How Long Can a Rat Live Without Food?

how long can a rat live without food

House rats are famous for surviving in harsh conditions and are known to be resilient animals. It may come as a surprise that rats require ample food for survival, as well as to carry out other functions, like reproduction. 

Rats are commonly found in almost every part of the world, including urban or rural areas. Rat infestations have become a severe problem due to the general high population of mice and rats. People have many different methods for removing house rats and mice from their homes, such as rat poison, mouse traps, and electric deterrents.

However, keeping the rats days without food or limiting their access to food and water has played a significant role in eliminating rat infestation from a house. 

However, the critical question is, how long can a rat live without food? To learn the answer to this, keep reading the article below. 

A Quick Answer

If you want a simple answer, read this: a rat can live up to thirty days without water, as long as it has access to food sources. This extended survival is because they already get enough water from their food. 

However, when their food sources are eliminated, an adult rat can only last up to four or five days. After that, it will starve to death. 

Let us elaborate on this information a little more to give you the complete answer to your question. 

How Long Can a Rat Live Without Food?

Rats and mice have quick metabolisms. They get all their energy from the food they eat. Whatever food the rats eat is essential for them, as their digestive systems work fast, making them hungry and crave another food item just two hours after their last meal. 

Rats usually nibble on tiny food bits that come along their way. Since they are capable of crawling and fitting into the smallest of holes and openings, they can quickly get access to water and food, wherever it is stored. 

Considering a rat’s quick metabolism, its constant food cravings and hunger play a significant role in its living process. This simply means that a rat can survive days without water, but will starve just after four days without food.

Like other living beings, rats need food and water for survival, with the amount they need to survive being an essential factor. While bigger animals need a full meal to get energy, mice and rats can even live on tiny nibbles of food particles.

How Can You Limit a Rat’s Access to Food?

It is nearly impossible to limit a rat’s access to food sources. This is because rodents can crawl into the smallest holes and openings, so they cannot be killed immediately by starvation. 

Rats love to hide and preserve food in tiny places even humans can’t reach. They will still have something to feed on for a few days if you limit their access to water and food. 

If you still want to give it a chance, try the following methods to restrict food availability for the rats.

  • Seal all food containers and mouse-attracting sources of food. 
  • Keep your house and kitchen clean and free from food crumbs on the floor. 
  • Mice, especially sewer rats, love to nibble on insects, so exterminate all pests that can attract rats.
  • Ensure any pet food bowls stay inside, as they can lure rats into entering your home.

What Food Conditions Allow Rats to Survive?

rat eating

Indoors vs. Outdoors

Specific locations and environmental conditions can also determine how long a rat can live without food and water. 

For example, like sewer rats, rats living outdoors must run from one place to another, hiding from predators. They will require more energy than house rats, as they must move from place to place to seek shelter.

Contrary to this, a house rat with no predators or where the residents are unaware of its presence means that it has easy access to food, thus saving energy due to lesser running or frequent movement. 

An indoor rat can survive a couple of days more than an outdoor rat without food and water. 

Alternate Sources of Food

If you think you have cleaned your house thoroughly and covered all food containers and other food sources to prevent rats, you might have to think again. It is not guaranteed that a rat will die after four to five days of starvation. They could have hid or preserved some extra food in small holes that can allow them to sustain and survive for a little longer. 

For instance, the best example of an alternative food source can be access to water. Any part of your house containing the tiniest moisture is enough for a rat to survive. 

These omnivorous animals can survive on many things like seeds, insects, underground fungus, and even other dead rats. 

How Long Can a Rat Survive Without Water?

rat hiding

Water is the most critical factor for all living beings when it comes to their survival. It plays a significant role in food digestion, metabolism, body temperature regulation, and even fighting toxic organisms in the living body. 

Water is essential for rats to survive. While they can only last for a couple of days without food, rats can survive for months without a single drop of water.

This is because the amount of moisture they need for living is already provided to them from the food they consume. This keeps the rats hydrated and maintains their energy levels. 

Some of the ways to limit a rat’s access to water include:

  • Place water for your pets only a few times a day and dispose of it when they are done drinking. 
  • Close all the taps tightly.
  • Keep your indoor moisture balanced by using an air dehumidifier
  • Cover all water sources around the house and keep it clean and free from forming small puddles. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Minimal Access to Food and Water Affect a Rat?

A study shows that extreme water deprivation in mice and rats has an acute physiological effect. They lose up to 19% of their body weight after two days. 

Similarly, food intake becomes low when a rat is deprived of water. This causes dehydration and anorexia, which starves the rat to death after a couple of days.

What Does a Rat Mainly Eat?

All rats and mice, whether adults or baby rats, love to chew on all kinds of food. They are omnivorous and have an opportunistic nature. This means they will nibble on almost everything coming along their way, including dead animals. 

Some of the favorite food items of domestic rodents include peanut butter, bird seeds, pet food, dry seeds, and fruits. In comparison, city rats can have a complete meal of rubbish and meat. 

What Is the Average Lifespan of Rats?

According to a study, a rat can live for up to 2 years. However, some can even survive for more than three years. It entirely depends on the internal and external conditions in which a rat is living. 

A rat can live up to three years or more in a healthy environment with ample food and water and no predators. 

Can a Rat Survive Its Whole Life Without Water?

Even though it’s impossible for any home to lack food or water, if this somehow happens to be the case, a rat will immediately leave the area for survival.

Targeting a rat’s energy source is one of the best ways to keep them out of your house rather than using rat baits and traps. 

How Long Should I Wait for the Rat to Starve to Death?

Understanding how long a rat can live without food and water can vary from one rat species to another. Sewer rats and mice are highly resilient animals famous for surviving extreme conditions. They can survive up to three weeks without food, just on tiny nibbles and crumbs.

Final Words 

Rats love to hide and preserve food, so it can take them 14 to 21 days to finally starve to death in a place with no food or water left for them to feed on. 

However, this is not the case with domestic rodents. It is nearly impossible for them to live without water and food for more than seven days. Therefore, if you have a pet rat, you should ensure that there’s enough food and water for them to feed on when you are away. 

If you are suffering from a rat infestation at home, please contact a professional pest control service like Active Pest Control to take care of your problem and make your home rat-free.


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