Do Rats Bite Horses [Shocking Facts]

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Rats look for a place near the food and shelter to build their nest. The barns are attractive for rats as they provide plenty of food sources and warmth in cold temperatures. However, the question that arises here is; do rats bite horses? 

Yes, rats chew on pretty much everything they find, including horse hooves. The dead skin on the horse hooves is similar to snacks for rats. In extreme scenarios, rats’ bites can cause deep wounds to the horses. 

A common problem faced by horse owners is rat infestation. To find more detail about it, read the article below. 

Do Rats Chew Horses’ Feet?

Horses' Feet

Rats like to chew on the horse’s feet, specifically, on the waxy deposit of the hooves.

Dr. Stacey Golub, in her research, finds it astonishing for rats to chew on the horse’s feet. Her observation states that rats not only chew on the waxy material below periople but can peel the coronet in layers. 

Rats are active at night, so they attack horses while sleeping. Horses cannot scare away the rats.

Therefore, they become bolder and will continue biting. The horse owners must pay close attention to the barns at night. In some cases, the rat’s bite on the hoof has caused deep wounds with blood.

Are Horses Afraid Of Rats?

Horses are not afraid of rats. They can be startled by the rats but not scared of them. It is common for rats to reside in the barns and stables. Sometimes the bolder rats can even sleep in the horse bedding.

At night rats chew on the waxy substances on the horse’s feet. That causes discomfort to the horses, but they do not hush them away. 

Can Horses Get Sick From Rats?

Rats are not necessarily primary illness carriers to horses. However, they transmit diseases to the horses that can make them sick.

Rats transmit the infection to the horses via urine, droppings, and parasite. The three principal diseases transmitted by rats to horses; are given below.

· Salmonellosis

The source of this disease is a bacteria called salmonella. Rats and birds living near the barn are the sources of this bacteria. Salmonella is spread through the rats dropping and can survive for about two years in the scat. Therefore, keep your barn clean and remove the rat scat. 

Salmonella lives in water and horse feed and can live for several months. It causes diarrhea in the horses. If not treated, diarrhea can be fatal. 

· Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease and the most common disease in horses. Leptospira causes moon blindness in horses. 

Leptospira grows in the animal’s urine, including mice, cows, pigs, dogs, and rats. This disease is transmitted in horses by direct contact via open wounds, cuts and scratches on legs, and mucous membrane of the mouth, nose, and eyes.

It can also infect horses by drinking infected water or eating infected feed. 

· Trichinosis

Trichinosis is caused by worms found in decaying and dry rat scats. Horses can be infected by eating contaminated hay which consists of trichinella roundworm larvae.

The symptoms of horses suffering from trichinosis are fever, diarrhea, and rash. 

Do Rats Eat Chaff?


Rats build their nest close to the food sources. If they find shelter and food sources near, they will settle in for a long time. Rats eat anything but prefer grains and meat.

Therefore, the chaff in the horse stable is a food source for them. One of the main attractions of the barn to the rats is the horse feed. They also eat another type of horse feed, including hay. Rats living in stables can eat tons of horse feed in a year.

How Do I Keep Rats Out Of My Barn?

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Rats are annoying and destructive. They can infest any place with plenty of food sources and shelter, including barns. It is common for rats to seek refuge inside barns, especially during cold weather. 

Main barns with woods nearby are attractive for rats as they prefer breeding in the wood. The barns provide rats with plenty of food and warmth, making it an ideal location for nesting. 

Rats can eat tons of horse feed, bite horses and transmit diseases. Therefore, you need to find a way to keep the rats out of the barn. Given below are the five ways to eliminate pests from the barns.

· Seal The Holes In The Barn

Seal The Holes In The Barn

Rats are small and can sneak inside through small spaces. Rats can enter inside stables through the gaps and holes as small as two centimeters.

Make sure that there are no gaps and cracks inside the barn structure. If you find any hole seal it immediately because once the rat enters the stable, they will make an entire family inside.

Plus, rats are highly skilled at chewing things; they can chew through the wood to get inside stables.

· Keep The Barn Clean

It is essential to keep the barn clean to get the rats. Rats like to live in dirt and disorganized places as they provide them with hiding areas and plenty of food.

If any cardboard boxes are lying near the barn, throw them away. Clean the stables twice a day, once in the morning and then in the afternoon. 

If you cannot manage deep cleaning every day, at least throw away the manure.

Rats can eat horse waste, so throw away the manure far from the stables. You can use the manure in the gardens or yards or discard it in the compost sites.

· Keep The Horse Feed Sealed.

Horse Feed Sealed

Rats are attracted to food and can eat anything they find. One of the main attractions of the horse barns to the rats is horse feed. Never leave horse feed or hay lying around.

Keep the feed locked in metal bins which are rather difficult for rats to open than the plastic bins.

Always make sure that you keep the lid of the container tightly closed. When there are no food sources, rats will look for other places and leave the barn.

· Use Traps And Repellents.

Rats have sensitive olfactory receptors. Use natural repellents to get rid of rats. Grow garlic, onion, peppers, tomatoes, oregano, and eucalyptus around your barn; these plants will scare away the rats.

Do not use mothballs around the stables as they are poisons and can kill horses. You can set glue boards that can kill the rats invading the barn.

· Clean And Replace Horse Beds

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Rats like to sleep in warm and comfortable places. Horse beds are warm and cozy for rats to sleep in.

To prevent rats from biting the horse, clean and replace the horse bed every other day. The hay and the straws provide rats a place for hiding as well. 


Rats can invade the stables and barns as they provide them with food and shelter. Rats will not just live there and feed on hay and chaffs; they can also bite horses. Rats’ bites are not serious health hazards. However, the diseases rats shed in their urine and dropping can cause severe infections in horses.

Rats have continuously growing teeth to file them, so they chew on everything they find. They can chew on the waxy substance on the periople of the horse’s feet.


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Applied and Environmental Microbiology