Pets make a variety of noises and sounds during their active hours, and pet rats are no exception. Since rats see their waking hours mostly at night, you may have noticed an increase in sounds when you are trying to sleep. Both pet rats and wild rats rest primarily during the day, which is why an increase in noises and sounds can be heard during the nighttime hours.
So, are pet rats noisy at night? Technically, yes, pet rats are active at night, which to a sleeping person nearby would sound noisy. Pet rats will respond to human interaction during the day, but will consistently perform all of their daily activities at night. As a nocturnal species, this is to be expected and is natural.
Since nocturnal activity is part of a rat’s natural evolutionary process, this means that normal activities humans perform during the day, such as eating and drinking, physical activities, and socializing, are seen from dusk till dawn with their pet rat. This guide will explore this concept in more detail with some explanations of the types of noises your pet rat typically makes at night based on various activities.
Are Rats Nocturnal?
When acquiring a pet rat, the first thing you likely notice is that the rat will primarily rest and sleep during the daytime and become active during the night. Numerous scientific studies have confirmed that rats, in general, are nocturnal animals. In a 2016 laboratory study with Wister rats, it was confirmed that the presence of artificial light shined on rat cages at night actually promotes sleep and rest in rats.
A rat’s circadian rhythm evolved to respond to increases in light, based upon the historical patterns of rat activity through the ages. Reasonings for this natural process are based upon a rat’s patterns to seek to avoid detection when scavenging for food and to prevent harm. This is indicative of wild rats, yet the same process is still part of the behavior patterns in pet rats as well.
Since light, primarily sunlight, are the signals that trigger rats to rest and sleep, this is why so many complaints about wild rats have seen respondents describe noises and sounds of activity during the nighttime hours. Rats and pet rats are part of the same group with slight differences in behavior patterns based on their vastly different environments. However, nocturnal activity is part of a rat’s DNA, which means both types display this trait.
With nocturnal activity being confirmed, you may also be wondering if the types of sounds you hear at night from your pet rat have different meanings.
What Types of Noise Do Pet Rats Make at Night?
Pet rats make a variety of different noises, with the reasoning behind this aspect having different meanings. Since the nighttime hours are when you can expect to hear these sounds, the noises are usually based on rat activity. Chirping and squeaking directly relate to a response in stimulation or fulfillment of biological needs, such as eating and drinking. Squeaking sounds are primarily related to socializing, exercising, or even a form of stress.
With this in mind, you may also hear noises from your pet rat during the day. Rats respond to sounds based on hearing sensitivity, which due to the daylight hours being the time in which pet rats prefer to sleep, is likely a way of your pet rat telling you to keep the noise down. The situation is reversed if your rat’s cage is near your sleeping area; you will hear a range of noises based on your rat’s activity. Midnight is essentially noon to your pet rat.
Since the only thing that separates pet rats from wild rats is technically behavior patterns, are the noises from the two types different at night?
Do Pet Rats Make Less Noise at Night Than Wild Rats?
The sounds of pet rats in comparison to wild rats are essentially the same, with differences being based upon location and proximity to your sleeping area. If your pet rat’s cage is nearer to you, the noise will be very prominent, which also applies to a wild rat infestation. Wild rats will likely be a bit noisier since they are likely foraging for food, an aspect that a pet rat does not have to do.
Pet rats are not hidden behind walls and corners, so you can likely expect to hear your pet rat much more at night. This is all based upon normal, daily activities.
What Type of Activity Will My Pet Rat Do at Night?
Think about it; noise is generated from physical activity, biological processes, and mechanical devices. Your pet rat prefers to be active at night; therefore, you can expect to hear your pet rat going about all of its daily business at night. Each activity your pet rat performs will correspond to a range of different noises.
Pet rats will perform a great amount of physical activity in their cages at night. You will likely hear your rat running on a rat wheel if you have one in place. Furthermore, physical activity can be increased at night if noises during the day have kept your pet rat from getting a proper amount of sleep.
Pet rats enjoy climbing their cage, which can be both normal and in response to an absence of surrounding noise at night. Noise from this particular activity will be very audible at night and will be accompanied by natural rat sounds during the activity.
Eating and Drinking
Your pet rat may take time to eat and drink during the day in between rest breaks, yet this will occur mostly at night. It is not usually a good idea to try and force your pet rat to eat and drink during the day by removing food and drink from the cage at night, as this will likely result in frequent squeaking sounds at night due to stress.
The Verdict: Rats Are Nocturnal Animals
Expect to hear a wide range of noises and sounds from your pet rat during the AM hours. Rats are nocturnal animals by design; therefore, this is when they typically conduct their daily activities. The daylight hours are primarily when rats sleep, so the more you keep your pet rat from sleeping during the day, the more erratic it will likely become at night. If the noise at night is interfering with your own sleep, consider moving their cage to another room.
Also, expect the nightly noises to be more amplified if your cage has more than one pet rat. Communication between multiple rats will also create a great deal of noise at night. This is just part of the commitment to having rats as pets; nocturnal activity is just a part of their biological composition. It’s not that rats are overly noisy; they just live their lives by the moonlight.
Noisy pet rats at night is not a cause for concern. Rats make noise at night based upon one primary thing: they are nocturnal. Exercising, socializing, eating and drinking, and general noise occurs at night. Rats have long been nocturnal since wild rats have had to evolve to conduct their daily business when predators are sleeping. In terms of a pet rat, this is not a cause for concern; it is just part of what their systems have long adapted to.
So the next time your pet rat is noisy at night, just remember it is not their bedtime.
- Sage Journals: The impact of light, cage cleaning and in-house on welfare and stress of laboratory rats
- BMC Public Health: “They’re Always There”: resident experiences of living with rats in a disadvantaged urban neighborhood
- Reddit: How Loud are Rats at Night?
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Sound levels in modern rodent housing rooms are an uncontrolled environmental barrier with fluctuations mainly due to human activities
- Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology: Repeated Moderate Noise Exposure in the Rat–an Early Adulthood Noise Exposure Model
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Dim light at night disturbs the daily sleep-wake cycle in the rat
- Wikipedia: Circadian rhythm