What Attracts Rats? 6 Things That Rats Love

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The sounds you hear in your attic and the scurrying of rodent feet through the night have brought you to the concern you may have rats. Whether your house is clean or messy, rats are attracted to many things, such as standing water and certain smells. 

It’s best to determine what attracts rats to your yard immediately before you experience a full-on infestation. While domestic rats are cute, friendly, and lovable, wild rats cause more problems for you and your household than you can control, such as disease. 

In this article, you’ll learn how to identify what attracts rats and how to keep them away as naturally as possible.

What Attracts Rats to Your Home?

If you have a rat problem, the first thing you should do is take a look around and inside your home. Check for open food sources, standing water, small hole openings, or cracks in your foundation. Rats are intelligent and will only come out to feed or drink in the wee hours of the morning or late hours of the night when your house is not so busy. 

Below is a list of things that attract rats to your home. Carefully read through the different topics, and decipher where you need to rid these rat offerings in your home, so you can avoid diseases like hantavirus from spreading.

Different Food Sources

Rats eat anything from raw vegetables to cooked meat. So, compostable items and buffet tables are an absolute treat for your pocket pests. Scope your house for open food containers, open leftovers, and ensure your outdoor compost has a locked lid on it at all times.

Food that attracts rats the most are:

  • Nuts such as peanuts, hazelnuts, and almonds.
  • Fruit such as apples, pears, and melons.
  • Berries
  • Grains and seeds such as rice and oats.
  • Meat such as cooked eggs, bacon, beef, and chicken.

Another food item that attracts rats you might be surprised about is pet food such as cat, dog, and domestic rodent or bird food. While some people believe that if they own cats, it’ll keep rats away, this is not always the case. If rats were inhabiting your home before your cat, there might be nothing your cat can do.


Did you know rats can enter your home through ¼ inch of a crack in your home? Rats enter and exit home through minuscule holes, where they reside, building tunnels and nests throughout your wall structure. 

The perfect shelter for a rat includes a space to block wind, cold, or extreme heat while also providing food and water that’s close by. A rat looks for shelters in places like:

  • Abandoned vehicles
  • Messy or crowded garages
  • Attics or basements
  • Inside walls
  • Under decks
  • And other hard-to-reach places

When it comes to shelter, rats will inhabit anywhere they won’t be disturbed and where they have quick access to everything they need.


Rats have an impeccable sense of smell, more so than humans. A rat can tell if your home is their new home just by sensing how much food waste there is, a water source available, and even nesting materials for their young before ever entering your home. 

 Scents that attract rats to your home include:

  • Garbage or food waste
  • Birds and bird food
  • Animals’ feces, such as dog poop or cat urine
  • Standing water or left out rain water
  • Cooked food aromas
  • Garden scents such as zucchini, sunflowers, and corn

Water Sources

Water sources such as bird baths, ponds, pools, and leaky pipes are great attractions for rats, as they tend to like areas with standing water sources. To repel rats, use sprinklers, fix broken pipes, and replace dripping faucets. 

It’s hard for wild rats to find water sources outside your home due to extreme weather conditions, but if they find a dry and warm place with adequate water available, they can have a comfortable place to nurture their young.

Nesting Materials

Rats like soft bedding material to keep them and their young warm and comfortable. Just as domestic rodents like paper, cotton, and soft scraps, rats can find these items through clutter or abandoned boxes.

 Nesting materials include:

  • Paper towel and cardboard
  • Cotton old rags
  • Yarn and wool
  • Teddy bear filling
  • Bean bag filling
  • Candy wrappers
  • Low dust material

Rats are great at scavenging for nesting materials around and inside your home. Ensure your house is cleaned daily and vacuum the corners of your home to ensure there are no soft materials rats can use. 

Plants and Fruits

Plant scent to rats means food and vegetation. Whether you have indoor or outdoor plants, a rat infestation starts with the scents of the shrubbery and foliage you keep around. If you have tall trees with branches leading as a pathway to your roof, ensure you cut these down to cut off access. 

As previously mentioned, rats look for homes with sufficient nesting supplies. If you have twigs and loose grass, such as a freshly mowed lawn, rats will use these for their bedding and care for their young. 

As for fruit trees such as pear, plum, or apples, rats will take advantage of the fruits that have fallen to the ground. Always maintain a clean yard with no grass clippings or fallen fruit to avoid the hassle of a rat infestation. 

How To Keep Rats Away From Your House

Rats can get into your house through tiny holes in your foundation to unsealed windows and drainage pipes. Once a rat picks their access point, they will continue to use this path because scent trails their feet and tails give off to their furry friends and family. 

The best way to avoid a rat infestation is to prevent rat attraction. Some things you can do regardless if you have rats or if you want to prevent them are:

  • Plant peppermint 
  • Own a cat or two
  • Put food away and seal tight into containers
  • Keep all food waste and garbage locked up
  • Fix broken pipes or leaky taps
  • Ensure your house is tidy and keep a regular cleaning schedule
  • Clean up your yard 
  • Clean up standing water sources

If all else fails, and your rat infestation is not decreasing, it may be best to call pest control experts to learn how many rats are in your house and take care of them.


The more attractive your household is the more reason for a rat infestation. If you notice raccoons or other pesky critters trying to raid your house, that’s one of the first signs you can expect more unwanted visitors. The best thing you can do to control a rat infestation is to read up on tips to catch rats, maintain a well-kept house and fix cracks, leaks, or other broken fixtures in and around your home.

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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