How Long Can a Rat Live Without Food? Dealing with Pet and Wild Rats

Discover what pet and wild rats eat and how long these creatures can live without food.
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Phyllis McMahon
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Last updated: January 16, 2023
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If you’re having trouble with rats in your house, you’re probably wondering, “how long can a rat live without food?” Many people believe cutting out a rat’s food supply is the best way to get them out of your house, but the question is how long this will take. Since there are different species of rats, their lifespan is also different.

Rats are omnivores, so they can eat almost anything, from the food in your house to junk, paper, clothes, and more. Due to this, it takes a while before they are faced with starvation. It’s important to get rats out of your house quickly, as they are dirty and attract germs, can bite and cause rat-bite fever, and are simply annoying pests.

Average Rat Lifespan

The average lifespan of rats is 1.8 years, as pet rats can live up to four years while wild rats face dangers that shorten their life.

The lifespan of a rat depends on different factors, including its species, genetics, living conditions, and diet. If a rat is living in a good place with enough food to eat and there are no genetic issues, it can live for up to three years. But, only a few rats have conditions as good as this.

Even if rats don’t live too long, they reproduce quickly. So, having just a few of them can turn into an infestation in a short time if you don’t use the J.T. Eaton Nectus. Rats can give birth to up to 18 babies Trusted Source Breeding and Reproduction of Rats - All Other Pets - MSD Veterinary Manual Learn about the veterinary topic of Breeding and Reproduction of Rats. Find specific details on this topic and related topics from the MSD Vet Manual. www.msdvetmanual.com at a time, with an average of 40 babies per year but the best rat traps can help to reduce their population considerably.

What Do Rats Eat?

Rats are omnivores, so they eat any food. If you’re keeping a pet rat, you must deliberately feed it healthy food. On the other hand, a wild rat or a pest in your home will eat literally anything, even when there is no food. Use the best rat poison to prevent it.

Pet rats

How Long Can a Rat Live Without Food? Dealing with Pet and Wild Rats
Since rats are omnivores, give them a variety of foods. They can also eat cooked food like eggs, seeds, grains, and more.

Rats are healthy when they eat a combination of meats, fruits, and vegetables.

The rat’s diet should consist of fresh fruits and vegetables and some pellets or cube foods.

It seems like rats love fruits and berries the most but are also attracted to different fruits.

But, there are also harmful foods like onion, walnuts, grapes, citrus, rhubarb, chocolates, and raisins.

As for water, rats usually consume a lot of liquid. A pet rat can be easily fed through a bottle since it can flip the bowl while running or playing. Rats also drink milk, but it’s advisable to stick to providing them with water instead.

Wild Rats

How Long Can a Rat Live Without Food? Dealing with Pet and Wild Rats
” title=”The Difference Between Pet Rats & Wild Rats | Sciencing” url=”https://sciencing.com/difference-between-pet-rats-wild-rats-10052226.html”]Wild and domesticated rats have the same body structures and eating habits, but they also have differences in lifestyle and behavior.[/trusted_link] Rats mainly value nuts in the wild, as this is their primary source of protein when there is no meat. They also eat grains and seeds, and basically whatever they can find.
Wild rats Trusted Source The Difference Between Pet Rats & Wild Rats | Sciencing Wild and domesticated rats have the same body structures and eating habits, but they also have differences in lifestyle and behavior. sciencing.com have different conditions from pet rats.

In the wild, rats will eat a wide range of foods, but they will most likely stick to plants, fruits, and seeds since they have no access to meats. City rats will mostly eat garbage, meat, and any human or pet food they see in the trash or your house.

You must secure your trash bins or food sources to keep rodents Trusted Source Rodents | CDC Prevent Diseases Spread by Rodent www.cdc.gov out and use the Catchmaster Easy Set Rat Snap Trap.

In the wild, rats will drink drew built up on blades of grass or leaves. They also drink from puddles. Since fruits provide a good amount of water, they are not constantly on the lookout.

How Long Can a Rat Live Without Food and Water?

Now, let us find out “how long can a rat live without food or water?”

It is highly possible that rats, including pet and wild, won’t survive more than two weeks if they have not eaten food or drank water.

Most would survive a week, but none can survive more than two weeks. The reason why it’s so long is that rats usually store their food, so even when you cut off their food supply, they still have some stored to eat.

Rats don’t need water as much as food, so they can live longer without water. What they mostly need to survive is food. But, keep in mind that they get dehydrated fast when they lack food and become desperate for water.

Pet rats

A pet rat will survive four days without eating anything before starving to death. Pet rats might not have any food stored like wild or city rats, and since they have a quick metabolism, they quickly lose energy.

Even if a pet rat can survive for a bit without food, you shouldn’t starve them if you have more than one in the same place. Rats can start attacking each other since starving rats can lead to cannibalistic behavior. The rats might kill each other before dying from a lack of food.

Wild rats

You might wonder how long a rat can live without food in the wild. A wild rat will live up to two weeks without food before finally starving to death since they have many opportunities to store food in the wild. The only downside is that if the wild rats are hungry, they can begin attacking each other instead.

The adult rats can easily store food in their different hideouts, and they will resort to eating whatever they see in the wild.

How Long Can a Baby Rat Live Without Food?

How Long Can a Rat Live Without Food? Dealing with Pet and Wild Rats
Baby rats cannot go without food for two days.

These pups will first live on their mother’s milk for six weeks; after that, they will need real food. They are usually weak but forced to look for food due to starvation.

Will Rats Leave If There is No Food?

If there is no food available, rats will move on to look for the next food source.

The best way to keep rats out of your house is to ensure they have no access to food. Although they will last for about two weeks before dying, it can take about a month before all the rats leave your house.

Rats can even eat the dead rats when they’re starving, all to survive. But they will quickly move out because this is not pleasurable for them, so your neighbor will most likely get a rat problem as soon as you get rid of yours.

How to Starve Rats Out of Your House

If you want to starve rats, so they leave your house, there are different tips and tricks to try out. These include:

  • Keep your food away for some time. You can pack all the edible foods and store them in cupboards with essential oils that repel rats or keep them in the fridge where rats cannot enter.
  • Keep the source of water dry.
  • Keep the house clean and tidy, and make your home inhospitable for rats.
  • Use the best rat repellents or spray natural oils like peppermint in places where they hide.
  • Citronella is an essential oil that repels rats. You can soak cotton balls in oil and place them in wardrobes and cupboards.
  • Whenever you cook, check the surroundings for leftovers or any food that drops and remove it.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the answer to the question “how long can a rat live without food?”, you know the perfect timeframe to cut off their food sources. You can starve rats out of your house, but you’ll need to consistently keep the house clean and tidy so that you don’t attract these pests again.

References

1.
Breeding and Reproduction of Rats - All Other Pets - MSD Veterinary Manual
Learn about the veterinary topic of Breeding and Reproduction of Rats. Find specific details on this topic and related topics from the MSD Vet Manual.
2.
The Difference Between Pet Rats & Wild Rats | Sciencing
Wild and domesticated rats have the same body structures and eating habits, but they also have differences in lifestyle and behavior.
3.
Rodents | CDC
Prevent Diseases Spread by Rodent
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