do raccoons eat rats

Do Raccoons Eat Rats?

Written by: Akeem Eletu
Last updated on:

A raccoon’s diet is not only limited to vegetables, fruits, and edible plants. Raccoons also enjoy eating flesh. 

Do Raccoons Eat Rats?

Yes. But they do not hunt them. They are opportunistic eaters that will not make an effort to catch prey.  Rats are a last resort on their menu list.

Can Raccoons Hunt Rats?

It is highly unlikely to find a raccoon hunting rats for food. They are scavengers that prefer easy meals. Rats live in tinier spaces and have a highly developed sense of smell that alerts them to a predator, which makes hunting rats even more difficult for raccoons.

However, old and weak rodents sometimes fall victim to raccoons. Raccoons will also eat rat carrions they come across as they search for food. 

At other times, they may chase a rat for food, especially when there is no other food available in the area.

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Can Raccoons Eat Dead Rats?

Yes, raccoons will eat dead rats. Raccoons are omnivores and like eating flesh as much as they relish fruits and vegetables. 

Raccoons prefer to eat food that is easy to get. A dead rat is a free meal, and raccoons will devour it.

Can Baby Raccoons Eat Rats?

NO! 

If you find a baby raccoon near your house, in your attic, or abandoned chimney, it would be a fatal mistake to feed it some rat or dead rat flesh.

Baby raccoons need a liquid high-protein diet to grow healthy. The best thing to feed the baby raccoon is kitten milk. You can get this powdered milk in any reliable pet store. 

In the first week of its life, the baby raccoon must be fed kitten milk that is a bit warmer than 98°f. You want to feed the newborn baby raccoon as much as 8 times daily until it weighs about 190-210g. 

Reduce the feeding to about half a dozen times daily and continue to reduce that time as they grow older and bigger. 

Feed them until they start rejecting the milk. You can feed them the milk at least once every 3 hours. 

Remember to massage the genitals of the newborn after feeding. This will help it to urinate. 

After 8-9 weeks, you can introduce fruits, meat, and other solid food to the raccoon. However, it would be best to wait until the critter is old enough to handle solid food properly before introducing it to rat flesh.

Ensure that you release it in the wild after nurturing it for the first 2 months of its life. You can leave your back door open and encourage it to go out once in a while. Although the raccoon will return a couple of times, it will stop coming back as soon as it finds its place in the wild.

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Are There Any Risks Involved in Feeding Rats to Raccoons?

Raccoons are hardy creatures. Their digestive systems are equipped to handle carrion and any food they could eat if they raid a dumpster. There is hardly any risk involved in feeding rats to your raccoons except for the possible exposure to parasites.

However, you could get infected if the wild raccoon bites you. They are aggressive and rabid and carry disease-causing pathogens from the carrions they have eaten. 

If you want to feed raccoons, it is best to throw the rats at them or to a safe distance from where they can take the food. Sometimes, raccoons appear on your porch or backyard looking for food. 

If you have some dead rats, you can leave them in a visible part of the area where they normally navigate. 

Do not try to hand feed raccoons. If you get bit by a raccoon, seek medical attention as soon as possible. The raccoon could have a parasite or virus in its mouth from the carrions it ate before biting you.

Final Thoughts

It is common to find raccoons around rat-infested areas. Raccoons are one of the many animals that prey on smaller rodents like mice. 

However, if you keep livestock like chickens and find raccoons around your residence, you might want to call the animal control agency to get the raccoons back into the wild. 

Alternatively, you might want to invest in some repelling system to keep the raccoons at bay. But if you do not have any livestock that can be preyed on, all you may have to watch out for is personal injury as you let the raccoons keep the rat population in check.

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