Do Rats Eat Dog Poop? (Solved)


So, the question I’m going to answer here may not be the most pleasant one, but it’s one that does need to be answered.

As you can see by the title, we are talking about dog poop…well actually as to whether or not a rat is going to eat it. Now, that may sound extremely bizarre and strange to us humans, and I’m sure it will be strange to a number of other animals as well, but here’s the thing.

Rats will readily eat dog poop. It forms a key part of what they can eat, being rich in minerals, carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Rats are scavengers and are willing to eat dog poop to survive, though they would choose other food sources (such as berries or nuts) if they had a choice.

There’ I couldn’t have put it in any easier terms than that. They not only love it, but it does form a key part of what they can eat, and that’s what we need to get into a bit more.

Now, there are several things we need to cover here, and they aren’t all as disgusting as you may have expected.

In saying that, there’s no pleasant way of putting it other than the simple fact that rats and dog poop go well together.

Oh, and you can throw mice into this equation as well as they are also rather partial to some.

Brown rat on wooden floor

Rats and Dog Poop

So rats and dog poop go hand in hand, well sort of, and it’s certainly not the case that the rat is going to find dog poop disgusting.

Instead, they see an opportunity. Well, they are scavengers and will seek to eat anything that they believe will bring them some sustenance.

Rats are actually attracted to dog poop.

Keep in mind that a rat does have a very keen sense of smell, so they can pick up on that familiar scent from some impressive distances.

Actually, it’s the sort of thing that is capable of really drawing a rat to your property, and that is something you need to keep in mind.

But here’s an important point. It’s not just dog poop that a rat can be attracted to. It seems that they can be quite fond of pretty much any kind of poop if they think they can get something beneficial out of it.

It’s Not an Urban Myth

But allow me to clarify something here.

For years, it was believed by many that this entire idea of a rat-loving dog poop was nothing more than an urban myth.

Well, that’s not true.

Sure, you will find some people that don’t believe that this poop story is an actual thing. But more and more evidence is starting to show the contrary.

Now, it is something that is believed by rat experts, and pest control experts as well, and if they say that rats are attracted to dog poop, then I would tend to believe them.

Perhaps the urban myth aspect was simply due to the fact that it seems to be such a difficult thing for us to get our head around that we have tried to convince ourselves that it’s not true?

Well, it is most certainly true, and if you have a dog at home, then you may very well be causing a bit of a problem for yourself by not cleaning up after them.

Actually, if you are good at keeping your mess to a minimum, which means rats are less likely to enter your yard, but you leave that dog poop around, then you will have managed to undo all of your hard work.

Their Ability to Sniff it Out

Rats have an amazing sense of smell.

In fact, it can be argued that their sense of smell is, at times, better than a dog, and we all know how good their sense of smell tends to be. [Source]

Also, you need to remember that a rat is going to use this amazing sense of smell in order to actually determine if something they have come across is food, or if it’s something different. 

So, when a rat sniffs out some dog poop, then it can be from a real distance. But keep in mind they will have already assessed that this is something they can indeed eat, and they will be prepared to tuck right into it if they feel that this is something they want to devour at that time.

But Why Eat Dog Poop?

Considering the various other food sources that are out there, why would a rat even bother with dog poop?

Well, when you think about it, and I do mean this in a slightly unusual manner, then it makes some sort of sense.

Dog poop is going to contain various nutrients that a rat is going to find rather useful to have in their system. Basically, that canine waste is going to have fats, protein, and various minerals that are pretty useful for a rat.

Also, don’t forget the carbs in poop that weren’t digested. A rat is going to need that to survive, so it’s a major draw for them even though it’s not something we would find appealing.

Yes, even though it is material that has already been consumed, there will still be enough contained within the poop to make it worthwhile for the rat.

To be honest, it may contain enough to help them through some tough times, and dog poop is not exactly something that is seasonal like nuts or berries either.

It’s Not Their Main Source of Food

But even though it does give them sustenance, don’t think for a second that it means poop is their main source of food.

A rat is going to want to eat other things first, so it does come some way down their list of preferred food sources that would then appear on their menu. 

Actually, what tends to happen is that rats will be aware that poop could equal food, but they are more likely to turn to it when things are a bit tough when it comes to other food sources. If people say that it’s pretty much their number one source of food, then don’t believe them. 

Remember that rats will seek to eat anything if they are struggling.

After all, they love nothing more than to rake in our trash to see about eating scraps, so if that’s good enough for them, then taking that small step to poop is not as big a one as it may seem to us.

But a rat is the type of animal that will seek to do something a bit different if they are in a corner or struggling. They will take steps to ensure they survive, and if that means going down this particular path, then that’s what they will do.

dog poop on sandy ground

What Do They Prefer to Eat?

So if dog poop is not their main source of food, then what is?

Well, rats will literally eat almost anything they can get their teeth into. They are not the fussiest of eaters, but you probably already realized that with the poop thing.

But that aside, a rat is going to have a preference for several things before they go to the poop idea for a snack. That may very well come as some sort of relief to some people reading this.

Instead, they will prefer to eat the likes of berries, nuts, seeds, meat, scraps of our food, and salt.

You see, people automatically think that they can catch a rat by putting some cheese on a trap, and sure it may work, but that cheese is not the best way to attract them. [Source]

What works better, and this is something that a number of people swear by, is bacon. That appears to be the perfect way to attract a rat into a trap. It’s the smell of the meat and the salt combined that seems to send them into an absolute frenzy. 

But basically, they will eat so many different things before they get down to the dog poop meal. In saying that, you certainly don’t want to tempt those wild rats into your area by forgetting to clean up on a regular basis.

It Will Mainly Be When Things are Tough

What this means for a rat-eating dog poop is that it will often happen when things are tough and they are struggling to get enough food from elsewhere.

If they cannot access their more important sources of energy, then it is onto the dog poop idea if they want to survive.

Rats are one of the great survivors of the animal kingdom. They have the ability to really try out anything that they believe could hold the key to them being able to live.

They will even go as far as to eat their young in order to do so, and when you are prepared to do the likes of that, then eating dog poop is perhaps not as big an issue as you thought.

That in itself should help you to feel a bit more relaxed, and less likely to follow your dog around as soon as it poops, because rats will search around for things they prefer, and will even venture quite far in order to get it.

But I Don’t See it Happening?

This sort of taps into the earlier point where I mentioned that this is not an urban myth, but people will comment that they have never witnessed a rat actually eating dog poop. However, there’s a reason for that.

The reason is due to rats being busier at night, so they do all of their hard work under the cover of darkness. If you see a rat out and about during the day, then it often means they are struggling in some sense as they do prefer being out at night when they feel it’s safer.

However, just because you haven’t witnessed it doesn’t mean it is something that won’t happen. It has been viewed and studied numerous times, so there’s little doubt about it.

So, What Do You Do?

We need to address what you are going to do in order to stop this from becoming a potential problem. 

Well, the obvious answer is to make sure you clean up after your dog. Do it there and then rather than thinking you will wait until the next time.

It only takes one deposit by your dog to potentially bring a rat into the area. Just remember how good their sense of smell is, and that should be enough inspiration.

Also, if your dog urinates on any solid surface, then wash it away as soon as possible. That’s just from a hygiene point of view, and also making sure you get rid of any bacteria that can lurk around.

Finally, do pay attention to signs that there are rats in the area. That will allow you to hopefully counteract the problem before it has a chance to develop.

Signs You Have Rats

There are several signs to look out for that may indicate you have a rat problem in your yard.

Also, keep in mind that wild rats are going to often live in small groups, so if you see one in your yard, then there are probably others in the vicinity as well.

That’s probably not what you want to hear as the idea of there being so many rats in your area is not the nicest of thoughts. However, let’s get back to those signs.

  1. There are rat droppings around your yard. They have a distinctive shape and size.
  2. You see signs of a burrow having been dug in your yard.
  3. There are bite marks on things such as a garden hose.
  4. You see signs of pathways in your garden that indicate rats have been running around.
  5. There are rat nests that are visible.

As you can see, there are quite a few signs for you to look out for. Paying close attention to them is certainly advisable as it allows you to go ahead and take action before they become an even bigger problem than they already are. 

Don’t Worry About Your Pet Rat

But just as a little funny aside, let’s talk about your pet rat. Now, they will indeed have something inside of their mind that means they could be partial to some poop, but they won’t go down that particular road.

OK, so that’s partly because they won’t have the opportunity, but it also goes back to the idea of having other things available to them.

If you own a pet rat, then there’s no need to go out into the yard to find them something to eat.

Instead, some fresh fruit and vegetables along with some special rat pellets will go down an absolute treat.

That will give them everything they need from a nutritional point of view.

If all of their needs are being met, then you are going to have one very happy pet rat.

Other Things to Think About Dog Poop

But before we finish, let’s quickly clear up a few other important points regarding dog poop. 

Obviously, you need to clear that stuff up as soon as you see it, and not only for the rat’s problem. Instead, it contains various toxins and bacteria that are not only harmful to us humans, but also to dogs.

If you have more than one dog, then it could very easily be the case that one dog could pass on certain bacteria to your other dog, and make them very ill in the process.

Also, it attracts flies. Those flies carry all sorts of things, and then they can come into your home and spread their little bundle of bacteria all over the place, and that includes some fecal matter as well.

Now that does sound pretty disgusting, but it’s a fact and is not something that can be ignored. 

As I said earlier, you need to clean that up as soon as you realize that your dog has pooped. After all, we do it when we take them for a walk and they do their business, so it’s hardly something that is new to us.

So, Our Conclusion

Rats do love a bit of dog poop. It may not be their main source of food, but they are all aware that they can get some sustenance from it should the need arise.

Ultimately, that does mean you must be aware of leaving dog poop around if you own one at home. Not cleaning up after them could very well be the one thing that draws rats to your property. They can sniff that stuff out from an impressive distance.

Of course, it’s not only dog poop either, so make sure your yard is clean of all that sort of stuff, and help to keep those wild rats away from your property. They don’t need yet another invitation to venture near your home after all.

Barry Gray

Barry is a freelance writer from Scotland. He has written about pets for over a decade, and his work has been turned into a range of ebooks, courses, and material for diplomas. Barry is passionate about all animals, but particularly dogs, fish, rabbits, birds and spiders. You can find out more about Barry at https://mercurypets.com/our-writers/

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