Do Rats & Mice Eat Cockroaches?

Rats and mice have a diet that comprises grains, seeds, insects, and even non-edibles such as cardboard. Rodents are known for having an appetite as they can eat up to 20 times per day.

Both rats and mice eat cockroaches on occasion. They resort to eating roaches when other types of food aren’t available as catching cockroaches implies chasing effort. Rats and mice eat almost an entire cockroach only leaving wings, legs, and antennae behind.

Roaches aren’t the favorite meal of rats and mice. Many roaches carry bacteria and even insecticides which are also poisonous to rats that eat them. In the absence of other foods, rats will try to eat roaches.

It can take up to a few days for rats and mice to start considering eating roaches as they are interested in other foods first.

mouse in your home

Rats and mice can go a few days without food. The number of days without any food varies from 2 to 10. However, rats can still consider other non-food items to keep themselves occupied.

Cardboard boxes are eaten by rats and mice regularly. Rodents start to consider roaches after a few days of not eating real food, mainly for their protein content.

When do rats and mice eat cockroaches?

Rats and mice can eat cockroaches, but only in certain conditions as they aren’t high on their list of food priorities. They prefer the following foods.

  • Grains
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Rotting meat and fish
  • Garbage
  • Pet food

Hunger combined with roach availability is what determines rats to move away from these standard food preferences. Here are the most common instances when rats and mice will consider cockroaches.

When going hungry for more than a few days

Rats and mice are omnivores. They eat multiple types of food only moving on to cockroaches when truly hungry. Rats are likely to find cockroaches inside homes.

Rodents will not eliminate cockroach populations in a house as they don’t continuously eat cockroaches as new feed becomes available. With a high preference for nuts, seeds, and leftover food or decaying food in the garbage, rats only have to eat cockroaches for a limited time until they discover new food sources.

A few common signs that rats or mice around your house eat cockroaches include leftover roach parts such as these.

Rats and mice eat cockroaches by chasing them into areas they can’t escape from. They start eating the area of the abdomen as this is the softest part of a cockroach. Hard-to-chew parts of the cockroach such as its wings are discarded.

cockroach parts

When grains and seeds aren’t available

Rats prefer small hard grains and seeds as the main type of food. Rodents are seeking these out and can chew through plastic or plaster to get to these foods. This is why granaries are specifically known to attract rats.

These foods can be hard for rodents to find. It’s at this time that mice move on to roaches which may or may not be present in their habitat.

Rats travel up to 300 feet away from the nest in search of food. Since they need to eat a few times per day, they start considering roaches only when grains aren’t available in this perimeter.

Cockroaches are eaten when stuck in traps

Cockroaches are attracted to baits in rodent traps such as cheese, bacon, cereals, and peanut butter. They can be trapped in a mousetrap. Rodents move along to eat even dead cockroaches trapped in a rodent trap.

The favorite time for a rat to eat a cockroach is when it’s glued to a sticky trap. These types of traps don’t immediately kill cockroaches which means they’re eaten alive when they’re softer and easier to eat.

Rats eat dead roaches

Rats and mice also eat dead roaches. Some people believe rats and mice prefer dead roaches as they can’t escape. One of the main reasons rodents don’t eat live roaches is because they run fast and it takes a considerable effort to hunt one down.

A dead cockroach is considerably easier to deal with. Dead roaches are often found in tight spaces such as behind walls or under furniture. These areas also attract rodents and may facilitate the idea of a feast even if the discovered roaches are dead.

cockroach dead on its back

When female roaches are easy to catch

It’s believed rats prefer the taste of female roaches more than the taste of male roaches. Female cockroaches have a type of milk that’s sweet and nutritious. It contains protein, fats, and minerals, which are actually healthy for rats.

Cockroach milk is has a high nutritional value through its protein content. While crystallized, this milk makes female cockroaches taste better. Pacific Beetle Cockroach (Diploptera punctate) is considered the most nutritious type of milk rodents could come across when eating female cockroaches.

Do roaches have any nutritional value to rats and mice?

Roaches might not be the tastiest meal for rats compared to their favorite foods but they have a certain nutritional value.

Nutrients in the American cockroach have been studied thoroughly. This type of common house cockroach is known for its high protein content. It’s also beneficial to growing mice and rats as it contains minerals such as calcium. Here are the highest value nutrients rodents benefit from when eating roaches.

  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Fiber
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium
  • Iron

Rats can’t keep cockroaches away

Roaches and rats meet in multiple natural habitats. They also meet indoors in homes, office buildings, and restaurants as these are places with food traces. Rodents can also be found in buildings without any food as they try to escape dangers such as flooding.

Cockroaches and rats can coexist without one species affecting the other. Rats can also pass by roaches without eating them.

Both roaches and rodents can be found next to food sources and in sheltered areas where they’re safe from predators.

Do rats & mice eat cockroaches?

You cannot introduce rats or mice to a habitat to eliminate the roach population. Eliminating roaches is based on clearing all items that attract these insects such as moisture and food.

Furthermore, roach populations can be high, and even if rats decide to eat a few they would not significantly lower the number of cockroaches in a home.

The spread of diseases is one of the biggest problems with considering rats as natural predators for cockroaches.

Introducing rats to a roach-infested habitat also increases the risk of getting fleas. Rats and mice can transmit fleas and ticks.

Can you use cockroaches to catch rats?

Rats cannot be used to control roach populations as they have a small impact on a home infested by roaches. A mild cockroach infestation is considered when there are fewer than 25 roaches in a home. This can quickly become a serious infestation as each female roach can lay more than 10-15 eggs at a time.

Using cockroaches as prey isn’t recommended when dealing with rats and mice. Even if they sometimes clean themselves, cockroaches carry all types of harmful bacteria. They can infest food and they spread all types of diseases such as Campylobacteriosis.

While trapped roaches can sometimes attract rodents, it’s not recommended to use them to lure rodents. Roaches tend to multiply rapidly which can quickly lead to a bigger problem in the house.

Some roaches reproduce asexually which means they can lay eggs without mating. This leads to hundreds of new roaches growing and multiplying further in the house.

Preventive measures keep both cockroaches and rats away

While rodents and roaches have different preferences in food, they can both be kept away from the house using simple methods as follows.

Cleaning the kitchen thoroughly

Rats, mice, and cockroaches love the kitchen. Food traces and food left out on the table or on the countertop attract these pests.

Keeping the kitchen clean is at all times is recommended when it comes to diminishing the factors that attract roaches and rodents into the house.

Sealing all cracks pests use to get inside the home helps as well.

Storing food in sealed containers

Food left out in the open attracts rodents, roaches, and even flies. Pet food openly available on the floor or around the house is one of the types of food people overlook when it comes to dealing with pests. Pet food should be stored in airtight containers as well.


Rats and mice eat cockroaches whenever they can’t find any other food. Rodents can be attracted to a house or a man-made structure by other types of food, especially by grains. Cockroaches can also be attracted by the food inside the house.

Rodents will turn to cockroaches whenever food levels are low in their habitat. Rats and mice rarely go after cockroaches when they have other foods to consider.

Even if they sometimes eat roaches, rats never completely eat the insects. You can identify an area where roaches have been eaten by rats by finding traces such as roach wings, roach legs, or roach antennae. These are parts rodents aren’t interested in eating.

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