Do rats eat poop? [Expert Explains]

Sam McGilin

Sam McGilin

Hey there, I’m Sam McGilin, the person behind Pallentor. I have worked in the pest control industry for over 15 years. On this site, I share my knowledge so you can enjoy a pest-free home.

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As a pest control specialist, I know it’s important to understand the habits of the pests we’re trying to control.

The better we understand them, the more effectively we can keep them at bay. In this article, we’re going to delve into a less-discussed topic about rats – their dietary habits, specifically if they eat poop. It might seem a bit ‘out there,’ but there’s more to this question than you might initially think.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a more in-depth understanding of rat behavior, dietary habits, and ways to deter them, ultimately leading to a more effective pest control strategy. Let’s dive right in!

Do rats eat poop?

Yes, rats do eat poop, but this isn’t their preferred food choice. This behavior, known as coprophagia, is relatively common in the animal kingdom and is driven by several factors.

Firstly, rats are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they eat a variety of food that becomes available to them. If their regular food sources are scarce, they may resort to eating feces as a last-ditch attempt to obtain necessary nutrients.

Secondly, there’s a unique reason that mother rats might engage in this behavior. After giving birth, mother rats often eat their babies’ droppings to keep the nest clean and to limit the smell that could attract predators.

Lastly, some experts believe that eating feces allows rats to ingest beneficial gut bacteria, helping them to break down food more efficiently and extract more nutrients.

While it might be distasteful to us, this survival mechanism serves a purpose in their world. Having understood this, it is important to also debunk some common misconceptions about rats and their diets. This will form our focus in the next section.

Common Misconceptions about Rat Diet

Before we delve into the misconceptions about rats and their diet, it’s important to understand that these misconceptions can hinder effective pest control. Being informed is our greatest defense, so let’s start debunking.

Debunking myths: rats as omnivores

One common myth is that rats only eat garbage and waste. In truth, rats are omnivores, which means they can consume both plant and animal matter. They can, and do, eat anything from fruits, grains, seeds, to insects, and small mammals. They are opportunistic and have a broad diet, which allows them to survive in many environments, including our homes.

Rats and coprophagia: separating fact from fiction

While we’ve confirmed that rats do sometimes eat feces, it’s important to clarify that this isn’t their primary food source. Coprophagia is usually a fallback behavior when food is scarce, or for specific purposes like maintaining cleanliness in the case of mother rats. In short, it’s a survival strategy, not a dietary preference.

Understanding these facts about rat diet helps to correct common misconceptions, which in turn aids in more effective pest control. However, just knowing about the dietary habits of rats isn’t enough to keep them away. In our next section, we will explore prevention and control strategies, providing you with the knowledge to keep your home rat-free.

Prevention and Control: Keeping your Home Rat-Free

After debunking the misconceptions about rat diets, we’re now more equipped to dive into strategies for rat prevention and control. Knowledge, after all, is a powerful tool in our pest control arsenal. Let’s get started.

Understanding rat attractants

A crucial part of rat control is knowing what attracts them in the first place. As mentioned earlier, rats are opportunistic eaters, meaning they can be attracted by any food source, not just waste or feces. This includes pet food, bird feed, open food containers, and even garden produce. Besides food, rats are also attracted to cluttered areas that provide hiding places and nesting materials.

Best practices in sanitation

Sanitation is a crucial part of pest control. Regularly taking out trash, cleaning food areas, sealing food containers, and reducing clutter can significantly decrease the chances of a rat infestation. Also, make sure to clean up after pets and not leave their food out overnight.

Effective pest control strategies

If prevention methods don’t work, there are several pest control strategies available. These include using traps, bait stations, or even hiring a pest control professional if the infestation is severe. It’s important to remember that a multi-pronged approach is often the most effective, and consulting with a pest control professional can provide the best course of action.

By implementing these strategies, you can create an environment that’s unappealing to rats and more conducive to your peace of mind. Armed with all these insights, let’s wrap up and revisit our key takeaways in the final section.


We’ve come a long way from asking if rats eat poop to understanding their dietary habits, debunking misconceptions, and learning how to implement effective pest control strategies.

To recap, rats do eat feces, but not out of preference. It’s a fallback mechanism in times of food scarcity or for specific purposes like keeping their nests clean. Rats are omnivores and can eat a wide variety of food, making them quite adaptable. This adaptability, while a survival boon for them, can pose a challenge for us in our pest control efforts.

That’s why understanding what attracts rats and maintaining good sanitation practices are crucial in preventing rat infestations. And if prevention doesn’t work, we have various effective pest control strategies at our disposal.