Where Do Rats Live?

Rats are medium-sized rodents with thin tails that originated in Asia and Australia but now live all over the world. 

Rattus members are “true rats,” however other rodent genera are also called rats and share many of the same traits. 

These rodents differ from mice in that they are larger, have longer, thinner bodies, and have longer legs.

Rats Habits

They primarily exist to forage and mate. Although most rats are nocturnal, the brown rat can be seen awake at any time of day or night.

These rodents frequently congregate in groups known as packs. When a male and female go off on their own and nest in an area where there isn’t currently a pack, a new pack is created. 

Brown rats are often led by the pack’s largest male. Other rats’ packs may have numerous dominant males or females.

Rats Habitat

Rat species are either terrestrial or arboreal, though they that prefer one habitat can also live in the other. The Norway rat and the roof rat are the most frequent rat species in North America. They are respectively terrestrial and arboreal.

Burrowers are the most prevalent type of Norway rat. They make their nests among clumps of vegetation or outside the walls of houses. Norway rats are known to build their nests beneath the borders of pavements and patios.

These rodents are mostly nocturnal, so you won’t see them very often, though you might hear them running within walls and nibbling on wires. You may be concerned about rat habitats if you suspect rat activity in or around your home. So, where do they take refuge?

Rats’ environment varies based on their species and if they live in a rural or country location. The Norway rat and the roof rat, on the other hand, are the two most frequent varieties in the United States. 

Both species are found where people are present, according to the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM).

Roof rats enjoy arboreal settings, as their name suggests. They can be found in yucca, palm, and cypress trees, as well as elevated places of human dwellings. 

Roof rats can be found in attics, rafters, eaves, and on roofs, among other places. They may also pick non-arboreal plants such as bushes, honeysuckle, and tall grasses to build their nests. 

Do Rats Live Alone Or in Packs

Rats live in colonies. Norway rats and roof rats are both considered Old World rats because they arrived in the United States from Europe. 

The social and familial structure of these rodents is explained in this datasheet from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

  • To find food and water, and to monitor their territory, Old World rats wander 50 to 300 feet from their nests. They can, however, travel considerably further if necessary.
  • They live in groups, usually led by a huge male who guards a harem of females and actively discourages other males from mating.
  • Rats observed during the day are usually low-ranking members of society that have been refused food by dominating rats during the night.

Because these rodents have various nesting places, determining an accurate head count for a rat infestation can be difficult. Norway rats, on the other hand, have been seen in family groups ranging in size from 15 to 220 of these rodents.

Rat Holes

Dirt, trash, and grease are all tracked by rats. They also have the ability to chew through wood and concrete. Rat holes are unsightly and dangerous; not only do they allow other vermin to enter, but they can also cause short-circuit fires if rats gnaw on electrical wires.

Finding rat holes may be more difficult than you think. Locate any holes, paying special attention to areas where bricks, wood, or tile may have decayed. 

Rat holes can be found between the floors or in unusual places like closets. Rodents are attracted to cluttered environments, as well as those near water lines. Gas pipe entry holes behind stoves may also be used by rats.

Diseases That They Spread

Disease and rat-bite fever can arise from rat bites and scratches. The spread of leptospirosis is caused by rat urine, which can cause liver and kidney damage. It can also be contracted by handling or inhaling scavenged feces. Renal and hepatic failure, as well as cardiovascular issues, are all possible complications.

The viral infection Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCMV) is spread by the saliva and urine of rats. Some people have long-term complications from lymphocytic choriomeningitis, whereas others just have transitory symptoms.

The bubonic plague, often known as the “Black Plague,” and its derivatives are one of the most historically devastating rat-borne diseases. When fleas from rats attack humans, they transmit the disease. 

Fleas carried by rats are thought to have caused the plague that killed millions of people throughout the Middle Ages. Rat infestations can be damaging to human health by transmitting diseases like bubonic plague, typhus, and hantavirus.

They could potentially be a source of allergies. Sneezing and other allergic reactions can be triggered by their droppings, dander, and fallen hair.

Diseases transmitted by these rodents are divided into two categories: diseases transferred directly to people by contact with infected rat feces, urine, or bites, and diseases transmitted indirectly to people through contact with an intermediate arthropod vector such as fleas, ticks, or mosquitoes.


You can see if your home has any indicators of a rat infestation now that you understand the basics of rat habitats, behaviors, and the dangers that come with them. If you feel your home has been overrun by these pesky rodents , contact a pest control professional to explore your alternatives. 



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