How Far Do Rats Travel From Their Nest?

If you’ve ever had to deal with a rat infestation, you know how annoying it can be. No one wants any pest lurking around their home, especially when they are plague-carrying rodents like rats. But then, you can’t get rid of them if you know nothing about their activities. 

Rats, generally, make their nests where they find a safe haven. This can be anywhere within or outside your home. Knowing how far they move from their nests can help you identify their location, which can aid in your effort to eliminate them. 

So, how far do rats travel from their nests, where do they best, and do they return to the same location? We will be covering all these and more! 

How Far Do Rats Travel From Their Nest

How Far Do Rats Travel from Their Nest?

Rats can travel up to 100 yards (300 feet) from their nest when trying to find food. But there are times when they cover more ground, sometimes up to a mile or even more. This usually happens when they don’t find enough food.

Where a rat’s nest is located has everything to do with its habitat. It is common for rats that live in urban areas to make their nests in garbage cans, on top of buildings, or in other areas without much human interference. On the other hand, wild rats like to build near the ground.

While 300 feet doesn’t seem like much, it’s a considerable distance given the average size of a rat. 

Some rats, particularly those with families, will often carry food back to their nest. This is why they prefer not to go too far unless it’s really necessary. So, most rats would typically travel 100-200 feet or even shorter from their nests. 

Some would even make their nest behind kitchen walls, so they can stay very close and have easy access to food and water. 

Where Do Rats Nest?

As earlier indicated, rats typically like to nest close to their food source. This can be inside or outside the house, depending on their location.


While many rats make their homes outdoors, it’s usually in nearby locations from the main house or building, such as refuse bins. They may also nest in gardens where there’s edible foliage. They typically dig holes into the ground that are 2 to 5 inches deep. 


Rats can also make their nest in your home, usually inside holes in the house. They can also be found in the loft, in dark places, and can quickly grow in numbers if nothing is done to get rid of them. 

Factors Influencing Rat Movements

Various factors can influence the distance rats travel from their nests. Some of these factors include:

  • Population Density: In areas with a high rat population, competition for resources such as food and shelter may force rats to travel further from their nests.
  • Food Availability: When food is abundant, rats tend to stay closer to their nests. However, they may travel greater distances when food is scarce or difficult to find.
  • Habitat: Rats living in urban environments may have to travel further to find suitable food sources and nesting sites compared to those living in more rural settings.
  • Predators: The presence of predators, such as cats, can force rats to be more cautious and travel further from their nests in search of safer foraging and breeding grounds.
  • Human Activity: Human presence can impact rat movement, as they may avoid areas with high levels of human activity. On the other hand, human settlements can also provide rats with food and shelter, increasing their likelihood of establishing nests nearby.

Do Rats Follow the Same Route?

Yes, rats typically follow the same route whenever they leave their nest. This means you can disrupt their movement by blocking off any area where you think they may be coming from. 

In most cases, their nest will be close by. If you can locate it, better! 

If you think rats are having a free ride on your property, it might be time to get a specialist pest control company involved.

Do Rats Return to the Same Nest?

Yes, rats usually return to the same nest as long as it’s not been smoked out. Sometimes, even when the nest is disturbed, a rat may still try to go back to it due to their territorial nature. They are also stubborn and don’t easily give up their homes. 

So, if you decide to remove a nest, you must be cautious not to place it somewhere where the rats will be able to access it. Otherwise, they may try to return to the nest.  

Where Do Rats Go During The Day?

Rats rarely come out during the day. And that is because they are nocturnal creatures. So, they usually sleep during the day. 

However, sometimes, they can change their sleeping habits if they are in buildings where people are more active or present at night rather than daytime. 

A good example of such a place is a nightclub. In such environments, a rat can sleep at night and be more active during the day when nobody is around. 

A rat may also move around during the day if its nest is disturbed or it feels at risk. In this case, it may be trying to find a new location. 

How To Prevent Rat Infestations

Understanding how rats behave and their movement patterns can help you prevent rat infestations in your home or property. Here are some tips to keep them at bay:

  • Keep your surroundings clean and free of food debris.
  • Properly store food in sealed containers to minimize the chances of attracting rats.
  • Regularly inspect your property for signs of rat activity, such as droppings, gnaw marks, or nests.
  • Seal any holes or gaps in walls, floors, and ceilings that rats can use to enter your property.
  • Set up traps or use rodenticides, but always follow safety precautions and consult a professional if needed.

Conclusion: how far do rats travel from their nest?

Rats travel for various reasons, such as the need to find food and water, get away from predators, human activities, or fear for safety. They typically stay within 50 to 150 meters of their nest when foraging for food but may travel more considerable distances when searching for mates or establishing new territories.

Male rats tend to travel further from their nests than females.

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