mouse eating raspberry in the outdoors

What Do Mice and Rats Eat?

Mice and rats are far from picky eaters. These nocturnal creatures have a talent for discovering food in unexpected locations, so it’s not surprising that they can find nourishment just about anywhere.

We’ll explore what mice and rats eat, both in the wild and in captivity, along with some unique facts about these little foragers.

Key Pest Points:

• Wild mice and rats will eat just about anything, including fruits, vegetables, seeds, insects, eggs, and even small animals.

• In captivity, pet mice and rats must have a diet rich in protein and fiber. Commercially prepared foods are available specifically designed for these animals.

Unique Facts About Mice and Rats

To fully understand these critters’ eating habits, knowing some basic facts about them is essential. So, learn some awesome and exciting tidbits about mice and rats.

  • Strong sense of smell: Rodents have a unique sense of smell. They can sniff out food from long distances, which is why they’re attracted to the scent of garbage, pet food, and other food sources in your home.
  • Can fit through small openings: Small openings are no match for rodents. Those little critters can slip through spaces as small as a dime. Unfortunately, they can make their way into your home and wreck things.

It’s also important to know that mice and rats are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant-based and animal-based foods.

Wild Wood Mouse Eating Blackberry in the wild.

What Do Mice Eat in the Wild?

Mice and rats are opportunistic scavengers, meaning they will eat whatever they can get their paws on. Here’s a list of some of their favorite wild fare and where they typically find these delectable morsels:

  • Seeds and Grains: These tiny critters have a particular affinity for seeds and grains. They can be found feasting on seeds from plants, such as sunflower seeds, corn kernels, and wheat grains. You’ll often spot them in fields, barns, and even granaries, where these food sources are abundant.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Mice and rats aren’t averse to the occasional fruity indulgence. They relish the taste of ripe fruits like apples, berries, and grapes. In addition, they’re keen on munching on fresh vegetables like carrots, peas, and broccoli. Gardens and orchards provide a bountiful supply of these irresistible treats.
  • Nuts and Acorns: If you’re a fan of nuts, it’s worth noting that mice and rats share your enthusiasm. These crafty critters scurry around forests and wooded areas, nibbling on nuts like almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts. Acorns also make it to their menu, as they provide a readily available source of nourishment.
  • Insects and Small Invertebrates: When not eating plants, mice and rats indulge in a protein-rich diet of insects and small invertebrates. They enjoy the taste of bugs such as beetles, caterpillars, and spiders. Leaf litter, gardens, and other outdoor habitats are prime hunting grounds for these tiny predators.
  • Carrion and Leftovers: Mice and rats are not picky eaters and won’t turn down a free meal. They scavenge for carrion, feeding on the remains of animals that have met unfortunate fates. They also scavenge from trash bins or feed on leftover food scraps near human dwellings.

Understanding what do mice like to eat in the wild is crucial when eliminating them from your home. Removing potential food sources makes your living space less appealing to these unwanted visitors.

How Rodent Captive Diets Differ from Wild Diets

Out in the wild, mice and rats have a diverse diet. They’ll rummage around for seeds, grains, fruits, veggies, insects and even hunt small animals.

When kept in captivity, giving your animals a controlled and balanced diet is important to get all the necessary nutrients. This way, they won’t gain weight or suffer from health problems caused by a nutrient deficiency.

While mice and rats in captivity have a readily available food supply, they lack the variety and excitement of foraging for their meals as they would in the wild.

Therefore, providing them with environmental enrichment is crucial by offering different types of food, rotating treats, and providing toys or puzzles that encourage their natural foraging instincts.

Toxic Foods for Mice and Rats

Providing a balanced and nutritious diet for mice and rats is essential, but rodents must avoid a few foods. Chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol are toxic; even small doses can be deadly. Also, fruits like onions, garlic, avocados, and rhubarb can be harmful, so steer clear of those too!

Finally, processed foods such as chips, crackers, and sweets are not recommended for mice and rats. These sugary treats can cause health issues such as digestive problems in these rodents. Learning what do rats eat and should not eat is essential for keeping them healthy and happy.

A rodent is seen eating seeds in New York City.

Problems Rodents Cause in Your Home and Garden

Mice and rats are more than just a nuisance; they can wreak havoc on your home and garden. Here are some of the issues that these pesky critters can cause:

  • Contamination and health risks: Rodents are famous for spreading disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Their droppings, urine, and saliva can contaminate your home, posing serious health risks to you and your family. Hantavirus, salmonella, and leptospirosis are just a few examples of the diseases that rodents can give you.
  • Structural damage: These tiny creatures may seem harmless, but their gnawing habit can lead to significant structural damage. They have a strong set of teeth that never stop growing, and they’ll happily sink their teeth into anything they can find: electrical wires, insulation, wooden beams, and even plumbing pipes. Not only can this cause potential fire hazards and water leaks, but it can also be costly to repair.
  • Garden woes: Rodents don’t limit themselves to the cozy corners of your home; they’ll venture out into your garden as well. Mice and rats love to munch on plants, vegetables, and fruits. Your carefully nurtured garden can quickly become their buffet, leaving you with damaged crops and frustrated green thumbs. Additionally, their burrows can disrupt the soil and damage the roots of your plants, compromising their overall health.

These are just a few problems that mice and rats can cause in your home and garden. Taking proactive measures to protect your property from these pesky rodents is essential.

How to Evict Rodents From Your Home

Now that we’ve discussed the problems rodents can cause let’s delve into some effective methods to evict these unwelcome guests from your home.

  • Identify Entry Points: To effectively evict rodents, you must find out how they get in. Start by inspecting your home for cracks, holes, or gaps in walls, floors, and ceilings. Pay special attention to areas around pipes, vents, and utility openings. Rodents can squeeze through remarkably small spaces, so seal off any entry points using materials like steel wool, caulk, or foam insulation.
  • Remove Attractants: Rodents are resourceful creatures, and they’ll happily invade your home if there’s a readily available food and water supply. Keep your living space clean and free of food debris by regularly sweeping, vacuuming, and wiping down surfaces.
  • Use Rodent Traps: Various traps are available, so choose the one that suits your preference. Snap traps are classic and efficient, while live traps allow you to capture the rodents unharmed to release them outside. Glue boards are another option, as they can be placed in hard-to-reach areas or tight spots. Check the traps daily and dispose of any dead rodents immediately.
  • Employ Natural Deterrents: If you prefer a more eco-friendly approach, consider using natural scent deterrents to repel rodents. Peppermint oil is known for its strong scent, which rodents dislike. Mothballs and ammonia-soaked rags are also reputed to discourage rodents. However, use caution when handling these substances, as they can be harmful if ingested by children or pets.
  • Seek Professional Assistance: If your rodent problem persists or seems beyond your capabilities, it may be time to call the professionals. Pest control experts have the knowledge, experience, and tools to tackle even the most stubborn infestations.

Understanding what do mice eat and how they behave can help you take the necessary steps to remove them from your yard. Remember to approach the task patiently and persistently, as rodent eviction may take time. Rest assured, with the right strategies and a proactive approach, you can restore the peace and comfort of your home once again.


Do rats eat mice?

Yes. Rats, especially larger ones, can and do eat smaller mice. If a rat finds a mouse in its territory or near its food source, it may attack and consume the mouse as a form of food.

Can rats eat grapes?

Yes. Grapes are a popular food item among rats, and they may even come back for seconds or thirds. If you find grapes missing or partially eaten in your kitchen or garden, it’s likely the work of a hungry rodent.

Can rats eat cheese?

Yes. Rats have an affinity for cheese, so it’s not uncommon to find a pile of cheese crumbs around their hiding spots.

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