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What Do Rodents Eat?

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Lots of people are terrified of rodents despite the fact that they are rather small.  When you look at these small mammals of the Rodentia family, it is hard to note why so many fear them.  Most rodent species have cute faces and soft furry bodies.

So why are people so afraid of rodents?  Well, it mostly is because they can carry and spread dangerous diseases like rabies.  Rodents can also cause a lot of property damage because species like mice and rats have such a flexible diet that results in lots of property damage.

What Do Rodents Eat?

Not all rodent species share the same diet.  Some species like mice and rats are omnivores and will eat just about any type of food matter they can find.  Species like rabbits and squirrels are mostly herbivores and mostly feed on plant matter.  Here is a quick look at some of the most common foods these animal types love to eat.

Seeds And Grains

Most rodent species love to eat seeds and grains.  Squirrels are especially fond of this food source.  This is exactly why they can be such a pest around bird feeders.  Rats and mice also love seeds and grains.  These animals will eat just about any type of seeds and grains.  If you are feeding pet rodents then you can buy seed mixes that include foods like flax seeds, sunflower seeds, soy nuts, egg noodles, rice, oats and many other ingredients.

Fruits And Vegetables

Herbivore and omnivore rodents like rabbits, prairie dogs, rats, mice and many others love to eat fruits and veggies.  They love to make nests near their food supplies.  This is why you will see so many rodent infestations near crop and produce farms.  Rodents eat all sorts of fruits and vegetables such as leafy greens, cabbage, cucumber, green pepper, carrots, raisins, peas, green beans, apple, orange and many other foods.

Plant Matter

Rodents eat a huge variety of plant types.  They eat various parts of the plant such as roots, stems, leaves, twigs, blossoms and flowers.  Plants like alfalfa, grass, corn and many others are perfect for their digestive system.


Lots of rodent species like rats also feed on insects.  They rely on lots of protein and love to eat all sorts of insects such as earthworms, beetles, pupae, larvae, termites and many other insect species.  Rodents usually focus on insects when other food sources are dwindling or when they require more protein in their diet.

Aquatic animals

Some rodent species spend lots of time in the water.  Species like coypu, pacas, Eurasian beavers and capybaras are frequently scouring the waters in search of food.  Rodents love to hunt for aquatic animals like fish, frogs, crabs and other crustaceans.

Bird Eggs

Most rodent species will eat bird eggs if they happen to find a nest.  Bird eggs and reptile eggs are a good source of protein for these furry animals.

Small Animals

Omnivore rodent species like coypus, rats, mice and others will also hunt smaller animals down to feed on these animals.  These mammals make prey of injured birds, bird chicks, smaller rodents, lizards and the young of their own species.  Omnivore rodents like rats typically require about 16% meat that has only about 4% fat.


If fresh food is unavailable, omnivore rodents will also feed on carrion meat.  Rodents like rats are especially fond of carrion meat and are happy to feed on just about any animal carcass they can find. They will even eat on the carcasses of other rats and they are perfectly fine with eating flesh that has been decomposing for several days or even weeks.

Diet Variations

You will sometimes see rodents nibbling at non-food objects like clothes, paper, wood, and wires.  They do not eat these items but rather chew and collect these materials as building materials to create comfortable nests.

Omnivore rodent species like hamsters, rats, and mice can also become cannibalistic.  They sometimes eat their own young, the young of other mammals, or even each other.

Rodents can also grow fond of human food that they would normally be unable to access in the wild.  Human food like bread, cookies, sugar, cereal, and many other foods can safely be offered to rodents as long as you offer these foods in moderate portions.

How to Feed Rodents?

Before you can feed rodents in your garden or pet rodents, you should first identify their species.  Some rodents like rabbits and capybaras are strict vegetarians while others like rats can eat almost anything.  Once you have identified its species, you will know what type of food to offer your pet rodent or the rodents in your garden.

Most rodents can eat all day long but it is unhealthy for rodents to have constant access to food because they can become obese if they do not get enough exercise.  If you do keep a rodent as a pet, you can offer it food twice per day.  If you are feeding rodents in your backyard, then you can offer food once per day since these rodents usually have access to lots of natural foods.

What do Rodents Eat in the Wild?

Rodents in the wild usually live close to food sources.  The Coypu and beaver love to live in rivers and dams because this is where they can find lots of food.  Rats, on the other hand, tend to target homes because there is so much they can eat and use for nesting materials.

These animals usually only eat food they find in their natural habitat.  This usually includes natural plant life, seeds, grains, insects, carrion meat, other animals, eggs, and aquatic creatures.

What do Rodents Eat in Captivity?

Pet owners usually try to offer their rodents a variety of foods so these animals will get enough nutrients.  The most common pet foods for rodents are seed mixes or pellet mixes.  Rodents also need access to fresh fruits and vegetables every day so their digestive system can stay healthy.

What do Baby Rodents Eat?

Rodents are mammals and their babies are called pinkies because most rodent species have bright pink babies.  During the first three weeks of their lives, they rely on their mother’s milk for survival.  These animals are usually born with very little fur, no teeth, and their eyes and ears are usually still closed.

From two weeks on, the pinkies will slowly start to feed on the same food types as adult rodents.  They will gradually increase the amount of solid food they consume until they are fully weaned and grown.

How much do Rodents Eat?

Rodents can eat a lot of food and they are natural gatherers.  It is not uncommon to see a hamster stuff its cheeks with as much food as it can fit.  These animals love to carry reserve foods to their nests that they can eat later on.

If rodents are offered too much food, they will become quite obese which can affect their health.  You should offer your rodent a variety of foods every day and make sure not to offer more than it can consume in one single sitting per feeding.

How often do Rodents Eat?

These animals are constantly hungry and they can eat all day and all night.  Typically, rodents eat up to 20 times per day. But ideally, pet owners should only offer food one or two times per day depending on how much you are offering.

Do Rodents Eat Their Own Babies?

Yes, rodents are very likely to eat their own young if one of these pinkies dies.  They are also very likely to kill their own young if the nest is threatened or if they are very hungry.

Do Rodents Eat Insects?

Not all rodent species do eat insects.  Omnivorous rodents like rats and mice do however love to catch and eat a variety of insect species such as grasshoppers, termites, larvae and many aquatic insects.

Do Rodents Eat Grass?

Most rodent species do eat grass.  Rabbits, capybara, rats, mice and even squirrels will eat a little bit of grass if other foods are scarce.  Some species may eat more grass than others.

What Do Rodents Hate?

If you want to keep rodents out of your home or garden then you can place items with strong smells around the house.  Mice and rats hate ammonia, mothballs, chili powder, chili oil, peppermint oil and terminix.

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