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Rats are rodents that are mostly found nesting in human spaces and they constitute one of the most dreaded pests today. Generally, rats and other rodents do not hibernate during the winter months. They are active throughout the year, but there is a lull in their normal activities, and breeding usually slows down during the winter months.
In order to survive the harsh conditions, rats need warmth and fairly constant food supply. The ones that are lucky to find their ways into human habitations usually fare better and are more active during the cold months.
Depending on the location of the rat, there are several probable habitats that they can adopt during winter as they seek insulation and shelter from the cold:
Houses and Sheds
Human habitations like houses and outhouses provide ample shelter for rats and mice during cold periods. They utilize crawl spaces beneath homes and in garages and sheds so long as there is an insulated space available inside the structure. This results in a lot of rat infestation cases during winter.
Leftover foods and pet food spillages, indoors or out, are major attractants to rats looking for a conducive habitat. And the basic precaution against rat infestation would be to not leave any food outdoors overnight, and pack up any food crumbs, leftover pet food and generally just keep the house clean and tidy.
Rats and other critters take shelter in automobiles a lot, especially in the frigid cold of winter. Some of them get so comfortable being insulated from the cold and from predators that they actually start to live there. Unfortunately, the propensity of rats to gnaw and chew at cables and wires does not auger well for the car owner as they often cause extensive damage under the hood. They cause a whole lot of wiring problems when they chew on wires, especially in hidden places that are hard to spot.
Rats living in the wild make use of caves and natural shelters during the cold months. These rats would store up a lot of food in the caves throughout the warm months and rely on their cache during winter. Territorial rats urinate on food caches to mark their boundaries.
Rats without access to houses or caves would burrow into the ground, preferably on a spot that is obscured from open view by a natural boulder or rock wall. They would dig until the temperature is habitable. Rat burrows usually have a single entry and exit hole. Read the guide: Are There More Rats in the Wild or Residential Areas?
Go back to the Rat Removal page, or for more instructions read my How to get rid of rats guide, or learn specifically about How to remove rats in the attic. Read more about When do Wild Rats Mate? and Do Wild Rats Make Good Pets?