What Do Rats Eat In The Wild- In the intricate tapestry of Earth’s ecosystems, the rat emerges as a fascinating and resilient creature. Often reviled and misunderstood, rats have nonetheless carved out a niche for themselves in diverse environments across the globe. Their adaptability and resourcefulness make them one of the most successful mammalian species on the planet. At the heart of their remarkable survival story lies a fundamental question: what do rats eat in the wild?

To truly understand rats’ dietary habits in the wild, we must embark on a journey into their world, exploring the ecosystems they inhabit, their foraging behaviors, and the pivotal role they play in maintaining ecological balance. In doing so, we shed light on the remarkable adaptability of these creatures and gain a deeper appreciation for their place in the natural world.

What Do Rats Eat In The Wild

Before delving into the specifics of their diet, let’s first acknowledge the incredible diversity of rat species and their distribution across the globe. Rats are members of the rodent family Muridae, which encompasses an astonishing array of species with varying sizes, colors, and ecological preferences. From the towering Himalayan rat to the diminutive African pygmy mouse, rats have adapted to virtually every type of habitat, from arid deserts to lush rainforests and urban sprawls.

One of the most iconic rat species is the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus), also known as the Norway rat. Native to northern China, this rat has followed human civilization’s expansion for centuries, establishing itself as a ubiquitous resident of urban centers and rural landscapes alike. On the other hand, the black rat (Rattus rattus), originally from Southeast Asia, has earned the moniker “roof rat” due to its preference for high perches in buildings. The diversity of rat species contributes to a wide range of dietary preferences and ecological roles.

Rats are, by nature, opportunistic omnivores. This means that their diets are highly adaptable and can include an assortment of foods from plant matter to insects, small animals, and even carrion. Their capacity to consume a wide range of food types is a crucial factor in their success as a species. In the wild, rats are constantly on the lookout for whatever sustenance they can find, and their foraging behaviors are finely tuned to exploit available resources.

In the wild, rats often consume plant materials as a substantial part of their diet. This can include leaves, fruits, seeds, and roots. Rats are known for their ability to gnaw through almost anything, and this includes plant matter. Their incisors, which continue growing throughout their lives, are well-equipped for this task.

What is a rat’s favorite food?

Fruit and berries — Out of all the foods rodents consume, their top two loves are generally fruits and berries. In the wild, rats and mice consume these foods at every opportunity. Therefore, raspberry and blackberry bushes — as well as apple and pear trees — can serve as magnets for the animals.

A rat’s favorite food is a complex and varied topic, as these resilient rodents are known for their adaptable and opportunistic eating habits. Rats are omnivores, meaning they can consume both plant-based and animal-based foods, which makes their culinary preferences quite diverse.

In the wild, rats primarily feed on grains, seeds, and fruits, making them particularly fond of foods like corn, oats, and berries. However, they are not picky eaters and will readily devour anything edible they come across, including insects, small vertebrates, and even carrion. This adaptability is one reason why rats have successfully adapted to a wide range of environments, from urban cities to rural fields.

When living in proximity to humans, rats often take advantage of the easy access to human food sources. They are especially attracted to high-calorie and easily accessible items like bread, cheese, nuts, and sugary snacks. These foods provide them with the energy they need to sustain their active and fast-paced lifestyle.

What do rats eat in the wild at night?

In the wild, rats eat bird eggs and chicks, small animals such as mice and squirrels, insects and even dead animals (including carrion). They also feed on plants including grains and grasses.

In the wild, rats are primarily nocturnal creatures, which means they are most active during the night. Their nighttime foraging habits are driven by a combination of factors, including a need to avoid predators and take advantage of the cover of darkness. So, what do rats eat in the wild at night?

Rats in their natural habitat are opportunistic feeders. They tend to consume a wide range of foods, depending on what is available to them. A significant portion of their diet consists of plant-based materials such as seeds, grains, fruits, and vegetation. They are particularly fond of grains like corn, wheat, and oats, which provide them with essential carbohydrates for energy.

In addition to plants, wild rats are also known to prey on insects, small invertebrates, and even small vertebrates like frogs or birds when the opportunity arises. This animal-based diet provides them with essential proteins and fats necessary for their survival.

Do wild rats eat fruit?

Rats are common, intelligent, social animals. They can feed on growing and stored fruits and vegetables.

Fruit is a common and appealing food source for many species of wild rats. These rodents are opportunistic feeders, meaning they consume a wide variety of foods, and fruits provide them with essential nutrients and energy.

In the wild, rats often forage for fruits such as berries, apples, pears, and grapes when they are in season. They are particularly attracted to the sweet and sugary flavors of ripe fruits. This preference for fruits is not only due to their taste but also because fruits are a valuable source of vitamins and natural sugars that provide quick energy.

Rats play an important ecological role as seed dispersers when they consume fruits. As they eat the fruit and then move through their environment, they inadvertently scatter seeds, aiding in the propagation of various plant species.

What meat do rats eat in the wild?

When such foodstuffs are in scarce supply, the wild rat will eat what they can, which means they sometimes suffer nutritional problems and go hungry. Rats don’t hunt for meat but they will scavenge it and consume carcasses they can find as well as dead or dying small birds (and their eggs), young rabbits and fish.

In the wild, rats are opportunistic omnivores, and their meat consumption primarily depends on the availability of prey in their environment. While rats are not large predators, they do include various types of meat in their diet when the opportunity arises.

Wild rats are known to eat a range of small animals and insects, such as insects, worms, small amphibians, and even small mammals like mice. They have sharp teeth and strong jaws that allow them to catch and consume these prey items. Additionally, they may scavenge on carcasses of animals that have died from natural causes or have been left behind by larger predators.

Their meat consumption serves as a valuable source of protein and essential nutrients in their diet. Protein is crucial for growth, reproduction, and maintaining overall health for rats, making meat an important component of their omnivorous diet.

What attracts rats to your house?

Of course, rats are most attracted to food. A home with easy access to food of any kind, including scraps and crumbs, virtually asks rodents to invade your home. This is especially true during the winter because rats need to eat twice as much compared to the warmer seasons.

Food Sources: One of the most significant attractions for rats is the presence of accessible food. Improperly stored food, crumbs, and spilled pet food can provide a steady supply of nourishment for them. Bird feeders and open garbage cans are also sources of easily accessible food.

Water: Rats need water for survival. Leaky pipes, dripping faucets, and even standing water in clogged drains can provide a constant water source that encourages them to stay.

Shelter: Rats seek shelter in homes to protect themselves from predators and harsh weather conditions. Gaps or cracks in walls, foundations, and roofs, as well as cluttered areas, provide ideal hiding spots and nesting sites.

Warmth: Rats are attracted to the warmth that homes provide, especially during cold seasons. They may enter through small openings to escape the cold.

Vegetation: Overgrown vegetation, shrubs, and bushes near the house can create pathways for rats to enter and hide. Dense vegetation also provides cover for their movements.

Companionship: Rats are social animals and are often found in groups. If one rat has established a presence in your house, it may attract others seeking companionship and protection.

What smells attract rats?

Odors and smells that come from pet waste, pet food, garbage containers, barbecue grills, birdfeeders, and even from unharvested fruit and nuts from plants can attract rats and mice. Good sanitation habits can effectively improve the prevention of attracting rodents in your yard.

Food Odors: Rats are primarily attracted to the smell of food. Any lingering food odors, such as those from open containers, crumbs, or spilled liquids, can lure rats into homes or storage areas. Strong-smelling foods like cheese, meat, and garbage can be particularly enticing.

Pet Food: The scent of pet food, whether it’s in a bowl or stored improperly, can be a powerful attractant for rats. Ensure that pet food is stored in airtight containers to minimize its scent.

Fruits and Vegetables: Rats are also attracted to the smell of ripe fruits and vegetables. Gardens or fruit-bearing trees near homes can bring rats closer if proper precautions aren’t taken.

Garbage Odors: Rats are notorious scavengers, and the smell of rotting garbage is a strong magnet for them. Leaving trash bins uncovered or allowing garbage to accumulate can create an attractive environment for rats.

Are rats afraid of humans?

Rats are actually scared of humans. They will do anything in their power to avoid being around a living being larger than them. However, if a rat feels cornered, it may attack in an attempt to protect itself.

Wild vs. Domesticated Rats: Wild rats tend to be more cautious and fearful of humans than their domesticated counterparts. Wild rats have evolved to be wary of potential threats, including humans, as a survival mechanism. In contrast, domesticated rats, which have been bred for generations to be more docile and accustomed to human interaction, may be less fearful.

Past Experiences: A rat’s fear of humans can also be influenced by its past experiences. Rats that have had negative interactions with humans, such as encounters with traps or harm caused by humans, may develop a heightened fear response.

Environment: The level of fear can also be influenced by the environment in which rats live. In urban areas where rats frequently encounter humans, they may become more accustomed to human presence and be less fearful. In rural or less populated areas, rats may be more skittish when encountering humans.

Size and Behavior: The behavior and demeanor of humans can also affect a rat’s fear response. Sudden movements, loud noises, or aggressive behavior can startle and frighten rats, causing them to avoid humans.

What kills rats at night?

Birds of Prey

Birds of prey are famous for feeding on rodents. Hawks and falcons hunt by day, and owls typically hunt by night. Owls are especially dangerous to rats because they hunt at the same time that rats forage for food.

Predators: Rats have numerous natural predators that hunt them during the night. Predatory birds like owls and hawks, as well as carnivorous mammals like foxes, raccoons, and snakes, are known to feed on rats. These nocturnal hunters rely on their keen senses, night vision, and stealth to catch rats while they are active.

Traps: Humans often employ various types of traps to control rat populations, and many of these traps are set during the night to catch rats while they are most active. Snap traps, glue traps, and live traps are commonly used methods to capture and kill rats.

Poison Baits: Rat poison baits are another method used to kill rats at night. Rats are attracted to the bait’s scent, ingest it, and succumb to the poison’s effects. The timing of their death may vary, but it often occurs during the night or shortly after feeding.

Disease: Rats are known carriers of diseases that can be fatal to both rats and humans. Rats can contract diseases like leptospirosis and hantavirus, which may lead to their death. These diseases can be transmitted through contact with rat urine, feces, or saliva.

What is the natural diet of wild rats?

The natural diet of wild rats is diverse and adaptable, reflecting their omnivorous nature and ability to thrive in a variety of habitats. While the specific dietary composition can vary depending on their environment, wild rats primarily consume a mix of plant-based and animal-based foods to meet their nutritional needs.

In their natural habitat, wild rats predominantly feed on plant materials, including grains, seeds, and fruits. Grains like wheat, corn, oats, and barley are common staples in their diet. These items are rich in carbohydrates and provide rats with the energy required for their active, nocturnal lifestyle. They are also known to relish fruits such as berries, apples, and pears when they are in season, as these offer essential vitamins and sugars.

In addition to plant matter, wild rats actively hunt for animal-based foods. Insects, small invertebrates, and even small vertebrates like frogs and birds form a significant part of their diet. These protein-rich sources offer essential nutrients, including protein and fats, which are crucial for their growth, reproduction, and overall health.

Wild rats are opportunistic foragers, and their diet can be influenced by the availability of food sources in their environment. They are skilled scavengers and will explore various food options to meet their needs. In urban areas, they may frequently raid human food sources such as garbage cans, compost heaps, and discarded food scraps, making them highly adaptable to living in proximity to humans.

Do rats in the wild primarily consume plants or animals?

Rats in the wild are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they consume both plant-based and animal-based foods. Their diet is not exclusively focused on one food source but rather adapts to what is readily available in their specific habitat. Thus, it is challenging to definitively state whether wild rats primarily consume plants or animals, as their dietary preferences can vary depending on their environment and circumstances.

In the wild, plant-based foods are a significant component of a rat’s diet. They often feed on grains, seeds, fruits, and various types of vegetation. Grains like wheat, corn, oats, and barley are staples for wild rats, offering a substantial source of carbohydrates, which provide the energy needed for their active and nocturnal lifestyle. Fruits, when in season, are also a favorite, as they provide vitamins and sugars.

Wild rats are not limited to plant-based foods. They are skilled hunters and scavengers, actively seeking animal-based sources of nutrition. Insects, small invertebrates, and even small vertebrates like frogs and birds are on their menu. These animal-based foods offer essential proteins and fats that contribute to their growth and overall health.

Are wild rats herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Wild rats are best described as omnivores, meaning they have a varied diet that includes both plant-based and animal-based foods. Their omnivorous nature is a key factor contributing to their adaptability and survival in a wide range of environments and ecosystems.

While plant-based foods are an essential part of their diet, including grains like wheat, corn, oats, and fruits when available, wild rats are not limited to herbivorous consumption. They actively hunt for animal-based foods such as insects, small invertebrates, and occasionally small vertebrates like frogs and birds. These animal-based foods provide rats with essential proteins, fats, and other nutrients necessary for their growth, reproduction, and overall health.

The exact composition of a rat’s diet can vary based on several factors, including their habitat, food availability, and individual preferences. In urban areas, where rats often coexist with humans, they may have access to a more varied diet due to scavenging opportunities, including human food scraps and discarded items. In more natural environments, their diet may lean more towards plant-based foods when animal prey is less abundant.

How do wild rats obtain their food in their natural habitat?

Foraging: Wild rats are skilled foragers, and a significant portion of their diet comes from plant-based foods. They search for seeds, grains, fruits, and various types of vegetation in their environment. They use their keen sense of smell and dexterous paws to explore and manipulate objects, allowing them to access food sources such as seeds hidden in crevices or fruits hanging from trees.

Hunting: Rats are opportunistic hunters and carnivores, and they actively seek out animal-based foods to supplement their diet. They predate on insects, small invertebrates, and occasionally small vertebrates like frogs and birds. Their sharp teeth and strong jaws enable them to catch and consume these prey items, providing them with essential proteins and fats.

Scavenging: Rats are notorious scavengers, and they exploit opportunities to feed on discarded or easily accessible food sources. This scavenging behavior often brings them into proximity with human settlements, where they may raid garbage cans, compost heaps, and discarded food scraps.

Hiding Food: Rats are known to hoard excess food when they can find it. They may store food in hidden underground caches or within their nests, ensuring a food supply during times of scarcity.

Are there seasonal variations in the diet of wild rats?

The diet of wild rats is influenced by the changing availability of food sources throughout the year, which in turn is often tied to seasonal shifts in weather, plant growth, and the abundance of prey.

During the spring and summer months, wild rats tend to have access to a wider variety of food sources. This is because vegetation is lush and abundant, offering a range of plants, seeds, fruits, and young shoots for rats to forage on. They may also find an increased supply of insects, which are more active during these warmer months. Rats are opportunistic feeders, and they take advantage of this seasonal abundance to stock up on energy reserves and reproduce.

As the seasons transition into fall and winter, the diet of wild rats undergoes a significant shift. Many of the plant-based food sources begin to wither and die, reducing the availability of fresh vegetation and fruits. In response to this scarcity, rats may increasingly turn to scavenging for food in human settlements, such as homes, farms, and garbage dumps. This is when conflicts with humans tend to escalate as rats seek out shelter and food indoors.

What types of vegetation do wild rats commonly forage for?

Grasses: Wild rats often consume various grass species, including blades of grass and grass seeds. Grasses are abundant in many ecosystems and provide rats with a source of carbohydrates.

Weeds: Rats are known to feed on a variety of weed species. Weeds are often hardy and can be found in disturbed areas, making them accessible to rats.

What Do Rats Eat In The Wild

Fruits: Rats are opportunistic feeders and will readily eat fruits such as berries, apples, and pears when available. They are known to be attracted to the sweetness of ripe fruits.

Vegetable crops: Rats can be a nuisance for farmers, as they frequently consume vegetable crops like corn, carrots, and potatoes. They may also target crops such as sugarcane.

Roots and tubers: Rats are known to dig up and consume plant roots and tubers like those of potatoes or sweet potatoes. This behavior can damage root crops and disrupt agriculture.

Do wild rats hunt for live prey or scavenge for food?

Hunting for Live Prey: Wild rats are skilled hunters and are capable of capturing live prey. They typically target a variety of small animals, including insects, worms, snails, and even small vertebrates like mice or bird chicks. Rats use their keen sense of smell, agility, and sharp teeth to stalk, chase, and capture prey. This hunting behavior is more prevalent when live prey is abundant and accessible in their environment.

Scavenging for Food: Rats are equally adept at scavenging for food. They are notorious for raiding human food sources, such as garbage bins, stored grains, and food scraps. In urban environments, they often scavenge for discarded food, making them a common pest problem. Scavenging behavior tends to increase when natural food sources are scarce, such as during the winter months when vegetation and prey may be less abundant.

Balanced Diet: Wild rats maintain a balanced diet by combining both hunting and scavenging activities. This adaptability is a key survival strategy, allowing them to exploit available food sources efficiently. Rats prioritize food sources that provide the necessary nutrients and energy for their survival and reproduction.

Cultural Differences: Rat behavior can also be influenced by their specific habitat and local conditions. For instance, rats living in coastal areas might have easier access to marine resources like shellfish, while those in rural environments may rely more on agricultural crops.

Are there any specific insects or invertebrates that wild rats prefer to eat?

Insects: Rats readily consume a wide array of insects, with some preferences for particular types. Common insect prey includes beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, and caterpillars. Insects provide rats with a protein-rich food source and are often abundant in various environments.

Earthworms: Earthworms are a favored food source for rats. These invertebrates are not only rich in protein but also relatively easy to capture by digging in the soil. Rats may dig burrows or forage in moist areas to find earthworms.

Snails and Slugs: Rats are known to consume snails and slugs, particularly in environments where these mollusks are prevalent. They can use their sharp incisors to crack the shells of snails and extract the soft interior.

Termites: In regions where termites are abundant, rats may include them in their diet. Termites provide a good source of protein and are often found in decaying wood or soil.

Spiders: Rats may eat spiders when other food sources are limited. Spiders are a readily available prey item, and rats can catch them with their agility and quick reflexes.

What role does food availability play in the diet of wild rats?

Seasonal Variations: Food availability fluctuates with the changing seasons. During spring and summer, when vegetation is lush and abundant, wild rats have access to a diverse array of plant-based foods like seeds, fruits, and young shoots. They may also find a higher number of active insects. In contrast, winter brings reduced plant growth, making natural vegetation scarcer. This forces rats to rely more on stored food reserves, if available, or scavenge for human food sources.

Habitat Type: The specific habitat where wild rats reside greatly influences food availability. Rats adapt to their surroundings, whether urban, rural, forested, or coastal, and modify their diet accordingly. For instance, coastal rats might have easy access to marine resources like shellfish, while urban rats may scavenge for discarded human food.

Predation Pressure: The presence of natural predators can affect the foraging habits of wild rats. When predators are abundant, rats may become more nocturnal and cautious in their search for food, potentially avoiding certain areas or food sources that expose them to greater danger.

Human Influence: Human activities significantly impact food availability for wild rats. In urban areas, rats often find abundant food resources in garbage bins, dumpsters, and discarded food, which can lead to higher rat populations. In agricultural regions, rats may feast on crops, leading to conflicts with farmers.

Resource Competition: Competition with other wildlife, including other rat species, birds, and small mammals, can affect food availability. Rats must compete for limited resources, which can drive changes in their diet and foraging behavior.

Are there any geographical differences in the diet of wild rats?

Climate and Vegetation: The climate of a particular region significantly impacts the types of vegetation available, which in turn affects the diet of wild rats. In tropical and subtropical areas with lush vegetation, rats may have access to a wide variety of fruits, nuts, and plants. In contrast, in arid or desert regions, vegetation is scarcer, leading rats to rely more on seeds, cacti, and underground plant parts.

Proximity to Water: The proximity to water bodies, such as rivers, lakes, or coastal areas, can influence the diet of wild rats. Rats in coastal regions may have access to marine resources like shellfish, while those near freshwater sources may consume aquatic plants, insects, and small aquatic animals.

Urban vs. Rural Environments: Rats in urban environments have access to human food sources, such as discarded food, grains, and refuse, which can make up a significant portion of their diet. In contrast, rats in rural or natural habitats rely more on natural food sources like vegetation, insects, and small mammals.

Agricultural Regions: In areas dominated by agriculture, rats may feed on a variety of crops, including grains, fruits, and vegetables. This can lead to conflicts with farmers, as rats can cause significant crop damage.

How do wild rats adapt to finding food in various environments?

Foraging Behavior: Rats exhibit flexible foraging behavior, adjusting their activity patterns to minimize exposure to predators and maximize access to food. In urban areas, they often become nocturnal, scavenging for discarded human food under the cover of darkness. In natural habitats, they may be more diurnal and rely on a combination of hunting and foraging.

Dietary Flexibility: Rats have an omnivorous diet, allowing them to consume a wide range of food items. They adapt their diet based on the availability of resources. In urban environments, they consume human food scraps, while in rural areas, they focus on grains, fruits, seeds, and insects. Their diet can even include animal prey like birds, small mammals, and invertebrates.

Nesting and Burrowing: Rats often create nests and burrows close to their primary food sources. This minimizes the energy required for travel and helps them access food quickly and efficiently. Nests also provide protection from predators and harsh weather.

Exploratory Behavior: Rats are curious and highly exploratory, which enables them to locate new food sources. They can quickly adapt to changes in their environment, such as the introduction of novel food items or alterations in their habitat due to construction or seasonal shifts.

Social Learning: Rats are social animals and can learn from one another. They may observe and mimic the foraging behaviors of other rats, which can lead to the spread of effective food-finding strategies within their populations.

Caching Food: Rats are known to cache or hoard food, especially when resources are abundant. This behavior helps them build reserves for times of scarcity. Rats can remember the locations of their food caches, allowing them to return to hidden stashes when needed.

Adaptive Breeding: Rats have a high reproductive rate and can produce multiple litters of offspring each year. Their breeding adapts to food availability, with population sizes increasing when food is abundant and decreasing during times of scarcity.

Are there any foods in the wild that are toxic to rats?

Toxic Plants: Many plants found in the wild contain toxic compounds that can be harmful or lethal to rats if ingested. Examples include foxglove, hemlock, oleander, and various species of nightshade. Rats may accidentally consume these plants while foraging for other food.

Moldy Food: Rats are known to scavenge for food, and they may come across moldy or spoiled food in their search. Mold can produce mycotoxins that are harmful to rats if ingested in sufficient quantities. Moldy grains, nuts, and stored food can pose a health risk.

Certain Fruits and Seeds: While rats do eat fruits and seeds, some contain compounds that can be toxic when consumed in large quantities. For example, apple seeds contain cyanide, which can be dangerous if rats ingest a significant number of them.

Raw Beans: Raw beans, including kidney beans and castor beans, contain lectins and other toxic compounds that can cause gastrointestinal distress and even be lethal to rats if not properly cooked. Cooking beans thoroughly breaks down these toxins.

Wild Mushrooms: Rats might consume wild mushrooms while foraging, and many mushroom species are toxic. Some toxic mushrooms can lead to severe poisoning, liver damage, or death if ingested.

Insecticides and Chemicals: Rats may encounter insecticides, pesticides, or other chemicals that have been used in agricultural or urban settings. These substances can be toxic to rats if ingested directly or through contaminated food sources.

Rotting Carrion: While rats are scavengers and may consume carrion, rotting animal carcasses can carry disease-causing bacteria and toxins. Consuming contaminated carrion can lead to illness in rats.

What Do Rats Eat In The Wild


In the intricate web of nature, rats are the often-overlooked weavers, crafting their own unique thread in the tapestry of ecosystems worldwide. Our journey into the wild diets of rats has revealed not only their dietary flexibility but also the profound impact they have on the environments they inhabit. As we conclude our exploration, it becomes clear that these seemingly ubiquitous creatures play a vital and multifaceted role in maintaining ecological balance.

The adaptability of rats is a defining trait that underpins their successful colonization of a variety of habitats. Their capacity to switch between plant-based and animal-based diets as per availability is nothing short of astonishing. This dietary flexibility is a testament to their survival instincts and their ability to eke out a living in diverse environments.

Rats’ consumption of plant materials, including fruits, seeds, and leaves, contributes to the dispersion and survival of countless plant species. By acting as unwitting gardeners of the wild, rats inadvertently shape and nurture the ecosystems they inhabit. Their seed dispersal services are crucial in rejuvenating forests and maintaining biodiversity.

Beyond their role as plant consumers, rats also function as both predators and scavengers. They actively hunt insects, small mammals, and birds, exerting top-down control on the populations of these species. This predation helps prevent population outbreaks that could otherwise disrupt the balance of their ecosystems.

Rats’ scavenging behaviors are equally important. Their willingness to consume carrion and discarded food, including meat and dairy, is a testament to their resourcefulness. In urban areas, they play a critical role in cleaning up waste, potentially reducing the spread of diseases associated with decaying organic matter.

Rats emerge as unsung heroes in their ecosystems, often occupying the niche of a keystone species. Keystone species are those whose impact on their environment is disproportionately large compared to their abundance. Rats’ dual roles as predators and seed dispersers have ripple effects throughout their ecosystems.