May 22, 2022

Do Rats Hibernate? - Seasonal Behaviors of Common Household Rats

Do rats hibernate? As a homeowner, this question has probably crossed your mind more than once. Rats are some of the most common household pests, but most people aren't prepared to deal with how seasonal changes can affect pests and their homes. In this blog post, we will explore the seasonal behaviors of common household rats and answer the question of whether or not they hibernate. We will also discuss what times of day these rodents are most active and what seasons homeowners should be monitoring them in.

Types of Rats

Rats are generally active during the night and will sleep during the day. However, there are some species of rats that are more active during the daytime hours. The most common household rat species are the Pack Rat, Norway Rat, and the Roof Rat. In this next section, we'll go through each rat and its seasonal activity levels.

Pack Rats

The pack rat is a nocturnal creature that is most active at night. These rats do not hibernate, but they do enter into a state of torpor during cold weather months. A “state of torpor” means that their body temperature and metabolism will lower in order to conserve energy, much like other animals do when they are hibernating, but not to the same level needed to sleep all winter. As such, you can expect a bit less activity from them in the colder months. Pack rats will also build nests out of materials such as leaves and twigs in order to insulate themselves from the cold weather. If you have especially warm, dry areas in your home, make sure to pay particular attention to signs of rodent activity there during this season.

Norway Rats

The Norway rat is also a nocturnal creature, but they are not known to enter into a state of torpor. As its namesake suggests, the Norway rat is slightly more comfortable with the cold than other common rats. Regardless, they will become slightly less active in cold weather months, although these rats also do not hibernate. Norway rats will also seek out warmer areas in order to stay warm during the winter months.

Roof Rats

Unlike our first two rat species, Roof rats are the most active during the daytime hours and are known to be proficient climbers. If you’ve heard scratching in your ceiling during breakfast, these pests may be to blame. These rats also do not hibernate, but they will become less active in cold weather months. Roof rats will seek out warmer areas in order to stay warm during the winter months much like their Norwegian cousins.

When Do Rats Have Babies?

While rats can breed all year long, they are most likely to nest in homes or other warm places during the winter. This can sometimes lead to small “baby booms.” While you may not notice it in the colder months, once the weather begins to warm you’ll certainly know these pests weren’t hibernating all winter. As such, you can expect an increase in activity during the spring and summer months as the baby rats become adults.

Norway rats and roof rats will typically have two litters per year with anywhere from four to eight babies per litter. Pack rats will typically have one litter per year with four to six babies. The baby rats are born naked and blind and will be fully grown in just a few months time. 

Of course, the best offense is a good defense! Homeowners should be aware of these common rat behaviors in order to best deal with them before they become a major infestation. If you know when they are most active, you can take the appropriate steps to prevent them from entering your home, or recognize when they already have. You should also be aware of what seasons these rodents are most active in so that you can take steps to prevent them from hunkering down in your home all winter or ruining the comfort of your cool indoors in the summer.

So, do rats hibernate? The answer is no, but some common species do enter into a state of torpor and overall will typically become less active in cold weather months. Homeowners should be aware of these seasonal behaviors and take steps to rodent-proof their homes in order to prevent or eliminate an infestation.

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