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One of the most famous cartoon images to be associated with rodents is that of the traditional snap trap with a big hunk of cheese on there as bait to draw the rats in. However, one of the questions that is worth asking is whether or not this particular association is one that has just become ingrained in the psyche of the population, or whether rats actually eat and enjoy cheese when it is available. Of course, rats are opportunistic in terms of the food that they eat, so they may well taste the cheese if they encounter it, but what actually attracts rats and is cheese the favorite food of the rat?
Why Is Cheese Associated With Rodent Traps?
The association of cheese and rodent traps is one that has long been depicted in cartoons such as Tom and Jerry, and this has spread throughout various visual media, meaning that people who are thinking of depicting rat traps on screen will automatically think of cheese as the bait. Indeed, this association is so strong that one brand of rat trap is actually called 'The Big Cheese', which continues to promote the idea of cheese and rodent traps going together. If you want useful trapping information, read my how to trap a rat page.
The Diet Of The Rat
Most rats are omnivorous, and will eat a variety of food sources, and while hunting animals is one thing, rats are also scavengers, so if they find cheese they will often try it and eat it. In order for a rat to be attracted to a particular food source, they need to be able to smell it from some distance away, so a piece of hard cheese will not often prove to be particularly successful. However, a piece of rather smelly blue cheese might be significantly more successful as a bait, and certainly would prove to be a more attractive part of the rat's diet. Read more about What do Wild Rats Eat?
Other Foods That Rats Will Eat
Where rats find cheese, and they have tried it with no ill effects, then they will often add it into their diet, but when it comes to which food they would choose, there are certainly other foods that they would prefer over cheese when they are scavenging. Because of the importance of scent in making a rat eat a particular piece of meat or food, they will often be more keen to eat meat with stronger scent such as bacon or oily fish, particularly if they are starting to turn. They are often also attracted by sweet smells, and as an attractive food to use as bait, peanut butter and marshmallows are often favored over cheese.
Go back to the Rat Removal page, or for more instructions read my How to get rid of rats guide, or learn specifically about How to remove rats in the attic.