The Rats’ Dilemma: Will They Stay or Leave if the Food Runs Out?

Sharing is caring!

Home » Blog » Home Safety & Cleaning » The Rats’ Dilemma: Will They Stay or Leave if the Food Runs Out?

Will rats leave if there is no food? Will rats leave a clean house? Good news! The answer to the first question is yes. But, even if your home is clean, they won’t leave.

Rats live rent-free because they want food, shelter, and a place to give birth. However, food is the main reason they stay.

So, if there is food for them, you can expect them to live with you. The cleanliness of your house is not the reason for them leaving. It is true, though, that rats will leave the house if no food is accessible. 

But before they leave your house for good, they will check everywhere and ensure that nothing is available to them. They can stay in your home for up to a week before they finally leave you alone. 

So, how do you continuously deprive them of food. In this article, we will discuss what to do to starve them and how they will react.

Can You Starve Rats Out?

Now that you know that rats will leave without food at home, you may be wonder whether you can starve them out. Well, yes, you can, but it isn’t easy to do. You must know that these little creatures are resourceful and can find food almost anywhere in your house.

If you are eager to starve rats, clean your house and remove all accessible food. However, they may eventually leave your home to find another food source to bring back. They may also find food from the following:

  • Yard or neighbor’s house
  • Food crumbs or smaller portions they can find at home.
  • Consume non-food items like linens, paper, and cardboard

How Long Can Rats Live Without Food?


If you ever face rat infestation in the house, denying them access to food is one of the best ways to eliminate them. It will only take 4 to 5 days for these pests to die of starvation. 

Rats need to eat frequently, but they can also live even with minimal food. So, make sure that you have deprived them of food for them to die or leave your home. 

However, rats will not wait until they die from starvation. They will move on to a new spot to find food, but they will eventually die if they fail on their hunt. 

Will Rats Leave If There Is No Food or Water?

Rats can die quickly from dehydration rather than starvation. You can expect them to die within three days without water.

However, this is different for all rats. On average, a healthy adult rat only needs about 10 millimeters of water per 100 grams of body weight. This is because these pests can reuse the water within their bodies.

What Do Rats Eat If There is No Food?

Well, rats love our food. But do you ever wonder what will happen when no food is in the house?

Don’t worry; they will not throw a tantrum in front of you. Rats are wiser and more resourceful on the days they are forced to survive without human food.

They can eat composting piles, rotten food in the trash bin and streets, animal carcasses, and sneak into the garden or farm for fruits and vegetables. They can even eat leeches and other insects, too. So, it’s not easy to eliminate them in your house through dehydration and starvation.

If you’re wondering, do rats come out during the day? Well, yes, they do go out to hunt for food and brink it back to the house.

That said, the best way to get rid of them in the house is through rat poison or through the help of a professional pest control service. This is not required, but professionals are experts in handling pest infestation.

How Do You Know If Rats Are Gone in the House?

There are ways you can tell that the rats are gone in your house. For instance, when rats are around, you can hear rat movement when they are nesting.

They make tiny noises, especially when rats have new babies. These noises will be gone if they finally leave your house.

Rats also leave their feces around the house. Once they are gone, you won’t smell or see these nasty droppings.

Moreover, rats make a lot of mess, so look for little smudges or nesting items like torn clothes, shredded paper, or stolen socks lying around. If you don’t find any of these the rats may be gone.

Will Rats Leave a Clean House?

Generally, rats don’t care if the house is clean. They won’t leave just because it is clean.

So, if you ask yourself, “Why do I have rats in my clean house?” there is probably food in your home, or they are probably comfortable and warm using your home as a shelter. As previously mentioned, rats invade the house for food, shelter, and to give birth.

Rats are always on a relentless search for food and warmth. Hence, clean houses are not exempted from rat infestation, especially if your home has a reliable food source.

How Long Do Rats Live?

The average life expectancy of wild rats is less than a year. Their lifespan may be short, but this also means they can produce more rats within the time they live. So in cases of infestation, you shouldn’t wait until they die because that is not how you can solve rat infestation. 

How to Get Rid of Rats in the House?


How to kill rats in the house, you ask? Here’s a step-by-step DIY hack you can implement in your home. 

Inspect for the Presence of Rats and Seal Entry Points 

Rats tend to live in dark and hidden areas of the house, like the attic, crawl spaces, and wall voids. Inspect these areas carefully, as you will most likely see them there. You can also trace the areas they used to get inside the house, and seal these entry point areas to stop them from entering your home.

Eliminate Sources of Shelter and Food

While rats don’t leave houses because they are clean, you may want to sanitize your home to eliminate potential shelter, food sources, and diseases. Sanitation is one of the most effective ways to control them.

If you don’t sanitize your house, your rat control efforts will be a waste, and your home and family may be in danger due to their urine and feces carry diseases. If you or a family member come in contact with these rat bodily functions, they may become very sick. 

Set Rat Traps

Now that you have sealed entry points in the previous steps, it’s time to eliminate existing rats by trapping them. There are various rat traps to choose from, and they all work to trap these pests.

Observe for Reduced Rat Activity

After several weeks of trying this hack, keep an eye out and observe if there is less or no activity from these little creatures. However, if your DIY efforts were unsuccessful, you might need a professional exterminator for your home.


Remember that rats will leave your home if there is no food. However, it’s also important to consider that they eat other non-food items like paper, cloth, and whatnot. They can even eat worms, insects, and plants in the garden.

So even if you clean the house, don’t expect them to leave as there might have been a good food source to keep them there. But just because there is no food to enjoy, doesn’t mean you can get rid of them by starvation. They may eat food outside but continue returning to your home because they find shelter in it.

If starving the rats doesn’t work, call a professional exterminator to resolve your rat infestation problem.

Maybe you’re having a mice problem not a rat problem? Read our article – Does Baking Soda Kill Mice? to learn how to get rid of them.