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What Food Do Rats Eat?

Posted by [email protected] on March 10, 2016 at 6:25 AM

You may notice that rats are quite voracious eaters. They eat almost everything including the clothes inside your wardrobe. However, would you believe that this very fact is the reason of their foraging conflicts? Because rats are omnivorous (eats both meat and vegetation) and are also prevalently distributed all around the globe, finding the appropriate food to eat may prove to be quite difficult for them.


If a creature is an omnivore, it simply means it would have to exploit many different varieties of food sources. And that would also mean, rats would have to go through many different environments to explore new food resources and this ability have made them one of the most successful species of animals on the planet since time immemorial. But because their omnivores, making the right choices of food may prove to be a difficult debacle, and considering that they don't have the rationality to discern their choices, they may end up making the wrong choices, even the most fatal ones.

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Rats are widely spread animal species on earth and yet this occurrence is just a quite recent phenomenon. Norway rats, one of the most common rat species were originally from Northern China. At some point they hitched on travel rides with humans and have eventually proliferated along the regular trade routes in the globe and eventually colonized on the locations along the route in past few centuries. We can say therefore that the rats' evolution and their dramatic increase in population are quite extraordinary in the evolutionary perspective. Come to think of it, within that short span of time, they would no longer have the sufficient time to adapt to their environment as all species would normally undergo when they go through the stages of evolution. That's why it is quite a surprise and at the same time amazing that their evolution has survived all throughout the years of nomadic transference.


Choosing What and What Not


Of course, any rat environment has reserves of many different food resources ready for their disposal. And of course, along with the edible aspects of the food resources are also the non-edible counterparts (Poisonous - natural and synthesized). Then we may also include those that are particularly inanimate. We wonder therefore, as to how are rats able to figure out which to eat and what are those that should not be eaten.


Actually, there are certain stages that rats would have to go through to assess their choices of food. However, the idea conforms to a basic principle of "if everyone else ate it, therefore I can it eat".


First Stage (Pre-Birth)


In rat's womb, the fetal rats develop a sense of odor detection on what their mother eats and across the barrier in the placenta. Eventually, when the rat is conceived, they would have reinforced memories on these intakes and would then respond positively upon encounter. We can say therefore, that rats are able to develop the awareness of what to eat and what not to eat way even before they were born.


Second Stage (Nursing)


Nursing rats are somehow able to detect the food intake of their mothers through the milk being lactated. They would then begin to prefer those foods that their mother ate during the lactating stage.


Third Stage (Weaning)


When the younglings are departed from nursing, they would begin to intake solid food. When they begin to have solid food intake, they would have adult rats as their reference. They would forage for food that adult rats forage as well. Or they would detect the leftover scent of adults on certain places and would forage on those areas.


Final Stage (Adulthood)


During the adult stages of a rat's life, its foraging habits would also evolve and it would be greatly affected by the influences of other adult rats in their surroundings. Social interactions between adult rats would take their foraging coverage to another level and would even reach great distances just to find food resources.


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