Can Rats Climb Trees? Here Is How You Can Stop Them?

Rodent Guide
Written By Rodent Guide

I believe in treating all creatures with respect. My mission is to ensure everyone understands how to protect their home from rodents without using cruel methods.

There is no doubt about it; rats are excellent climbers! But can rats climb trees?

In this post, we will answer that question, give you several reasons why a rat would want to climb a tree, and some tips on stopping a rat from climbing a tree.

If you have a tree overhanging your property, you will want to prune it back or even cut it down if you are prone to a rat infestation!

rat climbing up a tree pin

Can Rats Climb Trees?

Yes – rats can and will climb up trees. A tree is straightforward for a rat to climb.

It may not come as a surprise for you to know that rats are excellent climbers, especially roof rats, also called black rats.

They can easily climb up any surface with some degree of texture, using their sharp claws and tiny ridges on their paw pads for grip. A tree is no problem at all for a rat!

They also have an impressive leap, making nearby trees and overhanging branches good jumping-off points for them to reach and access buildings.

Your building!

Can rats climb trees? Yes, they can! And you can be sure that they will use a nearby tree to try and get access to the warm, safe environment that your home offers.

Can I Stop Rats Climbing Trees?

There is a fairly quick and straightforward way to prevent rats from climbing a tree without having to remove the tree from your property.

Rats need a textured surface to climb. You can purchase a rat guard around the tree trunk to stop them. These metal sheets need to be at least 3 feet high in total, with holes drilled in the corners, enabling you to tie securely around the base of the tree.

The smooth surface of the metal will prevent the rat from climbing it, and the total height of the metal sheets will prevent the rat from leaping above it onto the trunk.

A metal sheet is the only way to stop a rat and other rodents from climbing it. There are not many surfaces that a rat cannot climb that you can use.

5 Reasons Why a Rat Would Climb a Tree?

5 Reason Why a Rat Would Climb a Tree Infographic


Roof rats climb trees to move around areas. They will climb trees, shrubs, walls, fences, and anything else they need to explore their surroundings and look for food!

Rats prefer to travel low on the ground because it is much safer for them to do so. Traveling on the ground allows them to reduce the chances of being eaten by a bird of prey.


Rats will also climb trees in search of food. While they are not overly fussy about what they will eat, they do tend to prefer looking for fruit, nuts, berries, and seeds.

Rats love to eat Avocados! If you have these growing in your yard, you will want to protect the tree as much as possible, or you could have a low crop every year.

Fruit tree owners may find their fruit has large holes where a rat has climbed the tree to eat through the fruit to get to the seed.

Reach Upper Areas of Buildings

Rats prefer to build nests in the upper parts of buildings, such as the attic or rafters. A tree with branches close to a building provides the rat a route up to the top end of the building to squeeze through the slightest of openings to gain access.

It is too easy for a rat to climb a tree and hop onto your roof. Once that happens, they are likely to find an entry point, and they are in your home, causing damage and making a mess.


Climbing trees is also an instinctive act of survival. The higher they are, the less chance they have of being caught by predators.

This certainly holds in garden settings where a tree makes a handy escape route from cats and dogs when rats are on the ground searching for food.


Rats will sometimes also use the safety of the height of a tree to build their nest. The fuller the canopy, the better the protection offered.

A tree is just one place that a rat will nest!

Trees Near Your Home Offer Rats A Route Into Your Home

As much as we may love the trees in our yards and gardens, they will occasionally need pruning or cutting back to keep the branches away from the house.

We have established that rats are excellent tree climbers, but just because your trees do not touch the exterior of your home it does not mean you are safe from a potential rat infestation.

This is because not only are rats good climbers they have an impressive leap on them too. Vertically, they can jump 36 inches, extending this to 48 inches for a horizontal leap. This means for a homeowner that a house with a branch sitting four feet away from the property is still within reaching distance for a roof rat once it has scaled the tree.

They are resilient creatures too as if they misjudge their leaping ability they can survive a 50-foot drop. Probably not put off by their initial miscalculation they will likely be back to try again.

Just a half-inch gap in the fascia, under eaves, or a crack in the wall, is enough for a rat to gain access to your property.

Before you know it, you will have rats in your attic!

As well as keeping nearby trees appropriately maintained, it is therefore important to seal any such potential entry points to your home and buildings.

You should clean up fallen fruit from your fruit trees and secure garbage bins or areas to discourage rats from looking for food. Always clean the BBQ after use… even small crumbs of food will attract rats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Rats Live In Trees?

Roof rats are common worldwide and will seek shelter and nest in high places, including trees. Their claws, paw pads, and tails make them adept at climbing trees, and they will use foliage and sticks to build their nests. Can rats climb trees?

Yes, they can!

Which Trees can Rats Climb?

Can rats climb trees? Yes, they can. Rats can climb any tree, but they particularly like fruit trees which are a good source of food for them.
The fronds in palm trees provide good leaping points for roof rats if they are close to a building. Sometimes the term palm rat is used, but it is just another name for roof rats.

How Do You Keep Rats Out of Trees?

Perhaps the simplest way to prevent rats from climbing your tree is to attach a metal rat guard around the tree’s base. The texture of the guard will prevent a rat from getting any purchase to climb it, while the height of the guard will prevent the rat from simply leaping above it.

Ensure that all trees are pruned, so no branches are within three feet from other access points such as shrubs, walls, and fences, and at least three feet above ground level.


The answer to the question, can rats climb trees? It is a definite yes! Roof rats love to climb them. If you want to get rid of rats, prune or cut down any trees near your home.

This is a smart rodent that uses trees for safety, food, nesting, and to move around at height, out of the reach of ground predators.

Rats also use trees close to properties to access shelter, nest, and store food.

However, with a few preventative measures, including rat guards on nearby trees and ensuring potential entry points to your property are fully sealed, you can reduce the risk of a rat infestation.

Rats can squeeze through the smallest of holes and they do not need a second invitation. Don’t make it easier for them to access your home!

Good luck!


About the Rodent Guide

I’m an expert in do-it-yourself rodent control. For more than 20 years, I’ve dedicated my life to helping people live harmoniously alongside these critters by sharing rodent control solutions that are effective and kind.

I believe in treating all creatures with respect. My mission is to ensure everyone understands how to protect their home from rodents without using cruel methods.

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