Mosquitoes flying around

What Does a Rat’s Nest Look Like and What Should I Do if I Find One?

March 24, 2023

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

Finding a rat’s nest in your house is a pretty good indicator that you have a rodent problem. Identifying the nest is the first step to addressing a rat infestation. Find out what a rat’s nest looks like so you can be equipped to spot one in your home and take action.

Do rats make nests?

Yes, many species of rats make nests as a place to hide and sleep. A rat’s nest is also a place for them to store food scavenged from your home. Pregnant rats usually give birth to their babies in nests and leave them there when they go out looking for water and food.

What do rats’ nests look like?

Rats’ nests often look like woven balls and can be similar in appearance to a bird’s nest. However, rats usually build nests from materials other than leaves and twigs. Most species will use any soft material they can find, like shredded paper, cardboard, and cloth.

Newborn rats in a nest

What does a rat’s nest look like outside?

Outdoors, rats are likely to burrow into the ground and build their nests out of sight. They may also gather grass, straw, and twigs to create nests below rock piles and around foundations and concrete slabs. Some species also make their nests in trees. If rats set up nests outside your home, they may take advantage of gaps, cracks, and openings in plumbing to enter your house in search of food, water, and shelter. 

Where do rats nest? 

Where rats make their nests varies by species. Roof rats often live in attics, and you’ll often find insulation that’s been torn out of the walls in their nests. Norway rats tend to reside on the first floors of homes and in basements, crawl spaces, or garages. 

How do you know if you have a rats’ nest?

You may notice other signs of a rat infestation before you spot a nest. These include:

  • Droppings around cabinets and sinks
  • Foul odors that you can’t identify 
  • Chewing damage on food packaging, paper, wood, and other materials
  • Scratching or scuttling sounds coming from the walls, ceiling, or below the floor
  • Unexplained pet behaviors like crying, barking, scratching, and digging

These warning signs indicate that you may have a rat infestation.

How do you find a rat’s nest in a house?

To find a rat’s nest in your home, look in hidden areas near where you observe or hear other signs of rodent activity. Use a flashlight to help you look. Don’t look inside if you spot a hole in a wall, cabinet, or other location. Instead, contact a pest control company for assistance.

What happens if you disturb a rat’s nest?

Rats can become aggressive if you disturb their nests. They are likely to attempt to bite or scratch you to defend themselves. Even if you don’t find any rats, there are risks to disturbing a rat’s nest. You could touch or breathe in rat droppings, urine, or other materials contaminated with germs. 

Mother rat with her babies in a nest

How to get rid of a rat’s nest 

Because of the potential danger involved, leave the task of handling a rat’s nest to pest control professionals who know how to do so safely. Don’t try to block off or remove the nest yourself. 

Rodent control FAQs

Read on for answers to common questions about rat infestations.

Do rats spread diseases?

Yes, rats can spread many illnesses and diseases, including hantavirus, monkeypox, rat-bite fever, and salmonellosis. Depending on the bacteria or virus involved, you could catch an illness by getting bitten by a rat, touching something a rat touched, eating contaminated food, or breathing in impurities left behind by rats.

Rats can also harbor ticks, fleas, and mites that carry germs that cause Lyme disease, plague, and other serious medical conditions.

How many rats live in a nest?

The number of rats living in a nest varies. Some rats are solitary, while others live in groups called packs with distinct hierarchies. As a result, a rat’s nest may be home to just one rat or have several adult rodents living in it.

How long does it take to get rid of a rat infestation? 

How long it takes to get rid of a rat infestation depends on the size of the pack and the severity of the problem. In some cases, it may take just three weeks to address rodents, but your home may also require repeat treatments for a few months. A pest control company can provide specific information about how long the process will take.

Pest control services

If you find a rat’s nest or believe you have a rodent problem, call Hawx Pest Control. Our licensed pest control technicians know how to safely get rid of rats’ nests and have the tools, technologies, and products needed to address the problem successfully.

In addition, our knowledgeable technicians can identify potential entry points for you to repair and provide prevention tips to reduce the risk of rats returning. Our technicians can develop a maintenance plan to provide ongoing treatments that lower the likelihood of future infestations.

Spread the love

Ready to protect your home or business from pests?

Schedule today and get a service plan tailored to your property. Receive a detailed report with pictures after each service is completed.