How Long Do Rats Live Without Food? {Lifespan of Rats}

Have you trapped a rat and wish to starve it? This is a long, dragged out and risky way to kill a rat. How Long Do Rats Live Without Food?

What is the fastest way to get rid of a rat? Can you leave pet rats without food for a few days? Will rats go away, escape or attack if there is no food?

In this article, we will uncover a major answer to an important topic regarding, “How long do rats live without food?”

How Long Do Rats Live Without Food?

In 2 weeks, a rat will starve without food. They are intelligent and resilient rodents who store caches of food in cavity walls, in their enclosures or in the wild.

Rats can survive on the condensation from pipes in walls or the morning dew on leaves or grass in the wild. Even if you think there are no food sources available, you cannot be certain.

Rat poison, bait traps, mechanical trap and release systems or calling a professional expert to help you discover the severity of your rat infestation are better plans of action than trying to trap and starve rats.

Will Rats Go Away if No Food?

If there is no food available at all, a rat and its colony must move on. Thankfully for rats, and unfortunately for us, the priority of a rat is to find a safe and warm shelter first.

They can always forage for food and bring it back to their nest. If they have found an opening in our homes through cracks, gaps or unsealed entryways, they will surely venture out and bring food back to their nest.

There must be absolutely no chance for food or water in the surrounding radius of about 50-100 feet of this nest and the threat of potential predators to make rats go away.

How Long Can a Rat Live in a Wall?

Rats are crafty rodents that can find a way into your wall and live there for up to 2-3 years! This is because they have found an entryway that you may have overlooked.

  • Cavity walls
  • Gaps under baseboards
  • Burrowing under foundations

There are a few examples of how rats get into the walls and they can keep moving in and out when they need to. There will surely be an absence of food and water over time, but a rat can store food in caches in your walls.

This is where it gets nasty. The food that is stored can rot and decay. It can attract insects to it as well. You may get rid of rats on your own, but you can never be sure that you have found all the stored food within the walls where insects may have taken over.

When it comes to water, rats can live off the condensation from pipes during this time where they are living in your walls.

How Do You Know if Rats Are Gone?

It’s hard to tell if rats are gone and will not come back. It is up to you to deter them from coming back.

  • Rat poison
  • Peppermint oil
  • Ultrasonic sound rat and mouse repellent devices

These are three examples of deterrents, but you might need an expert to let you know if rats are a problem of the past.If you notice the following positive signs, you can feel more assured that rats are gone:

  • No more scurrying sounds in the walls or ceilings.
  • You don’t see rat droppings.
  • You don’t smell ammonia like scents that are indicative of rat urine.
  • Furniture or baseboards are not being gnawed on.
  • No holes are visible.
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How Long Do Rats Live Without Water?

Rats can absorb water from the food they eat. They do not need to search for a standing pool of water. They can also get water from condensation off pipes in and around your property.

After 1-2 days without any food containing water, no residue, condensation or dew from leaves or grass, then a rat will die from dehydration.

Rats can be dehydrated from eating bait traps that contain baking soda, boric acid, diatomaceous earth or even instant potato flakes.

How Long Do Rats Live After Eating Poison?

Lifespan of rats:

  • Rats can live for 2-3 years.
  • Pet rats can make it up to 5 years.

Rat poisons vary. They can kill rats within an hour to a day or two. The types of additives in ratio poison include:

  • Anti-coagulants
  • Bromethalin
  • Vitamin-based

Some will clot their blood, and others will dehydrate them. Rat poison that kills a rat faster in a hidden area will make it hard for you to get rid of the strong, pungent, decomposing body. You will need a pest control service to help you find and remove the body.

How Long Do Domestic Rats Live?

Do you want to know how long do pet rats live? Me too. I’m not a pet rat person, but I find it interesting that they can live longer in captivity than in the wild.

A pet rat can make it to 5 years of age when cared for properly. The problem with pet rats is that owners tend to overfeed them. Diabetes and obesity become major issues for these pets.

They can also develop tumors that aren’t the fault of owner, but rather due to their lineage and breeding processes before they are adopted.

How Long Do Wild Rats Live?

There are different species and environments where rats live and they definitely affect their lifespans.

Wild rat lifespans:

  • Black rat: 1 year
  • Brown rat: 2 years

On average, rats in the wild can live around 2-3 years, but there are many factors that lead to early death including:

  • Hunted by predators
  • Lack of food and water
  • Diseases
  • Temperatures too hot or too cold
  • Cannibalism

When times are tough, too many rats in the colony or lack of food can lead to rats killing or eating each other. Mother rats can eat their young if they feel like they can’t raise these pups.

The need for strength to continue breeding more offspring right away is another factor that makes mothers eat their young.

How Long Do Sewer Rats Live?

Sewer rats can live unseen for months or years. They can be found in plumbing systems, pipes, toilets and crawling in and out of manholes. Flushing a rat down the toilet won’t get rid of these pests. They will end up in the sewer systems and continue to multiply.

There is plenty of waste and water to survive. They will probably not survive as long as 2-3 years compared to rats in the wild because they have to surrender to the millions of bacteria surrounding them.

The worst-case scenario is that sewer rats finds their way into your house as they swims up and through your toilet. Keep the seat down!

Where Do Rats Go to Die?

Rats don’t go far from their nest when they die. They could die in your home. Rats don’t wish to live near dead rats and they will congregate to explore their options.

They may leave the nest with the dead rat, relocate it or eat it. Rats can die in your home in the following places:

  • Cavity walls
  • Under floorboards
  • In cupboards
  • Behind appliances
  • In attics and crawl spaces
  • Under foundations

How Do Rats Live Without Food and Water?

The truth is that a rat is finding a way to nourish itself without any actual food or water in the area. They are finding crafty ways to absorb water from the air, dew or condensation. They can access morsels, crumbs, waste or resort to cannibalism.

If there is even the smallest supply of food and water with the examples in this answer, they can survive for a month or longer. If there is absolutely nothing left to eat or soak up, rats will starve in 2-4 days.

Do Rats Drink Water?

Rats can easily drink from puddles, ponds, streams and creeks, but do rats need to drink water? The answer in most cases is no. The reason is because they can absorb water from the food they eat.

They can survive on condensation through pipes and from the misty dew in the mornings if they are outdoors. A blade of grass can contain enough water for a rat to absorb and live for another day.

Rats in enclosures are known to flip over bowls because they are not used to drinking this way. A small dish would suffice or a bottle off the side of the cage is even better.


Rats can survive for a few days without food and water if you have trapped it. You do not want this rat to struggle under a trap for this long. There are plenty of cases of rats escaping this way.

You can trap a rat in a closet and think that after 2-4 days, the rat is dead. You will be a victim of an attack where a rat bites you as soon as you open the door or they may have escaped.

Rats can chew their way out of traps, wood or even concrete in some cases. Trap and release or call a pest control service to take control of the situation before the infestation gets worse.

You also need to figure out if there are food caches stored in the walls to prevent insects from taking over well after the rats have been eliminated.


Thanks for visiting for the best information to help you to make the pest control process easy, safe & affordable.

Jason Barrett

Hello, I'm Jason. I have 11 years of experience in dealing with pests. I try to provide you the best information that'll help you to make the pest control process easy & affordable