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Where Do Rats Live?

Where Do Rats Live? Because they are primarily nocturnal, odds are good that you won't see rats often, although you may hear them running inside walls and gnawing on wires. If you suspect you have rat activity in or around your home, you may be concerned about rat habitats. So, where do rats hide?

Where rats live Rats' habitat will vary depending on both their species and on rural or country setting. However, the two most common types found in the United States are the Norway rat and the roof rat. According to the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM), both species are found where people are present:

So, do rats live in trees? Yes, if they are roof rats. And, the UC IPM factsheet has also filled you in on "where do rats sleep" and "where do rats go during the day." The answer to both questions being into their burrows or nests.

Packing it in Now that you know where rats live, it's logical to wonder, "Do rats live alone?" Or do rats live in packs? The answer is in packs. Both Norway rats and roof rats are considered Old World rats, as they came to the U.S. from Europe. A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife factsheet explains the social and family structure of these rats:

  • Old World rats travel 50 to 300 feet from their nests to look for food and water and patrol their territory. However, they can travel much farther when necessary.

  • Rats generally live together in a group dominated by a large male that guards a harem of females and aggressively prevents other males from mating.

  • Rats seen during the day are generally socially low-ranked individuals who have been denied access to food by dominant rats during the night.

Because there are multiple nest sites for these rats, it can be hard to determine an accurate head count for a rat infestation. However, Norway rats have been observed in family groups as small as 15 rats, and as large as 220 rats.

Now that you know the basics of rat habitats, you can see if your home has any signs of a rat infestation. If you suspect that rats have invaded your home, call a pest management professional to discuss your options for control.