What attracts rats to my home?

Lots of things will attract a rat, and then many of rats, to your home, and it really will all start with that one rat too. From that, more will follow suit, and it won't be long before they're all reproducing with each other. In short, one small rat problem will become a much alrger rat infestation in almost no time at all.

Knowing what attracts rats gives you a great way to avoid an invasion of them. When you know what they are looking for - what things are encouraging them to take a closer look at your home - you can take actions to make sure those things are eliminated. If food is the attraction, for example, you would remove it. If it is a hole on the exterior of your home that's bringing the rats in, you would seal and / or fill it. Once you take away whatever it is the rat is looking for, it will soon give up and look elsewhere - somewhere that might give it what it is looking for. That's the trick - learning to be one step ahead.

Food is usually the big thing that attracts rats. They're scavengers so they will literally follow wherever their nose takes them, and that nose will be following the scent of food. They don't have the greatest eyesight when compared to other animals, but that's not to say they should be underestimated. They have an amazing sense of small, and they can also sense air flow. That's what encourages them to tear open a weak spot on the outside of your home, for example. If they know that air is flowing through, they know they can crawl through the space, with a little chewing work perhaps to make that small hole much bigger.

If you have a garbage can outside, move it inside. Do you have a garage? Throw it in there, and then have a good once-over of the garage itself. Are there any holes in which the rats could squeeze through? They only need a tiny hole - about the size of a quarter.

If animals keep tipping your garbage can over, raccoons for example, and making life easier for the rats, make sure you use bungee cords or another way to secure the lid to the garbage can itself.

Don't leave cat or dog food around, and where possible, make sure you're using bird feeders that don't allow for easy access to other animals. At the same time, make sure you have no tree branches that lead right into your home. Not just rats you'll need to worry about, those bird feeders will attract squirrels. They'll make light work of scampering into your attic, and then breaking their way inside.

Generally, these critters are looking for one of two things when they try to break into your home. They're either looking for food, or they're looking for shelter. If it's shelter they want, they'll be looking at a few key areas, generally the weak spots, around your home.

Check your roof vents - are they damaged, or do they need covering?
Check crawl space openings, and all crawl space areas you can reach. Investigate to see whether or not you can spot rat or mouse poop, or other signs of animal invasion.
Can rats crawl underneath garage doors, or doors leading to your home?
Are the areas around your windows safe?
Check the pipework - has everything been sealed correctly so nothing on the outside can get in. Remember, holes don't just mean rats - mice, spiders, snakes, and many other wild animals are likely to try and get inside.

Go back to the Rats in the Attic home page.

Anytime there are rats on your property, you want them gone. That is the proper reaction, as rats can cause a lot of damage and carry all kinds of diseases. It is important to inspect your home and garage, repair any of the gaps, holes, and other entry points you find, and trap the rats and get rid of them. Once this is done, it is important to figure out what brings rats to your property and how you can lower the risk of a rat infestation. Continue reading this article for more information about what attracts rats, and how you can prevent them.


One of the biggest attractants that bring rats to people’s properties is available food. Many times it is pet food in your garage or in your yard that can bring these disease-ridden creatures into your buildings. Other times rats will get into your trash if it is left in an unsecured location, as this is an easy way for rats to scrounge for food. They will also root around in your yard if it hosts a large prey population. 

There are simple remedies that can fix the food problem in your yard and in your buildings. Lock up pet food in a secure container instead of leaving it in the bag or in the open. Put your trash in a secure, locking metal or plastic container, as rats won’t be able to have easy access. These are both simple ways to effectively diminish the rats’ access to easy food sources, thus reducing your property’s attractiveness.

Warmth and Shelter

Warmth and shelter are some of the highest priorities that rats have. There are many ways in which rats will use your property to gain access to both warmth and shelter. Rats seek both warmth and shelter by entering any of your buildings, be it garages, houses, and any other sheds you have. Keep in mind that rats can enter holes the size of a quarter! They will also find places like firewood stacks, compost piles, any brush and debris, and shrubbery. These are all great places for rats to raise their young in nests, out of the elements. 

This is one of the most easily preventable ways to deter rats from your property. It is important to seal any holes, gaps, and access points all along your home and garage. Look along the roofline, near the chimney, and on the roof itself. Fix any of these gaps by using a sealant or aluminum sheeting, depending on the severity of the repair. Another easy way to fix this problem is to clean your yard up. Get rid of any brush and debris laying around your yard, and also clean up any firewood stacks. These are the two easiest ways to deter rats from the comfort and warmth your home provides.

Hopefully, this article left you with some knowledge about what attract rats to your property. Now that you know how to prevent these things, there should be a lot slimmer of a chance of you having to coexist with these scrounging little creatures.