love us

Ready For The Peace Of Mind You Deserve?

Proudly Serving The Greater Toronto Area