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Rats are one of the most widespread species in the world. They are found on every continent, with the exception of Antarctica. This is mainly due to the commensal relationship that they have with us. They have evolved to scavenge for human food and set up in our homes, parks, sewers, and fields. Rats are not only capable of carrying diseases but they are also known to cause damage to buildings.

The rat’s diet is an important factor when considering whether or not rats may infest your property. Rats will eat just about anything that is edible to humans, including meat, fruits, vegetables, and bread. On top of that, rats also enjoy non-edible items like cardboard boxes and insulation; therefore it is difficult to keep them out of the home. However, despite having this wide diet, there is the popular misconception that rats love cheese more than anything else. As it turns out this is not true. In fact, they will often choose other foods over cheese.

Rats and cheese – a misunderstood relationship

The myth that a rat will always choose a piece of cheese over other food options is false. This is not to say that rats don’t like cheese, because they do. However, researchers at the University of Manchester found that cheese is not at the top of the rat’s priority list. During the experiment, researchers would place two pieces of food in front of rats and record how many times each type of food was eaten. They found that rats preferred other types of food such as bread, corn kernels and even sugary drinks over cheese. However, at the top of the list was peanut butter.

The myth that rats love cheese may stem from as far back as the Middle Ages. In previous centuries, food was usually kept in basements or caverns for secure storage. Meat was hanged and cured, while dried goods and fruits were stored in jars. Since there were no refrigeration facilities, these basements and caverns were the only way to keep perishable food cold during the summer. So when rats would find these storage areas, they would eat everything that was out in the open. Since a lot of food was stored in jars, the rats would only go for the cheese and the meat.

Peanut butter is the best food choice to bait your traps. Jam or chocolate can also be good substitutes. Sometimes the problem isn’t the bait, however, but the placement of the traps or the rats’ attitudes towards them. Rats can become paranoid about new items in their environment so it is important to familiarize yourself with the traps before they will go for the bait. You can find more information on trapping and baiting rats on our blog, or you can get in touch with us directly.