Rats aren’t generally great explorers. They like to stay relatively close to their nests and won’t often venture much further unless they have a reason. The most common type of rat in the UK is the brown rat, which has a range of between 25 and 100 feet. Rats usually only travel at night, when they can stay hidden, and will only do so when they need to find food and water. Rats lucky enough to live close to a food source might not even travel this far as they have everything they need within easy reach. Conversely, rats without a reliable food source nearby may have to travel further afield for their essentials. Some rats will traverse several hundred feet until they have found the food they need.
Some rats, particularly those living in rural areas, will have seasonal migration patterns. During the fall, they will leave harvested fields behind and move into farmhouses and other human habitations where they can steal our food and take advantage of the shelter and warmth we provide.
Rats always prefer to live as close to their food sources as possible. If you have a rat infestation in your home, you can be sure their nest will be somewhere nearby, if not in your house itself. However, unlike mice, rats prefer to nest outside instead of inside your home. Rats aren’t as good at hiding as mice; they are bigger, noisier, and much more noticeable. If you find evidence of rats roaming around your home after hours, there’s a good chance they have a nest just outside your house. Rural properties, in particular, provide rats with boundless nesting opportunities close to their nearest food source.