Can Rats Climb? (Are They Good Climbers And Jumpers?) (2023)

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Rats can climb, and they are good at it. They have sharp claws and five mobile fingers they use to easily climb on trees, walls, pipes, or cables and use their long tails for balance. They have strong hind legs which they also use to jump up to 36 inches vertically and 48 inches horizontally.

Rats are known for fitting into small holes and cracks to invade homes.

They are often found on roofs, attics, or in other high places. But how do they get there?

Rats are skilled climbers. Their sharp claws and long tail help them climb the most difficult places. They often build their nests in high places to protect their offspring from dangers and predators.

Keep reading to learn if rats can climb, if they are good climbers, what kind of surfaces they can climb, if rats can jump, how high, and much more.

Can Rats Climb?

Yes, rats can climb and are good at it. They climb to reach high places like trees, roofs, or attics. Rats use their claws, digits, and strong legs to climb walls and drain pipes.

Rats are skilled climbers. This is how they spread all over the world. They climbed on ships hundreds of years ago to reach the New World.

They can climb on a lot of surfaces, including cables and wires, to get where they want. They can climb trees in mere seconds when attacked by predators.

Can Rats Climb? (Are They Good Climbers And Jumpers?) (1)

Are Rats Good Climbers?

Yes, rats are good climbers. They can climb on a variety of surfaces, including trees. Different species have different climbing skills. The roof rat is better at climbing than the brown rat.

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All common rats are generally good climbers, but the species rat influences their climbing skills.

For example, the black rat (Rattus rattus) is smaller and slimmer than the Norwegian rat (R. norvegicus), making it a better climber. The black rat is also called the roof rat.

Physical condition is another factor that influences a rat’s climbing abilities. For example, fat rats or pregnant females are not as skilled as thin ones.

How Do Rats Climb?

Rats use their claws and tail to climb and maintain their balance. They have five fingers and use them to grab onto various surfaces, cables, or pipes. Their paw pad skin is textured, helping them get a better grip.

Most rats can climb because of their anatomy. They have hands, feet, and tails designed to climb and jump on various surfaces.

Their hands end in five mobile fingers, all of which have sharp claws. These features give rats the ability to grab onto surfaces and climb easily.

Rats also have textured skin on their paw pads, which helps them have a better grip.

Their long tail is another feature that helps rats maintain their balance or anchor themselves on various objects:

  • Cable
  • Cords
  • Electric wires
  • Branches

If a rat walks on a cable, it will wrap its tail around it to anchor itself and prevent accidental slipping.

Even if they fall, they won’t get injured, unless they fall from great heights. Rats can survive falls from heights of up to 50 feet (~15 meters).[1]

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Can Rats Climb? (Are They Good Climbers And Jumpers?) (2)

Do Rats Climb Walls?

Yes, rats do climb walls. They can climb on almost any wall, especially if it has a texture, using their claws to grip the wall. They also use their textured pads to avoid slipping.

Rats climb walls when they feel in danger and want to escape a predator or when they know they will find food up the wall.

Rats can successfully climb all kinds of walls, but are especially skilled at climbing textured ones:

  • Concrete
  • Brick
  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Drywall
  • Stucco
  • Plastic

They use their claws to fix themselves to the texture of the wall, climbing both up or down.

Rats are exposed to risks when climbing an exterior wall. These risks include injury (falling from a height) or predation (birds of prey hunt them). In addition, climbing walls consumes a lot of energy.

Can Rats Climb? (Are They Good Climbers And Jumpers?) (3)

Can Rats Climb Trees?

Yes, rats can climb trees, especially the Rattus rattus (black rat)[3]. They weigh less than the average rats and have slimmer bodies. This enables them to climb trees with ease.

Black rats also use trees as walkways to reach buildings or roofs. If you have trees within four feet of your house, it is possible for rats to reach your home.

Once they get to the desired height, they will jump to reach your home.

Rats can also climb on ivy and other climbing plants you have on or near your house.

Can Rats Climb Smooth Surfaces?

Rats are good climbers, but they can’t climb completely smooth surfaces. They can’t grab onto smooth surfaces and, as a result, they slide down when attempting to climb.


Rats successfully climb on any surface with texture, but not on smooth ones. Their anatomy does not allow them to climb on such surfaces. Rats’ claws and adherent paw pads can’t fixate on the smooth texture.

The ones that try to climb on smooth surfaces eventually slip.

If the smooth wall has cables, pipes/drains, or climbing plants, the rodent can use these means to get to the top.

Can Rats Climb? (Are They Good Climbers And Jumpers?) (4)

What Can Rats Not Climb?

Rats can not climb smooth surfaces such as tile and glass. Rats use their claws and adhesive pads to climb, but they need a form of texture to get a grip.

Rats can’t grab onto smooth surfaces including the following:

  • Tile: Rats can grab onto the small tiles that have putty between them.
  • Glass: Rats cannot climb on windows.
  • Polished metal[3]

If the surface has shelves, climbing plants, pipes, or the smallest bit of texture, rats can climb it.

Can Rats Jump?

Yes, rats can jump, and they are good jumpers. Rats can leap up to 36 inches vertically and 48 inches horizontally.

Besides the fact that rats are excellent climbers, they can also jump. Rats can jump approximately 36 inches in height (~3 feet) and 48 inches long (~4 feet).[4]

They use their jumping skills to clear traps, jump from trees, or get past obstacles.

If you’re planning on setting up rat traps, take this into account. Rats can easily jump over a single trap. Place the traps in areas that do not allow rats to jump high.

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Can Rats Climb? (Are They Good Climbers And Jumpers?) (5)

How to Stop Rats from Climbing Walls, Fences, and Trees

Remove climbing plants and other objects rats can use to jump from to stop them from invading your property. You can also install wall guards to make sure rats can’t scale your fence.

Do the following to prevent rats from climbing over walls, fences, and trees:

  • Remove climbing plants and cut the trees and bushes around your house and fence walls.
  • Remove all the objects from the walls that rats can use to climb.
  • Use smooth material to cover the surfaces on which rats climb.
  • Seal the drain pipes on the house walls with rat blockers.
  • Wrap the electrical cables with anti-rodent tape.
  • Install wall guards.
  • Add plastic or metal foil to tree trunks.


Rats can easily climb on any textured surface. They can easily climb on walls, cables, ropes, or pipes. They use their hands, claws, and tail to fix and maintain balance.

They cannot climb on smooth and shiny surfaces, such as glass or polished metal.

In addition to their climbing skills, rats are also good jumpers. They can jump both in height and length. Roof rats use this ability to jump from trees to buildings or high areas.


Can Rats Jump and Climb?

Yes, rats can both jump and climb. They can climb on almost any surface, except smooth ones like glass or polished metal. Rats can also jump about 4 feet high and 3 feet long. Roof rats are the most skilled at climbing and jumping, often nesting in trees or high places.

Can Rats Go Upstairs?

Rats can go upstairs if they have something to grab onto. If your walls or stairs are textured, rats can climb them to reach the top. If the stairs have a smooth surface but are still low enough for a rat to jump on them, they can do so.

Can a Rat Climb a Bed?

Yes, if the bed is low enough or the material has some texture. Even if rats can climb in your bed, don’t be scared because these rodents usually avoid human contact as much as they can. Mice usually climb in beds and are not so afraid of people.

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  • Can Rats Climb?
  • Are Rats Good Climbers?
  • How Do Rats Climb?
  • Do Rats Climb Walls?
  • Can Rats Climb Smooth Surfaces?
  • What Can Rats Not Climb?
  • Can Rats Jump?
  • How to Stop Rats from Climbing Walls, Fences, and Trees
  • Conclusion
  • FAQs


Can rats climb and jump? ›

Rodents have a vertical leap of around 36 inches, and they can also leap 48 inches horizontally. That means a rat can climb a tree up to four feet away from your house and still leap onto the roof or walls.

Can rats can climb? ›

Both rats and mice are good climbers and can climb vertical walls and "shimmy" up between walls and drain pipes. Rats are also excellent swimmers and have been known to enter premises through the water traps of the toilet bowl when infestations occur in the main sewerage system.

Can rats climb plants? ›

Rats and mice are very good climbers and will easily climb up vegetation and enter loft spaces. It is important to keep climbing plants such as ivy, virginia creeper, wisteria cut back to at least 0.5 metres below the eaves to prevent rodents climbing into loft spaces.

Can a rat climb a smooth wall? ›

Rats are agile and can scale walls, depending on their surface. If the wall has a rough texture and space to grip, a rat can climb the wall. Examples of walls that rats can climb include those made of brick, stone, and wood, to name a few. Rats cannot climb walls that have a smooth surface.

Can a rat jump? ›

House mice can search for food and nesting materials in an area as small as 10 feet from the nest or as far as 50 feet away.  Roof rats are extremely agile and can swing beneath rafters, jump as far as 4 feet from branches to roof tops, and climb pipes and wires.

Can a rat climb a bed? ›

Rats are exceptional climbers, undeniably. Also the little cousin of the rat, the mouse, can reach counter tops and tops of dressers. For that reason, it is safe to think that a rat can conveniently climb onto a bed. Additionally, a pet rat owner can personally say that a rat can get into a bed.

Are rats good climbers? ›

Both rats and mice are good climbers and can climb vertical walls and "shimmy" up between walls and drain pipes. Rats are also excellent swimmers and have been known to enter premises through the water traps of the toilet bowl when infestations occur in the main sewerage system.

Can a rat climb the stairs? ›

While we wish we could offer you some reassurance, the truth is that rats are very good climbers and certainly have the ability to climb up and down stairs and up on furniture. This is one of the reasons why calling pest control in Richmond Hill for a suspected rodent infestation is so important.

Why do rats like climbing? ›

Rats are also adept climbers and use this behaviour to escape from predators and to forage [17,18]. Norway rats have been observed to climb up trees, thicket and dry stalks to forage for berries and grain [16,19].

Do rats like climbing trees? ›

They can climb any surface that has texture. They're good at climbing brick, concrete, plastic, wood, stucco, sheet metal, dry walls, and even trees. Not only are they good climbers they excel at jumping and adult rats can jump from branches to branches.

Can rats climb anywhere? ›

Almost all rats can climb due to the way their hands, feet and tails are designed which allow them to leap both horizontally and vertically. They have five extremely sharp phalanges (or “fingers”) on the end of each hand, which give the ability to easily latch onto any surface.

What can't rats climb? ›

Rats can climb stone and brick, too, and similar materials. If there is anything for them to grab, they can climb it. The only things they cannot climb are things that are slick. If there is no way for them to grab hold or remain on it, they cannot climb it.

Can rats climb up metal pipes? ›

Physical Capabilities of Rats and Mice

climb almost any rough vertical surface such as wood, brick, concrete, and weathered sheet metal; crawl horizontally along pipes, augers, conveyors, and conduit; and.

Can rats climb 6ft fence? ›

Rats can climb fences as easily as they can climb walls.

Will a rat climb in my window? ›

3. Gaps around windows. Rats can easily enter through small gaps or cracks around windows. Seal any openings and check your window screen for holes.

Are rats good jumpers? ›

Excellent jumpers: Rats can jump vertically 36 inches and horizontally 48 inches. Dropping from a height of 50 feet doesn't kill or seriously injure rats. Squeezing through small openings: Rats have flexible skulls and can fit through openings a half-inch in diameter.

Can rats bite you? ›

Rats can bite when they feel cornered or pressured. This may happen when you put your hand inside of a rat cage or come across one in the wild. They're more common than they used to be.

Can a rat climb into a car? ›

They can absolutely get into the cabin of the car,” says Combs. “Once they're in the engine, they can find their way in. They have no trouble chewing through plastic or even things like aluminum, or softer metals.” Canete says it's especially common for pet owners who might have dog or cat food around in the car.

Can rats climb up a fence? ›

Both rats and mice are good climbers and can climb vertical walls if the surface is rough enough, and “shimmy” up between walls and drain pipes.

Can a rat climb a ceiling? ›

Can Rats Climb On Ceilings? Considered to be excellent climbers, the rats can climb on surfaces such as ceilings. In fact, rats are able to climb most rough and smooth vertical surfaces, up to 13 inches in height. Thus, they can climb up the walls and find openings in the ceilings.

Can sewer rats come up toilets? ›

Yes, they can. According to the video seen above from National Geographic, it's actually pretty easy for them to do so. Rats have underrated swimming capabilities and can hold their breath for up to 3 minutes. That's long enough for them to swim from the sewer line into and up through your toilet.

Can a rat climb a ladder? ›

Hornberger and Farrar [28] described the first attempt of making a full load testing. In their first training session, the rat climbed the ladder carrying up an equivalent load of 75% of it body weight. Once completed the climb, 30 grams were added to the burden bound in the animal's tail.

Can a rat climb a pole? ›

Metal poles work best as they are sturdy and difficult for rats to climb. Rats can climb PVC pipe or wood bird feeder poles. Rats may also chew through a PVC or wooden pole, bringing the whole feeder crashing to the ground.

What kind of rats climb trees? ›

Roof rats are excellent climbers and are usually found in the upper parts of structures. Inside, they prefer to nest in elevated areas such as attics and ceiling voids, but they can also nest on lower floors. Outside, they usually nest above ground in trees, in dense overgrown vegetation, or in piles of wood or debris.

Can rats climb to high floors? ›

First-floor units are more susceptible, but higher floors can have problems, too. If cracks are sealed on the first floor, rodents will climb until they find a way in, Katz said. "Rodents are athletic and determined," he said.

What keeps rats away for good? ›

Spread peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, black pepper, or cloves around the home's exterior to prevent the rats from entering the house in the first place.

Do rats like climbing rope? ›

Opportunities to climb - give them ropes in their cage to help develop their sense of balance. Rats will chew ropes as well as climb them, so they should be made of natural fibres (such as cotton). Opportunities to run, forage, explore and play - rats are active and like playing, especially when they're young.

Why do rats jump towards you? ›

Thankfully, unlike pigeons and other smaller mammals, we don't really have to worry about rats attacking us. Rats are actually scared of humans. They will do anything in their power to avoid being around a living being larger than them. However, if a rat feels cornered, it may attack in an attempt to protect itself.

What trees do rats not like? ›

You might try planting these in or around your home to keep the mice away: any type of mint, amaryllis, sweet pea, lavender, daffodils, wood hyacinth (or squill), grape hyacinth, alliums, catnip, camphor plant, elderberry, euphorbias, and wormwood. * Oak and bay leaves are also known to repel rodents.

What attract rats the most? ›

Here are six things in a home that might attract rats:
  • Different Kinds of Food.
  • Warmth and Shelter.
  • Pet Wastes and Open Garbage Cans.
  • Water Sources Like Leaky Pipes.
  • Fruit Trees, Indoor Plants, and Other Vegetation.
  • Clutter and Other Nesting Materials.
15 Dec 2020

Do rats ever nest in trees? ›

Rodents construct their nests in sheltered places away from predators. While other rat species dig burrows, roof rats live high above the ground. In the yard, residents may spot roof rat nests in trees, firewood piles, shrubs, and vines.

Can rats climb under doors? ›

Rat Proofing your Home or Business

Entrances - Young rats can squeeze through small gaps under doorways, so fit strips to the bottom of doors as a deterrent. They will also use cat flaps to get in and will enlarge gaps by gnawing to enter homes via integral garages.

What attracts rats around your house? ›

Odors and smells that come from pet waste, pet food, garbage containers, barbecue grills, birdfeeders, and even from unharvested fruit and nuts from plants can attract rats and mice. Good sanitation habits can effectively improve the prevention of attracting rodents in your yard.

Do rats climb in the wild? ›

In the wild, rats construct and live inside burrows that they expand and modify frequently [15,16]. Rats are also adept climbers and use this behaviour to escape from predators and to forage [17,18].

What is rat scared of the most? ›

Rats are afraid of human activity, mostly because humans are so much larger than they are. Rats also fear predators such as hawks, eagles, and other birds of prey. Other animals that rats are afraid of include your cat as well as rat terriers and other dogs that hunt rodents.

What do rats no like? ›

You can repel rats from your home and garden with scents they dislike, such as clover, garlic, onion, hot peppers containing capsaicin, house ammonia, used coffee grounds, peppermint, eucalyptus, predator (cat) scent, white vinegar, and citronella oil.

How do you know if rats are in your pipes? ›

Some of the signs that rats have invaded your drainage system are blocked piping, consistent creaking noises coming from your pipes and water flowing slower than usual. Though these signs are common with other problems in your drains, they are worth investigating.

Can rats enter through open drain pipes? ›

Unfortunately, the truth is that sewer rats can and do enter homes through drains. While it is physically possible for mice to enter a home through a drain, they are far more likely to chew a small hole into your house. Relief is available for this problem.

Can rats climb inside drain pipes? ›

In addition to these capabilities, rats can also swim up to half a mile across the water in one go and even dive through the water to enter exposed pipes. This means that rats can easily climb up drains, which is aided by the presence of water where they can swim.

How small of a hole can a rat climb through? ›

RATS AND MICE ARE AGILE MAMMALS. A mouse can get through a small, 6-7 mm hole (about the diameter of a normal-sized pen) and a rat can get through a 20 mm hole. They can also jump several decimetres at a time.

How do I stop rats from walking on my fence? ›

Exclusion is usually a key in controlling rodents. Patch holes where they are getting in, install fences, consider an electric fence, install hardware cloth to stop animals from burrowing under fences and getting into your garden beds.

Can rats live in brick walls? ›

These types of walls are usually brick and have advantages related to rain and wind as well as superior insulation benefits. On the downside, a cavity wall has a hollow center, which can be a safe nesting area for rats and rodents.

Will rats come in house with dogs? ›

They found that rodents stayed away when any household pets (cats or dogs) were present, but also that they tended to venture back into the space if there was a dog present. If a cat was present, the rodents would not come back into the home.

What happens if you disturb a rats nest? ›

What happens if you disturb a rat's nest? If you find a nest, it is important not to disturb it. Rats can be aggressive when provoked and the pathogens that they carry can easily be transmitted to you through the air even if you do not touch the nest.

How far should you take a rat away from your house? ›

Animals will always return to somewhere they know they can find food and shelter, unless there is a better alternative. Therefore, when disposing of a mouse or rat, you need to take them at least a couple of miles away, or they will find their way back.

Will a rat jump at you? ›

Unless they're domesticated, rats are afraid of humans. But if there is no way to escape, a cornered rat would not hesitate to attack a human. For example, the black rat is capable of jumping 70cm into the air. It can climb on a wall and jump on your face.

What scares off rats? ›

Rats cannot tolerate smells such as ammonia, mothballs, peppermint oil, crushed cayenne pepper, and pepper spray due to their intensified sense of smell. Clean and uncluttered homes and yards scare rats due to the lack of food and places to hide, as well.

Can rats jump on to walls? ›

Can rats climb walls? The answer to this question is yes – rats are efficient climbers if the surface of the wall is rough enough. The roof rat is particularly good at climbing and like to gnaw their way through everything, including electricals.

Are rats scared of humans? ›

Rats have an instinctive fear of humans along with cats, so they should take off quickly. But what happens when a rat doesn't run away? For the most part, rats are afraid of humans to the point that they will scurry away when they understand we are in their presence.

Will a rat bite you? ›

Healthy rats typically avoid people and prefer to be active when buildings are quiet. However, when cornered, they will lunge and bite to defend themselves. The saliva of some species of rats carries hazardous diseases, such as leptospirosis and Hantavirus. In rare cases, rat bite victims may contract rat-bite fever.

What's the best thing to catch rats? ›

To catch a rat, you must rely on your bait. Traditional types of bait include cheese, peanut butter, bacon, cereals, or meats. However, rats can be picky.
To feed the black rat, try the following foods:
  • dried fruit and berries.
  • slugs, snails, or snail shells.
  • nuts of all varieties and peanut butter.
  • unflavored dental floss.
4 Jun 2020

What happens if you corner a rat? ›

Rats Will Run, but They Really Aren't Afraid

In fact, if you corner a rat, it may just attempt to defend itself by leaping at and biting you. This is often what happens when a dog or cat corners a rat and a rat's bite is a carrier of many major diseases.

What smell kills rats instantly? ›

The smell of ammonia is very pungent that it instantly kills rats.

What kills rats instantly? ›

Electric Traps

These battery-powered traps are easy to set up and deliver a high-voltage shock that's lethal to rats but won't harm humans or larger pets. They step on the metal plate, which delivers enough voltage to kill the rat instantly.

Will rats stay away if lights are on? ›

While rats are comfortable in the light, they will typically avoid it simply due to their nature. There are also certain types of lights that they may make additional effort to avoid, such as flashing lights. That is why so many companies sell light machines designed to deter rats; they have their basis in fact.

How do I keep rats from climbing my walls? ›

Can Rats Climb Walls | Effective Ways to Prevent Them
  1. Install Wall Guards.
  2. Wrap Electrical Cables with Rodent Repellent Tape.
  3. Seal Gaps Around Heating and Water Pipes.
  4. Secure Gaps Below External Buildings.
  5. Repair or Replace Damaged Drain Covers.
  6. Repair or Replace Protection for Ventilation Bricks.

What happens if rats live in your walls? ›

In addition to carrying pathogens that can transmit diseases to humans, rats can potentially cause damage to your home's structure and fixtures. They've been known to nest in and destroy insulation, and they can chew through electrical wires, which can cause house fires.

Do rats stay in walls during day? ›

Mice and rats are nocturnal, so you'll most likely hear scratching in walls once the sun has set and the house has quieted down. Squirrels, on the other hand, are diurnal, meaning they're awake and active during the day.

What are rats favorite food? ›

Fruit and berries — Out of all the foods rodents consume, their top two loves are generally fruits and berries. In the wild, rats and mice consume these foods at every opportunity. Therefore, raspberry and blackberry bushes — as well as apple and pear trees — can serve as magnets for the animals.

Do rats remember you? ›

It's the first time scientists have found direct reciprocation in the animal kingdom. Rats can remember acts of kindness by other rats—and treat them accordingly, a new study says.

Are rats scared of dogs? ›

Rats are not deterred by cats or dogs.”


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