How Far Do Rats Travel From Their Nests?

A big part of pest control is studying rat behaviour. By doing this, we are better able to understand these pests and eliminate or deter them. We’ve also learnt many interesting things about rodents. For example, did you know that rats travel only a certain distance from their nest?

rat in essex

Why rats travel small distances before returning home

According to the people who research this stuff, rats travel about 100-500 feet from their nest. This is considered the rat’s “territory.” The reason why they travel this distance is mostly out of safety concerns. They are familiar with this area because it is close to their nest. Rats can be more certain that no predators are in the area, otherwise they will have detected them or signs of them beforehand.

What you should also consider is that rats are small animals with limited energy. They are only capable of going so far before getting tired. These pests are not capable of making long journeys. They are also nocturnal and can only go so far before it starts getting light.

This is also why rats build their nests near to sources of food. Because they only travel this small distance, their nest must be located close to food and water. That being said, there are exceptions to this rule. Rats travel further if they are unable to find food and water in this radius. In fact, they are able to go long distances when desperate.

rat eating

Is it useful to know how far rats travel?

But how can we use this information to prevent or get rid of rats? Well, this information is useful if you’re trying to locate a rodent infestation. If you see a rat, understand that its nest is probably located somewhere within 100-500 feet.

Do not look for rats on the other side of your home. Restrict your search to the nearby area. When looking, focus on dark and hidden away places where you do not often go. Also focus on places that are inaccessible to humans. This may include places like walls, pipes (they can live in drains) and ceilings.

Also keep this information in mind when setting rat traps. Once again, do not set your traps far from where you’ve spotted the rodent. It’s probably a good idea to place traps in the exact place where the rat was seen. Be sure this is safe to do so – especially if you have children or pets.

rat seeds

You can also try to retrace the rat’s steps. When it runs off, follow the rat as far as possible. Think about the most likely path back to its nest. In which direction did the rats travel from, and where could the nest be located? You can then leave traps and poison along this path.

If you have an infestation also think about your kitchen and also any other foody areas (pet food included) and how food waste is dealt with to stop rats. Locate the rats’ source of food and water. That means your search should be restricted to 500 feet around your kitchen, or food areas or bins. Doing this will greatly increase your chances of discovering where the rats are living.

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