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What do rats attack?

New York – famous for its iconic skyscrapers, pizza, bagels, yellow taxis, broadway shows, and unfortunately, rats. Many local New York residents are well aware of the large population of rats the city has. However, some were stunned to see this video of a rat attacking a pigeon, leading them to a bigger question: What else do rats attack? Just pigeons? Other bird species? Or even worse, do rats attack humans? 

Before you get super stressed out, we’re here to tell you that you don’t need to really worry. The short answer to your question is that rats can and will jump on the attack, but only under certain circumstances.

A rat is seen eating seeds in New York, NY,

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Why do rats attack birds?

Rats have been known to attack live prey. Within reason, a rat will try to kill and eat any animal in its surroundings. This can include birds, fish, and many other small mammals. Bigger birds, like hawks and falcons, can swoop down, grab a rat with its claws, and make a meal out of it.

As seen in the video, rats will attack pigeons, and other bird species, if provoked. Pigeons are slow-moving birds. They don’t immediately fly away, making it very easy for a rat to jump on the attack. As you may know from experience, pigeons like to hang out in large crowds that offer them easy access to human food. Therefore, these birds are usually enjoying a human-food snack, and rats are always looking for an easy meal. In some cases of a rat attack, a pigeon can fly away by aggressively flapping its wings, but unfortunately, they don’t always break free.

A flock of city pigeons in an urban environment

Do rats attack humans?

Thankfully, unlike pigeons and other smaller mammals, we don’t really have to worry about rats attacking us. 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.

A brown and black rat sitting on the stone boardwalk with a human walking in the background.

Rats are nocturnal which leads us to another popular question: Do rats bite humans in their sleep? As stated above, healthy rats don’t really bother humans or try to attack them. However, since they are nocturnal creatures, they wander buildings and homes when those areas are quiet. Rats are mainly looking for food. If a rat is in your home while you’re sleeping, and you went to bed with a late-night snack, there is a chance the rat would jump up for any leftover crumbs.

PSA: Rats can transmit many diseases, so seek medical advice if you are bit by one. 

Do all types of rats attack?

All rat species may attack if they feel threatened, or are provoked or scared and need to fight their way out of a confrontation. However, many rats don’t actually attack anything – birds or humans – since they typically hide during the day. Rats are actually pretty fearful creatures and don’t want to be bothered, hence one reason they forage at night.

Dark and eerie urban city alley at night with rats running across

Contact Ehrlich for rat control 

Whether you are interested in rodent control for your home, or just have questions about rats, you can count on Ehrlich! Sealing gaps and openings, our rodent exclusion service is the perfect solution to prevent rats from making a home out of yours. If you find yourself with a rat infestation, our rodent control methods will work to remove the rats and keep them off of your property, leaving you with a much safer environment.

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