If you love to cook (or eat!) then your kitchen is your sanctuary. Is there anything better than spreading out the ingredients, opening up the recipe book and filling the kitchen with the aroma of a fresh, homemade dish? Laughing and cooking together in the kitchen, and sitting down to the table over a shared meal is how many of the best family memories are made!
You can probably think of a few guests you’d rather not invite to dinner, but worse by far than a kooky aunt or an obnoxious cousin is the ultimate dinner party crasher – a kitchen rat!
Any appetite you had will disappear at even the thought of spotting a rat in your kitchen area. Normally, the kitchen is at least the one place in the house that gets a consistent daily cleaning. After all, it is the space where the food your family eats is prepared.
But what if the smells that draw you to the kitchen to see what’s cookin’ also smells appetizing to rodents?? You don’t want to unwittingly set out a trap or feast to attract a rat.
Protect your kitchen and eat your meals in peace. What do rats love to eat? Get the scoop. Then figure out how to secure and safeguard your pantry from a rat invasion!
What Do Rats Love to Eat?
Just like people, different rats have slightly different food preferences. The main types of rats that commonly find a way to sneak in and ravage a kitchen are the roof rat and the norway rat.
- Norway Rat: The norway rat is large an in charge. Known for it’s thick tail and long body, this is he rat that’ll make you shriek. Despite the perception that rats are dirty dumpster divers, norway rats actually are pretty healthy eaters if they have the choice. They love fresh fruit, fish and meat. Leaving a fruit basket out on the counter would be a treat they couldn’t resist!
- Roof Rat: The roof rat is the norway rat’s smaller counterpart, and is so small that it is often mistaken for a mouse! Fresh veggies, seeds and nuts are what this little rat loves to eat. Keep your salad out of reach! Surprisingly, their absolute favorite thing to eat is cat food. Your pet cat may be competing for its meal if the food bowl is easily accessible.
All rats love to eat any type of grains- cereal, granola, bread, you name it. They prefer it fresh, but will eat it stale too. When it comes right down to it, rats are opportunistic feeders. They’ll gobble up whatever is readily available and their stomach can handle just about anything including tree bark, inspects, trash or compost. Rats can even be attracted to oils and other fats that may not have been thoroughly cleaned from countertops, floors or appliances.
Rat Eating Habits
So now you know what rats love to eat, but their eating habits are important to understand too. You probably are in the habit of eating three meals a day- breakfast, lunch, and dinner- like clockwork. Rats don’t operate on such a schedule. Because they are nocturnal, rats scavenge for food in the kitchen and fill up mostly while you are asleep.
Rats are smart and sneaky. They are wary of humans and won’t risk being seen. In fact, rats normally don’t leave a 30 foot radius of their nest. Unlike mice, they are not curious explorers, but are actually cautious and calculating creatures. To adapt to their needs and stay hidden in your home for as long as possible, rats will hoard food. Crumbs, cereal, any food left out could be carried away and provide meals for days for a rat.
How to Keep Your Pantry and Kitchen Safe
Ok, so what if rats have an appetite for some of your favorite foods? Are you supposed to just stop eating them?? Of course not! You definitely don’t have to give up your granola bars, fruit, or nuts. You just want to make sure that they stored safely and securely, so that you aren’t sharing them with rats.
I will never forget the day I went to grab a granola bar out of the pantry and the wrapper was not completely sealed. At first I assumed there was a manufacturing issue and I tossed it in the trash. Then, going for another one, I took the whole box off the shelf and froze when I spotted a quarter-sized hole in the corner of the box. The gnaw marks were precise. This was the work of a rat.
In that moment I was shocked to think that this could happen in my house. But the reality is that even the cleanest, well-kept homes can have a rat guest without anyone being the wiser. Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep your kitchen and pantry safe from rats!
Keep food sealed in airtight containers
Your pantry is full of smells of tasty food stored within. Rats have a sharp sense of smell, so while your sugar doesn’t smell incredible to you, a rat will sniff it right out! How can you eliminate odors that you can’t even smell? You can contain the scents within your pantry by using airtight containers to store your food. If you want to add an extra deterrent, you could even plant scents that rats find offensive like peppermint oil, or bay leaf, on a shelf inside. Use these strategies and rats won’t have a reason to come sniffing around!
Your favorite pantry food staples- like flour, sugar, rice, cereal, nuts, etc- normally come in easy-to-chew-through packaging. Rats can gnaw through cardboard and plastic bags in a heartbeat! You may have to put a little money in up-front to invest in quality airtight food storage containers for your pantry staples, but you’ll be saving big time in the long run. Getting rid of a rat infestation is way more expensive than preventing one! Using airtight containers will also give you peace of mind that your food has not been tampered with or contaminated by a rat.
As an added bonus, taking these precautions will also keep interested insects out of your pantry as well!
Keep All Food Stored Above Counter Height
In our kitchen, we naturally want to maximize and utilize all of our cabinet space for storage. Where are all those groceries going to go?? Take a hard look at how your kitchen and pantry are currently organized. If you are storing food in cabinets below counter-level then you are simply inviting rats to come dine in your kitchen.
Rats are very capable climbers, and are also determined creatures. Where there’s a will, there’s way! If food scraps are left out on the counter overnight, they’ll find a way to get them. Rats have even been known to gnaw into under-counter cabinets from the wall behind to access food. The only safe place to store food in the pantry or kitchen is on high shelves.
Patch Any Holes
Rats are going to scope out the kitchen and pantry perimeter for weak spots to use an accessible entry point. Beat the rats at their own game! Do a thorough inspection of your kitchen and pantry area for any holes or cracks (a rat can squeeze through one that’s just the size of a quarter!).
The best thing you can patch the holes with is metal mesh and concrete. Effectively patching the holes to keep rats out takes some skill and expertise. This is also the best possible way to keep rats out! To get the gone done right, team up with your local rat control specialists at Green Rat Control.
Whatever you do, keep a watchful eye and never eat any food that you suspect could have come into contact with a rat. Rats carry infectious diseases are easily spread and very dangerous. If you find during your efforts to safeguard your kitchen that it may already be compromised, call the experts in right away! Your family’s health is on the line.
Knowing what rats love to eat and making your pantry rat-proof is the best way to keep your home safe. The best offense is a good defense!
Do you need some professional help?