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

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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 take off.

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

So, if there is food for them, you can expect them to live with you. 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. 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 rats will leave without food at home, you may be wondering whether you can starve them out. Well, yes, you can, but it isn’t easy to do. You must know these little creatures are resourceful and will look for food 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:

  • Your yard or neighbor’s yard or house
  • Food crumbs or smaller portions in your home
  • Consume non-food items like linens, paper, and cardboard

How Long Can Rats Live Without Food?


If you ever face a rat infestation in your 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 live on minimal amounts of food. So, to get rid of them, completely deprive 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 if they fail to find food there, they can eventually die.

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. 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? Yes, they go out to hunt for food and bring it back to the house.

That said, the best way to get rid of them in the house is through rat poison or 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 messes, 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.

To learn more about house cleaning and rats, read our post – Can Clean Houses Get Rats?

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 during 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 infestations. 

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 may contain diseases. If you or a family member come in contact with these rat bodily functions, they may become very sick. 

To learn how to sanitize your home, read our article – The Fundamental Guide to Sanitize Your Home: Tips and Tricks

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, observe the behavior of the rats. If there is less or no activity from these little creatures your DIY efforts were successful. If you notice no change in their behavior, 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. If they have no access to water, they will leave or die sooner.

To know if the rats have left or are beginning to leave, listen for them and look for their droppings and messes. The lack of these will indicate they are gone or on their way.

To get rid of rats, follow our DIY guide above. If it 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.

Question: Have you ever had rats in your house? If so, how did you get rid of them?