Why Do Rats Always Return to the Same Place?

by Derrick | Last Updated: April 10, 2022

Whether you’ve been dealing with frequent rat infestations in your house or have simply observed the species’ nesting habits, you may have noticed by now that rats have a tendency to always return to the same place time and time again. Even though it might seem like an unusual behavioral pattern at first, nesting is actually a pretty widespread characteristic among rats.

Rats almost always return to the same place because they’re territorial and don’t prefer traveling for long distances. Most of them rarely move beyond 200 meters (656.17 ft) in search of food before promptly turning back to their homes. 

In this article, I’ll take you through some of the most interesting rat nesting habits, the reasons why they keep entering your home, and what happens if you disturb their nest.

Rats Return to the Same Place Because of Their Nesting Habits

The majority of rats have very predictable nesting habits. Due to their territorial and headstrong nature, they rarely choose to leave their homes voluntarily and will always come back to the same nest if possible.

The only exception to this rule can be when a rat senses its nest has been disturbed. Only when rats feel they’re in the presence of potential danger might they consider pitching camp elsewhere. However, this isn’t always true. Many rats will take on the threat of returning to a disturbed nest rather than having to move to a location where food and warmth aren’t guaranteed.

Therefore, as long as a location offers the species all the necessary conditions to survive, it’s highly unlikely for them to move their nest under any circumstances. They might move from time to time in search of food or when they feel threatened, but they rarely stay away long, and they’ll want to come back home as soon as possible. 

Rats’ nesting habits are very similar to birds’. They find it hard to settle into a new place because they dislike change. Additionally, they’re very territorial. They rarely, if ever, let other rats enter into their territory, and they’re ready to fight to protect their home.

A rat’s ideal nest location depends on a few simple factors. First of all (and more importantly), they should be able to easily access food and water. This is why so many of them love to pitch camp in residential homes, as food sources are plentiful and easily accessible. They need approximately 60 calories a day, which is a significant amount of food considering their average body mass.

Additionally, rats prefer warm, dry places to build their nests. This is yet another reason why they tend to be drawn to insulated spaces such as garages, sheds, and even kitchens or living rooms.

One of the main reasons you won’t usually catch your tiny renters sneaking in and out of your house is that they’re nocturnal creatures by nature. They like to move around and secure their food and cover at night, while they prefer to stay hidden and secure inside their nests during the daytime.

Why Do Rats Keep Entering Your House?

I’ve already covered why rats like to return to the same nest time and time again. However, there must be a reason why, unlike birds, they so heavily tend to prefer residential homes over as their place of cover.

Rats keep entering your house because they’ve created a nest in it that’s easy to access and provides them with plentiful food, warmth, and comfort. Additionally, after rats have made a home for themselves, they’re naturally wired to return to it continually 

As you can imagine, as long as a location fulfills the species’ basic needs for survival, there’s not much reason why they’d leave it. Rats are even less likely to do so due to their territorial and headstrong temperament, as they’re ready to face a potentially life-endangering threat before choosing to move their home elsewhere.

Rats infesting residential homes can be even more common during colder winter months. They’re a warm-blooded species, and as such, they’ll always require a warm, dry location in which to build their nest.

Additionally, their sharp teeth and long claws allow them to get into almost any house with relative ease. They can easily dig into some of the most durable materials and climb brick and cement walls.

Furthermore, for a species that hates traveling but has significant caloric needs throughout the day, homes for them are the ideal location to set up their nest. They’ll be able to stay in a dry, warm space, while a well-stocked kitchen is just a few feet away.

The cheese in your fridge isn’t the only tempting source of food attracting rats into your house. Some indoor plants are also highly sought-after by the species, making them one of the main reasons you may be dealing with frequent rat infestations.

While attracting rats into your house might be easy, keeping them away is a much more challenging feat. Once they build their nest, more often than not, rats are determined to stay there for life. Not to mention the rate at which they can reproduce, which can make getting rid of them from your house seemingly impossible.

Luckily, there are a few simple but effective steps you can take to get rid of rats from your house and keep them away forever. Having said that, always try to be careful and diligent throughout this process, as the species can be much more intelligent than what humans give them credit for.

What Happens if You Disturb a Rats Nest?

I’ve already briefly mentioned how rats may react to a disturbed nest in terms of their decision to face the danger or leave. However, disturbing a rat’s nest is never a decision that should be taken lightly, as it can have serious consequences.

If you disturb a rat’s nest , they’ll likely become aggressive and start attacking with their teeth and claws. Although their attack can carry some potential physical harm, its main danger lies in the wide range of bacteria and viruses it can transmit. 

Additionally, even after disturbing their nest, it’s unlikely for the rats to step back in the face of danger and simply move their home someplace else. Therefore, there’s rarely a cause for you to disturb a rat’s nest, which is why more often than not, you’ll be advised to leave it alone.


Rats always return to the same place due to their territorial and headstrong nature. They’re a species whose nesting habits resemble those of birds. However, unlike birds, they highly dislike traveling.

Rats would often even choose to face a potential life-endangering threat rather than voluntarily leaving their nests and moving elsewhere. Additionally, they have little to no reason to leave a warm, comfortable space where they can easily access food and water. 

For that reason, many homeowners often deal with frequent rat infestations. Even though it can be hard to get rid of these infestations, luckily, it’s not impossible.