How Long Do Rats Live?

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How Long Do Rats Live?

How Long Do Rats Live?

Rats are a common pest in a lot of homes. They can cause damage to your home and spread diseases, but how long do they live? There are different contributing factors as to how long rats can live.


A rat lifecycle is like that of humans - they go through puberty at 3 months old, reproduce at 6 months old, and then eventually die from natural causes or when killed by predators. It is important to note that their environment can affect how long they survive.

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How Long Do Rats Live: A Rat's Lifecycle

In the wild, rats will live for an average lifespan of about a year and a half. However, in captivity, they can survive for up to five years. This is how long rats live without dying from a disease or predators hunting for them.


Rats have many natural predators - most commonly cats and owls who hunt them at night while they are sleeping. The rest of their predators include snakes, foxes, rats themselves (who kill each other for food), and even humans who eat them as a delicacy in other countries. Because they have so many natural threats keeping the rat population down, they do not usually have a longer life expectancy.

Factors that May Affect a Rat Lifecycle

Rats are mammals, just like humans. Female rats have a gestation period of about 21 days after they are inseminated by males. It will take about four to five weeks until young rats begin eating solid food on their own.


At three months old, the female rat will go into heat. Female rats can start reproducing when they are about six months old. Rats kept as pets will mate and give birth to litters of between five and twelve babies (pups).

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How Long Do Rats Live: What Affects Their Lifespan?

While you may think that keeping a rat as a pet is not cruel, it can shorten their lives to only about half the usual length. This can be attributed to their environment - if they are kept in cages or aquariums with limited movement and room to play rats can live on an average of two years. However, if you keep them in a more natural environment their lives can increase to about three years.


The amount of exercise they get and how healthy their diet is also affecting how long domesticated rats live. Say, for example, if you keep domestic rats on an extremely low-calorie diet, it is expected that pet rats live for about one year.

Does Their Environment Affect Their Lifespan?

In the wild rats can live to about one and a half years, but a pet rat can live up to three. The reason for this has everything to do with their environment. Keeping them in an unnatural and cramped habitat may cause rats to die of dehydration and make their lives shorter. The more favourable their living conditions are, the longer their lifespan will be.

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What Do Rats Do to Survive for Years?

Wild rat species that are common in many properties are the black rat and Norway rat. The two types of rats that exist in the wild are Rattus norvegicus (Norway Rat) and Rattus Rattus (the Black or Ship Rat).


Both species are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and meat. They have teeth that never stop growing, so if their diet lacks proteins, they will start losing their teeth and eventually die of starvation.


This is the reason rats infesting your homes are targeting foods like cheese, eggs, and meat that are high in protein. They will scavenge through your garbage or even through your pantry to get these food sources for their diet.


If all of these are present in the wild, rats can live for several years and continue from generation to generation. When they find your home or property a good place for food sources and their activities are left unattended, they will end up living around your property and keep on reproducing.

Life Expectancy of Rats

The average life expectancy of rats is only one and a half years, but this can extend to about three years. The average lifespan of wild animals depends entirely on their environment - if they are in captivity the average life expectancy is about two years but living freely it is around one and a half. The reason for this has everything to do with their environment - whether they are in captivity or living freely.

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Wild Rat Lifespan

Most wild rats live with an average lifespan between 12 to 21 years. Wild rats are also negatively affected by food prices as well as drought-related shortages of nutrients. Rats tend to have shorter lifespans which may result in many diverse types of problems.


People capture wild rats as pets and keep them in captivity to keep them safe. However, wild rats die when there is no sufficient food and water in their living areas. Their life span will shorten and they will eventually die.

How Do Rats Get into Homes and Start a Rat Infestation?

There are many known incidents in which Norway rats can jump onto sewer pipes and sinks. Black rats are known to use water lines to transport and get into buildings when needed. There can be difficult and dangerous ways to locate rat nests and crawl out of the walls of garages that surround attic rooms. 


It is difficult when rats in a household have built a home inside them. There are tricks to keep them from entering your home. If all goes wrong, they will climb onto your roof and into your attic cause a pest problem, you may have to call a professional to get rid of the rat problem that you are dealing with.

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