Do rodents nurse their young?

Rodents are mammals and most of them will take care of their young until they are grown enough to go out and fend for themselves.

Nesting habits

Some rodents will form communal nesting units, where some mothers will come together and take turns rearing babies while others go out to forage for food; rats for example. However, this method of taking care of young ones is more successful with rodents that are familiar with each other and have been together for long. Strangers are less likely to care for each other’s young and will generally commit infanticide, which is the killing of babies within the first few hours of birth.

Do they nurse?

Yes. Like most mammals, rodents nurse their young. The new born babies are not able to eat anything else other than suckle from their mothers. However when there are different littersof varying ages, the mortality rate of the younger litter is generally higher than the first. This is because;

  • They are too small to compete for mothers’ milk with the older ones.
  • The mother may not have enough milk for all of them and by the time they get to suckling it is finished.
What if her milk is too little?

The great thing about communal nursing is sometimes a ‘sister’ will nurse other rodents’ babies. However, as stated, they will not do so unless they know each other well, otherwise, she may kill the babies and walk away.

The great thing about rodent babies is they do not take too long to get weaned. Generally, most rodents will wean their young within four weeks. Weaning largely depends on the rodent in question and if the infant has started venturing out on their own.

Why is it important to know this?

Probably the hardest thing to do is control rodent populations or remove them from your home. However, when you are armed with the proper information, you are able to humanely remove them, causing little distress. It’s usually harder to remove families from your homes especially when they have babies. This article has given you an insight into nursing behavior to better understand why the nursing mothers sometimes are many or less, and the most appropriate time to remove them. Some people may also want to keep rodents as pets. It is important to know that baby rodents depend on mother’s milk, and unless you can provide an equivalent, it is better to leave them be.

Do rodents nurse their young?

RAT CONTROL: We specialize in rat control projects. Call us now for rat control in your city or town.
Go back to the How to get rid of rats page to learn more about Do rodents nurse their young?
To find out our prices for rat control, visit our rat removal prices page.