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What Noises Does a Rat Make?

Rowan Burgess |

It's no surprise that rats make many different noises. These sounds are typically associated with their lifestyle activities, but they also emit noises in response to different stimuli like fear and pain.

An interesting note: rat noises are ultrasonic, meaning many communication sounds are beyond the upper limit of human hearing. If you can hear squeaking, then it's probably a mouse!

However, rats are pretty noisy residents. Their telltale sounds can indicate that you might need some rodent control solutions before too long.

Learn below the different noises rats make and why, and find out which ones you will be able to hear.

Types of Rat Noises and Sounds


Rats are large, fur-covered rodents, so when they move around - and they move quickly - it can make noise, creating a scurrying sound. 

Although you may hear them, you're unlikely to see them as they are nocturnal and cautious when moving around, preferring to stay well-hidden.


Scratching behind walls or in the roof is one of the most common rat noises. Rats typically scratch because they are trying to move between locations, but they could be gathering nesting materials or looking for food.

Thanks to upper limits of the human body, hearing rats move is much more likely than hearing sounds they make to communicate with other rodents in the colony.


Rats' teeth erupt continuously throughout their lives, so gnawing on hard surfaces or materials is a big part of their normal behaviour. 

People who keep rats as pets have to provide gnawing material to avoid the rat getting dental problems. In the wild, however, a rat can find enough different items to gnaw on. They're well-known to be destructive pests.


Squeaking usually indicates that a rat is afraid or in pain, which may be audible to the human ear.


Hissing is like squeaking and is a sign that a rat is in pain or frightened.

Why Do Rats Make Different Noises?


Like any species, rats have a range of sounds they use to communicate with each other. Recent research suggests that rat vocalisations are more sophisticated than previously understood.

Rat sounds are ultrasonic, which means humans can't hear them. This is part of their covert lifestyle to help avoid detection.

Devices called ultrasonic rodent repellers claim to cause these unwanted visitors to leave their current location because they emit a sound that they find unpleasant. 

However, although rats don't like the sound, it doesn't usually offer a permanent way to get rid of them. They may leave initially, but ultrasonic repellers don't put them off for long. You're best off with tried and trusted rat control methods that really work.


Like other species, rats will make a particular sound when frightened. They may squeak, squeal, or hiss - an audible sound if you happen to be there at the time.

Rats make a quiet clicking noise by grinding their teeth together to warn other colony members that danger is nearby. They also stamp their feet to warn of a threat.

When rats are content and don't feel threatened, they make quieter squeaks and chirps to communicate with other rodents in the colony.


Rats screech or scream when in pain or distress, a sound commonly heard if a dog catches a rat. They can also whimper when they're in pain.

Stress or Discomfort

Most rats manifest stress or discomfort by squeaking, but it depends on the cause of the problem.

Stress within the colony may well be met with a hiss or a growl, but equally, rats are good at staying silent if they think a predator is in the vicinity.

Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, indicates stress or discomfort but can also be a sign of contentment.


Rats use ultrasonic vocalisations during mating rituals, including serenading females with songs. Females indicate their receptiveness by making specific calls.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Rats Make Noise at Night?

Rats, like mice, are nocturnal, so you're more likely to hear them moving around or scratching and gnawing at night if you're awake.

However, rats are clever at keeping their presence a secret, so don't rely on the absence of noise as an indicator that your property is vermin-free.

Can Humans Hear All Rat Sounds?

No, humans can't hear all the sounds that rats emit as they are ultrasonic, beyond our audible range. 

However, rats make a lot of other noises, like scurrying and gnawing, as part of their normal behaviours, which are relatively easy to hear with the human ear.

Looking for Rodent Control? Shop Dalton Engineering!

Rats won't go away of their own accord, and numbers multiply quickly, presenting a serious problem. Effective rodent elimination is essential. Rats are destructive to buildings and carry several serious diseases, which they transmit via their droppings.

For all your rodent control products, shop Dalton Engineering. We sell tried and trusted bait and traps to clear vermin infestations quickly and effectively.