When you come face to face with a rat, you may be struck down in fear! Why? Because it is well known that rats carry some terrible diseases such as leptospirosis, and they also took the rap for helping to spread the bubonic plague!
We know they exist, and we know that we are never too far away from a rat. But what else do we know about rats?
In this post, we are going to look at how far rats travel from their nests and the reasons why they roam that far.
How Far Do Rats Travel From their Nest?
Rats will travel up to 300 feet away from their nest. Whilst that doesn’t seem like a great distance, it is fairly large for a rat, right? If a rat has a family to feed, she will need to drag the food back to the nest once a source has been found, so the shorter the distance the better!
Bear in mind that this distance is traveled only if a rat is comfortable with the nest it has in terms of safety. If a rat senses the presence of a predator, it will not leave a nest unattended!
There are many reasons why a rat will leave its nest, let’s take a look at some below.
Why Do Rats Roam?
Hunting for Food
The most obvious reason why a rat will leave its nest is to look for food.
Luckily for them, rats eat pretty much anything as long as it smells interesting, and sometimes even if it doesn’t! It may sicken you to know that rats will eat dog poop and human poop too! They also enjoy chewing just about anything, but they’re not doing it because it fills their bellies.
In the wild, rats eat a range of fruit, plants, and seeds, and are on the whole mostly vegetarian. However, rats that live in urban areas have a different diet. A city rat eats garbage and meat, pet food, and any human food they might encounter.
When looking for food, rats rely mostly on their sense of smell. Using their highly developed noses, a rat can detect food from quite a distance away.
Once it’s located their next meal, they’ll carry it away in their mouth and eat it somewhere safe.
Rats tend to make their nests close to a reliable food source, so they don’t have to travel too far.
However, when food is in short supply, they’ve been known to travel more than their average range of 50 to 200 feet from the nest.
A rat needs to consume up to 10% of its body weight in food every day.
Searching for Water
As you might expect, rats cannot live without access to water.
They can survive for a few days if they can’t find water, and it’s also possible for them to get their water from the food they eat.
For example, fruits, berries, and scavenged food can also contain small amounts of water. However, a rat is going to leave its nest in search of water if it hasn’t had sufficient in several days.
Their Nest Has Been Disturbed
Rats build a nest for their offspring, and it’s made using a range of different material it will have foraged from the local area. Materials include branches, paper, trash, and grass.
Nests tend to be built in buildings, rotting trees, or any other kind of crevice.
As well as humans, rats have several other natural predators. Cats, birds of prey, snakes, and weasels have all been known to disturb a rat’s nest. When this happens, it’s likely a rat will move its nest to a more secure location.
There is a Large Infestation
If there is a large infestation of rats on your property, for example, you may find them leaving their nest during the day.
Generally, rats are more nocturnal creatures unless there are lots of them living in one area.
How Do Rats Travel?
Rats are very cautious rodents. They are fully aware of all the dangers that other animals and people pose to them.
They have predators on foot (cats eat rats, for instance), and also predators in the air (birds of prey). To reduce the chances of being an easy meal for a predator, rats will travel through covered areas and will do most of their traveling after sundown.
When it is dark, a rat is less likely to be caught. Having said that, it is not uncommon to see a rat during the day.
This post has given you an insight into how far rats travel from their nest and has also identified reasons why a rat will travel.
What does it mean in real terms?
Well, they say that in big, populated cities, we are only ever 10 feet away from a rat. That means we are never too far away from a rats nest! Out in the sticks, I imagine that could be slightly worse, but who knows!