Most people know that rats usually enter your home because they are looking for food or shelter. It’s the main reason the experts recommend that people keep their kitchens clean, their garbage cans shut tight, and the cracks and crevices in their homes sealed up tightly.
Rats can stay in your home for up to a week even if there is no food. They will leave eventually but can search for days making sure there is nothing to eat.
If there is no food in your yard, the rats will eventually leave. Unfortunately, rats eat just about anything, so even if something is in your yard that isn’t food, they may remain there for a while because they still have items in the yard that they consider edible.
Rats are omnivores and eat just about everything that humans eat, but they especially love grains and cereals, fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts, and eggs.
They will also eat the eggs of certain birds and some smaller animals, although this is rare because it often requires hunting the animals beforehand.
Rats will stick around for a short time when they are unable to find any food in your home, just to make sure they didn’t miss something.
They might also move to another location in your house to see if there’s food in those places. Rats will rummage through every area of your home looking for food, and even if they find nothing. They can remain indoors for up to a week to make sure they didn’t miss anything in any of the rooms that they might be able to eat. They don’t give up easily!
Rats are attracted to the inside of your home for two main reasons: food and shelter. If they cannot find any or enough food outdoors, they will come indoors to find food there. If it’s raining or the weather is unpleasant, they’ll also come inside to get comfortable.
To prevent rats from entering your home, keep all food where it belongs or throw it out, and seal up any cracks or crevices that might allow them to get into your home. They can easily get indoors even if the crack or opening is small because they are good at manipulating their bodies to get inside.
Rats can go 7–14 days without food and still survive. They can live up to a week without water, but no more than that.
A lot of the foods they eat provide them with water as well, so the more water that is in their bodies, the longer they can survive. In fact, they are much like humans in this way because they can go much longer without food than they can water. If you have rats as pets, you’ll want to feed them and give them fresh water on a regular basis.
While rats love most types of food, they do not always eat food to survive. When they’re out in the wild, real food may not be available to them, or there may not be enough to keep them alive. When this happens, they will search for other items to eat, and some of their favorites include:
- Rotten fruit
- Composting material
- Food scraps that have been disposed of
- Mushrooms and similar fungi
- Dead or dying root veggies such as potatoes and carrots
- The carcasses of other animals
- Almost anything organic that has some type of nutritional value
Norway rats, also called sewer rats, tend to eat other animals more often than black rats, or ship rats. The diet of Norway rats can include animals such as fish, worms, chicks, mice, mollusks, small lizards, and even some birds. Black rats tend to stick to nuts and seeds, among other things.
Almost any type of human food will attract rats to your home. In addition to the usual human foods, rats also love foods such as:
- Slugs and snails
- Dried fruits
- Peanut butter
- Unflavored dental floss
- Nuts, such as walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds
If you’re trying to attract rats to a rat trap, these are some excellent foods to place there because rats love not only the taste of these foods but also the smells.
They also love leeches and insects, so if you don’t have any food items to place in your traps, look around your yard to see if you can find items such as these.
When people wish to get rid of rats, they often look to traps or rat poison to get the job done. If you want a more natural and humane way to get rid of rats, you have numerous available options.
One of the most effective remedies is the use of essential oils, which repel the rats because they detest the smell. All you have to do is place several drops of the oil on a few cotton balls and place them anywhere near where rats congregate, including cracks and other openings throughout the house.
Some of the most effective essential oils include lavender, peppermint, citronella, mint, and castor. You can also place 10–12 drops of the oil in a spray bottle filled halfway with water, shake it gently, and spray the mixture in places where the rats are prevalent.
The good thing about essential oils is that it doesn’t harm the rats; it simply makes them stay away to avoid the smell.
Rats will leave your yard or your home once the food runs out, but not before they search every inch of it to make sure no more food exists.
Keep in mind that they also eat worms, other animals, and rotting food that you’ve already discarded, so just because there’s no food for them to eat doesn’t mean they cannot find non-food items to enjoy.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.