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tien le

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What Do Mice and Rats Eat?

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Home > Blog >  What Do Mice and Rats Eat?

There are various reasons why mice and rats are such persistent nuisances to people. Among them is that they are the fastest animals to adapt to human-induced changes in the environment. 

They can quickly change their diet to include the new food in town. As long as you like the delicacy, however, it's prepared, the mice and rats will like it too. 

The rodents are also good at finding ways to adapt to your urban home, so nothing fazes them!

These rodents are the likeliest to invade your new home for food, shelter, and warmth. 

Distinguishing Between Mice and Rats

The similarity between rats and mice is significant, but it's not impossible to tell them apart. 

Because of their ability to adjust easily to human spaces, three rodent species are the most common pests in households and workplaces worldwide. 

The three include the Brown rat, the Ship rat or the black rat, and the House mouse. 

The house mouse has many subcategories in various world regions, and each is increasingly recognized as distinct. 

However, they almost look the same, and you may not tell them apart. 

All rodents share identifying characteristics, including a pair of sharp incisors in the upper jaw. They use these to gnaw on food and objects. 

They have a long tail and short legs, but a careful look at their habits and body characteristics reveals distinct features. You can use these to determine the infestation you have on your property.

  • Body size and diet: Mice are smaller, so they weigh less than rats. However, they are bolder in new places. Rats tend to stick to familiar paths and places and are larger and heavier. 

Mice tails are long, slender, and covered with hair, while rats have shorter and hairless tails. 

Given their body size, rats consume more food than mice, and they prefer protein-rich foods such as fish, meat, and cheese. Pet food is also a favorite in their diet. 

Brown rats love cereals and are most likely to search for food in the same place. 

This makes them easier to bait. 

On the other hand, black rats prefer moist fruit and don't eat the same place on consecutive days, making them harder to trap. 

In contrast, mice love grains, nuts, veggies, and fruits. But that doesn't mean they can't eat anything they come across. 

They seek food in the same places, and their eating habits are distinguishable from the others. Mice tend to eat the white inner part of the grains and get rid of the outer coverings. 

  • Habitats: depending on the breed, rats make nests or burrow in attics or walls. Then again, mice prefer making their nests in areas with easy access to food. 

Brown rats stay in burrows and on the ground. 

They are common in sewer systems, which sometimes cause extensive damage to buildings. Their oily fur can cause continuous streaks on the surfaces they travel, and that is one way you may know you have an infestation.

Black rats are common in ports and buildings. They are also called ship rats because they are common around ships. 

Black rats are good and agile climbers and prefer their nests to be under the roof, and in warmer regions, where there are orchards and woodlands, they nest in trees. 

  • Droppings: rats are bigger, and so it's expected they have larger droppings. Their feces are 9mm and rounded at the end. Mice feces are smaller at 4mm and with sharp ends. 
  • Reproduction: mice and rats reproduce hundreds to thousands of offspring within a year. Mice start mating at four weeks and can have up to 300 younglings within a year. 

Rats win this race with up to 2000 offspring within a year, and they start reproducing when they are three months old. 

Problems that Rat and Mice Cause

While mice appear cute to some people, they are a health hazard – indeed, cute can sometimes be misleading. 

Rats and mice can spread illnesses such as leptospirosis, plague, salmonellosis, and hantavirus. 

An infestation of rats and mice causes various problems that include food contamination. In addition, rodents destroy items with sentimental value.

Rats and mice will gnaw on electrical installations, wires, and sockets and increase the possibility of fire. They may also destroy your home's roofs, walls, insulation, and even your favorite attire and footwear. 

Rats and mice can also weaken firm structures, cause structural damage, and chew through bricks and cinder blocks that are expensive to repair. 

Foods that Rats and Mice Eat

Running into a few rats or mice around your home may spell trouble for your food supplies and structures, equipment, and clothing. 

Rats and mice don't hang around areas where there's no food. 

Indeed, rats and mice can do some serious damage to your food supplies, but rats have the largest appetite. They'll eat up to a third of their body weight daily. 

Here are the foods that attract rats and mice most to your abode

Grain and Seeds

Direct observation of some species of rats has shown that rats enjoy cereal grains. 

Researchers observed the rodents take a mouthful of whole wheat grains back to the nest and eat one grain at a time as if to savor the moment. 

Some species hold the long axis of the grain as if holding a cigar and bite across it. 

This shows how much the rats and mice love grains and seeds and will eagerly relieve you of your stockpile. 

The sacks of seeds lying around, especially the sunflower seeds, oats, and maize, are great mice and rats magnets.  

Rats and mice will hang around the farm fields and grain storage bins and steal the baking and cooking ingredients in urban settings. 

Like most other people, you could be thinking that you keep a reasonably clean kitchen, but that may not be the case. Some oats, rice, or other dry food may find itself under the cabinet and invite the rats. 

Clean the kitchen thoroughly and use a vacuum cleaner to suck up any remains. 

Baking materials such as oats should be kept in resealable bins and Tupperware. Clean anything that is left on the surfaces after cooking. 


Whether it's hazelnuts or peanuts, rats and mice rank nuts high in their list of food sources. So the walnuts and peanut butter you have lying around in the kitchen are ample nourishment for the rats and mice. 

Peanut butter and almond butter are irresistible, not only for you, but also for the rats and mice. So keep these in the refrigerator if you suspect an uninvited rodent guest in your home. 

Remember that the mice will try to access the jars when you leave the peanut butter in the dark cupboard. 

Fruit and Berries

Raspberries and blackberries are a favorite for rats and mice, and in the wild, they eat these foods at every opportunity. 

They also can't resist pears and apples or even the sweet smell of fruits that are going bad, some food for thought when throwing the scraps and bad apples away. Strawberries are also a favorite. 

If you own fruit trees, make it a habit to clean the fallen fruits on the ground regularly. Once in a while, check your fruits for gnawing. Remember that rats and mice are great climbers. 

Therefore, harvest all the fruits when ready and whenever possible, and don't leave any lying on the ground. 

Pet Food

Mister Whisker's food is also delicious for the rats and mice, and the rodents will eagerly share the hay you have stocked for your livestock and the bird food.

The rats and mice will eat anything you give your animals. 

Most people store pet food in the garage, barn, or basement, and the smell of pet food is sweet music to rodents' appetite. They easily find it. 

To prevent an invasion of your pet food supplies, consider storing them in sealable plastic garbage bins. Always make sure that your pets have enough to eat without leftovers, and keep the dishes clean. 


Whether fresh or rotting, rats will not discriminate on a piece of meat, but mice are not so much into the meat. As a result, rats and mice don't hunt for meat and only eat what becomes available such as roadkill or leftovers from carnivores. 

These rodents will also be attracted to the smell of hot dogs, beef, and bacon that you brought home from a date or other event. 

They also love the pork, chicken, and steak leftovers that you forgot to dispose of properly. Store the jerky or lard in secure plastic or glass containers, and keep the skillets and pan clean after use. 

Animal Byproducts 

Your lovely cowboy jacket made from cow leather may smell like a source of protein for the mice and rats, and nothing will stop them from nibbling it down.

If the smell or taste is strong enough, the rats or mice will continue eating until only a small piece remains – you can imagine the shocker when you retrieve it to go to a party. 


When nuts and fruits are in short supply, mice and rats will eat twigs, grass, and bark. Rats will feed on larger plants while mice take on the smaller ones. 

While not as flavorful as seeds and nuts, Plants are also used as food. However, for rodents, this is essentially a safeguard against food shortages. 

While mice and rats prefer more filling foods, hungry mice and rats will gnaw on everything from grass to tree bark.

Because of the seedlings' delicate nature, mice and rats are particularly fond of them.

But this is not very common when other food sources are readily available, especially in suburban areas. All the same, be watchful for signs of chewing on your seedlings. 

Sweet and Salty Foods

Rats and mice have a sweet tooth and will nibble on the chocolate you have hidden from the kids. 

Generally, these rodents love carbs and sugars. 

Come to think of it, packing as much carbs in the body is reasonable as they're unsure when they'll get their next meal. 

But apart from the gumdrops and other confectionery, rats and mice don't mind some of your salted and seasoned foods on the shelves. 

You might not have guessed it, but salt is a big draw for rodents, and they ingest it as often as they can. This is because salt helps them retain water for longer durations.

But whatever the case, rats and mice appear to enjoy the taste of salt in foods. 

Rats and mice will even chow down the curtains and your favorite clothes if they suspect it has some salty or sweet taste. 

Store your sweet and salty foods in sealable containers, and throw any leftovers in sealable trash to contain the scent. 

Throwing the food scraps in an unsecured bin or trash bag is not enough to keep the determined rodents from reaching them. Plastic bags are like laying the table for the rats and mice. 

Garbage Trash

Rats and mice will eagerly jump into the trash can for a feast of various foods, ranging from desserts to meat and veggies. Therefore, garbage scraps that include bread crumbs, meat leftovers, fruits, and cheese are a gold mine for them. 

Avoid an overflow of the garbage can and take the trash out to a secure garbage bin. Keep the indoors tidy, and avoid the habit of leaving untidy dishes in the sink. 

Food in the Cupboard or Cardboard

Most people think that locking food in the cupboard keeps it from rodents and insects, but that is far from the case. Rats and mice will eat through wires, cardboards, and chipboards to satisfy their hunger. 

If the energy bars and cereal packets lie in the cupboard, they become an easy meal. Use sealable plastic containers and Tupperware before storing the food in the cupboard. 

Non-food Items

A hungry rodent hasn't any shred of reasonability and will nib on anything that looks, smells, and even remotely tastes like food. 

This includes electric cables, fabric, leather, and even plastic insulation. They are hard to understand. 

Ways You Can Get Rid of Rodents

Before you get to the methods of getting rid of the mice and rats, preventing them in the first place is better and much easier. 

Most people overlook the cracks and holes in walls and doorways, and these are like welcome mats for rodents. Seal them up using steel wool, caulk, or anything else that is not soft enough for them to chew through. 

But if you see a mouse or rat inside your home, it may already be too late. Be sure that their buddies are somewhere around surveying the place. They may be looking for somewhere cozy, nice, and warm to start their entire clan. 

Leaving clutter and debris around provides rodents with materials to make their nests. 

Meanwhile, there are a couple of ways to get rid of rats and mice from your home. 

Some methods such as poison and glue traps are not best in homes with other animals and can also be a risk where there are small kids.

On the other hand, glue traps are the least humane way of pest control. Rats and mice can resort to chewing on their own limbs to get free. 

Here are some techniques you can use to get rid of the rats or mice. 

  • Rodenticides

Rodenticides are a final meal for the rat or mice neighborhoods. You must thereafter locate each of the dead mice or rats to avoid the smell of rotting flesh. 

  • Electronic Traps

These may rub the guys at the animal rights organization the wrong way, but they are the quickest way to kill rats and mice. 

  • Humane Live Traps

The live traps are for the folks that may be uneasy killing the rats and mice. The traps capture the rodents alive, and you can release them to the nearest forest or outdoors. 

  • Repellents 

Rats and mice hate anything that smells minty and will avoid it. Use this to your advantage when you suspect that a family of rats just moved in to share your humble abode, rent-free. 

  • Helping Cats

A cat or two can keep the rats and mice away and sometimes even kill them when you have a problem doing it yourself. 

  • Clearing the vegetation around the home

Tall weeds can attract rodents and mask their raiding activities. Natural debris such as leaf litter can hide what these small invaders are doing, and it can be a long time before you notice anything. 

Clear the weeds, the vegetation, and the yard waste around the home, and look for signs of an invasion. 

Indeed, managing rats' and mice' infestation can be an uphill task. When everything doesn't seem to drive the invader away from your home, you need a hand from a pest control specialist like Natran

Natran can eliminate the rodents and identify the food source attracting them to your home. Contact us today. 

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