Will Rats Leave If There Is No Food? (Solved!)


Rats come into our homes for two reasons – food and shelter.

Now as much as we all love the movie Ratatouille, if you have a rat in the house, they are unlikely to cook up culinary delights for you like the cute, animated character, Remy!

Rats are definitely not cute! They spread diseases via their urine and droppings, contaminate food, and cause no end of damage and destruction, so a rat infestation in your house is a serious problem.

But will rats leave if there is no food?

Rats will leave your house in the end if there is no food for them, but they will not leave straight away. Rats eat items we consider inedible and will chew anything in their path to survive.

Having rats in the house is every homeowner’s nightmare.

Read on to discover if depriving rats of food will force them out of your home and into pastures new.

A rat with a small biscuit on carpet next to wall

Will Rats Leave your Home if There Is No Food?

Rats will not stay if there is no food available.

But it could take up to one month before they are completely gone.

The weaker rats will die first from starvation, but the stronger ones will most likely start feeding on them to survive.

But the good news is that rats do not like to eat the same meal every day and quickly become bored of eating their dead friends and relatives, so hopefully, they should start to leave!

Make sure your home is clutter-free, so the rats have nowhere to hide, and clean everywhere. Store food away in airtight containers where the rats cannot access it and keep all trash in closed bins.

If you have pets, remove their food if they haven’t eaten it, as the rats soon will!

Female rats are the first to move out as they will not nest and give birth if there is no food.

Once all the rats have left and found another home with food to occupy, they usually never return.

Why Do Rats Come Into Our Homes?

Rats are warm-blooded animals, so it is natural for them to seek warmth, especially where they have easy access to food.

Leaving out food and pet food along with unsecured trash cans attracts rats more than anything into your home.

You are no doubt familiar with the expression “I smell a rat,” but a rat is more likely to smell you, as they have incredible sniffers!

In fact, rats can distinguish between over 2000 odors and can smell specific information about the food in your home.

In addition to their noses, rats have another smell organ known as the vomeronasal organ, or VNO, which detects species-specific pheromones.

The VNO allows rats to smell and track scents with a far greater degree of accuracy than most other animals.

They can detect other rats living close by, but most importantly, they can sniff out food through barriers and walls and follow the smell.

But because of their exceptional olfactory abilities, some species have even been trained to detect landmines and tuberculosis. (Source)

So maybe they are not such a pest after all!

What Type Of Foods Do Rats Go For In The Home?

Rats are incredibly adaptable when it comes to their living environment and diet and why they are happy to co-exist with us in our homes!

Rats do a lot of eating despite their stomachs only being half the size of a human thumb.

In the wild, rats eat grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

As omnivores, they are also avid meat-eaters, but to clarify, they don’t hunt for meat and only eat it when the opportunity presents itself, such as in a trash can or dumpster.

Rats are scavengers and will happily eat what we eat, along with any pet food. They are attracted to oil and fat spills, crumbs and other foodstuffs that have fallen on the floor.

These greedy rodents love both salty and sweet foods, going nuts for peanut butter and chocolate!

How Long Do Wild Rats Live?

Wild rats live an average of one to two years.

A rat's nest in the roof of a house
A rat’s nest in the roof of a house

How Long Can Rats Live Without Food And Water?

A rat can go one month without physically drinking water simply because they consume enough water through the foods they eat.

But although there is not much data available about how long rats can live without food, studies found that they couldn’t survive much longer than two weeks.

Rats can quickly become dehydrated if they have no food and become desperate for water, which you should keep in mind if you aim to starve them out of your home.

But as they become hungrier, rats will eat anything they come across, causing no end of damage and destruction.

How Long Can Baby Rats Live Without Food?

Baby rats survive on their mother’s milk for a maximum of six weeks.

Then they need solid food. They can only go for two days without food.

How Do Rats Get Into Your House?

If you have a rat infestation, you must find out how they are entering your home.

Rats are incredibly agile animals that can squeeze through a one-inch gap.

They are also capable climbers and jumpers and can leap around 36 inches into the air and 40 inches horizontally.

These cheeky rodents can climb trees and leap from a tree onto your roof, finding any slight gap so they can sneak in and take up residence.

But don’t think that falling puts them off.

Rats can fall fifty feet without it being much of a big deal and are soon back on their feet, determined to enter your home and make it their home!

Signs You Have Rats In Your Home

One of the main things people dread is coming face to face with a rat in their home!

Why are they considered so scary?

It is probably the way they dart out from nowhere and scuttles past you, and not to mention the diseases they spread.

But without seeing a rat, how do you know if you might have a rat infestation?

The tell-tale signs include:

• Squeaking and scurrying sound coming from the walls.
• Piles of rat droppings in certain areas – shiny black and are ½ to ¾ inch long.
• Rub marks along the walls – created by grease and dirt on a rat’s body, leaving smudges on surfaces.
• Running and soft footstep sounds usually at night.
• Gnaw marks on food packages and containers and other structures like wires.
• Ongoing stale smell around the house.
• Nests made from materials like shredded paper and other fabrics.

What Do Rats Look Like?

Rats are medium to large size rodents and are usually 6 to 8 inches long with long tails that measure 7 to 10 inches in length.

Their coats are generally black or brown with small hairy ears and a blunt nose.

Are Rats Dangerous?

Rats are the most dangerous pest to have in your home.

These unpleasant rodents carry up to 35 diseases that can spread to humans, such as Salmonella, hantavirus, rat-bite fever and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). (Source)

Not only are rats a health hazard, but they can also start fires by chewing through electrical wires.

Rodents cause 20% of undetermined fires in the USA alone, so yes, rats are dangerous!

Why Do Rats Chew Wires?

The teeth of a rat are continuously growing, so they gnaw on anything they can get their claws on to file their teeth down.

If they don’t chew frequently, their teeth become so long they cannot eat and starve to death.

How To Prevent Rats Coming Into Your Home?

When it comes to rats entering your home, prevention is the best cure.

You need to remove all possible food sources, ensure diligent housekeeping, and keep trash in closed bins, throwing it out as soon as it is full.

Deny access to these unwanted guests by filling any holes, cracks and gaps and trim back trees six feet from your home so they cannot climb up and jump onto your property.

If you do suspect a rat infestation, it is advisable to get in a licensed pest professional.




Alison O'Callaghan

Alison has been a freelance pet and equine writer for over five years and has been published across a wide range of websites. She is a qualified British Horse Society instructor with over twenty years of experience in the equestrian industry. You can learn more about Alison at https://mercurypets.com/our-writers/

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