Can Rats Climb Up Walls? The Remarkable Climbing Ability of Rats

The short answer is yes, rats can climb up the walls. Rats are a common pest in the UK, and come in two species: Norway and Roof rats. Norway rats are the most common species, and are easily recognisable by their brownish-grey fur, blunt nose and short ears. Roof rats, on the other hand, have black fur, a pointed nose and long ears.

brown rat rattus norvegicus climbing up bird table
brown rat rattus norvegicus climbing up bird table


Both species are adept climbers, and have been known to climb rough-textured walls and smooth surfaces alike. To prevent rat infestations, it is important to take measures to rat-proof your home. This can include closing access points such as drain valves and electric fences, as well as removing potential rat nests.

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Investigating The Remarkable Climbing Ability of City Rats

Rats are incredibly adept climbers that have demonstrated remarkable feats of agility in the urban landscape. They have evolved to be able to climb almost anything, from pipes and wires to walls, trees, and even buildings. To investigate this remarkable climbing ability, researchers have studied the anatomy, physiology, and behaviour of rats to understand how they are able to climb so effectively.

rat climbing a wall
rat climbing a wall

Rat Anatomy

The anatomy of rats is well adapted for climbing. They have a long, flexible, and muscular tail that helps them to balance and manoeuvre, as well as sharp claws that enable them to grip surfaces. Rats also have a unique feature called “rat toes” which are specialised pads on their feet that help them to gain traction and grip on vertical surfaces.

Rat Physiology

Physiologically, rats have special digestive, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems that enable them to climb quickly and efficiently. For example, they have a high metabolic rate and an enlarged heart that allows them to quickly use oxygen and maintain a high level of activity. They also have an extended respiratory system, with wide airways and large lungs, which allows them to take in more oxygen and climb for longer periods of time.

Finally, the behaviour of rats plays an important role in their ability to climb. They are very curious and are not easily deterred by obstacles. They are also able to quickly learn and remember the best path up a surface. This knowledge allows them to quickly navigate and climb almost anything they encounter.

Overall, the remarkable climbing ability of city rats has been attributed to their anatomy, physiology, and behaviour. Understanding how they are able to climb so effectively can help us to better control and manage rat populations in urban environments.

Are rats capable of scaling the exterior of buildings?

Yes, rats are capable of scaling the exterior of buildings. With their sharp claws and specialised pads on their feet, they are able to gain traction and grip on vertical surfaces, as well as leverage their long, flexible, and muscular tails to balance and manoeuvre. They are also able to quickly learn and remember the best path up a surface, allowing them to quickly navigate and climb almost anything they encounter.

Rat climbing a pole
Rat climbing a pole


What are rats physically capable of?

Rats are physically capable of a variety of activities and movements. They are agile climbers and have the ability to swim and jump.

Their powerful back legs allow them to jump up to three feet in the air and can swim for several hours. They have sharp claws that allow them to climb walls, trees and other objects, and can squeeze through very small openings.

Their sense of smell is highly developed, and they can detect food from up to a mile away. They have a strong sense of hearing, too, and can detect the slightest sound.

Rats are also highly social animals and live in large family groups. They communicate with each other through a variety of vocalisations, scent marking and body language.

Examining the Impact of Roof Rats on Homes and Businesses

Roof rats, also known as black rats, are a type of rodent that is commonly found in urban and suburban areas. They are especially common in coastal regions and can cause significant damage to homes and businesses. 

Roof rats can chew through electrical wires, insulation, and other materials, resulting in costly repairs. They can also spread diseases and contaminate food sources, leading to costly clean-up and pest control efforts.

Physical damage

In addition to causing physical damage, roof rats can also cause psychological distress to home and business owners. They can cause fear and anxiety, as well as a general feeling of unease. Seeing a roof rat can also lead to questions about the cleanliness of the environment and the safety of the home or business.

How to Prevent Roof Rats

In order to prevent roof rats from entering homes and businesses, it is important to take proactive steps to keep them out. These steps include sealing cracks and holes on the exterior of buildings, eliminating sources of food and water, and setting traps. Regular inspections should also be conducted to find and eliminate any existing infestations.

Finally, it is important to be aware of the potential health hazards associated with roof rats. They can carry a number of diseases, including salmonella, typhus, and hantavirus.

Stories about rats climbing the walls

There are many stories around about people who have found their pet rat up on top of a door frame or window ledge, but I suspect that these stories are due more to graceful acrobatics than true climbing ability. Rats certainly can jump high – even from ground level – given enough motivation (such as hunger). A couple of possibilities come to mind here, which may help elucidate this particular mystery:

Rat can climb rough surfaces

If there is some kind of barrier over the open area that provides a rough surface for grip, the rat may be able to clamber up and over. A good example of this might be a section of guttering that was in contact with a building.

If there is a suitable protuberance in the vicinity, then a clever rat may stand on that while reaching its forepaws up to gain additional height. Once again this would require some kind of rough surface for grip – perhaps another part of the guttering or even an air-conditioning unit – but from there it could move itself forward until it’s near enough to the ledge to make the final stretch. In other words, when rats climb upwards their natural instinct is not to seek out flat surfaces! Their primary concern is usually to find somewhere that feels safe to them.

Rat is climbing vertically rather than horizontally.

The same principles apply if the rat is climbing vertically rather than horizontally. For example, given enough motivation, some rats have been known to climb up brick walls which are not highly textured. Rats will even attempt to scale smooth concrete walls provided there is something for their claws to grip onto – perhaps a crack between blocks or an air-conditioning unit spilling out greenery next to the wall (see “additional notes” below for more information on this).

If you have a pest problem in your home or business, contact Bon Accord today for free advice and immediate assistance from a local pest control expert. We are here to help!

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Why choose Bon Accord Rat Control

24/7 rat control. We’re available day and night to protect homes and businesses in Greater London.

Bon Accord delivers specialist pest control services and environmentally sustainable pest management. We only employ people who care and deliver excellent service. 

Our London exterminators can deal with the most stubborn pest infestations safely, quickly and efficiently.

Pest Control for Other Pests in London

If you’re concerned that you may have a mice infestation in your home, it’s important to be aware of the signs, such as droppings, gnawed holes, and foul odours. For more information on signs of mice infestation, check out this helpful article, “Mice Droppings: Signs Of Mice Infestation“.

This article provides some great advice on how to prevent rats from entering your loft and answers the question, “How do rats get in the loft?

If you’re in need of mice pest control in London, then look no further than this page here for all the information you need!

Learn what noise a rat makes, check out this page for all the answers: What noise does a rat make?

Wondering how onions can be used to effectively kill rats, then you should definitely check out this page to find out more information about it.

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Gabriel provided great service , responded quickly on an emergency for pest infestation, professional and friendly. No more pests at home.
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Nesma TalaatNesma Talaat
20:26 20 Feb 24
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