Rats have a bad reputation for destroying and contaminating our homes and surroundings. If you’ve spotted these unwelcome rodents scurrying around your home or yard, you may be wondering: do rats eat paper? The short answer is yes, rats do eat paper products given the chance.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the details of rat behavior to understand why they consume paper, what types of paper products attract them, and how to rat-proof paper goods to prevent damage from these pesky pests.

Why Do Rats Eat Paper?

Rats have a reputation for being curious and resourceful creatures, and their dietary habits are no exception. While it may seem unusual, rats do indeed eat paper for several reasons. Understanding why rats are attracted to paper can help you better protect your belongings and implement effective pest control measures.

High Fiber and Calorie Content

Rats are opportunistic feeders, and they will consume a wide variety of materials to meet their nutritional needs. Paper, particularly cardboard, contains a high amount of fiber, which is essential for their digestion.

Additionally, paper can provide rats with a source of calories, especially if it has been soiled with food residues.

Source of Nesting Materials

Rats are known for their nesting behavior, and they will gather materials to build warm and secure nests. Paper, with its soft and flexible texture, is an attractive option for rats to use as bedding material.

By chewing and tearing paper, rats can create cozy nests to protect their young and provide insulation from the elements.

Instinct to Gnaw and Chew

Rats have a natural instinct to gnaw and chew on objects. This behavior helps them keep their teeth in good condition, as their incisors continuously grow throughout their lives. Gnawing on paper allows rats to wear down their teeth and prevent overgrowth.

Additionally, the act of chewing provides mental stimulation for rats, helping to alleviate boredom and stress.

Attracted by Food Residues

Rats have an acute sense of smell and are attracted to food residues and odors. If paper has come into contact with food or has absorbed food smells, rats may be drawn to it. Even small crumbs or stains on paper can be enticing to these scavenging rodents.

What Kinds Of Paper Do Rats Eat?

Rats are notorious for their ability to chew through various materials, including paper. While they may not have a particular preference for paper, they will often target it if it is easily accessible or provides a suitable nesting material.

Here are some common types of paper that rats may be attracted to:

Cardboard Boxes And Packaging

Rats are known to chew through cardboard boxes and packaging materials that are made from paper. This includes shipping boxes, cereal boxes, and other cardboard containers. Rats may be drawn to these items as they provide a cozy and secure place for them to build their nests.

Newspapers And Magazines

Newspapers and magazines are made from thin sheets of paper, which can be attractive to rats. These materials are often found in homes and can provide rats with nesting material as well as a source of insulation.

Additionally, rats may also be drawn to the ink used in printing, as it contains oils that can be appealing to them.

Paper Bags

Paper bags, such as those used for groceries or takeout food, can also be enticing to rats. These bags are made from sturdy paper and may contain food residue or crumbs, making them attractive to hungry rodents. Rats may chew through these bags to access the contents or to create a cozy nesting spot.

Books And Documents

Rats may be attracted to books and documents that are made from paper. These items can provide rats with nesting material and may also contain traces of food or other organic substances that can be appealing to them.

It’s important to store books and important documents in secure locations to prevent damage from rats.


Rats have been known to chew through wallpaper, especially if it is made from paper or contains a layer of adhesive that they find appealing. Wallpaper can provide rats with a hidden space to build their nests, making it an attractive material for them to target.

It’s important to note that while rats may chew through paper, their primary motivation for doing so is usually related to nesting, foraging for food, or creating pathways. If you have a rat infestation in your home or workplace, it’s best to consult with a professional pest control service to address the issue effectively.

Tips For Protecting Paper From Rats

Store Paper Goods In Sealed Containers

One of the most effective ways to protect paper from rats is by storing paper goods in sealed containers. Rats are notorious for their ability to chew through various materials, including paper. By keeping your paper stored in airtight containers, you create a barrier that makes it difficult for rats to access and damage your documents.

Plastic storage bins with secure lids are a great option for storing paper in areas prone to rat infestations.

Use Metal Filing Cabinets

If you have a large amount of paper documents that need to be stored, consider investing in metal filing cabinets. Rats are less likely to be able to chew through metal compared to other materials, such as wood or cardboard.

Metal filing cabinets provide a secure and durable storage solution for your important papers, reducing the risk of rat damage.

Elevate Paper Off The Ground

Rats are agile climbers and can easily access paper stored on the ground. To protect your paper, consider elevating it off the ground. You can use shelves or racks to keep your documents elevated and out of reach of rats.

This not only helps prevent rat damage but also reduces the risk of moisture and water damage to your paper.

Clear Clutter

Rats are attracted to cluttered and messy areas as they provide hiding spots and potential sources of food. By keeping your storage areas clean and clutter-free, you can discourage rats from taking up residence near your paper.

Regularly decluttering and organizing your storage spaces will make them less appealing to rats and help protect your paper from being chewed or soiled.

Set Traps Near Paper Storage Areas

In addition to taking preventive measures, it’s a good idea to set traps near your paper storage areas. This can help catch any rats that may have found their way into your space before they have a chance to damage your documents.

There are various types of traps available, including snap traps and humane traps, so you can choose the option that works best for you.

By following these tips, you can protect your paper from rats and ensure that your important documents remain safe and intact.

Signs Of A Rat Infestation

If you suspect that you have a rat infestation in your home or workplace, it’s important to be able to identify the signs. Rats are known to be opportunistic eaters, and while they may not specifically target paper as a food source, they can still cause damage to paper goods.

Here are some common signs that you may have a rat infestation:

Droppings Near Paper Goods

Rats leave behind droppings as they move around. If you notice small, pellet-like droppings near your paper goods, this could be a sign that rats are present. Rats are known to defecate in areas where they feel safe and secure, so finding droppings near your paper goods could indicate that rats have been frequenting those areas.

Chewed Edges On Paper

Rats have sharp incisors that grow continuously, and they need to gnaw on objects to keep their teeth trimmed. If you find chewed edges on your paper goods, such as books, documents, or cardboard boxes, this could be a clear indication of rat activity.

Rats may chew on paper to create nests or to access food sources that may be hidden within the paper.

Sightings Of Live Rats

One of the most obvious signs of a rat infestation is actually seeing live rats in your home or workplace. Rats are nocturnal creatures, so they are most active during the night. If you spot rats running around or hiding in areas near your paper goods, it’s important to take immediate action to address the infestation.

Remember, rats are known to reproduce quickly, so it’s crucial to deal with the problem as soon as possible.

While these signs can be indicative of a rat infestation, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional pest control service for proper identification and treatment. They can provide effective solutions to eliminate the rats and prevent future infestations.

Rat Control Methods

Seal Entry Points

One of the most effective ways to control rats is to prevent them from entering your home or property in the first place. Rats can squeeze through small openings, so it’s important to thoroughly inspect your property for any potential entry points.

Common areas to check include gaps in doors and windows, cracks in the foundation, and openings around utility lines. Sealing these entry points with materials such as steel wool or caulk can help keep rats out.

Set Traps

If you already have rats in your home or property, setting traps can be an effective method to control their population. There are various types of traps available, including snap traps, glue traps, and live traps. Snap traps are commonly used and can be baited with food to attract rats.

Glue traps are sticky boards that rats get stuck to when they walk over them. Live traps allow you to capture rats alive and release them elsewhere. It’s important to place traps in areas where rats are known to frequent, such as near their nests or along their travel paths.

Use Natural Repellents

For those who prefer a more natural approach to rat control, there are several repellents that can be used. Peppermint oil, for example, is said to be a natural deterrent for rats. Soaking cotton balls in peppermint oil and placing them in areas where rats are likely to be can help keep them away.

Other natural repellents include ammonia, mothballs, and predator urine. It’s worth noting that while these repellents may be effective to some extent, they may not completely eliminate a rat infestation.

Call A Pest Control Professional

If you’ve tried various methods and are still struggling with a rat infestation, it may be time to call in a pest control professional. These experts have the knowledge, experience, and tools to effectively eliminate rats from your property.

They can conduct a thorough inspection, identify the source of the infestation, and develop a tailored treatment plan. Professional pest control services can provide long-term solutions and give you peace of mind knowing that the problem is being handled by experts.

Remember, when dealing with rats, it’s important to act quickly. Rats can reproduce rapidly, and a small infestation can quickly turn into a larger problem. By implementing effective rat control methods, you can protect your home and property from these unwanted pests.


Rats can and will eat paper materials if given the opportunity. By understanding their motivations and favorite paper targets, you can take proactive steps to protect important documents, books, packaging, and other paper goods.

Implementing proper storage methods, maintaining cleanliness, and using strategic trapping or repelling techniques will help keep these annoying rodents from chewing up and contaminating paper in your home or workspace.

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