Why Do Pet Rats Love To Hoard Food? Is It Safe?

If you’ve recently gotten a pet rat, you may see them running about the house, hiding or hoarding food. Hoarding is a common trait among rodents. However, if this is your first time taking care of a rodent, you may be overwhelming yourself with questions such as; why is my pet rat hoarding food? Is this safe? Should I do anything to make it stop?

There are many reasons why pet rats hoard or hide food. For one, hoarding is an evolutionary trait among rodents. This behavior is something they have learned and internalized from being in the wilderness. However, pet rats can also hoard food due to a sudden change in their environment or if they feel anxious and unsafe.

A pet rat hiding food is a common sight among rodent owners. However, just because it is common, does not mean it isn’t an issue that warrants concern.

Sometimes pet rats hiding food is completely normal. Other times it is a sign that your rodent is anxious. To find out how you should deal with your pet rat hoarding food, keep reading.

Reasons Why Pet Rats Hide And Hoard Food

There are many possible reasons why your pet rat is hoarding food. However, to make this phenomenon easier to understand, I’ll sum up why your pet rat is hoarding food through two possible reasons.

Evolutionary Behavior (Instinct)

Nowadays pet rats are considered domestic animals who don’t have predatory instincts.

However, originally rats were considered a wild species. Many rodents who survived in the wild had to develop hoarding habits to survive. Domestic animals receive food on a timely schedule. However, this is not the case with wild animals.

Uncertain of when the next meal would be, wild rodents had to hoard or hide food so that they could live longer.

Domestic rats do not face the same issues wild rats do. However, the instinct to store food away is a trait that has been passed down to almost every rodent species. So even when there is no sign of danger, rodents hoard food because it is their instinct to do so.

Change In Atmosphere

Aside from instincts, pet rats also hoard food when there is a change in their environment.

Domestic rats are used to having a stable environment. So any sudden changes in their surroundings can set off a trigger in their brains and make them think they are in danger. When rats feel anxious or unsafe, they go into survival mode.

In survival mode, their mentalities become similar to wild rats.

Concerned about when their next meal will be, they begin hoarding food in preparation for the worst. So, if there were any changes in your pet rat’s routine such as their cage, your house, their mealtimes, etc. It could be the reason why your pet rat is hiding food.

Is It Safe For Pet Rats To Hoard Food?

Many domestic rodents hoard food simply out of instinct. In such cases hoarding food is pretty harmless. However, many times pet rats hoard food because they feel anxious. In such cases, you should take action to make your rodent feel more at ease. From the surface, it is hard to tell if your pet rat is hoarding out of instinct or due to anxiety.

To figure out why your pet rat is hoarding food, think about if there were any changes made to your rat’s routine. You can do this by asking yourself the following questions.

  • Did you change your rat’s cage or anything inside it recently?
  • Did you change houses or move to a different location?
  • Have you made any changes to your rat’s diet?
  • Are you overfeeding your rat?
  • Does your rat have too many cage mates?
  • Are you underfeeding your rat?
  • Did you bring any new pets or animals to your house?
  • Is your rat getting old?

If you answered yes to one or more of the questions above, your pet rat might be feeling anxious. You can further determine this if they’re grooming more than usual lately as well. In this case, hoarding food is a coping mechanism. Though you do not need to put a stop to the hoarding, you should take the necessary steps to make your pet rat feel less anxious.

several pet rats eating and hoarding food
Some pet rats will grab their food and stash it for later

Aside from this, you should also take note of how long your pet rat hides their food. Usually, a rat will dig up the food they hid and eat it in their own time. However, sometimes they can leave hidden food in their cage or around the house for weeks. Eating old food can make your rat ill from indigestion.

If you notice uneaten food in your house or your rat’s cage for more than three or four days, get rid of it before your rat eats it.

If the food is untouched after three or four days, your rat has probably forgotten about it. So, don’t worry about making your rat even more anxious by throwing away old food. Most likely they won’t even notice that it’s gone.

Are You Overfeeding Your Pet Rat?

Sometimes rats hoard food because they are being overfed. So, overfeeding is a possible reason for your rat’s hoarding habits.

However, there are many possible reasons why a pet rat is hiding food. So, hoarding alone is insufficient in determining if your rat is overfed. However, you can determine if you are overfeeding your rat through various other signs.

First of all, if your rat is overfed, it will gain a lot of weight.

If your pet rat looks more round and plump than usual, you have likely been overfeeding them. Another sign of overfeeding is laziness. Overfeeding can lead your pet rat to suffer from obesity, heart disease, cancer, etc. Thus if you are overfeeding your rat, make sure to talk to a vet and create a new diet chart.

Should You Stop Your Pet Rats From Hiding Food?

There is no need to stop your rat from hoarding food. For the most part, hoarding food isn’t harmful or dangerous. However, if your pet rat is hoarding as a coping mechanism, try to find out the reasons behind their anxiety, and calm them down. Stress can be very dangerous for a pet rat.

If your pet rat is stressed about something minor, they should get over it in a few days.

However, if you see other signs of stress such as skin rashes, strange noises, or changes in appetite, you may want to consult a professional. In severe cases, your pet rat may have to take medication to help calm down.

Do Pet Rats Also Hoard Toys Or Other Things?

Pet rats hoard all sorts of things. Hoarding is an instinct among rodents. Aside from food, you will also see rats hoarding toys, buttons, and all sorts of other things. Typically, rats hoard objects as a way of collecting treasure. Thus you will notice many shiny things such as coins or spoons among your rat’s hoarded items.

Hoarding objects is particularly common among pack rats.

However, all species of rats have some sort of hoarding habit. There is no special reason why rats hoard random objects. Usually, a pet rat will hoard the things they find attractive.

This is why people find all sorts of shiny objects, pebbles, or gems in a rat’s hoarding nest.

Do wild rats hoard food? Yes, just like pet rats, wild rats also hoard food! It’s a natural instinct.

My pet rat keeps hiding and hoarding food, and I can’t find it anywhere! It can sometimes be tough to find your pet rat and their food stash, especially if they’re trying to escape. So here’s a complete guide on what you can do if your pet rat keeps escaping!

A pet rat hoarding food is nothing to stress over.

I hope this article helped you learn more about pet rats and their hoarding habits. So, if your pet rat is hiding food, don’t worry. Just take care of the little guy or gal, and he will live a long and happy life, hiding food and hoarding treasure.

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