When your pet starts zooming around their cage during the middle of the night, they may make enough noise to wake you. While rats don’t bark like dogs or meow like cats, they can be somewhat loud when they become active.
Pet rats can generate a reasonable amount of loud noise, especially during the late-night and early morning hours. However, this noise is typically the result of nocturnal activity, not rat vocalizations. Rats primarily communicate in ultrasound frequencies that human ears cannot perceive.
This article will tackle the subject of rat loudness and help to explain how rats can generate noise, what types of sounds they can produce, and why rats become active and loud during the night.
What Sounds Do Rats Make?
Rats are capable of making a variety of sounds. Though they typically communicate with one another using short, high-pitched squeaks, they can also emit a scream when frightened or threatened. Rats can even sigh, hiss, grunt, and grind their teeth.
Tiny squeaks, also known as pips, peeps, and chirrups, can mean quite a few things. In wild rats, this sound is primarily only used to signify annoyance or frustration. When the squeak is held for a more extended amount of time, it signifies a more considerable amount of anger. However, fancy rats that are socialized early and handled often may peep for no foreseeable reason.
When a pet rat is content yet still peeps at you, it may be because they’re trying to emulate the human habit of speech and vocal greeting. You may also notice a pet rat squeaking at random objects or nothing in general. Some rats seem to just enjoy the sound of their voice.
Rats may give a short sigh or a huff to indicate annoyance. You can choose to interpret this as a statement of disinterest and displeasure. If you hear this sound, it may be best to let your rat enjoy some time alone.
When rats are in an extreme amount of pain, incredibly frightened, or feeling aggressive, they can emit a strange scream. This sound is somewhat similar to the squeal of a pig, though its frequencies differ. A pet owner may hear this sound from time to time if their pet rat is introduced to stressful situations. A trip to the veterinarian, for example, might provoke this loud stress response.
One step up from a sigh is a hiss. Falling somewhere between a slight sign of discontent and an irritated plea, hisses indicate a desperate desire to be left alone. Pet rats that are fighting may make this noise, but it is often a hushed sound.
Many rodents have teeth that continuously grow, necessitating constant chewing to keep teeth from becoming overlong. Rats may grind their teeth together to file them down or to help keep them sharp. The sound is similar to a soft tapping noise and doesn’t tend to be very loud.
Wild rats that have infested a building are typically only discovered when they begin to scratch household surfaces or themselves. Rats can suffer from oily skin, dry skin, fleas, lice, mites, allergies, and fungal infections. Still, occasional daily scratching tends to be familiar and does not necessarily indicate any of the above maladies.
When rats scratch themselves, they can produce a fair amount of noise. This is because their feet thump against the bottom of their cage or the floor. This sound may be followed or accompanied by rustling as a pet rat moves through their bedding.
Rustling is a common noise that is reasonably specific to pet rats. It occurs when rats burrow or move throughout their bedding. It’s often a very faint sound, though repetitive burrowing can result in extended rustling.
It may be a sign of upper respiratory illness if you hear a pet rat grunt or hoot. Rodents are especially prone to developing upper respiratory issues, as their lungs and respiratory systems are incredibly sensitive. Smoking in a house or using strong fragrance sprays can prove lethal to pet rats.
How Loud Are Rats?
Now that you’re aware of the types of noises rats can make, it’s time to consider how loud these sounds are. The majority of vocalizations and ambient noises that rats make are reasonably quiet, but a few factors may cause these sounds to seem far louder than they are.
When rats communicate with one another (or with their pet owners), they primarily do so via high-pitched squeaks and peeps. Some of these squeaks may be in such a high register that humans don’t even hear them.
Many rodents use ultrasound to share messages without alerting potential predators. As such, people cannot perceive ultrasound frequencies, making them essentially silent forms of communication.
Of course, when rats do want to communicate with other mammals, they make perfectly audible squeaks, chirrups, and screams. Wild rats primarily make audible squeaks when they are irritated or threatened, but tamed pet rats may use this type of noise to greet their owner or express contentment.
Squeaking is one of the most variable noises a rat can make. It can be a short, quiet noise or a long, loud squeal-like scream. The volume of a rat’s squeaking is directly dependent on its level of frustration or anger. When a pet rat screams, it is trying to protest against some type of action it does not enjoy.
Proper pet care is bound to reduce the amount of screaming a rat makes. However, applying medicines to an injured rat can both result in incessant screaming. Consequently, it is somewhat normal to hear this sound from time to time, but it should be taken extremely seriously.
In addition to an occasional scream, rat owners can also expect to hear some nocturnal activity and sounds relating to water bottles. Still, these noises may only seem loud when a home is silent and sleeping. During the late-night hours when televisions, computers, tablets, and radios are all silent, typically quiet noises may seem amplified.
Many species of rodents, including rats, are more active after the sun sets and before it rises. This seems to be an inherited behavior that once helped rat ancestors survive fierce daytime attacks from predators.
While it is possible to exercise your pet rat during the day and alleviate some of this nighttime playfulness, it’s difficult to completely alter a rat’s natural sleep/wake schedule. Still, investing in quiet toys for pet rats to play with can be a helpful alternative to loud bells or wheels, which can be particularly annoying late at night.
Of all the rat vocalizations and sounds, the one associated with an in-use water bottle seems to be the most grating and inescapable. Rat owners often tell you that their rat is very quiet and well-behaved, but that their rodent’s water bottle keeps them up at night. That’s because most rodents drink water from a no-drip hanging bottle.
These bottles typically have ball bearings that prevent water from spilling out. When these bearings are moved (usually by licking them), they transfer a small amount of water from the bottle to the drinker. To sufficiently quench any type of thirst, rats must lick hard and often. The resulting sound can last for several minutes and be somewhat annoying.
Pet rats communicate with one another via ultrasound squeaks that are often undetectable by human ears. However, because they’re nocturnal creatures, their typical periods of activity occurs when most homes are quiet.
This can make the sounds of pet rats seem far louder than they actually are, as most households are very quiet during the evening. Still, compared to other common pets like cats or dogs, rats are exceptionally quiet animals. Owners can also choose to invest in quiet, plastic cage wheels as opposed to louder, squeakier metals models to limit night time loudness.
- Amazon: Choco Nose H125 Patented No Drip Hamster Water Bottle
- Isamu Rats: Rat Noises and Vocalisations
- Pet Partners: Rat Behavior Packet
- Rat Behavior: Norway Rat Vocalizations
- Rat Fan Club: Skin Problems
- ScienceDirect: Ultrasonic Communication of Adult Myomorph Rodents
- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Q & A: Why Are Sounds Louder at Night? Does Light Affect Sound?