The dreaded pitter-patter of rat paws across the floor or ceiling will make any homeowner cringe. Rats are troublesome pests that can squeeze into small spaces and remain stubbornly hidden for months. The good news is you can use something as simple as sounds and noises to keep rats away!
Rats are very wary of new, loud, and unfamiliar sounds. Things like stomping your feet, clapping your hands, yelling, loud machinery, banging pots and pans, noisemakers, and sounds from cats and dogs will scare rats away and prevent them from causing further damage to your home.
Below, we’ll go over all the sounds that will scare rats away, and we’ll also go over how to keep them away for good!
Is It Possible To Repel Rats With Sound?
Rats are an annoying pest to have in and around the home. They’re small enough to fit in unwanted places but big enough that they scare the heck out of you when you see them!
Any homeowner who has problems with rats is searching for a way to repel them. Can sound really keep rats away?
Sudden, loud, unfamiliar noises are an effective strategy to scare rats away. It appeals to a rat’s sense of danger, frightening them enough to make them scurry away.
While sound is effective, it has to be used correctly. We’ll go over all the sounds that scare rats away and how to use them appropriately so you can keep those pesky rodents away for good!
Why Do You Need To Scare Rats Away?
Having a wild animal in your home or on your property is enough reason to want to scare them away. However, rats tend to be more damaging than most pests.
One of the reasons rats are so damaging is that they can fit into such small spaces. They may be living in the attic, behind the walls, or above the ceiling without you ever knowing about it.
That is, until you find the tell-tale signs such as droppings, gnaw marks, or if you hear their tiny rat paws pattering around the house.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons you need to scare rats away.
Rats Gnaw On Wood And Cables
Rats are part of the rodent family; like most rodents, they have to gnaw on things to keep their teeth in good shape.
According to the University of Florida, rat teeth can grow up to 5 inches annually. To keep their teeth from growing too large, rats must chew on hard material to wear them down.
Unfortunately, this “hard material” might be something like:
- The siding of your house
- Electrical wires
- Cable wires
- Wood walls
- Plywood boards
- Door and window frames
It wouldn’t be bad if the damage was noticeable and easily fixable. The problem is that rats often hide in places where we can’t see the damage.
Rats Leave Droppings Everywhere
One of the most unsightly consequences of having rats in the home is the droppings they leave everywhere.
Rats will go to the bathroom anywhere. They occasionally have favorite “toilet” areas, but more often they will just go when they have to go.
This means they can leave droppings anywhere in your home including countertops, kitchen floors, tables, sinks, in the attic, behind walls, and above a drop ceiling.
Just like gnawing, the biggest problem arises when they leave droppings in places that you can’t access.
Rats Raid Your Food Stores
Rats can survive on as little as 1 ounce of food per day. That being said, they don’t want to! They’d rather feast on whatever they can find.
Two main species of rats infest homes–Norway rats and roof rats.
Norway rats prefer:
- Cereal grains
- Meat (including fish)
Roof rats prefer:
- Slugs and snails
These are the foods that rats prefer, but they aren’t above eating pet food, bread crumbs, or food scraps left in the garbage.
Rats will chew through bags, plastic, and paper to get to food. Proper storage is key to keeping rats from eating your food–but more on that later!
Rat Burrows Can Damage Foundations
Rats can still be a problem even if they’re not in the house. Rats that have made a home in your yard may become a nuisance if left unchecked.
Burrows can lead underneath foundations, sidewalks, and driveways, creating weaker soil below and undermining those areas.
Norway rats are usually responsible for burrows as roof rats typically do not burrow underground, preferring to live in trees or other uplifted areas.
Plenty of other burrowing animals can be responsible for damage to slabs and foundations. Look for these tell-tale signs of a Norway rat burrow:
- 3 inch opening
- Freshly dug dirt at opening
- Runways leading to burrow entry (looked for hardpacked ground)
If you see any of these in the yard, you are probably dealing with a Norway rat.
Why did they choose your property of all places? You can read more here in our article on why rats are in your yard.
8 Sounds You Can Use To Scare Rats
Now that we know having rats in and around the home is a big problem, let’s take a look at some solutions.
Noises are an easy, effective way to scare rats away. It’s cheap and has the added benefit of being humane–no need to mess with traps or unpleasant chemicals.
However, it’s worth noting that, like any animal, rats may adapt to the sound over time (a phenomenon called habituation.)
That’s why we’re giving you 8 different noises to use! Be sure to switch it up to keep rats on their toes!
Stomp Your Feet To Scare Rats
Stomping our feet at things we don’t like is just human nature. We do it with unwanted bugs and animals that get too close, so why not rats?
Luckily for us, rats are pretty easy to scare with unfamiliar, strange, or sudden loud noises.
A sudden, loud, STOMP of your foot will make both a noise and a vibration signal that will scare rats away.
Rats have poor vision, but they are very sensitive to touch and sound. If they not only hear a loud noise but also feel a heavy vibration in the ground (your boot stomping the floor), they are likely to scurry off as quick as their paws can take them.
Stomping your feet is an excellent tactic if you hear or see a rat. It’s not very effective to just stomp around the house as a rat will simply wait in a safe place until you stop. Stomping while rats are actively moving will help them associate your house with a loud, scary noise!
Yell At Rats To Scare Them Away
It may sound silly to yell at an animal that can’t understand you, but it’s not what you say that scares the rat away anyways, it’s the volume of your voice.
According to Purdue University, normal conversation is around 50 decibels. Yelling, on the other hand, pings the decibel level up to around 70-80 dB. This is certainly loud enough to startle a human, let alone a rat.
Yelling is another great technique to use if you hear or see a rat. The sudden loud noise will scare them away. The louder the yell, the more frightening it will be to a rat.
I can affirm that this one works on mice as well – having just yelled at a mouse in our basement pretty recently (what a fun time that ordeal was…)
Rats Are Scared Of Clapping
Go on and give your uninvited rat guest a round of applause! Seriously, it will help scare them away.
Clapping is a lot like a car backfiring or a firecracker. It’s sudden, loud, and sharp. This is the perfect combination to scare away those pesky rats.
Compared to yelling or stomping your feet, clapping is a little easier and has a more reliable noise than your boot or your voice.
Similar to yelling and stomping, clapping is a technique that is best used when you see or hear a rat.
It’s not a great passive deterrent as you probably don’t want to walk around your house and yard clapping all day!
The Sound Of A Machine Will Scare Rats
The sound of machinery is a nice passive way to scare rats away. Instead of relying on deterrents in the moment, you can use your regular yard maintenance days to keep rats away.
Some examples of machinery that will scare rats include:
- Wood chipper
- Weed trimmer
- Starting up a car
- Shop vacuum
Running the lawnmower once a week is a great way to deter rats from around the house. Keeping the grass trimmed will also allow natural predators to spot rats easier.
Use a weed trimmer around the foundation of the house to keep burrowing Norway rats from digging beneath your home.
Any loud machinery will scare rats. Try to avoid starting the machinery up every day, though, as rats will get used to the noise and stop being afraid of it.
For inside the home, you can fire up the vacuum cleaner now and then to scare rats.
Your Pet Can Help Scare Rats
We’ve all seen our favorite cat and mouse cartoon and know that cats and mice are mortal enemies. You can use this to your advantage if you have problems with rodents.
Both dogs and cats can help scare rats away by barking, hissing, meowing, whining, and growling.
Research published in Journal PLoS ONE found that when dogs and cats are teamed up together, they are even more effective at scaring rats away for good. Quite literally, the presence of dogs and cats deters rat activity!
Besides hearing cats and dogs, rats can also smell when cats and dogs are hanging around the house and yard. This provides an extra line of security against sneaky rodents like rats.
Scare Rats With Pots And Pans
One of the oldest tricks in the book is to use pots and pans to scare animals away. Just like when you were a kid pretending to be a professional drummer, use a wooden spoon (or even your hands) to bang on pots and pans.
The sound will be unfamiliar, sudden, and startling to a rat, causing it to scurry away from the kitchen or wherever it may be hiding.
Pots and pans are a good tactic to use if you see a rat in the kitchen or close by. It’s not a great passive sound to scare rats.
Ultrasonic Devices Will (potentially) Scare Rats When Used Correctly
There’s a lot of debate circles around ultrasonic devices. Do they work to repel animals or are they just a hoax?
The idea behind ultrasonic devices is that many animals can hear at a frequency far higher than humans. Ultrasonic devices hit that frequency, which can create an irritating sound only rodents can hear.
According to the book Rodent Pest Management, ultrasound devices are effective against rats, but only for a short time. They found that ultrasonic sound will repel rats for up to 3 hours.
We talked earlier about how rats can become habituated to noises after a while. The proper way to use ultrasonic devices is to switch them up with other scary sounds to keep rats away for good.
Ultrasonic devices may not repel rats long-term, but the point is that they might work. Personally, I don’t use them nor do I recommend them. But give a go if you want!
If you choose to use one, the correct way to use indoor ultrasonic devices is to plug them in when you hear or see a rat. Leave the device plugged in for up to 3 hours and then remove it from the wall. This way, rats do not become habituated to the noise.
This is assuming they work, of course.
The big debate—do ultrasonics work or not? Well, they might work for a few hours at best, but I’m not super confident in it.
Use Noisemakers To Scare Rats
As you can see, there’s a pattern to using sounds to scare rats. The noise needs to be unfamiliar, sudden, and loud.
You can use virtually anything to make this noise. Noisemakers, cowbells, hand clappers, kazoos, horns, whistlers, and clickers are all good tools to use against rats.
Think of the normal sounds of your house and try to aim for something that’s NOT normal. Get creative and use whatever you have on hand!
Other Ways To Keep Rats Out Of Your Home And Yard
Using scary sounds is a great way to keep rats out of the home and yard. It’s also humane and less messy than baits and traps.
However, if you want to keep rats away for good, there are a few modifications you’ll need to make to your yard and home.
If you need to get rid of rats ASAP, you can take a look at our piece on how to get rid of rats fast!
Make Your Yard Unattractive To Rats
Rats are a major prey animal of several different animals. Owls are one of their biggest predators, but cats, coyotes, and snakes also prey on rats.
To avoid these predators, rats look for places with good cover. Some of a rat’s favorite hiding places include:
- Beneath brush piles
- Under bushes
- In tall grass
- Behind, beneath, or in garbage bins
- In your home
Try to eliminate these hiding places in your yard wherever you can. Stack wood neatly, seal garbage bin lids, keep the grass mowed, trim the bottom of bushes, and eliminate unused materials in the yard.
If a rat can find food and cover in your yard, they’re going to stick around. By eliminating their hiding places and using sounds to scare them, you’re one step closer to a rat-free home!
In addition to hiding places, you can eliminate attractants like fruits and nuts by picking them up as soon as they fall off the tree.
This will help repel other nuisance animals as well. Yay!
You can read more about how rats get into your house in our article, if you’d like!
Don’t Feed Rats!
If you’ve ever seen signs that say “don’t feed the ducks” or “don’t feed the bears”, the same can be said about rats around the home.
You may not be purposefully feeding them, but there are plenty of ways that rats find food around the yard and in the home.
- Pet food: Dogs and cats may help to repel rats, but their food will attract them. Keep pet food areas clean and if possible pick pet food up at night when rats are most active.
- Garbage: The garbage bins you store outside will attract rats, along with a host of other animals. Keep your garbage secure with bungee cords or a lid lock such as Blazer Brand’s Strong Strap Stretch Latch which doesn’t require any tools to install. You can also use certain scents that rats hate to help mask the smell.
- Kitchen food: Keep bread in a rat-proof container. Clean up any spilled food or liquids. Do not leave fruit out in the open.
Seal Up Your Home
Scaring rats away is great and all, but over time, the rats are going to return to your home unless you seal up the ways they are getting inside.
Rats can find their way into your home in several different ways:
- Broken screens on windows
- Plumbing (Yep, rats can swim)
- Openings where pipes and electrical lines run outside
- Holes in siding
- Loose or broken roofing tiles
- Gaps under doorways
- Heating ducts
Make sure to check these areas thoroughly for any gaps ½ inch or larger. Repair broken screens, seal holes or gaps, fix damaged siding, replace roofing tiles, and seal the gaps in door and window frames.
Don’t leave any potential entry points! You can read more about all the ways that rats get into your house here.
That’s A Wrap!
It’s never fun having a problem animal around the house. Rats are especially pesky due to their ability to climb behind walls and get into small spaces that we can’t reach.
Luckily, there are easy and humane ways to get rid of these sneaky rodents without having to worry about traps or baits. One of the easiest tools is to use sounds that scare rats.
Now, for a quick recap.
The noises that rats hate include:
- Stomping feet
- Pet sounds—dog and/or cat
- Pots and pans
- Ultrasonic sounds
The most effective way to use noise to scare rats is to switch up the sounds often. Using the same noise over and over will habituate the rat to the noise and it will no longer be frightened of it.
To make sure that rats do not return to your home once they scurry away, seal up any entryways where they might be squeezing in and modify your yard to make it less attractive to rats.
If you can’t seem to get rid of your uninvited guest, you can always reach out to a professional for advice. Our nationwide pest control finder can get you in contact with a professional near you.
If you’d like to learn more about where rats are most likely to be, take a peak at our article on where rats go during the day!
Lambert, M. S., Quy, R. J., Smith, R. H., & Cowan, D. P. (2008, October 21). The effect of habitat management on home-range size and survival of rural Norway rat populations. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45(6), 1753-1761. https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2008.01543.x
M. A. M. Fisol and W. M. Jubadi, “Ultrasonic and infrared repelling device for controlling the population of rat in paddy field,” 2010 IEEE Asia Pacific Conference on Circuits and Systems, 2010, pp. 359-361, doi: 10.1109/APCCAS.2010.5774839.
Mahlaba, A. M., Monadjem, A., McCleery, R., & Belmain, S. R. (2017). Domestic cats and dogs create a landscape of fear for pest rodents around rural homesteads. PLOS ONE, 12(2), e0171593. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171593
Shumake, S. A., Sterner, R. T., & Gaddis, S. E. (2000, April). Repellents To Reduce Cable Gnawing By Wild Norway Rats. Journal of Wildlife Management, 64(4), 100-103. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/icwdm_usdanwrc/838/
Ultrasound Devices. (2018). In I. Prakash (Ed.), Rodent Pest Management (1st ed., p. 3). Taylor & Francis Group.