Can Rats Climb Walls | Effective Ways to Prevent Them

Rats are preceded by their reputation of being carriers of disease and home invaders feeding on scraps they find in the trash. Since this is largely true, everyone wants to minimize the chance of finding these rodents in their home.

Unfortunately, rats are very dexterous and agile, and many people learn the answer to the question ‘can rats climb walls’ question the hard way. Although they’re very capable, there are ways to keep rats at bay.

Read on to learn how to keep rats away.

Where Are Rats Capable of Climbing?

Rats are highly adaptable, and they can invade more or less any manmade area. They’re often found in the sewers, which they sometimes use to move around, often ending up in someone’s home.

To get into your home, a rat will most likely have to climb over a fence or a wall, and unfortunately – that’s not a problem for them.

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Smooth Surfaces

Rats can face difficulty climbing smooth surfaces because there isn’t an obvious crevice or a bump they can grab, however, they can overcome this if they try hard enough.

These rodents have adaptations made precisely for climbing (in fact, all rodents are great climbers, with squirrels being the best climbing rodent species). These adaptations include sharp nails and padded paws, allowing them to stick their nails on the surface of a smooth wall.

Another advantage they have is their heavy, long tail, which they use as a counterweight when they have to balance narrow surfaces. Rats are capable of crossing telephone and electric lines with ease. If necessary, they’ll use the tail as a fifth limb, although it doesn’t have the same grip as their paws.

Although they’ll climb quicker and more easily if the surface has ridges and crevices, they’ll most definitely find their way around a smooth wall.

Rough Surfaces

Rough surfaces are much easier to climb than smooth surfaces simply because the rat has something to grab on to. For example, wooden walls on cabins are very easy to climb for a rat.

rat on a wall

Brick Walls

If brick remains exposed, the crevices and irregularities between each brick make it as easy to climb as wooden walls. This benefits rats because they have something to grab onto.


Rooftops are easy to walk on and everyone can do it. Although they likely can’t damage your rooftop, a rat can find an entry point to your attic and invade your home through the rooftop.

The more difficult part is actually getting to the rooftop!


The gutter is a great way for rats to get on to and move around the roof. They sometimes find bird eggs and other food in this vicinity, which is why rats are often seen here.

Rats often invade ground gutters and outflows of water too. In fact, they can get into underground gutters and follow the trail to invade a home if no protection is installed. This is why most sewer pipe access and entry points are covered in mesh or wiring to make sure rats don’t get in.


Although a drainpipe is a smooth metal tube, and many people don’t believe that rats can use it as a climbing path – the truth is actually the opposite. Rats often climb the wall and press their backs against a drainpipe to support their weight.

It’s likely that a rat could climb the drainpipe from the inside if it had to but using it for stability is much easier.


Not only do trees provide rats with a rough surface for them to climb on, but they’re rarely completely vertical. House walls and fences are usually completely vertical at 90°, while trees are at least somewhat angled.

rat in a tree

If you have a tree right next to your roof, or where its branches overhang sufficiently to reach the external walls of your home, a rat will likely use it to get to your roof. 

They’ll climb on a branch very close to the roof and just jump over. These animals can jump unusually far, up to 4 feet!

On top of that – they’re not afraid of heights as they can survive falls from up to 50 feet (and possibly more). This makes trees the easiest way for rats to get to your roof or a balcony.


Rats can climb fences as easily as they can climb walls. If you have an iron fence, a rat will be able to just walk through it. 

The most effective fences to prevent rat access are completely flat and smooth-surfaced. Unless they’re short (in which case they can jump over), rats won’t be able to hang onto anything to climb over. Electric fences are even more effective as they electrocute them.

How to Stop Rats from Climbing Your Walls

Despite their agility and climbing abilities, there are still ways to stop rats from climbing your walls.

Install Wall Guards

Wall guards are very effective because of their smoothness. Some people install guards on both walls and trees. These handy devices are basically sheets of metal, usually very long (otherwise a rat would just jump over) and they disallow the rat from climbing over.

Since the guards are so smooth, the rat can’t climb on them, and they can’t make a hole with their nails either because the guard is made from metal.

A proper metal guard should be placed at least 36 inches above the ground (otherwise the rat can jump over) and it should be at least 12 inches wide.

You can also use wall guards to close any openings and prevent rats from invading your home through them.

Wrap Electrical Cables with Rodent Repellent Tape

Rodent tape is usually made with capsaicin, which is found in chili peppers. It’s difficult to chew through even without capsaicin because of its hardiness, but the spiciness makes it a good deterrent for rats, and they will just give up.

Because rats are intelligent creatures (contrary to popular belief) and they quickly pick up patterns, they’re going to learn not to try biting electrical cables once they get burned.

Seal Gaps Around Heating and Water Pipes

Rat infestations are more common in the winter because the animals want to stay warm. Because of this, they’re naturally attracted to heating pipes that can provide them with more than enough warmth throughout the winter.

The same rule applies to water pipes, which is why it’s imperative to seal those gaps. Aside from staying warm, they’ll use the pipes to shelter them from the elements.

The question of ‘can rats climb walls’ isn’t the only important question when it comes to infestations, as rats can get into your home through water pipes too. They’re great swimmers and if there’s a hole in the pipe, they’ll use it to swim into your toilet and get in your house.

Secure Gaps Below External Buildings

Rats can burrow themselves at least 36 inches into the ground! This means that they can dig beneath any building with foundations shallower than this. If there are gaps between the exterior wall and the foundation (which many buildings have), a rat will most definitely use that gap to get into your home.

Even though rats can crawl through 36 inches of soil, you can set up a mesh when you’re setting up your foundations or simply pour very deep foundations to avoid this.

Repair or Replace Damaged Drain Covers

Drain covers are there to minimize the amount of trash and debris getting into the sewers. Additionally, the covers stop rats from getting into the sewers. However, if a cover has a gaping hole in it – a rat will most definitely get in.

They can’t bite through metal (although aluminum is an exception!), but they can crawl inside a hole as narrow as 1.5 inches! Replace damaged drain covers immediately to make sure they don’t get in the water system.

Repair or Replace Protection for Ventilation Bricks

Rats can chew through brick and concrete, and ventilation bricks are an easy target for them. Because of this, many homeowners place ventilation brick protection, which is usually a metal plate.

This will fully protect the ventilation brick from rats, but if it gets broken, they’ll gnaw at the brick and get through it with ease! Ventilation brick protection needs replacing as soon as it’s cracked.

Cut Back Trees & Climbers That Reach Roof Level

I’ve already mentioned that one of the easiest ways to enter the home is through the attic – the easiest way to enter the attic is through the roof, and the easiest way to get to the roof is by jumping off a tree or climbing along overhanging branches.

Trees are probably the easiest surface for rats to climb because they’re; a) not completely vertical, and b) wood is a very rough surface with plenty of crevices and ridges to grab.

To prevent this from happening, cut back any branches that are close to the roof. Since rats can jump up to 4 feet in distance, make sure to cut them back enough!

How to Avoid A Rat Infestation on Your Property

There are a number of ways that you can prevent rates from being attracted into your backyard. Most of them are pretty obvious and they all relate to food or shelter. So here are a few things you can do to prevent a rat infestation.

rat getting through hole

Fix External Holes & Gaps

Simply put, if there’s a hole in a wall or a fence, rats will be able to pass through. It needs to be just an inch and a half wide for them to squeeze, while anything wider than that is more than enough room for rats to pass.

Patch these holes up as quickly as possible to stop rats from passing through.

Secure Bin & Composter Lids

Just like raccoons rats are attracted to trash bins and composters because of the food inside (man’s trash is a rat’s treasure). These rodents are more than strong enough to open a lid of a bin and get inside to wreak havoc (not to mention that they can chew through plastic).

There are bin locks you can find in every hardware store that make it impossible for rats to open them and that’s the best solution for this problem.

Locate Compost Bins Appropriately

Keeping your bins in the yard leaves them wide open for rats. However, keeping them in a small shed (assuming the shed is properly secured) will prevent rats from ever coming in contact with the bins.

Cut Back Overgrown Areas Regularly

Rats won’t nest in an area that isn’t suitable for them, and overgrown yards are definitely suitable! 

Additionally, you should keep your yard tidy in other aspects, as rats find piles of wood and even compost heaps great for nesting.

Don’t Throw Food Waste into Your Yard

Food attracts rats and throwing it out in the yard instead of a disposal bin is a 100% certain way of attracting rats and other vermin. Throw your leftovers in the bin instead.

Don’t Leave Food on Bird Tables

Rats will eat literally anything that isn’t poisonous (to their knowledge) or spicy – this is why bird feeders often turn into rat feeders. They’ll gladly eat seeds, nuts, and fruits, so it’s best to throw all leftovers from bird feed away regularly.

When you’re choosing a bird feeder, it’s smart to choose a feeder on a tall, smooth metal pole, as rats likely won’t be able to get to the bird feeder.

Don’t Leave Food on Bird Tables

The same goes for organic products that smell such as fishmeal or blood meal fertilizers, which will attract rats as well as the attention of other wild animals.

Fill Your Garden With Smells That Rats Dislike

Rats are naturally thrown off by predators (snakes, birds, dogs, cats, people, etc.) and foul or aromatic smells. Some smells, like the smell of eucalyptus, are naturally deterring for rats.

They also dislike menthol, peppermint, and chili powder. Many rat repellents made for yard usage utilize these smells to keep rats at bay – they won’t approach a yard that smells like a chili pepper.

Verdict: Can Rats Climb Walls

Rats are great climbers and generally very dexterous animals that can invade almost any area. They’re naturally attracted to our homes because they contain enticing treats that rats would gladly feed on.

However, you can keep them at bay by patching up any holes and obvious pathways through walls and fences, as well as keeping your yard and bins tidy. Additionally, rats are afraid of dogs and cats and they’re less likely to invade a home with a pet in the yard.