What do rats eat?


If you’re thinking of trapping a rat, the first question is often, “what do rats eat?”. Knowing what the best bait to lure them in with is critical, so it’s really important we get this right when trapping.

Fortunately for us, wild black and brown rats aren’t fussy eaters and they’ll scavenge food from a wide variety of sources. They’re looking for high energy, long-lasting food sources and they’re suspicious of new foods that appear all of a sudden (like a baited trap). While it's a popular belief that rats eat cheese, they prefer more delicious treats like chocolate and peanut butter these days!

“All rat species look for high energy, long lasting food sources and they’re suspicious of new foods which appear all of a sudden (like a baited trap)."

What do rats eat in your backyard?

Grains & seeds

Just like us, grains and seeds are a great energy source for rats. It’s why you’ll often find rats in places like feed stores, chicken coops or even where you might be feeding birds on your lawn.


Rats love any kind of nuts, foraging under walnut trees and hunting out your jar of peanut butter. High fats mean high energy, just what rats need.

Fruits & vegetables

Fruit trees with plenty of over ripe fruit are a banquet for rats to feast on, and your compost bin is full of great vegetables they love. High in sugar, these foods encourage rat breeding during high production seasons.

Small animals & insects

This one’s the killer for our native wildlife. Brown and black rats love protein dense insects, and some breeds, like the Ship Rat, are great climbers which allows them to get directly into nests and steal eggs. They even eat other rats, they’re not fussy.

Everything you leave behind

As some of the best scavengers on the planet, rats are always found living where humans are. They love human rubbish, and will often be found in or around bins. It’s critical to consider what rubbish is present when you’re evaluating the performance of your trap.

fruits and nuts

What do rats eat as bait?


While they may not have the luxury in the wild, if a rat smells chocolate it’s sure to be tempted. It’s the perfect combination of high sugar & high fat - so they’re super keen on it. This is why we have scientifically formulated our Chocolate Lure especially for rats - it actually contains real chocolate! We also offer our Nut Butter Lure. 

Peanut butter

No matter which brand you use, both black and brown rats are sure to love peanut butter on a trap. One thing to be cautious of is peanut butter goes rancid within a week, so replacing the bait on your trap regularly is key. The smell is critical for attracting rats, so keep it fresh.

Familiar foods

If you’ve seen rats around your pet food, maybe try using this in your trap. They’ll already be familiar with the smell and taste of the food which makes it super appealing to them. You can also try meat sources, or other foods familiar in your backyard. 

Why do rats enjoy eating poison?

In order to attract rats to consume poison, bait producers usually add it to a cereal pellet. This is generally made up of solid grains, which give rats something to chew on as well as a great energy source. While they might consume poison, a toxic death isn’t a quick kill one. It’s not cool.

Our top tips to get of your rats:

Make sure the rats get to know your bait before you begin trapping. This way they’ll get used to the smell and flavor, and feel more comfortable around your trap . All rat species will be less afraid of a food source, the stronger it is, so making sure there’s plenty of pre-feed around your trap is critical to the trapping process. Rats will begin interacting with the pre-feed and the trap in time, now it’s time to be patient!

Keep your bait fresh, or opt for food which has a long life to lure them in. The best part about fresh bait, is the fresh part. Keeping it new in the trap every few days is critical to rats being attracted to the bait. If you don’t have time to refresh the bait often, try a long life lure like the Goodnature automatic lure pump (ALP for short). These offer a constant flow of fresh bait for six months, and come with an A24 & Mouse Trap.    


Remove competing food sources. No matter how good your bait is, if there’s plenty of other food around a rat will have no reason to engage with your trap. The more food you can remove from around the trap, the more successful you will be. 

It’s also important to remove other baited traps from the area. If you’re keen to test one trap against another, it’s important to test them in different sites, otherwise it’s simply a matter of which trap the rat finds first, rather than an accurate test. It can detract from your overall trapping success having competing traps. 

If you’re still asking yourself “what do rats eat”, get in touch! We’d love to chat with you about the rats in your backyard and how we can help to remove them. 

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