You were just walking around your property as you would on any normal day when you noticed something odd: a streak of dirt against a wall. Unsure what you were looking at, you went closer and found what looked like chew marks in the wood. Then, you spotted what looked like dark brown grains of rice about half an inch long. All signs of a very unwelcome visitor: rats.
Now, no one wants rats or mice invading their home. These rodents cause destruction. Worse, they bring disease. They can even attack if startled.
At the same time, you don’t want to resort to chemical solutions, unless you absolutely must. Your next thought might be whether there are any natural ways to deal with your rat problem. Which predators might take care of the rats? Stepping back, your bigger question is probably: what eats rats?
In this comprehensive post, we cover all of the most common animals we might have in our yards and in our homes, why employing some of them probably isn’t a very good idea, as well as what other methods you can use to control rats and mice.
Ready? Some of these answers will be more surprising than others.
Do Raccoons Eat Rats? What About Mice?
While not quite at their level, raccoons are kind of like goats–they’ll eat pretty much anything if they have no other choice. So, the technical answer to this question is yes. Raccoons will absolutely eat these smaller rodents if there is no better option available to them.
Think this through, though. Do you really want to take care of a rat problem or an issue with mice with raccoons? What’s the likely outcome there?
Answer: you’re going to create a raccoon problem. It’s hard to say whether that’s better or worse than having rats or mice, but it probably isn’t a question of either-or.
Why? Because if you try to entice raccoons to your property to control the rats, or if you have them to deal with mice, they’re going to go after other food sources first. Plants. Animals. Garbage. They’ll wreak havoc on your property.
What will happen to the rodents at that point? They’ll probably do just fine. In other words, you’ll have both a raccoon and a rat or mouse problem.
The better option is to consider what other ways you might be able to deal with your rodent problem naturally.
Do Foxes Eat Rats and Mice?
Like raccoons, foxes are omnivores. While raccoons will only turn to rats and mice as a last resort, foxes have no problem with incorporating these rodents into their diet. In fact, they’ll even kill more than they can eat and save the leftovers for later.
Not bad if you’re trying to get rid of a rat problem quickly, right? Or if you never want to see a mouse again?
Except that foxes will also eat plants and rubbish, just like raccoons. If you have small livestock like chickens, inviting a fox onto your property is like providing them with a buffet.
In conclusion, foxes aren’t the best answer to your rodent problem.
Do Snakes Eat Rats And Other Rodents?
Now we’re getting somewhere. Snakes are carnivores, and they will happily devour mice and rats.
Unfortunately, if you’ve ever owned a pet snake, you know that their eating requirements are pretty minimal. Even when they’re young and growing, they need maybe two meals a week. Once they reach adulthood, that shrinks to once a week—at most.
If you’re trying to deal with a sizable rodent population, one snake living in your yard probably won’t help much. Perhaps the better question is: do you really want to set a bunch of snakes loose on your property, just to handle your resident rodents?
Do Owls Eat Rats And Mice?
Barn owls and tawny owls will go after mice and rats with gusto, but are they a viable solution? Maybe.
If you want to use owls to curb the mice and rat population, you’ll need to set up some nest boxes on your property to attract them. These boxes should be placed high up, but in close proximity to the problem area, so the owls can observe their prey and easily swoop down on them.
Be aware that owls will also go after other small animals in the area, including baby chicks if you raise chickens.
Do Dogs Eat Rats? Will Fido Feast On A Mouse?
Will Fido find and vanquish those pesky rats? No, not really. However, there are a number of dog breeds that are quite good at hunting and killing rats and other small rodents, including Jack Russell Terriers, Dachshunds, German Pinschers, and—of course—Rat Terriers.
There are two potential downsides to using your canine companion for your rat and mice control:
- Since they’re not actually eating the rodents, just hunting them, you’ll have to clean up the mess. This is not necessarily a deal breaker, but it definitely isn’t fun.
- If you get a dog primarily for this purpose, you now have to care for it. Again, not a big deal if you want a dog as a pet, but if your sole goal is to get rid of mice or rats, that’s a big responsibility to take on.
Do Cats Eat Rats And Rodents?
Come on, you know they do! Every single episode of Tom & Jerry is about a cat trying to catch and eat a mouse. As with all of the animals listed here, though, there are potential issues.
The first one is that, as with the dog example above, you’re committing to taking care of a pet if you get a cat to handle your rat problem. Cats tend to live pretty long, too. At the minimum, you’re probably looking at 12-15 years, and many cats live closer to 20 years.
The second issue is that outdoor rat and mice problems require an outdoor cat. That’s not just as simple as deciding to open your door and let your current cat have at them if he or she has mostly been indoors until now. Outdoor skills are something they have to learn, and it’s hard to do so after cats are already adults.
Why not just get an outdoor cat? Sure, okay. But what guarantee do you have that your new cat that you’ve just set free is going to stick around?
Unlike dogs, which are loyal to a fault, most cats are thrilled to be able to come and go as they please. This can mean that they won’t be much help with your rat problem and that they can get themselves into other types of trouble that you may have to deal with.
Do Rats Eat Mice?
Here’s a weird one: can you get rid of mice by sending rats after them?
The answer is yes. Rats will eat anything if they get hungry, including mice. It’s known as muricide.
You’re not really thinking about using rats to deal with a mice infestation though, are you? Because you can see what kind of problem you’d be left with, right? A rat problem!
What Eats Mice In A House?
Pretty much the things that we’ve already covered here: rats, cats, and snakes. At least, those are the three listed animals we can realistically see being used in a house to kill and eat mice. In the case of rats, they’ll just do it on their own if you’re dealing with both problems and they come across a mouse when they’re hungry.
If you are thinking about the other animals that prey on rodents, add hawks and vultures to the list, especially if you are in a more rural area.
There’s a better question than what kinds of animals eat rats, though—what can you do to get rid of them without using dangerous poisons and chemicals?
Since that’s probably why you investigated these alternatives in the first place, let’s talk about some other ways to get rid of rats, naturally.
Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Rats Or Mice
Now we’re getting down to the heart of the matter: how to keep rats away from your home. What are some natural tactics you can try to encourage rats and mice to leave?
What’s the primary tactic pest professionals use to combat rodent problems? Exclusion. What does that mean, exactly? Technicians will inspect your home and property to determine how the rats and mice are getting in, whether it’s through a tiny crack in your siding, a hole in your eaves or a loose part of your fence.
Once these openings are sealed, you’ll make it harder for rodents to find their way in. Since these entry points can develop over time, most companies recommend annual inspections to ensure your home continues to be less attractive to these pesky pests.
Use Scented Deterrents
Borrow a cat or dog and let the animal mark its territory near where the rats are staying. This signals to rodents that there’s a potential predator around and should encourage them to leave. Rats also hate ammonia.
Use Taste Deterrents
Wasabi. Hot pepper sauce. Ammonia. If you notice rats chewing on something—like, for example, wires—douse the problem with something spicy or with another type of strong taste, and you can send them scurrying.
Experiment With Live Traps
It’s not hard to find cage and trip-traps designed for rats. Once they spring the trap, they become stuck inside and can be removed at your leisure. The issue with live traps is that they are time-consuming and not legal everywhere. Before you buy any, make sure local law allows you to use them.
Remove Food Sources
Want the rats to go? Figure out what they’re eating and remove anything that might attract these rodents, so they have to forage farther and farther away to survive. Eventually, they’ll realize that it makes no sense to stay on your property when their food source is elsewhere.
Remove Hiding Spots
Where do rats hide? Look at any cracks and crevices in and around your home’s exterior, as well as dense vegetation. Block up holes. Rip up areas they like to hide under. Keep the area generally clean. It has been shown that this is just as effective as poison at getting rid of rats and even more effective at keeping them away.
ABC Can Take Care Of Your Rat Problem
You can employ any of these methods on your own, but each of them has problems. Some are only minimally or temporarily effective. Others require specific skill sets or take a lot of work. If you’re struggling to deal with a rat or mice problem on your own, get in touch with ABC Home & Commercial Services. We’ll not only handle the hard work for you, but also give you the tools you need to ensure no rats or mice return once you’ve kicked them out.