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What Does a Rat Eat in the Wild?

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Pet rats might have a well-balanced diet thanks to their owners' help, but wild rats will eat what they can, when they can. Because of this, it's possible for wild rats to have nutritional problems and even go hungry, depending on where they live and what food is available in the area. Fortunately, wild rats are not picky eaters.

Feeding Behavior

Wild rats are opportunist omnivorous eaters. That means they will eat whatever they can find. In most cases, this includes grains, fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts and any other edibles they might find. Although rats prefer to eat what they find, they will hunt in occasion, catching bugs and other small animals. Wild rats that live in cities or near cities will eat whatever they find in garbage cans or landfills.

Finding Food

Rats, like hamsters and other rodents, are food hoarders. That means they'll take more food than they can eat so they can hold on to it for later. Many will eat some of what they find, then bring the rest along so they can hide it near where they live. Rats forage for food at night in order to stay hidden and to avoid predators.

Trying It Out

Rats are careful eaters. In the wild, the type of food available might change from day to day, which means wild rats must try new things on a regular basis. To avoid eating something that might make them sick, wild rats are used to "sampling" or trying tiny amounts of foods to make sure they can digest it properly.

Getting Enough Nutrients

Wild rats engage in coprophagy. This means rats will eat their own feces on a regular basis. This allows them to ingest any folic acid, biotin and vitamin K present in the feces that they would otherwise miss out on because these nutrients are hard to absorb properly.