Are Rats Nocturnal? Why Do They Sleep During the Day?

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Whether you’re a pet rat owner or your home has been infested by rats, you may be wondering if rats are nocturnal or not. This article will be exploring whether rats are nocturnal and what type of sleeping schedule do they have.

Are Rats Nocturnal? All species of rats are nocturnal. On average rats will sleep up to 15 hours per day and will be most active during the night as there are fewer predators. Rats can also see much better in low-level lighting.

Rats don’t have very good eyesight and can see best in low lighting. That is another reason why they sleep during the day. Read on to understand more information about rats’ sleep schedules and signs of infestation.

READ MORE: Do Rats Make Good Pets?

Are Rats Nocturnal?

All species of rats, whether they are black, brown, long-haired, or bush rats are all nocturnal and will share the same sleep schedule.

Rats see best in low-level lighting and rely on other senses such as smell and hearing to perceive what’s happening around them.

By coming out at night time they are less likely to be attacked by predators and are more likely to escape which plays a huge role in rats’ sleep schedule.

a rat roaming at night? are rats nocturnal?

Did you know? Since rats have poor eyesight, they will level a trail of poop and urine which will help them navigate their surroundings and find their way back to their nest. It’s slightly disgusting but it is a way that rats navigate their surroundings.

If you spot rat droppings or a wet wall then this is likely a path a rat is using to find their way around.

Why Do Rats Sleep During the Day?

In the wild, rats will sleep during the day to take cover from predators. By adjusting their sleep schedule they dramatically lower the risk of getting eaten by another animal.

a rat sleeping in a wild at morning

Rat’s eyes also adjust much better during the night time due to the low-level lighting, and it really helps them to navigate their surroundings, find food, and to avoid predators.

Nighttime is also much quieter which helps improves their senses and makes them feel safer, which makes them more active.

How Long Do Rats Sleep for?

Rats will sleep on and off for up to 15 hours per day. They like to take naps in the day and will wake up throughout the day to eat and drink and groom themselves. After they have finished they will likely go back to sleep to rest some more.

Rats that are in groups or pairs may sleep less since they have a partner that they can socialize with. It’s quite common for rats to get lonely and bored, a sign of this is that they will sleep longer than compared to a rat that isn’t.

Where Do Rats Like to Sleep?

Rats are deep sleepings that will sleep throughout the day. If you were to wake up a rat that is in deep sleep it will likely result in a bite, especially if you startled her.

Your rat is likely to wake up in the daytime if you were to approach them. They are very social animals and will like the company.

In the wild rats build nests that are undercover to hide from predators. They like to sleep in artics in the fiberglass, in bushes, compost bins, in basements, and under floorboards.

Pet rats are quite similar and prefer to sleep in a space that isn’t exposed and is hidden away. small cardboards homes, tunnels, plastic houses, igloos, and hammocks are all great objects to provide your rat to sleep in.

a rat sleeping in the corner of bed

Do be careful and make sure the materials you give them are safe. As they will are likely to try to nibble on them.

Can You Change Your Rat’s Sleeping Schedule?

If you come home from work or approach your pet rat during the day, there is a high possibility that they will wake up. Rats are very social animals and like company. (That’s why they are best kept in pairs of 2 or more).

Rats are nocturnal and will sleep on and off during the day. Trying to change their sleeping schedule isn’t recommended or healthy for the rat and can make them ill and grumpy. In that state, they will likely try to bite you.

If you want to try to keep them awake during certain hours, you can provide artificial lighting that comes on during certain hours.

If you want to change their sleeping schedule so they are awake when you come home from work or see them at a certain time of day, you don’t have to as rats will most likely adjust to that schedule and will wake up to see you.

If they don’t wake up then it is best to leave them sleeping as rats are deep sleepers and don’t like to be woken up, and it isn’t very healthy for the rat to keep waking them up.

A happy rat is a rat that can sleep when they want to.

How Can I Help My Rat Get Better Sleep?

You can help your rat get a better night’s sleep by providing them with a calm, cool environment that they can sleep in.

Placing their cage in a noisy location such as next to the main road, train rail, or somewhere there’s constant noise such as a TV, radio, or entertainment system may cause your rat stress and disturb their sleep.

Rats sleep best in a room with good airflow that isn’t too hot. They like to sleep under a cover, so providing them with somewhere that is dark and hidden would be a great start for providing your rat with the best place for them to sleep.

rat sleeping on bed

Although this isn’t a necessity, removing all sources of artificial lighting is likely to help them sleep better. As rats like to sleep for upwards of 15 hours per day, it’s important they have a safe, dark, comfortable place where they are hidden away to rest.

Do Rats Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

When their environment is dark, it is quite common for rats to sleep with their eyes half or fully open.

When their environment is light they are more likely to close their eyes to stop the light from keeping them awake.

If you see your rat sleep with their eyes open, at first they may look like they are dead, but don’t worry they are most likely just sleeping. Check to see if they are breathing by observing their body.

Do Pet Rats Sleep Together?

Rats are very social animals and are normal for a pair of rats to cuddle up and sleep together.

It’s very adorable to watch. Rats prefer to sleep in dark hidden areas such as a hammock, or a small box.

If your rats aren’t sleeping together after getting to know each other don’t worry as this is quite common too. Just make sure they aren’t fighting and are getting along just fine. Each individual rat may have their own favorite place to sleep.

Are Pet Rats Noisy At Night?

Rats are nocturnal which means they are awake during the night time. They will be moving around their cage, drinking from their water bottles, eating, grooming each other, and climbing on their bars.

This behavior can make quite a lot of noise, so it is important not to keep their cage in your bedroom as they will likely keep you up a night.

Their cage should be in a room that is quiet and not too hot. A living room or spare room makes an ideal place for their cage.

Also, be sure to dive into my article “Best Rat Cage” for valuable insights into creating the perfect home for your pet rats.

Signs of Infestation

This article is written for both pet owners and homeowners that believe their home has been infested by rats.

If you hear animals running around in your attic, basement, or somewhere in your house. It can mean that your house has become infested with rats or there’s a nest nearby.

Many homeowners will mistake other animals for rats so it is important to do your research on the signs before you jump to a conclusion.

Here’s a list of common signs of infestation:

  • Rat Droppings – The most common sign are rat droppings. Rat droppings are small brown or black oval poop about the shape of a grain of rice. Mice and rat droppings look quite similar but rat droppings are slightly bigger. There are a lot of comparisons on google if you search for the differences.
  • Rub/Grease Marks – Rats like to urinate and it is quite common to signs of grease or markings on walls and furniture.
  • Gnaw Marks/Teeth Marks – Rats like to chew and will leave teeth marks and gnaw marks on wooden objects.
  • Rat Holes – Rats makes small holes in walls and skirting boards so that they can get through.
  • Rat Nests – They will make small nests out of small sticks or fiberglass.
  • Footprints – Rats footprints is another huge sign of a rat infestation.
  • Scratching Sounds – If you hear scratching or movement beneath your floorboards or attic then this a huge sign you have rats. Rats movements are heavier than mice.
  • Bad Smell – As rats leave a trail of urine and droppings then there is likely to be a trail of bad odor.

It is quite common for people to mistake rats for other rodents such as squirrels and mice, so it is important to know the differences.


Do pet rats sleep a lot?

a rat sleeping in a wild at morning

Pet rats sleep for up to 15 hours on average during the day and will only wake up to eat, drink or groom themselves.

When do rats sleep?

Rats are nocturnal and sleep on and off during the daytime.

Do rats come out during the day?

Rats aren’t known for being awake during the day. If you see a rat awake during the daytime, their nest has likely been disturbed, or they are hunting for food.

a rat is sleeping on the bad, are rats nocturnal

How long does your rat normally sleep? Please let us know in the comment section below!

Alina Hartley
Alina Hartley

Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
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