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Do Rats Eat Roaches? (Why It Happens)

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Yes, rats do eat roaches, but only as an alternative if they can’t find other foods. Rats are omnivorous and mostly eat vegetables, fruits, grains, and animal protein. Roaches or other insects are not common parts of a rat’s diet, but they eat them if they have nothing else to eat.

Cockroaches are considered one of the most unpleasant and annoying pests, and getting rid of them is extremely hard. 

People have created poisonous substances for these insects for decades, but in nature, roaches have many natural enemies.

One of the cockroach’s natural enemies is the rat.

While roaches are not the main prey of any animal, German and American cockroaches are often the only source of food for rodents that live in buildings.

Rats also consume roaches caught in glue traps if they can’t hunt them. These make for easy meals.

In this article, you will learn if rats eat common or Dubia roaches, if rats kill roaches, why rats eat roaches, and many more.

What Do Rats Eat?

Rats are omnivores. Their diet is based on fruits, vegetables, grains, and animal protein. Animal protein comes mainly from carcasses rats come across, but also human food waste and insects. They consume almost 10% of their body weight daily.

Rats are omnivorous creatures[1] that can eat almost anything. 

Their diet includes the following:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Seeds
  • Meat and carcasses
  • Insects

While rats can survive by eating the same food every day, it’s not healthy for them. Long-term consumption of only one food source (e.g. roaches) can lead to vitamin-mineral deficiencies.

Related: Safe Fruits & Vegetables for Rats

The diet of rats varies depending on where they live. Rats from the plains and forests eat more plants, while those living in the city eat more animal protein.

It is important to store your garbage or pet food away from roaches and rats to keep them away from your home. Pet food and trash attract roaches and rats.

Related: What Do Rats Eat?

What Do Rats Eat

Do Rats Eat Roaches?

Rats eat roaches as an alternative when they can’t find other foods. Mice and rats are considered enemies of roaches in nature. It is possible that rats in your house won’t eat roaches as they can contain poisonous substances, such as insecticides.

These rodents consume roaches and other insects when they have no other food source. Cockroaches are not considered a staple in their diet.

The most common species of cockroaches that infest homes are:[2]

  • German roach (Blattella germanica)
  • American roach (Periplaneta americana)
  • Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis)
  • Brown-banded cockroach (Supella longipalpa)
  • Pennsylvania wood roach (Parcoblatta pensylvanica)

Rats can consume all of these species, but also others that are less common inside homes, such as the Pacific beetle cockroach (Diploptera punctata).

Why Do Rats Eat Cockroaches?

Rats primarily eat cockroaches when no other foods are available. Rats need to eat 10% of their body weight daily. In the absence of other food sources, rats hunt and eat common cockroaches or other insects.

Although not the tastiest for rats, common roaches offer a complete diet because they are rich in various minerals and nutrients:

  • Proteins
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium
  • Fats
  • Iron
  • Fiber

Pacific beetle cockroaches are not common. Rats consider them a delicacy, especially the female beetle, as they are the only species of roaches that secrete a substance like milk. 

Pacific beetle cockroach
Image Source

This species of cockroaches give birth to live young, being ovoviviparous. Its young hatch from eggs while still inside the mother’s womb and feed with this milk.[4]

Rats like the milk produced by female cockroaches because it is nutritious and sweet. Pacific beetle cockroach milk contains:[5]

  • Protein
  • Fats
  • Minerals

All of these nutrients are healthy for rats.

Do Rats Eat Dubia Roaches?

Yes, rats do eat Dubia roaches. People grow and use Dubia roaches as food for reptiles and tarantulas. Like any other roach, Dubias are high in protein and fat, which are healthy for rats.

Some people keep rats as pets or breed them as food for reptiles. These breeders can choose to breed Dubia roaches as a food source for their rats.

Do Rats Eat Dubia Roaches
Image Source

Is It Safe for Rats to Eat Roaches?

Common roaches are safe for rats as long as they do not contain pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Otherwise, roaches are full of nutrients for rats. If you keep rats as pets or as food for reptiles, it is best to feed them Dubia or Madagascar hissing roaches. Common roaches can cause gastrointestinal upset if consumed in excess.

Wild rats eat almost anything. But, if you keep rats as pets or as food for reptiles, then it is useful to know which roaches are good for them.

Dubia and Madagascar hissing roaches are most often fed to pet rats as they don’t cause gastrointestinal disorders like the common cockroach.

Cockroaches that infest your house are not safe for rats as they can carry bacteria. They come from unhealthy environments and conditions, such as sewers and pipes.

If you have rats as pets, do not let them eat the dead roaches you find around the house. They probably died from insecticides. The chemicals remain in the body of the cockroaches even after they die and can cause gastrointestinal problems in rats.

Do Rats Keep Roaches Away?

Rats can keep roaches away, but you shouldn’t count on it. While rats are a natural enemy of roaches, they tend to avoid them. Only very hungry rats hunt and eat cockroaches.

Rats and roaches share many of the same characteristics:

  • They eat almost anything.
  • They like moist and unsanitary places.
  • They are nocturnal.

Even if rats occasionally eat roaches, they can’t help you get rid of these annoying insects. Cockroaches are an option only when they have no other food source, appealing to them as a last resort.

Rats will look for their favorite foods first. If they find nothing to eat and are hungry, they turn to roaches out of desperation and instinct for survival.

Both pests are nocturnal, so they forage for food at night when it is quiet. If they find alternative food sources, roaches can walk in front of rats and escape unharmed.

If you have a house infested with rats, there is a good chance that roaches will be attracted to them and populate your home. Like rats, cockroaches can eat almost anything, including rat droppings. 

In other words, roaches can thrive on rat feces if your home is infested.

Do Rats Keep Roaches Away

How to Prevent Roaches With Home Remedies

To prevent roaches you can try the following home remedies:

  • Clean your house with a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water. Wipe countertops, floors, and all rooms where there is food. In this way, you remove the odors attractive to roaches (and rats).
  • Use a trash can with a lid. It will keep cockroaches, rats, and odors at bay. Roaches are good climbers and can get in the trash very quickly.
  • Clean the plastic containers and everything recyclable with soap and water before you dispose of them.
  • Do not leave dry food unpacked as it can attract roaches and rats.
  • Keep your pets’ food in a container with a lid.
  • Clean and block the drains, especially at night. Clean with ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of vinegar regularly to prevent odors.

FAQs

Do Field Rats Eat Wood Roaches?

Yes, field rats do eat wood roaches. Wood roaches prefer humidity and unhygienic conditions, and your house and yard can become a favorable environment for their development. Field rats can eat wood roaches if they meet them in their path.

Do Rats Kill Roaches?

Rats hunt and kill roaches to eat them. They don’t kill roaches for fun, as they occasionally do with mice. If you want to get rid of roaches with the help of rats, first think about why the cockroaches came and eliminate the source. Rats do not kill or eat roaches if they have another food source (e.g. trash or pet food).

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

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