An interesting fact about rodents is that you are never more than a few hundred feet away from one. How crazy is that? It puts things into perspective when you think about how many mice are in the world.
While the specific number is hard to guess, scientists estimate the rat populace has reached billions. It is one of the only species that you can find in every country in the world. Furthermore, a female rat can give birth to over 2000 baby rats within a year. They can start reproducing from as young as three to four months old. Luckily these creatures are small, or they might run the world by now.
You might wonder what is controlling the rat population if they reproduce so quickly. Well, the answer is simple. The rat’s predators are controlling the population in natural ways.
Today we explore some of the most common creatures that kill and eat rats.
A predator technically means an animal that eats other small animals. We, as humans, are often not considered predators. However, people consume rats in countries such as Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Southeast Asia, Central America, and South America.
It is not a common practice anymore, but humans’ contribution does add a lot to controlling the rat populace.
Intrusion into their natural ecosystem has affected the rat population slightly. That is mainly due to the constant deforestation of our lands. Hence they have started to invade our homes and offices. The invention of clever rat control methods has also helped curb the number of rats in cities and suburbs.
With that being said, we play a small role in the rat predator category. Let’s learn more about how the world of rat predators affects the population naturally.
Cats eat rats, and that’s a fact. It could be challenging to believe that domestic cats would kill a rat, but there is a great chance they have already done that. In most cases, they kill the rat without feeding on them. That can be a blessing and a curse. A dead rat could lay somewhere for days before being discovered, leading other creatures to invade your space.
Other wild cats such as mountain lions, the red fox, and bobcats (Lynx Rufus) also hunt them. The domestic cat isn’t the only cat species that enjoy rodent as a food source.
Dogs are natural hunters with an interest in rats. In general, dogs don’t eat rats but do end up playing with them. You might end up with a big mess after your dog has caught and killed the rat.
Terriers are the most common rat-catching dogs breeds. Humans have bred terriers for years for this particular reason. Thanks to their high energy and tiny bodies, they can easily dig up a hole and catch a rat hiding inside. These dogs can even hunt rodents that live underground, making them perfect for people with mole problems.
Most coyotes would like to get their claws on your pet. Coyotes are known to eat small animals like dogs, cats, and rabbits. They do eat rats, too, as they are open-minded creatures when it comes to their diet.
Your pet parakeet may not be the top rat predator. However, domesticated birds certainly have fiercer wild cousins that can make up for your parakeet’s lack of interest.
There is a category of birds called raptors or birds of prey. These birds are the most common rat predators and include:
Barn owls (barred) is the most common predator of small rodents. It is easily recognizable by its round white face. The owl is one of the best hunters out there that help control rodent populations.
In most cases, eagles enjoy fish. However, they never let a good meal getaway. If an eagle is hungry and sees a rat, you can bet it’s on the menu.
Hawks and Falcon
Rats aren’t eaten by these birds very often. Unlike the birds above, their diet is somewhat restricted to smaller birds. In some cases, small prey like squirrels, gophers, and rabbits are targeted. However, the red-tailed hawk and the northern harrier don’t mind a bit of rat in their diet. It prefers catching rats during the day because of increased visibility.
Red-tailed hawks are ambush predators, so when they see small mammals or mice, they circle until it’s the perfect time to strike.
Weasels have a long thin body with a small head which is ideal for forcing their way into caves of any ground-dwelling animal. They usually go after baby birds, baby rabbits, and eggs. The weasel loses heat relatively quickly, so it is common to feed a lot to keep warm.
Rats are everywhere and reproduce at an alarming rate. That makes them an ideal fresh meal for a hungry weasel to snack on. It is a primary reason why rats and mice are the ideal prey for weasels.
Snakes are another creature that is specifically designed to kill rodents. One snake, in particular, comes to mind when thinking of natural rat predators. Rat snakes are those animals that can be found throughout urban areas within the Southern United States. You can find them in barns and abandoned buildings. The rat snake primarily hunts rats and can kill more than 200 per year. On average, more common snakes like corn snakes can eat about a dozen mice or rats within one year.
Possums are aggressive animals to rats and humans. They hunt, kill, and consume the a significant number of mice and rats every year. The possum is one of nature’s finest scavengers that eat anything, including rodents dead or alive.
Wild cats can be frustrating to have around your home, but there’s no doubt that they help curb a rat problem. The issue with this is that most do not eat the rats but leave them dead somewhere. Luckily in these cases, other animals or the rats themselves eat the deceased creatures.
However, some feral cats do eat mice and hunt rats which helps keep the populace in town and cities down.
Mountain lions commonly hunt rats. When food is not abundant, a mountain lion will eagerly snap up a defenseless rat for a quick snack. Unfortunately, there has been a case of a mountain lion being poisoned due to eating a rat that had ingested harmful chemicals. That is why it is illegal in some states to poison rats. The preferred method is to trap and remove these pesky creatures.
Learning that rodents are a cause for their population decline might surprise, but it is true. Apart from traditional food types, sometimes rats do eat their kind. In cases of food shortages, rats would resort to eating their kin. It is a common practice among new mothers to eat their own young. That is for the case of survival and keeping the strongest alive.
It is mainly done as an act of kindness to the remaining offspring. The offspring wouldn’t grow up starving, and the mother could partly take care of herself. They also won’t think twice about each other rodents during times of hunger.
Why Do Animals Eat Rats?
There are many reasons why animals eat rats. Some of them include being a quick catch for the predator. It has also been proven that rats are nutrient-dense for both humans and animals. Does that mean Southeast Asian countries know something we don’t?
Rodents are part of the food chain for many wild birds of prey and other prey animals.
A rodent problem in your home or workplace can be catastrophic for business, and your well-being. Learning more about these intelligent creatures can help you to make a more informed decision when removing them.
Rats are commonly found in urban areas and are generally harmless. There have been cases of people who have experienced rat-bite fever, which does not happen frequently. It doesn’t happen very often but can cause serious injury if you receive a bite. The strong teeth of a rat can tear through the bone membrane or even dismember a ligament.
If you are suffering from a rat problem at the office or home, it might be time to call a professional.
We at AAAC Wildlife Removal handle pest control problems with the utmost respect.
Our company is the number one rat and mice removal service in the United States. All procedures are handled with care to maintain a safe removal. Contact us to resolve any rodent control issues you might encounter.
Originally published on https://aaacwildliferemoval.com/blog/rats/animals-that-eat-rats/