Where Do Rats Nest?
Rats like to find places that are warm, secure and have easy access to food and water. This is their ideal nesting site. It is important for rats to have a water supply, as unlike mice who can survive if needed with only the moisture from within their food, rats cannot survive without an additional water supply.
Rats looking to build a nest will search for a location that gives them these vital elements:
Warmth & security – Rats are looking for a warm, dry secluded place to build their nest and raise their young. Rats tend to come into our homes during cold, wet winter months. This is normally due to rising groundwater or flooding that has forced them out of their normal nesting places and burrows.
Easy access to food & water – Rats generally like to make their nest close to a food source, as the adult rat can consume 30g of food a day on average. Rats are cautious creatures so will keep a tight area (around their nest) in search of food. They are actually ‘neophobic’ which means they avoid anything new in their area, until they have had time to get used to it. The rats' water source is also just as important to be within the tight area as they require at least 60ml of water a day.
Nest-building materials – Rats are excellent nest builders and with their sharp incisor teeth can shred just about anything. They will use whatever they can find to build a warm, cosy nest to rear their young and rest in. These nests can include shredded newspaper, loft insulation, cardboard, grass, leaves, plastic and even scavenged pieces of clothing, wool and cloth.
Cables damaged by rats in the loft can cause house fires.
Attics & lofts – are perfect for brown rats. They are quiet, warm and sheltered offering the rats lots of cosy corners to hide in, as well as lots of nesting material, loft insulation, cardboard boxes and their contents.
Rats in walls – wall cavities are great for rats, these spaces offer the rats easy access around the property allowing them to search and get food and water. Once in these cavities they will also chew and expand gaps around pipes and cabling to gain access to other areas. While in this cavity wall space the rats also have the potential to damage or chew through the wires and cables that run through this space, this in turn can lead to faulty cables and also lead to electrical fires.
Basements & cellars – with rats gaining entry through the lower levels of the property, such as pipework through brick work, air bricks and drains rats can often find safe heaven in this unused, undisturbed space. It is similar to the loft spaces as there is usually a dark place to hide and plenty of items that can be used for nesting
Rats Nesting In The Garden
Sheds & out buildings – can provide a warm, dry shelter and security for rats, they are also more likely to go unnoticed over the winter months as they are places that we visit less. They also have lots of places to hide, lawn mower garden rubbish bags and seat cushions. They may also find food here such as that a bag of bird seed you've been storing or pet food. Also the half used bag of compost, old wellies and garden twine can be gnawed and used as nesting material.
Rats nest in the garden – often these nests can be found under foundations of sheds, green houses and garages. In particular Brown rats are good at digging and will dig holes in unused or overgrown parts of the garden to create rat burrows that they will nest, store food and raise young rats in. Compost areas are also a favourite spot for rats as this not only provides a food source, the fermenting process also gives off heat so it can be warm, dry and sheltered for a rats nest.
Garages –these are often easily accessible for rats, with gaps under the doors, or even garage doors left open. If food is also stored out here like dog food, pasta, and over spill from our full kitchen cupboards, it will give the rats yet another reason to enter our properties .
Rats are nocturnal creatures and are usually most active at night as they set out to forage for food and return. The brown rat can therefore be found anywhere, from a burrow at the bottom of your garden, in your loft or garage as well as in the drains under the foundations.
If you have rats, it is important to act quickly to control rat infestations and reduce the health risks associated with these rodents., rather than waiting for them to go away (which is unlikely). Once cleared of rats you can then take steps in which to rodent proof your home and help prevent the rats from returning.