You’re never more than a few hundreds of feet away from a rat at all times. How crazy is that? When you really start to think about that, it really puts things into perspective. While the exact number would be difficult to obtain, it is estimated that there are billions of rats in the world. And it is one of the only species found in nearly every country. Moreover, a female rat can have as many as 2,000 children in a year, and they can start having children as early as 3 to 4 months old. Crazy, right Luckily rats are fairly small, or they would be running this world by now.
So with all the rats in the world, what is keeping their population at bay? Rat predators, of course. And here are some of the most common creatures that eat rats.
While technically, in the literal term of a predator, “an animal that eats other animals”, we as humans don’t count as rats predators. Some Southeast Asian countries have been known to eat rats, such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Ghana, and Vietnam. But it’s not a common practice anymore, nor do we recommend trying it. However, we do actually contribute to a big chunk of the rat population control. This is mainly due to constant deforestation, our persistent intrusion with their natural ecosystem, and clever rat control methods that we’ve created in our time on this earth.
That being said, we play a very small role in rat predator category. So, let us take a deep look at the world of rat predators, and which creatures should rats fear.
If you’ve grown up with cartoons then you probably know that cats eat rats. While we all giggled at the constant and quite literal cat and mouse game that Tom & Jerry were playing, there was actually some merit behind it. It may be hard to believe that your friendly neighborhood cat would snack on a rat, but there is a very good chance that they already have done that. At the very least they probably have tortured a rat until it dies.
Domestic cats are, however, not the only species of cats that enjoy a good rodent snack. Wildcats like bobcats and mountain lions hunt them as well.
Most dogs are really interested in rats, and if you do see one chasing after the rat, most likely you’re going to have a mess and a half to clean up later, as dogs don’t generally eat rats only play with them.
The most common rat-catching dog breeds are terriers. Terriers were bred to hunt rodents of all kinds that dwell underground. And thanks to their small bodies and high energy they can quickly dig a hole up and catch their prey.
Fun Fact: There is a dog breed specifically named ‘rat terrier’.
While coyotes would prefer to get their pawns on your pets, such as rabbits, cats, and even small dogs, they have been known to eat rats, too. Coyotes are actually very open-minded when it comes to their diet and will shift it to whatever prey is most readily available.
While your love pet budgie bird may not be the best rat predator out there, it sure does have a few cousins that will make up for the budgie’s lack of interest.
There is a category of birds called raptors which are the most common rat predators:
- Owls: The barn (barred) owl, which is very recognizable due to its round and white face, is an excellent rat hunter.
- Eagles: While eagles mainly enjoy fish, however, they have been known to never let a good meal get away, even if that meal is a rat.
- Falcons and Hawks: These birds don’t eat rats as commonly as the above-mentioned birds. Mostly they enjoy other small birds, or larger ground animals such as rabbits, gophers, and squirrels. Yet, the red tail hawks, which are found all across North America, don’t mind rats too much, and will even hunt them during the day.
Since weasels have a small head and long, tiny body, they are able to sneak into the burrows of any ground dwelling animal it feels like feeding on. Mostly weasels go for baby rabbits, baby birds, and eggs. However, because the weasel is known to lose heat fairly quickly, it means that it has to eat often to keep warm. And since rats are so common and known to reproduce rapidly, there is always a fresh meal nearby for the weasel to snack on, therefore for weasels rats are never off the menu.
This is another one of mother earth’s creatures that actually has a specified species dedicated just for killing rats. The rat snake, which is common throughout the southern United States, can quite often be found in urban areas and frequently inhabits abandoned buildings and barns. Most other snakes, however, will only eat about a dozen or so rats a year.
Possums actually hunt, kill, and consume the largest number of rat and mice among all the predators we’ve covered today. They are one of nature’s finest scavengers, and in true scavenger fashion will eat anything, including rats, dead or alive.
Lastly, this one may come as a surprise, but it is true, sometimes rats do eat other rats. While food shortage definitely contributes to rats feeding on their kin, it is actually most commonly seen in new mothers eating their own young. They do this partly as an act of kindness, so their offspring won’t grow up starving, and partly to take care of themselves.