Where do Rats Go When They Get Cold?

October 23rd, 2017

Unlike bears, animals such as rats, mice and other rodents do not usually hibernate during the long, cold winter months. Rats live in both the wilderness and in domestic environments. Usually, their winter habits will remain consistent and unchanging regardless of the environment that they find themselves in. However one thing that does differ is that they will utilize different types of shelters based on their location. When it comes to cold weather, rats obviously require shelter from the elements, preferably in a place with insulation. Also, a source of food is necessary to survive as well.

Here are some examples of the locations that rats can resort to in the cold wintery months:


For the most part, human dwellings and other outbuildings provide optimal shelter for rats, mice and rodents during colder weather. Crawl spaces beneath buildings and homes are common escapes for rats. They will also seek refuge in garages and sheds. They will reside there if there is an insulated space inside any structure that they find themselves in. Rats don’t like exposure and require a hidden area to find solitude. Also, if the opportunity presents itself, rats will infest the interior of a home in some circumstances.


Idle vehicles are sometimes used by rats, mice and other rodents. The reason for this is because engine compartments and ventilation systems are concealed and protected from the elements. The rats will build a nest or nests from a combination of natural and synthetic materials such as paper, seat cushions and fabric from the car to build the nesting area. How they do this is by traveling through the ventilation system in the vehicle to enter the main area of it.


Rats don’t just do human dwellings, they also use caves and other natural shelters during the winter months. Much like squirrels, the rats and mice will collect food throughout the warm months and store it in the cave. Most rats are social, and they will mass in groups in one cave to occupy a single dwelling. To protect their food from being taken, they urinate on it to mark their territory, ensuring they have a good food supply for the winter months.


If rats or mice do not have access to any human dwellings, caves or other natural shelters, their last resort is seeking warmth in the ground by burrowing into it. They will use a natural boulder or a rock wall as a starting point and dig beneath the structure if it is possible. Rats will also burrow in the open ground if necessary. Rat burrows only have a single entry and exit hole, and the depth of it depends on the temperature and the insulating ability of the ground they are planning to burrow in.

These are the four main places that a rat, mice or rodent will go to seek refuge and shelter in the cold winter months. Therefore, in the winter, keep an eye out for any rats in your homes, whether it be in the crawlspace, your attic or your car.