What Happens if You Disturb a Rat’s Nest?

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Coming in contact with a rat’s nest in your home can be a daunting sight; however, it’s important to avoid the impulse of immediately trying to get rid of it. 

If you fail at removing a rat’s nest, you can end up causing more harm than good, potentially costing you more money than it would if you had hired a professional to treat the problem.

What Happens if You Disturb a Rat’s Nest?

So, what happens if you disturb a rat’s nest? If you disturb a rat’s nest, the rats may feel threatened and become aggressive, putting your health at risk or causing the rats to scatter to other areas of the house.

Rats won’t like the idea of leaving their nest. A few risks come with disturbing a rat’s nest, some of which may not be that obvious, and we’ll discuss the main ones below.

Rats May Become Aggressive

While rats are not aggressive animals by nature, they do have a reputation of being territorial and stubborn. If they feel attacked, hungry, or put in other high-stress situations, rats may become defensive and display violent behavior. This may include biting and chasing, which are not only frightening but can put you at risk of catching harmful diseases. 

You Are at Risk of Contracting a Disease

Rats can carry dangerous pathogens that are easily transmissible to humans. Some include potentially fatal viruses and bacteria like Lassa fever, leptospirosis, plague, and salmonellosis. 

As mentioned, rats can bite when they feel attacked, and not only are their bites painful, but some rat-borne diseases can be life-threatening to humans. You don’t necessarily have to be bitten or even come into direct contact with the rat to catch potential pathogens. 

Some diseases are contracted by simply breathing in dust contaminated with rat droppings or urine. These include ​​hantavirus pulmonary syndrome or South American arenaviruses. So, you could get infected even if you didn’t touch the rat or its nest.

Rats Can Escape and Make a Nest Elsewhere in Your Home

Rats tend to keep within a 100 to a 300-foot radius from their nests and usually return to it as long as it’s not disturbed. So, just because you find a nest in one area of the house doesn’t mean they’re necessarily in another; this is good news. 

However, if you make a failed attempt to clear a rat’s nest and cause the rats to escape to another area of the house, you risk making an infestation that will be harder to solve. 

Besides the risk of being attacked or contracting a disease by disturbing a rat’s nest, you may also end up making an infestation worse and have rats run off to hide in other crevasses of the house and breed there. Rats can really wreak havoc on a home. 

We recommend taking preventive measures such as clearing any waste that could provide shelter to rodents and tightly covering garbage cans. 

Also, keep pet food appropriately stored indoors so that rats can’t access it. Like us, rats need a continuous food source, so you don’t want to provide food and shelter to unwanted rodents, or else they’ll take it as hospitality and get “too comfortable.” 

What To Do if You Accidentally Disturb a Rat’s Nest

Should you disturb a rat’s nest? Absolutely not. But, if you’ve accidentally done so, take a step back and don’t panic. 

Air out the space hosting the rat’s nest thoroughly before you start cleaning. Open any windows and doors in the room to allow cross-ventilation. Do not use a fan because this may trigger rodents to escape.  

If you decide to remove the nest yourself, be sure to research how to get rid of rats properly. If you have any doubts or hesitations about completing the process properly, then it’s best to call your local pest control service to do the job. 

Even the most confident people, who don’t fear rodents, can fail at removing rat nests. So, if your attempt of cleaning a rat’s nest was unsuccessful and you got bitten by a rat, immediately seek medical care to eliminate the possibility of contracting a virus or bacteria and adequately treat the wound. 

You should also seek care if you got too close to the nest and may have inhaled dust contaminated with rodent droppings or urine, especially if you notice symptoms like dizziness, heaviness of breath, or fever. 


There are quite a few risks that come with disturbing a rat’s nest. It’s best to take preventive measures like keeping all waste and garbage in sealed bins and sealing any holes that are inside and outside of your home and shed so that they don’t become hospitable environments to rodents. 

Keep in mind that rats can fit in spaces that are an inch small, so check for any significant gaps you may have under doors or under cabinets and seal them to prevent rats from entering these spaces. 

In addition to this, you should periodically scan your dwellings for signs of rats, and their hiding spots, like tiny bite marks and collected derby in corners the rats may be saving to build a nest.  

Using natural rat deterrents can help repel rats, as they have a more developed sense of smell than humans and seem to have a strong aversion to scents like vinegar, hot peppers, garlic, and onion. Also, ammonia, coffee grounds, clover, and even essential oils–such as peppermint, eucalyptus, and citronella oil–can repel them as they despise these scents, which are similar to some cats. 

If you want to take more fool-proof measures, you can use traps if you suspect a rat in your dwellings. Ensure that the rodents have easy access to the food on the traps. Once you catch the rodents, take the necessary steps to remove their nest and thoroughly clean and sanitize it.

When in doubt, it’s always wise to contact your local pest control service to inspect and assess the nest and any damage and develop a custom extermination treatment plan. 

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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