Do Rats Make a Purring Sound? What Does It Mean?

Do Rats Make a Purring Sound
Do Rats Make a Purring Sound

Being a rat owner is an exciting adventure, and you’ll probably have a great time. However, they can make a variety of interesting noises – but is purring one of them?

So, do rats make a purring sound? Yes, rats do make a purring sound. This is called bruxing, and it happens when your rat grinds their teeth softly, which produces a gentle sound and causes them to vibrate. Bruxing happens when your pet rat is happy — most commonly when you pet them or play with them.

Rats are fascinating creatures, and there’s much to know about them. Read on to find out more about the adorable purring sound they so often make. 


Sounds That Rats Make

Rats are famous for their squeak — cartoons, movies, and TV shows have often shown this sound that rats make. However, rats don’t just squeak. They produce plenty of sounds. Some of them you can hear but some you can’t. And these sounds will be different depending on how they are feeling. 

In general, expect to hear them more during the night since rats are nocturnal. They will play and squeak more during the night, while they’ll rest and sleep during the day. This is why you’ll hear a lot of bruxing when you pet them — they are tired from a long night and enjoy sleeping on you. 

Baby Rats

A study found that baby rats enjoy playing a lot and that they talk by producing these high-pitched sounds that we could call squeaks. Sometimes, these sounds are so high that we can’t hear them. 

So, many people think that baby rats don’t squeak when they do. They also squeak when playing, a lot more than adult rats. The noises that they make clearly show how those rats feel. 

For example, when the squeak is high-pitched and short, this could mean that your baby rat is happy and that they are playing. If the squeals are long and constant, this could be a good sign that your baby rat is in some sort of discomfort and needs your help. They use these sounds like a way of protesting as a way to tell you that something is wrong or when they meet another rat and they feel threatened. 

If they are constantly chattering, they could be sick. This chattering will happen even if they are just trying to breathe, and it happens because of a respiratory disease which is not curable. 

The Meaning Behind Bruxing

Animals make all sorts of sounds when they are happy, and rats are no exception. What they do is called bruxing, and it’s a sound that can resemble a cat purring. During bruxing, your pet rat’s body will vibrate as they grind their teeth. 

This means that they are content and happy with what they are doing. It can be petting, playing, or anything else that makes them satisfied. The bruxing movement and sounds are often accompanied by boggling. Now, this may scare you at first since it’s not something that people without rats are used to. 

During boggling, their eyes will bulge. It’s another sign that they are happy and perfectly content. It’s a bit funny and a bit scary, but it’s the cutest way a rat can show their affection and friendship to you. 


You can also expect your rat to make some chirping noises. This is also a sign of happiness in rats. They will usually do it when you groom them, pet them, and so on. Just like any living being, they love attention, affection, and being loved, so chirping, bruxing, and similar sounds all mean that they love you back. 

Keep in mind that continuous chirping when they breathe could be a sign of health issues instead of happiness. The best way to assess this is to see whether they chirp when they have genuine reasons to be happy — you’re feeding them, petting them, they are playing, etc. — or not. 

If you hear this sound every time they open their mouth, it’s time for a visit to the vet. 

Sounds Rats Make When They Are Scared

Rats make sounds when they are scared too. However, these sounds are easily thought of as happy or play sounds. This is why it’s so important to understand the difference between the two. 

For one, you need to determine what the noises of a happy rat are and what the noises of a scared rat are, so you’ll better understand what they need you to do. Listen for longer squeaks. They will be louder and consistent. This will mean that your rat is unhappy, scared, or in danger. Sometimes, if you play rough with them, they will let out this sound. The sound shows that they are submissive, but you should see it as a signal to let them go since they are scared.  

They use this sound when they feel threatened when they meet other rats or when they are stressed. Either way, they need your help. 

When your rat shrieks, they are injured or in a lot of pain. You won’t mistake this sound for something else, and you’ll instantly know that there’s a problem of some sort. This will happen when they are fighting with another rat when they get hurt or something similar. Shrieking can happen if they are protesting something. 

For example, owners report that their pet rats shriek when they go to the vet or if they get stuck in the cage.

How To Notice When Your Rat is Happy

Your rat will show their happiness through bruxing or boggling, usually during a petting session. They may also jump or chirp when you enter the room. To ensure that they are satisfied, give them enough food and attention above all. This can include petting, grooming, playing with them, or even just letting them sleep on you. 

According to a study performed in 1999, rats laugh when they are tickled. Of course, we can’t hear their laughing sounds since they are too high-pitched for us. But, we can definitely hear bruxing — the purring sound rats make. 

If your rat is happy, they will also make these short squeaks, or they will chirp. 

Which Noises Should Concern You? 

Now that you know that this purring sound is not a big deal — that it’s actually good in fact — you can relax and enjoy listening to that gentle noise. However, you also might be wondering which sounds should be an alarm to you. 

For example, your pet rat will constantly squeak and rattle when they are breathing if they have a respiratory disease. It’s transferred from a mom rat to a baby rat when they are born, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Rats usually make sounds when they have something to say — when they’re hungry, enjoying themselves, etc. But a sick rat will produce a constant chattering sound. So, pay attention to this. 

You should definitely take them to the vet when they are breathing heavily and continuously squealing. 

Other sounds you can expect that they make are not the ones they produce, but rather create due to their interaction with other objects. Listen for chewing or gnawing if your rat is out of their cage since and they are not trained — this could be bad news for your wiring. 

The key thing to remember is that, since rats are mostly quiet, sounds mean something. In order to keep your rat happy and healthy, you need to look out for their cues. For instance, whether their squeaks are happy or angry, how they behave when you pick them up, etc. Every sound they make will be a sign of something, so pay close attention and keep your rat safe.