WHAT ANIMALS EAT RATS?

Written by: Akeem Eletu

Being one of the tiniest animals on earth, rats constantly fear being the next meal for any predator lurking around. Whether in the fringes of rural areas, or the bustling urban regions, their lives are constantly in danger. 

Wherever they may be, whether in the sewer lines, open gardens, rooftops holes and gutters, or burrows in the wild, predators that eat rats are almost everywhere. 

While many animals may come to your mind when you think about animals that eat rats, here is a list of what animals eat rats. 

WHAT ANIMALS EAT RATS

Surprisingly, rats can live for up to a year in the wild – even though many other animals see them as food on four legs. But the list of rat predators is almost endless. Below are some animals that are worthy of mention.

OWLS

Owls top the “what animals eat rats” list. They are natural predators of rats. A large portion of the owl’s diet consists of small critters like rats and smaller rodents.

Rats are nocturnal animals. They usually hunt for food at night, using the dark and quiet as their cover. Unfortunately for rats, that makes them excellent targets for owls because these birds are also mainly active at night. 

Furthermore, the bad eyesight of rats puts them at a disadvantage. Rats barely see in the dark, so they rely heavily on their incredible sense of smell to find food and hearing to look out for predators. 

However, owls have impressive night vision and are skilled at flying quietly. Therefore, they can spot a rat from afar, swoop down noiselessly, and pick them up in their large talons, catching these rodents unaware.

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SNAKES

Rats constitute a significant part of a snake’s diet. Snakes are so notorious for eating rats that some snake species are called ‘rat snakes’.

Snakes that eat rats are usually non-venomous and will kill the rat by constriction. They will wait for the rat, using the soil or leaves as camouflage. When the rat is close enough, they will wrap their long body around it and suffocate it. 

Snakes eat rats whole, so it takes a long time for their food to digest. For most snake species, digestion lasts an entire day. You will know a snake has most likely had a tasty rat meal if you see a protruding rat-sized bulge in its belly.

Many farmers even use these rat-eater snakes as a chemical-free alternative to controlling the rodent population on their farms.

BOBCATS

These wildcats are known to target small prey. Bobcats can prey on some giant animals, but they prefer killing small mammals, like rabbits and squirrels because it is easier to kill animals less than half their size. And rats are not an exception.

Bobcats attack rats simply by lying in wait for them. If a rat doesn’t sniff them out or is stupid enough to wander too close, these stealthy killers will swiftly pounce on them. The bobcat will typically use its sharp claws to trap the rat and strike a death blow.

WEASELS

These tiny mustelids are sneaky killers in disguise. Like owls, they are also nocturnal, making rats easy prey.

A weasel is small enough to squeeze through the same tiny holes rats pass through. They take out the rat by repeatedly biting its neck until it’s dead.

Weasels are infamous for being thrill-killers. They tend to kill more than they can eat, giving people the impression that they kill for fun. 

Although you can use a weasel to keep your rodent population under control, you shouldn’t put your complete trust in them. These savage killers are also notorious for being predators of poultry birds and their eggs, which is the most significant disadvantage of having them around.

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HAWKS

Like owls, hawks enjoy having a rat feast! They have an excellent vision which helps them spot the rat from afar. They will then swoop down swiftly and capture the rats in their large talons.

Unlike owls, hawks hunt in the daytime. They might not spot as many rats due to the nocturnal nature of these rodents. 

However, hawks do prefer to hunt when nightfall is approaching. They will occasionally swoop down to pick an unlucky rat from the roof or a part of the fence for dinner.

DOGS

As strange as it may seem, wild dogs eat rats, especially when food is scarce. While you may be quick to dismiss the thoughts that dogs eat rats, few occurrences and even reports of dogs killing and eating rats have been reported.

Wild and stray dogs are more likely to eat rats than trained dogs. Hunting dogs (trained especially to keep household pest populations in check) will also eat rats. Examples of such hunting dogs are Terriers and Dachshunds. They are excellent dog breeds for keeping pest infestation at bay. 

CATS

Yes, cats eat rats. Thanks to the media, any kid will almost always mention cats when asked what animals eat rats. But cats are lazy predators of rats. 

They only stalk and kill rats for entertainment or whenever they’re bored. If they’re not in the mood for some hunting, these domestic felines can’t be counted on to eliminate your rat population.

However, it is untrue that rats live in the mortal fear of cats. Like their wild counterparts, the bobcats, domestic cats still have the instinct to attack a rat with their sharp claws and teeth. And they will almost always take the time to have fun torturing the rat before finishing it off.

RATS

Rats do eat rats, but only in extreme situations. These cannibalistic mammals are known to prey on other rats when there are food shortages. For example, a mother rat can eat up her babies when starved.

But such instances are rare and only happen in extreme cases. For most of their lifespan, rats are too busy worrying about keeping themselves safe from other predators and will consider the company of rats safer than that of other animals.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Rats have so many predators because they are small and easy to catch. Birds, felines, canines, snakes, and many other animals will not refuse a rat feast!

Although they might have different methods and motives for killing them, all these predators can threaten a rat’s existence.

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