Do Rats Hibernate in The Winter?

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If you’ve ever had a rat infestation, you may have noticed that their activity levels seem to drop as the weather gets colder. This leaves plenty of people wondering: do rats hibernate?

If you’re facing a rat infestation in your home, understanding the habits of your unwanted guests is the first step towards eliminating them. Read on to learn more about whether rats hibernate in the winter and when you should look into pest control for rats in your home.

Do Rats Hibernate?

Plenty of homeowners facing a rat problem wonder: do rats die off in winter? Or do rats hibernate?

Rats are well equipped to survive the harsh winter months just fine without hibernating. However, even though rats don’t hibernate, their activity levels do tend to drop in cold weather. You may not see as many scurrying around your house during the winter, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

How Do Rats Compensate for Their Inability to Hibernate?

Rats are active year-round, even when the weather is cold and food is scarce. If they don’t hibernate, though, then what do rats do during the winter?

Rats are well-adapted to surviving harsh conditions without resorting to tactics such as hibernation. Through a combination of hardiness and ingenuity, rats are able to keep themselves alive even in the worst of winter conditions.

Winter Food Reserves

Rats are typically highly active creatures. They burn a lot of calories each day and need plenty of fuel to replace them. A rat can eat as much as a third of its own body weight each day, making the species voracious eaters on the whole.

As omnivores, rats aren’t picky about what they include in their diet. Anything from nuts and seeds foraged outside to scraps of garbage found in the garbage can make a suitable meal for these pests. Their varied diet allows rats to thrive and multiply in just about any environment, including your pantry.

Starting around late summer, rat activity will often increase as they scramble to gather food for the winter. They create a stockpile of food to last them through the winter instead of hibernating to conserve calories.

Keeping your home clean and free of accessible food is key to preventing a rat infestation. If they have nothing to stockpile for the winter, rats will leave in favor of a more fruitful foraging ground. 

Burrowing Dens

As small prey animals, rodents like rats have adapted to burrow and hide when threatened. Rats use burrows to protect themselves and their young not only from predators but also wind and weather. 

When it’s cold out, rats will protect themselves by taking shelter somewhere warm, dark, and safe. In some cases, there may already be nooks and crannies in your home well-suited to small rodents. 

Rats may also dig their way under foundations, through drywall, and into insulation, potentially causing expensive property damage. In some cases, rats have even been known to chew through materials such as brick and cinder blocks.

The best way to prevent rats from burrowing under your property is to keep it clean and free of any meals that might tempt a hungry family of rats. This includes leftovers, garbage, and even pet food left outside. You should also remove any debris that rats could use as cover.

Intelligence & Creativity

Perhaps the biggest difference between rats and mice or other rodents is intelligence. It can be a challenge to tackle a rat infestation because rats are incredibly good at adapting and problem-solving. Many can outmaneuver even the most complicated of traps.

It’s almost impossible to prevent a determined rat from invading your home. No matter what obstacle you pace in their way, rats have the intelligence to overcome it. Instead, try to make your property as appealing as possible. Remove any potential sources of food or shelter and seal all of your pantry items in rat-proof containers such as glass jars. 


During the winter, rats will set up camp wherever they deem safe and warm enough to wait out the cold. Their choice of home isn’t just limited to burrowing dens. Rats will also settle in natural shelters during the winter.

If you have small caves or outcroppings on your property, they may attract rats looking for a place to hunker down when it gets cold outside. Abandoned sheds, vehicles, or other low-traffic areas may also look inviting to a family of rats. It’s a good idea to block up or remove anything that rats could potentially use as a cave during the winter. 

How to Know if You’re Living With Rats

If you suspect that you have a rat infestation in your home, it’s vital that you take action as soon as possible. A small infestation can grow and spread quickly, even during the winter months. There are several obvious signs to look for that could mean your home is playing host to a family of rats:

  • Rat droppings, particularly around the kitchen or pantry
  • Nesting materials such as shredded paper and dried leaves
  • Teeth mark or small holes on food packaging 
  • Holes chewed into walls or cabinets
  • Unpleasant stale or rotting smells.

If you want visual confirmation of a rat infestation, you may be wondering: what time do rats come out? As nocturnal hunters, the best time to spot a rat is during nighttime hours. However, in the winter, you may be hard-pressed to find rats roaming around even after sundown.


One of the best ways to know with confidence whether you have rats is by scheduling an assessment with a pest control professional. They can spot the signs of an infestation and help you put together the best treatment plan for your situation. 

As rats grow scarce in the winter, many people find themselves asking: in what month do rats hibernate?

The truth is, rats don’t hibernate during winter months at all. Though their activity levels might drop as it gets cold out, rats are active year-round. If you suspect that your house has an infestation, you can contact a professional for rat pest control services in your area.

Jake Garza
Jake Garza
Jake is the founder of Hama Pest Control, the preferred choice for pest removal and extermination in the Greater Toronto Area. With over thirty years of experience, Jake prides himself in bringing quality, knowledge, and care to Hama Pest Control's customers.
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