Do Rats Hibernate in Winter?

Do Rats Hibernate in Winter?

Get the jump on rats! Find out- do rats hibernate in winter and where do they go? 

Many animals have developed coping strategies for dealing with the blistering cold winter temperatures. You are familiar with some of them- birds and butterflies fly south, squirrels hoard food and seek shelter in tree nests, and bears hibernate for the long cold season.

Hibernation is the condition or period of an animal or plant spending the winter in a dormant state, meaning the animal is inactive. Bears typically spend most of their hibernation period sleeping. But what about rats? Do rats hibernate in winter?

Although we might hopefully wish they did, rats do not in fact hibernate during the winter months. (There goes your peace of mind!) Quite the opposite, actually. Rats become even more active during the frigid winter season! Do rats like cold weather then? No, rats do not like to be cold or to live exposed to the cold. Rats in winter prefer to seek shelter and actively scavenger for food.

So, if rats don’t hibernate, where do rats live in winter? Unfortunately, there is not on simple answer to that question. Rats don’t have a ‘go-to’ place, so to speak. They are highly resourceful and will take shelter in a variety of locations. We’ll cover the top places that rats will likely hide-out during winter (spoiler- their favorite spaces are also your spaces!)

Knowing where rats go during winter will help you stay one step ahead of them! Contact Green Rat Control to learn more about outsmarting rats this winter!

Where Do Rats Go During Winter?

Sheds and Houses 

Living spaces built for people, like homes (and even outhouses) give plenty of shelter for rats and rodents during cold winter months. Rats use crawl spaces beneath sheds, homes, and in garages. What they are after is an insulated spot inside the living space.

Wait- rats may go inside my house during the winter?? That’s right. A lot of rat infestation cases happen during winter. The rodents are extra motivated to find a way inside to escape the icy outside air. They don’t hibernate, but they don’t want to live outside during the winter either. Rats ultimate goal is to set-up a comfy nest, unnoticed in an isolated part of your home.

Food left overs that are sitting out and pet food spillages, are very attractive to rats. When they search for a winter habitat, they seek out a reliable food source. Their sense of smell is keen and will easily pick up on any mess that is left out. Holiday cookie crumbs and turkey scraps are sure to entice rats into the kitchen if you haven’t cleaned it all up!

Where will rats try to hide inside in my house? The attic and the basement are the prime spots for rats during winter. Although rats are not afraid of people, they prefer to nest in areas that are left alone. Dust and grime do not bother them. Roof rats in particular will likely nest in the attic, and Norway rats are known to invade the basement, garage and shed. Cardboard storage boxes are one of their all-time favorite materials to shred and use for nesting.

Stationary Vehicles

Image courtesy of WarmlyYours

When gusting winds drop to low temperatures, rats will seek out shelter in even the most unlikely places- like your car parked in the driveway! Mice, rats, even squirrels take shelter in vehicles often, especially during the dead on winter. Sometimes they become so comfortable in that safe shelter from the cold and from predators that they don’t leave! They make a permanent living space inside.

But rats have a nasty habit of gnawing and chewing at cables and wires. This is could cause a highly dangerous situation. As the car owner, you could incur extensive damage under the hood. Rats will cause complicated wiring problems, especially in out-of-sight that are hard to spot.


In remote areas, where man-made structures are not available, rats will seek natural shelter. in the wild, rats are smart enough to find and make use of caves during the cold months. Rats are always scavenging for food. As winter approaches, they store up large amounts of food in the cave. They rely on their stash of food during winter. But this is not optimal. Rats would much rather raid your pantry!


If left with no other option, rats without access to shelter will burrow into the ground to be protected from the elements. They will choose a spot that is blocked from view, by a tree or large rock for example.They dig down into the earth until they reach a temperature that is habitable. Rat burrows are simple, not elaborate likes moles. They normally have only one entry and exit hole.

Do rats hibernate in winter? Nope. Make no mistake, rats may be wild rodents, but they prefer to live in domestic spaces during winter time. The warm glow of lights in your window, and smell of food is enticing them to find a way to get inside. But the good news is you can stop them!

Don’t let Rodents Invade this Winter

Protect your Shed

Image courtesy of Cottage Life

One way to prevent rats from nesting in your shed is to insulate your shed against pests and rodents. Shed insulation also makes it harder for rodents to gnaw or tunnel their way in. For a metal shed, fiberglass insulation with a vinyl cover is recommended. Fiberglass is recommended for insulating a wooden shed. Insulation fills in empty negative space, making it difficult for rodents to weasel their way in. It also protects your shed from collecting condensation and becoming damp which will also attract rodents.

Make Your Home a Fortress

Start by checking the exterior of your house for any cracks or holes- remember that rats can fit through spaces as small as 1/2 inch! Examine the outside of the home and cover any cracks and holes you find with wire mesh and then sheet metal or, if possible, concrete. Sealing entry points is one of the most important ways to keep rodents out! To make sure you covered them all, contact your local rodent professionals to do an evaluation.

Give the attic a deep clean. Without a deep attic cleaning, rodents such as roof rats, mice and possibly raccoons (yikes!) will be attracted to this area and want to make a home there among the storage and the mess.  What’s worse than a rodent nesting in your attic? The havoc they can wreak on your insulation and attic structure. Complete contamination will happen immediately when rodent droppings or urine come in contact with attic insulation and wood. If undiscovered or untreated, it can lead to airborne contaminants that are very hazardous to your health.

Don’t just sweep! Dust, sanitize and decontaminate your attic. Hire the pros to get it done right. Attic insulation should be carefully inspected for contamination and replaced immediately if there are signs of rat nesting. be proactive! Sure, the cost to clean an attic depends on how big your space is. But it sure is cheaper than trying to deal with a rodent infestation or damaged attic insulation.

Finally, keep a clean kitchen and pantry. Store all food properly and securely. Don’t leave dirty dishes to collect in the sink, and certainly don’t leave left overs setting out to be found and feasted on by rodents!

Where do rats go in the winter? They try to sneak into your home! But you can protect your space. Rats won’t be hibernating this winter, but you won’t be caught off guard. Team up with Green Rat Control today to rat proof your home for the winter!