Rats have long been associated with loving cheese, but is this actually true or just a myth? If you’re curious whether rats have an obsession for cheese like some cartoons portray, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: While rats will eat cheese, they don’t crave it or love it anymore than many other foods. Rats are omnivores and will eat a wide variety of foods including cheese, but it’s not their favorite.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll look at rats’ true dietary preferences, their history of being associated with cheese, and the reasons behind the myth that they love cheese above all else.

Do Rats Have Any Special Love of Cheese?

When it comes to the relationship between rats and cheese, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. While it is often depicted in cartoons and popular culture that rats have an insatiable love for cheese, the reality is quite different.

Let’s explore the truth about rats and their relationship with cheese.

Rats Are Omnivores

Rats are highly adaptable creatures with a diverse diet. In the wild, they are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they will eat almost anything to survive. Their diet consists of fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, insects, and even small animals. Cheese is not a natural part of their diet in the wild.

However, when rats are living in close proximity to humans, they may encounter cheese more frequently. This exposure to cheese has led to the misconception that rats have a special affinity for it.

Lab Experiments on Rat Food Preferences

Scientific studies have been conducted to investigate the food preferences of rats, including their reaction to cheese. These experiments have shown that while rats may show interest in cheese, it is not their preferred food choice.

In fact, rats have been found to prefer foods with higher sugar content, such as fruits or sugary treats, over cheese.

One study conducted by Dr. Susan Schantz at the University of Illinois found that rats showed a stronger preference for foods high in fat and sugar, rather than cheese. This suggests that rats may be more attracted to the taste of sugary or fatty foods, rather than cheese specifically.

Anecdotal Evidence from Rat Owners

Many rat owners have reported that their pet rats do enjoy nibbling on cheese as a treat. However, it is important to note that this anecdotal evidence does not necessarily reflect the preferences of all rats. Just like humans, rats can have individual tastes and preferences when it comes to food.

It’s also worth mentioning that while cheese may be enjoyed by some rats, it should only be given in small quantities as a treat. Cheese is high in fat and salt, which can be harmful to rats if consumed in excess.

The Origins of the Rat-Cheese Myth

Rats as Pantry Pests: While it is true that rats are omnivorous creatures and will eat almost anything they can find, including cheese, the popular belief that rats have an inherent fondness for cheese is largely a myth.

In reality, rats are opportunistic feeders and will consume whatever food is readily available to them. This includes grains, fruits, vegetables, and even meat. In fact, rats are known to be attracted to high-calorie and high-protein foods, making cheese a potential target for their scavenging activities.

However, it is important to note that rats are also highly adaptable and can survive on a wide range of food sources, so their preference for cheese is not as pronounced as popular culture would have us believe.

Cartoon Caricatures: The idea of rats loving cheese has been perpetuated by numerous cartoons and comic strips throughout the years. Characters like Tom and Jerry, Mickey Mouse, and even the iconic Ratatouille have all contributed to the stereotype of rats as cheese connoisseurs.

These fictional portrayals have seeped into our collective consciousness, leading many to believe that cheese is the ultimate bait for catching rats. However, it is important to remember that these cartoons are purely fictional and should not be taken as accurate representations of rat behavior.

Historical and Cultural Associations: The association between rats and cheese can be traced back to ancient times. In medieval Europe, cheese was a valuable commodity that was often stored in pantries and larders. These places were frequented by rats, as they provided a ready food source.

Over time, the presence of rats in cheese storage areas led to the belief that rats had a particular affinity for cheese. This association has persisted through the centuries and has become ingrained in popular culture.

However, it is important to recognize that this association is purely historical and does not reflect the true preferences of rats.

Why the Myth Persists

For years, the image of a rat eagerly nibbling on a piece of cheese has been ingrained in our minds. But is it really true? Do rats actually have an affinity for cheese? The answer may surprise you.

Cheese Is Highly Palatable

One reason why the myth that rats love cheese persists is because cheese is indeed highly palatable to them. Rats are omnivorous creatures with a keen sense of smell, and they are attracted to strong odors and flavors. Cheese, with its rich and distinct aroma, can be quite enticing to them.

However, it’s important to note that rats have a varied diet and are not solely reliant on cheese for sustenance.

The Myth Feeds Itself

The idea that rats love cheese has been perpetuated by popular culture and media. In cartoons and children’s books, rats are often depicted as sneaky creatures who will do anything for a tasty piece of cheese. This portrayal has reinforced the belief that cheese is a rat’s favorite food.

Additionally, the myth has been passed down through generations, leading many people to believe it without questioning its veracity.

Cheese As a Trope or Shorthand

Another reason why the myth continues to persist is that cheese has become a trope or shorthand for baiting traps or luring rats. In reality, rats are more attracted to foods with higher sugar or fat content.

Nonetheless, the image of a rat being enticed by cheese has become deeply ingrained in our cultural consciousness, making it a commonly used symbol for catching or dealing with these pests.

It’s important to remember that while rats may find cheese appealing, it is not their preferred or exclusive food source. They are opportunistic eaters and will consume a wide range of foods, including grains, fruits, vegetables, and even meat.

So the next time you set a trap for rats, you might want to consider using a different type of bait.

What Do Rats Really Like To Eat?

When it comes to the dietary preferences of rats, there is a common misconception that they have an insatiable appetite for cheese. However, the truth is quite different. While it is true that rats are attracted to the smell of cheese, it is not necessarily their favorite food.

In fact, rats are opportunistic eaters and their preferences can vary depending on their environment and nutritional needs.

Favorite Treats and Foods

Rats are omnivores, which means they can eat both plant and animal matter. While cheese may be one of the foods that rats are willing to eat, their favorite treats include fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. Rats are also known to enjoy protein-rich foods such as eggs and meat.

They have a keen sense of smell and are attracted to foods with strong aromas.

It is important to note that not all rats have the same preferences. Just like humans, rats have individual tastes and may have certain foods that they enjoy more than others. Some rats may have a sweet tooth and gravitate towards fruits, while others may prefer savory foods like vegetables or grains.

Nutritional Requirements

Rats have specific nutritional requirements that need to be met in order for them to stay healthy. These requirements include a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. While treats like cheese can be offered in moderation, they should not be the mainstay of a rat’s diet.

It is essential to provide rats with a well-rounded diet that includes a variety of foods to ensure they receive all the nutrients they need. Commercial rat food pellets can also be included as part of their diet, as they are specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of rats.

Variety Is Key

Offering a variety of foods to rats is not only important for their nutritional needs but also for their overall well-being. Just like humans, rats can get bored with eating the same foods every day. Providing them with a diverse range of foods can stimulate their senses and keep them mentally and physically active.

It is recommended to introduce new foods gradually to rats and observe their reactions. This way, you can identify their preferences and ensure that they are getting a balanced diet. Additionally, it is important to avoid feeding rats foods that are toxic to them, such as chocolate, onions, and caffeine.

For more information on the dietary needs of rats, you can visit websites like RatForum.com or ASPCA.org, which provide detailed guidelines on feeding rats and keeping them healthy.


In conclusion, while it’s become popular to associate rats with loving cheese, especially in cartoons and culture, the evidence shows rats do not actually have a special hankering for cheese. Like humans, rats are omnivores and enjoy a diverse diet full of different flavors and textures.

Cheese may show up occasionally on a rat’s plate, but it’s no more attractive than many other foods. The myth persists in part because cheese smells enticing to animals, making it a convenient shorthand. But the reality is rats enjoy variety and cheese is far from their top favorite.

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