Pest Prevention: What Attracts Rats in the Home?

How do rats get into homes and what attracts rats in the first place? In this guide, learn how to prevent rats from taking residence in your home.

what attracts rats

Have you noticed signs of rats around your home? 

According to recent data, rats and mice were spotted in nearly 14.8 million homes in the US. 

If left unchecked, rats can wreak havoc on your home. They can spoil food items, spread disease, and damage your belongings. They can even chew through things like electrical wiring, which can expose your family to the risk of an electrical fire. 

Long story short, rats are bad news, and the sooner you get rid of them the better. One of the best places to start is figuring out what attracts rats and removing things that’ll draw them to your home.

Read on to find out what attracts rats in the home and what you can do about it.


If you’re wondering what attracts rats, food is usually the biggest draw. If rats discover a food source in your home, they can quickly become a nuisance.

Possible food sources can include things like:

  • Packaged items in your pantry
  • Easily accessible fruits and vegetables
  • Food that’s left out
  • Unwashed dishes
  • Dropped or spilled food
  • Pet food
  • Food waste in your garbage
  • Compost heaps containing food waste
  • Fruit trees that are bearing

Besides readily accessible food, rats can also be attracted to the mere smell of food, such as food odors around a barbeque. 

If you want to carry out rat prevention, the first place to start is by eradicating any and all food sources. Make sure all your pantry items are stored in containers that rats can’t get into. Store all fruits and vegetables in the fridge rather than in bowls or vegetable wracks. 

Make sure that pet food such as dog pellets isn’t left standing out. Once your pet has finished eating, remove the bowl and wash it. 

Give your kitchen a deep clean to remove any crumbs or spills that might have landed in hard-to-reach places, such as under the refrigerator. 

If you have fruit trees bearing, pick up the fruit immediately. 

If rats have gotten into foodstuffs, discard these items. Rats can be carriers of pathogens like salmonella and tularemia and any foodstuffs they come into contact with might be contaminated.


Like we said above, any food waste rats can get to can become a food source for them.

If you dispose of food waste in the garbage, secure your trash cans so rats can’t enter. If you have a compost system, try to contain this and seal it off from rat entry. 


Rats can also be attracted to heat sources, especially in cold weather. If you have a boiler, rats might take up residence and form their nests in this area.

Attic spaces can also be a source of warmth for rats, as well as wall cavities behind fireplaces. If rats find a cozy spot in your home, this can cause them to move in permanently.

Some of the signs of rats taking up permanent residence are droppings and chewed-up debris. You might also notice a musty odor, which is the smell of their urine and feces. 

The only way to guard against rats entering your home in search of warm nesting spots is to seal up all entry points. How do rats get into homes? Through just about any crack or crevice they can squeeze in by. 

Rats can fit through surprisingly tiny spaces. Therefore, you will need to go over your home carefully and fill up every gap they might be getting through.

A good place to start is under your eaves. Depending on the construction of your home and how the roof joins to your walls, there might be multiple gaps up there that rats can use to get through. You should also check for cracks in your foundation and gaps around windows and doors. 

Besides stopping gaps with cement and caulking, you can also consider installing draft excluders. If your home has any vents, make sure they are covered with strong mesh.

Once your home is thoroughly sealed, you might also want to look at your insulation. The better insulated your home is, the less warmth will leak through the walls and attract rodents. 

Finally, you can also try to keep access to heat sources clear. The more hard-to-access areas there are around things like boilers, the easier it will be for rats to take up residence there. 


If conditions are dry, rats can also be attracted to water sources, such as pet drinking bowls and leaking pipes. If you’re wondering how to get rid of rats and have tried just about everything, it might be time to analyze if your home is a water source. 

Do you have any ponds, bird baths, or water bowls? Any type of standing water can attract rats if they can’t find water elsewhere.

To deter rats, you can opt to remove these sources of water. This can be tricky, however, as you might have pets that need water bowls. If you have a pond, emptying won’t be feasible if you are keeping fish. 

If things have gotten to the point where you’re emptying out ponds and birdbaths to deter rats, it might be time to call in a professional pest control service.

Hiding Places and Nesting Materials

Rats aren’t usually attracted to open spaces. They prefer to move about in areas where they can easily hide. If you have a lot of clutter in your yard or home, this can act as a haven for rats. 

Besides easy hiding places, rats can also be attracted to spaces that have things they can chew up into nesting materials, such as paper, plastic, and fabric. 

What Attracts Rats? Just About Everything in the Average Home

If you’re dealing with a rat problem, the best place to start is by learning about what attracts rats and figuring out how you can deter them. Unfortunately, removing access to things like food and water isn’t always enough to discourage rats. 

If you’re dealing with a persistent rat infestation, it might be time to take stronger action. 

Here at Fast Action Pest Control, we offer tailored pest control to suit your needs. Our technicians will inspect your entire home to identify conducive conditions so we can target the source of the problem. If your pest problem continues right after the first treatment, we will come back at no extra charge. 

Contact us today to schedule a free inspection