The answer is simple: Rats eat pretty much anything you and your family eat—and then some. Rats have super-high metabolisms and insatiable appetites to go with them. In fact, they can eat up to 1/3 of their body weight every single day!
Because rats eat both plants and meat (among many other things), they’re considered omnivores. Here’s a list of some favorite rat foods:
· Berries, seeds, and nuts that fall from trees and bushes
· Dry goods and bulk foods
· Farm field corn, wheat, and beans
· Frozen food
· Garden vegetables
· Grass seed
· Meat, poultry, and fish
· Other rodents
· Pet food and chicken feed
· Spoiled food
· Squirrel food
With such a long list, you may be starting to wonder how it’s even possible to get rid of their food sources (short of starving your family and building an impenetrable fortress) to avoid attracting them to your home. Fortunately, it’s not as hard as you’d think. Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to keep these pesky rodents away.
1. Keep a clean and tidy home.
There’s no better way to keep rats at bay than to make sure your house is uninviting to them. That means no access to food of any kind. Store dry goods and other unrefrigerated items in airtight storage containers and jars. Clean up leftovers and spills right away. Wash dirty, scrap-laden dishes rather than leaving them in the sink. Also, be sure to bag up trash, especially the kitchen variety.
2. Pay attention to outside areas, too.
Since rats like things other than people-food, store potential food sources like birdseed and grass seed in galvanized buckets or other hard-to-open containers. Make sure whatever you use has a tight-fitting lid. Remove dog feces every day because, as gross as it sounds, rats have been known to eat it. Turn compost regularly and never compost meat, dairy, or fats (which don’t compost well but are excellent at attracting rats.)
If you feed your pets outdoors, let them eat, then remove both food and water bowls immediately, or at least before dark, when rats do most of their prowling and foraging. Rats need at least an ounce of water a day, so in addition to taking up pet water bowls, look for other ways to deprive rats of water, such as emptying birdbaths.
3. Tend to the garbage.
Make good sanitation an everyday thing by picking up rubbish, dog poo, and any other potential rat food in and around your yard and outbuildings, and putting it all in a heavy-duty trash bag. Then take it to the curb for pickup or dispose of it in an authorized dumpster.
4. “Feed” them.
Yep. You read that right. But we’re not talking feeding rats just any food; feed them a rat-killing bait like Tomcat® Rat & Mouse Killer Child & Dog Resistant, Disposable Station. This pre-filled bait station contains a 4-ounce block of bait, which is enough to get rid of up to 10 rats.** Convenient and disposable, this bait station gives rats—but not kids and pets—easy access. How could they resist?
** based on no-choice laboratory testing
* effective against Norway rats