When you hear noises in your attic, it may well be a rat! That can spark a whole world of panic in your home! But, how did the rat get there? There is one often overlooked way that a rat can enter your attic, and that is via a nearby tree. Can rats climb trees? In this post, we are going to answer that, and give you some ideas for how to prevent it from happening. After all, rats can pose some serious health risks.

Let’s make a start with the obvious question…

Can Rats Climb Trees_ How Can You Stop Them_

Can Rats Climb Trees?

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 to it, using their sharp claws and tiny ridges on their paw pads for grip.

They also have an impressive leap on them which makes 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!

Can I Stop Rats Climbing Trees?

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

Rats need a textured surface to climb, so you can purchase a rat guard to place around the trunk of the tree. These are metal sheets which need to be at least 3 foot high in total, which have 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 being able to climb it and the total height of the metal sheets will prevent the rat leaping above it on to the trunk.

5 Reason 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. In fact, they will climb trees, shrubs, walls, fences and pretty much anything else they need in order to explore their surroundings and look for food!


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

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 where it can squeeze through the slightest of openings to gain access.


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

This certainly holds true 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 our 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 are capable of jumping 36 inches, extending this to 48 inches for a horizontal leap. What this means for a homeowner is that a house with a branch sat 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 up any such potential entry points to your home and buildings.

You should also clean up any fruit which has fallen from trees, and secure any garbage bins or areas to discourage rats looking for food.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Rats Live In Trees?

Roof rats are common across the world and will look to 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 a roof rat.

How Do You Keep Rats Out of Trees?

Perhaps the simplest way to prevent rats climbing your tree is to attach a metal rat guard around the base of the tree. The texture of the guard will prevent a rat getting any purchase to climb it while the height of the guard will prevent the rat 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, while also being at least three foot above ground level.


The answer to the question can rats climb trees is a definite yes! Roof rats love to climb them.

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

They also use trees that sit close to properties to access buildings for shelter, nesting and to 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 Author

Rodent Guide

Man v Rodent! I've been tackling Rodent infestation issues for over 20 years. Now I want to use this website to pass over the tips that I have learned over that time to help you take these Rodents out DIY style!

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