Do Rats Like Cheese?

The image of a rat nibbling on a chunk of cheese is as classic as it gets — almost a cultural icon in itself. But does this trope reflect reality? Are rats really the cheese connoisseurs cartoons would have us believe? Let’s scurry through the facts to find the truth behind this cheesy myth.

The Origin of the Myth

The association between rats and cheese may have historical roots. In the past, food storage methods were not as refined as they are today, and cheese, often stored in less secure environments, was an easy target for a hungry rat.

However, the leap from accessibility to preference is a large one.

Rats’ Palates: Varied and Opportunistic

Rats are not picky eaters. As opportunistic feeders, they have a varied diet that includes fruits, seeds, and even invertebrates. Their tendency to eat anything available means cheese is on the menu, but it’s not the delicacy it’s made out to be.

Cheese: Not the Healthiest Choice for Rodents

Nutritionally, cheese isn’t the ideal choice for rats. High in fat and lacking in the diverse nutrients rats typically seek out, cheese is more of an indulgence than a staple.

Modern Findings: A Shift in Preference

Recent studies have suggested that rats prioritize foods with higher sugar content over cheese.

Given a choice, they are more likely to opt for fruit and sweetened cereals. This shift could be due to the evolution of available food sources in urban environments.


So, do rats like cheese? They might not turn their noses up at a nice piece of Gouda, but it’s not their food of choice. Rats have complex diets that reflect their environments. Cheese’s status as a rodent favorite is more a product of human storytelling than rodent preference.

As we’ve unpeeled the layers of this myth, it’s clear that while rats will eat cheese, they’re just as happy — if not happier — snacking on a variety of other foods.