Discovering that your house is rat-infested can be horrifying. Rats can nibble at food you have left out, bite tiny holes into books, or clothing, and worst of all, make physical contact with you. So, should you sleep with one eye open when they’re around?
Rats can come near you when you’re sleeping but usually won’t. At night, the primary reason for probing around is to find food, and they aren’t like bed bugs that feast on blood. However, in rare circumstances, they come near sleeping humans by accident, or if there is a food source nearby.
Continue reading this article to learn more about rats and what they do when you’re asleep. I’ll also discuss various ways to get rid of them entirely.
What Rats Usually Do When You’re Sleeping
Rats are nocturnal animals – meaning that while we (humans) are usually asleep at night, they are the most active. Sometimes, they don’t even wait until we’re in bed, and start their business as soon as the sun goes down.
The sounds they make with home items can be disturbing, and seeing them run around can be irritating. However, there’s no concrete reason for them to come close to you. On most occasions, when undomesticated ones have touched humans, it is purely accidental on their part, as they are afraid and feel threatened by us.
As busy nocturnal creatures, below are a rat’s main activities at night while you’re trying to sleep:
1. Look for Food
Like all creatures, rats must feed to survive.
Food is one of the primary reasons rats might have infested your home in the first place, and that’s the first thing on their mind just after exiting their hiding places at night.
Unfortunately for homeowners with a rat problem, they are not picky eaters. Rats are omnivorous like humans, meaning they can consume plant products, meat, fungi, and everything in between.
They use their sense of smell to look for food and their whiskers confirm it by feeling the potential food source.
Here are some common examples of what rats enjoy feeding on in the home:
- Leftover food that hasn’t been packed away
- Food in the trash can
- Food particles in the sink
- Crumbs on the floor or countertop
- Food with flimsy packaging that has been left out
Rats have been known to approach humans if they smell food on them, but this, thankfully, rarely happens.
Rats are highly sociable rodents, and there’s reason to believe that they interact with one another at night.
Unlike most animals, they won’t compete for food in your home. Instead, they move together (whether from the same pack or not), looking for edible items to share.
Some of the social behaviors that rats engage in at night include:
- Marking and protecting their breeding territories
- Play fighting and actual fighting with other rats
- Communicating with others via ultrasonic vocalization (which is too inaudible to the human ear)
The fact that they are so busy at night should put your mind at rest that rats won’t intentionally approach you.
3. Mate & Reproduce
Unfortunately, when rats feel comfortable enough in your home, they can begin multiplying through sexual reproduction.
Male rats reach sexual maturity between six to ten weeks after birth, with a female rat reaching sexual maturity at eight to twelve weeks.
If there are sexually mature rats in your home, they will likely look for mating opportunities. Their gestation period is very short, and female rats will give birth to young after three to four weeks.
4. Build Nests
Rats live in nests in residential buildings. So, if they don’t have one, especially after mating, they will build it while you’re sleeping at night.
You may or may not easily recognize a rat’s nest because they use anything available to make them, including:
After mating, the female rat shreds the materials, gathering them in a safe area. Popular places for nests include:
- Behind or underneath furniture
- In your roof eaves
- Unfinished attics
Rat nests are typically dark, dry, and warm to keep the female rat and her young protected. If a female rat does not yet have a nest, most of her waking time will be dedicated to building one. Male rats, on the other hand, will continue looking for other mates.
How To Get Rid of Rats in Your Home
If you have a rat infestation in your home, they likely won’t disturb you while you’re sleeping. However, it’s a good idea to eliminate rats in your home due to the following reasons:
- They can contaminate food that you have left out
- They can cause pathogens to multiply in your home
- They can leave feces and urine behind
- They can destroy wood, clothes, paper, or other materials while nesting
- They can disturb your sleep by making scuffling or scratching noises
Since rats reproduce prolifically, having a rat infestation is a reason to be concerned, as the infestation may worsen over time.
Thankfully, there are many ways to sort out a rat infestation in the home:
1. Cover Gaps or Holes Leading Into Your Home
An effective way to prevent a rat infestion in your home is to deny them entry into it in the first place.
Rats are small, long, flexible, and cylindrical, which allows them to quickly pass through the tightest spaces and holes around windows, pipes, basements, and walls.
To cover up potential rat entrypoints in your home, consider using cement, lath screen, metal sheeting, or hardware cloth to seal large holes. You can cover smaller ones with steel wool covered in spray foam or caulk to keep them in place.
2. Set Rat Traps
There are many different types of rat traps, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against glue or live ones. These traps can scare the rats and make them excrete toxic urine.
Rat traps normally come with a set of instructions, and you should follow them closely to avoid accidentally injuring yourself if the rat trap closes on your fingers. With this in mind, you should place the rat trap away from the reach of kids or pets.
Your rat trap will be more effective if you leave some bait behind. Examples of food that rats love include:
- Mutton fat
- Chunky peanut butter
You should also place the traps where you have seen the rats or suspect they might be. Telltale signs of a rat-infested area include:
- Rat droppings
- Signs of gnawing
3. Eliminate Food, Water, & Sources of Shelter
Food, water, and shelter are the primary reasons rats are in your home, and ensuring eliminating these can help prevent them from making a home in your house.
You should also ensure that you don’t leave food lying around and check that your garbage can closes properly.
It can also help to avoid hoarding unnecessary items, as these can make great shelters for rats.
4. Call Professional Exterminators
If the worst comes to the worst, and you believe that your rat infestation has got out of control, it could be time to call a professional pest exterminator.
Good pest exterminators use humane methods to eliminate rats, and use high-tech equipment to detect them and find nests.
Rats are too busy looking for food and socializing to intentionally come near you when sleeping. If they do, tthey will retreat as soon as they realize that you’re a person as they are afraid of humans.
However, it’s best to prevent a rat infestation altogether by:
- Covering gaps leading into your home
- Setting traps
- Eliminating food, water, and shelter sources
- Calling a rodent exterminator