How long do rats live?

How long do rats live has a very simple answer that rats live 2 to 3 years they have a short lifespan. It also depends on where do they live and belong to. Another study shows the life-span of rats in this way:

  • Black rat lives 12 months.

  • Brown rat lives 2 years.

Facts about Rats

Despite their size, rats are the most dangerous animals in disguise. They can cause damage more than we think as they can nest inside a household and as nasty as it sounds to have rats in your house they’re actually really harmful to our health too. So basically as it concerns our health and our hygienic living, people study about animals and rats are one of them. To find out how long rats live there are several studies made And observations to find out about their lifespan. This article will help you specify the facts on the lifespan and habitat of rats.

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Body Structure of a Rat

Rats are built this way where they can move really fast and can enter small spaces as they don’t really have a bony structure. They are flexible and have well-developed paws so that they can climb and dig inside. They can nest inside a hole and can also climb on higher scales so that some snakes and lizards can’t reach them. Having both the abilities to dig and climb makes them more capable of surviving.

How long do rats live

Life-span of Rats

The lifespan of rats depends on where they live and what species they belong to as the habitat of an animal has a huge impact on how long do rats live. Studies that showed their weaknesses help us find out about their ways of living. Rats are omnivores creatures and that is the first thing to know that they have got surviving skills. There is no one answer about their lifespan that is applicable for all rat species. And also some rats are kept in captivity so they will easily be safer than wild ones, making them live longer than the other rats.

How do rats survive for longer periods?

Rats have excellent surviving skills which make them live longer than other small animals. Rats are omnivores and they can eat basically whatever they can chew on. Rats have this ability to grow front teeth so rapidly that they have to chew on harder things to prevent Overgrowth. Rats that live in the wild can survive through so many possibilities. The water supply in the wild is accessible and they can chew on anything possible including plants, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. As the rats are omnivores animals they can also eat dead animals or little insects. So their survival is pretty much easy in the wild although they can be hunted by snakes and other bigger animals.

Rapid reproduction process

Rats can reproduce very fast and once they find a proper habitat where they have access to food and water, they will eventually, start reproducing at a quick pace which makes their survival strong and moving.

Rats are excellent swimmers

One of the abilities of rats is that they can swim underwater and can hold breath that is the reason why they can be so good at surviving. Fur house rats if you flush them down the toilet it’s not going to kill them and they can find another route and can enter your house again. That is the reason why if a house is infested by rats it’s is so hard to get rid of them as they have outstanding surviving skills. It is said that rats can swim in water without breathing for one or two days. Having this skill is not common in animals. Rats are good at finding different routes and then they remember it so usually if you flush them or manage to get them out of your house if they have been in your house they can easily come again through a different route. Them being good at swimming increases their chance to swim their way through pipelines and sometimes damage it too.

Wild rats can swim their way through a pond or a stream and find different places to nest and reproduce which makes them capable of finding habitats for themselves. although rats can’t survive in deep waters as there are fish that can prey on them.

How long do rats live

Using their whiskers to get around

It is said that rats have very poor eyesight which explains why they have such big whiskers. Rats use whiskers to get around and find food and sense danger as well. It also explains how they can easily walk around and find food at night because they don’t need their eyesight to get around they use their whiskers to sense. The whiskers are used as a sense of touch, so moving them back and forth can help them find their ways and also avoid danger.

Rats communicate through their tails

Yes, that is true rats do communicate with each other through their tails. they can find their tribe or their group by signaling through their tails. Their tails already look like antennae and you’ll see they are always pointed upwards usually. It is said that a mother rat will find their babies through her tail she will sense that it’s her babies even if they grow up so she can differentiate the other rats and her baby rats.

How long do Rats live without water

Rats cannot survive without water or less water. They eat 10% of their body weight of food but they need enough amount of water to be healthy. Rats don’t store any water and they are physically active animals so they dehydrate easily and thus need enough amount of water throughout the day. An average rat needs about 2 ounces of water each day. Rats that are kept as pets should be given 2 ounces of water every day the best option would be in a metal bottle cap or something shallow. The reason why rats have good surviving ability is that they don’t need a fancy diet.

Survival of rats in urban areas

Even though rats are pretty much very hated rodents still studies were done for these rats which surprisingly showed that urban rats prefer a steady diet of high-quality food including animal protein and rich meat. The city rats usually get a good amount of protein-rich foods as they can easily get it by invading trash cans and it’s easily accessible as people throw away so much food and the leftovers being rats’ high-quality food and are very accessible. Makes it very easier for them to maintain a healthy diet.

In urban areas, city rats have access to a lot of food and can easily live up to three years and it is almost as the same the lifespan of a rat kept in captivity. But when the city rats start invading houses that’s when they are in danger as people would try to get rid of those rats and that’s how most rats are killed when they nest inside houses.

Survival of rats in rural areas

Rats that live in rural areas live especially near a water source and they usually go for a vegetarian option for diet. Because they have access to a lot of natural food such as plants, nuts, seeds, and some fruits and vegetables. If we ask how long do rats live in a rural area then the answer is that they can survive up to two years if there are not enough predators around. but their lifespan can be pretty low if the area is infested by snakes and other animals that eat rats. The survival of rats in urban areas depends on whether their habitat is ideal or not. But still, rats have the ability to nest in places that are hidden from bigger animals. They don’t easily get caught and have a special ability to be active at night so it’s easier for them to find food when everyone is settled in their nests or houses.

How did COVID-19 affected rats?

As we all know about the global pandemic COVID-19, People all over the world are affected by it but you will be surprised to know that animals are also facing some survival problems due to this virus. due to the lockdown in cities, all the restaurants and street food is typically closed and there is little to no sign of wasted food in public garbage cans. This affected a lot of suburban rats as garbage food was one of their biggest sources of food. At night rats rummage through garbage cans of restaurants but now that people don’t physically come to restaurants, it has been a pandemic for rats too. Basically, city or suburban rats were surviving on leftover food. but because rats are good at lowering the quality of their diet and still surviving, they eventually find different ways to search for food or live on things that are not considered food but they can chew on it so they eat it as well.
Due to coronavirus rats are coming out of their hidings to find food as it is not as accessible as it was before. So it is an alarming sign that rats might get inside people’s houses for the search for food so there might be a rat problem in every other house in the city.

How long do rats live

Rats invasion and health risks

As the rats are coming out of their hiding, we need to make sure that our houses are safe and are not infested by rats. Because it’s not just about rats it’s about your health too as it can carry a lot of bacteria on them and can actually be the reason to spread the virus. Now it’s not just about staying inside our houses but making our houses rodent-free. this pandemic can be a good step to get rid of these pests and To get rid of them once and for all or it can also make them more skilled in surviving and if they ever nest inside a house and make it a habit they can actually live longer. So what we have to do is make our houses free of these rodents and try to get rid of them as soon as we see a rat problem in your house. There are so many pest investing companies that can help you get rid of them so don’t hesitate to hire people who can make your house rodent-free.

Diseases spread by rats to humans

Rats, mice, and other rodents can carry dangerous diseases even if they look clean or they are your pets it’s not going to make them bacteria-free. One disease which very dangerous that they can carry is salmonella. One might have a fever, stomach cramps and diarrhea with this virus. Sometimes you might not know that you have it but the symptoms will exceed to the point where you will know that you have a virus. Another one is a very dangerous virus as it can get a person into a very serious condition of headache, fever, and body pain along with diarrhea vomiting, and dizziness.

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Are pet rats safe

Diseases like leptospirosis, lymphocytic choriomeningitis LCMV, and tularemia are very common in rats. One should keep all this information in mind before owning rats as pets. A bite from a rat can also cause fever and infection. This can easily happen if you have one as a pet and if we don’t take care of it as it needs to be done, they can get aggressive and can bite or scratch you. Pet rats can also chew and nibble on clothes, furniture, doors, and even make holes in walls and floor.

Maintaining hygiene after getting rid of rats

After disposing of rats and cleaning your house one needs to know what to do for proper cleaning and disinfecting the areas rats have been nesting. Maintenance of hygiene is very important because the bacteria might still be active in places they’ve been hiding in. Following are some ways to disinfect properly.

  1. Wearing rubber gloves when cleaning the areas of rats droppings and urine, you should wear rubber gloves to avoid getting any bacteria and germs on your skin as they can penetrate inside and cause infections.

  2. Avoid vacuuming the waste directly you probably want to just vacuum away all the droppings and waste in one sweep but this will only cause bigger problems. The vacuum bag will get all the bacteria and germs inside while transferring it to other places that you’ll vacuum on, so it will be a mistake to use a vacuum for it.

  3. Using disinfectant and bleach Once you pick all the dirt and droppings use bleach to get rid of germs. Using a disinfectant is a better option but bleach can also do the job if it’s the only option available.

  4. Disposing of the waste in garbage remember to get rid of the waste immediately after collecting and not leave it laying around in the house as bacteria can spread very fast. Dispose of it in the garbage making sure it’s nowhere near your house.

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How long do City rats live?

Because the rats living in cities have the food source depending on wasted food and garbage cans. It is easy to say that their diet is based on food that is just laying around in abundant quantity for them. The water source for rats in cities can be easily found through taps, sewers, pipelines, and also toilets. As nasty as it sounds it’s pretty much clear their survival is based on all the things no one cares about and is available in abundance. City rats have an average lifespan of 3 years although they can die early if they get into traps or are poisoned.

How long do wild rats live?

In the wild, rats are mostly feeding on fruits, plants, and vegetables as it is easier to get those. Seeds are also one of the options that are available for them. Their water source can be ponds and streams. Rats are good swimmers and can survive underwater for a good amount of time so they can also survive heavy rain in forests. As we know rats don’t need high-quality food and are always in survival mode so their lives in the wild can be easy unless there are animals that can hunt them. Animals like snakes, wild cats, and eagles can easily prey on rats and that’s how wild rats have an average lifespan of 1 to 2 years or less.

Where do rats nest?

When we talk about rats invasion and a house being infested by rats and rodents, we need to find out about what properties and characteristics do rat nests require. When a rat finds all the materials they need to make a nest or find a place for shelter, they will immediately settle and even reproduce if the habitat is rodent friendly. Here are some of the properties and materials rats need to make a shelter for themselves.

  1. Warm and well-hidden rats will most probably find a place that is well hidden and not in direct sight of humans. Rats are active at night, meaning they are nocturnal animals so they will find a place where they can be hidden in the morning. Rats also need a place where it’s warm for those that are nursing and it’s probably going to have babies they will find a place that is warm and suitable for newborn baby rats.

  2. Living in garbage cans and boxes some rats permanently live in bigger garbage cans that are used for keeping all the garbage of the town. It is an ideal place for rats to live as they have access to food 24/7 but the most inconvenient part about it is that they have to leave the place if the garbage cans are being deep cleaned. They also, make nests inside boxes by making little holes through which they can get in and out.

  3. Attics and confined spaces Black rats that are usually roof rats nest on attics as they are good climbers and can easily leave the house through climbing walls if necessary. Rats make nests in confined spaces where humans can’t reach.

  4. Building resources rats use some materials that are not in the use of humans. Things that we throw away they can easily use to make their nests such as pieces of clothes, broken household item, cotton, sticks, and even plants. Rats make nests from anything they can hold on to and use them to make a shelter for themselves.

  5. Living near ponds and tree holes because of water sources nearby rats live near ponds and live quite effortlessly, on the other hand, some make a living inside tree holes which is much safer and warmer. Rats can also make holes in wooden walls or anything they can chew on.

Norway rats

Rats that are of brown color are usually Norway rats and their basic habitats are in the houses and the wild, they live in underground holes and basically all the nests that they can make on the ground. Norway rats are basically common rats and are usually 40 centimeters long. These rats are also called sewer rats or street rats. Brown rats are more efficient in digging and chewing and survive on an omnivorous diet.

Roof rats

Rats that are of black color are called roof rats because they are very good at climbing and have less weight than brown rats. They usually live in attics or any other higher place. in the wild, they live on smaller mountains. Black rats are found worldwide but are originated in the Indian subcontinent. They are also typically called house rats. Roof rats live 12 to 14 months in the wild. they also have climbing skills which is the key to their survival.

What are fancy rats and how long do they live?

rats that are used in medical laboratories for research and they are said to be more intelligent than regular ones. Fancy rats are the domesticated form of Brown rats that are the only species liked by humans and are usually kept as pets. The word fancy is derived from the term “to fancy” as in a likable breed of brown rats. These rats are considered to be more qualified for medical tests and studies and because these fancy rats are kept captivated by humans they can live more than three years. And it won’t be wrong if we say that fancy rats survive the most out of every other rat.

How long do rats live?

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the related questions are answered below:

1. How long do rats live as pets?

Rat in any case cannot live more than 2 to 3 years. It is their maximum age it will be a good idea to inform your kids about their age to prepare them mentally for the loss of their pet.

2. What are rats afraid of?

Rats are afraid of ammonia it is the smell that rats cannot tolerate, if you really want to keep rats away from your house keep a quarter cup of water 2 cups of ammonia, and two teaspoons of detergent well mixed into a bowl and that will be enough to keep rats away.

3. What is the longest living rat?

The longest living rat which is living more than 28 years is the naked mole-rat.

4. Is 3 years old for a rat?

each rat month is unevenly equal to 2.5 years of human in adulthood (Ruth 1935).

Age of rats in months Age of rats in years rats age (human years)
24 of months 2 years 60 years as a human
30 of months 2.5 years 75 years as a human
36 of months 3 years 90 years as a human
42 of months 3.5 years 105 years as a human

5. At what age are rats fully grown?

Rats are fully mature at the age of six months, though they increase their size a while longer in time.

6. Can rats die of loneliness?

loneliness cannot be a cause of death for the rat but yes, they get depressed being alone. Waiting for their owner to give them time can be a reason for bad health to a rat which can lead to death.

7. Do onions kill rats?

Rats do not like strong smells that’s why they don’t like the smell of onion, onion smell does not kill rats instantly but it affects their immune system.

8. What kills rats instantly?

Rattrap is the most effective way to catch or kill rats, the snap trap is the most considered choice, try to keep these traps under the milk carate to avoid other animals to trap in it.

9. Can dead rat smell harm you?

Dead rat smell spreads various diseases in the air human can consume it by breathing it can give us health complications.

10. How long does a dead rat take to stop smelling?

Rat takes almost 3 weeks to decompose which is, unfortunately, a longer period to get rid of rat smell.


How long do rats live? Usually, rats live 2 to 3 years. They have a very short lifespan. However, pet rat has a bit long life-span than wild rats because of the quality and quantity of food consumed by them. Rats are usually harmful to human lives because of the bacteria they carry on them and diseases which affect the human body. Dead rat takes almost 3 weeks to decompose and its smell spreads in the air that goes into the human body by taking a breath.

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