Rats are land mammals, but they can swim. You may have heard stories of rats climbing up sewer drains by paddling through the water. Perhaps you’ve found rats walking around your pool or pond.
Rats are good swimmers due to the design of their lungs, rib cages, and feet. They can tread water for 3 days and travel over 1 mile as they swim.
They have a rotating limb cycle that allows them to tread water efficiently. Although wild rats don’t swim for enjoyment, brown rats forage near water bodies.
Roof rats are less likely to swim since they prefer to make their nests away from water. However, rats of every kind may be drawn to your pond, pool, or sewers.
Rats can adapt to saltwater in seas and climb toilets if not fitted with a non-return valve.
According to the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, brown rats can swim up to a mile. Rats can even swim against strong currents when the need arises.
Rats have many physical advantages that make them exceptional swimmers, including:
Rats can hold their breath underwater for up to 3 minutes.
This allows them to cover long distances when swimming underwater. They don’t need to frequently come up for air, which improves their speed, maneuverability, and ability to avoid predators.
Rats have small, padded feet that can paddle through the water quickly.
This provides them with the propulsion they need to wade through flowing water and still water alike. They burn less energy doing so, allowing them to cover wide distances.
Rats have flexible bodies that squeeze through tight spaces, such as drain pipes.
As long as a rat’s head can fit inside a pipe opening, it’ll swim through with little difficulty. A collapsible rib cage allows the rat to hold its breath and swim in cramped spaces without drowning.
Do Wild Rats Like Swimming?
Wild rats don’t swim for fun, but brown rats (Norwegian rats) like water more than roof rats.
Wild rats swim to find good shelters, escape predators, and get food. Usually, rats swim to reach a new spot when water is a barrier to entry.
Are Rats Scared of Water?
Given that rats are such good swimmers, they’re unafraid of drowning in deep water.
Most rats are native to environments where water bodies provide the main food source. For example, Norway rats often hunt for small fish and birds in the water.
How Long Can a Rat Swim in Water?
Rats can swim or wade through water for up to 3 days without drowning. They can also hold their breath underwater for up to 3 minutes.
This allows them to swim long distances, even in rapid-flowing currents.
Rats can swim underwater as they have padded feet and can hold their breath.
Brown rats are more adept at swimming underwater than black rats by virtue of their natural habitat.
Rats can swim distances of up to 1 mile in open waters. They may reach greater distances in crowded sewers as there are ample spots to take breaks.
How Long Can Rats Swim Underwater?
A rat will begin to drown from oxygen deprivation if it’s been underwater for more than 3 minutes.
However, according to Frontiers in Physiology, rats alter their swimming force and paddling rate. This allows them to conserve energy and avoid drowning.
Their swimming ability allows rats to travel from the city sewer to individual sewer pipes, emerging in toilet bowls inside people’s homes.
Can Rats Drown in Water?
Although rats are skilled swimmers, they can drown in water, just like most terrestrial mammals.
Rats can only hold their breath underwater for 3 minutes at a time. So, a rat would drown underwater after that point unless it comes up for more air.
Can Rats Jump Out of Water?
Rats can jump up to heights of up to 36 inches.
If a rat manages to swim through a sewer to your toilet bowl, it can leap out of the toilet water. Likewise, rats can jump from shallow pools and ponds with low water levels.
Rats can swim in oceans for up to half a mile.
Moreover, most rats found around the shores of oceans have developed adaptive mechanisms to help them tolerate salty water. This means the chances of dying from salt poisoning are low.
Rats have been known to wade through water for up to 3 days without drowning.
Can Rats Swim in a Pool?
Rats will swim in a pool if the need arises.
They may be knocked into the pool by accident or swim across it to reach something floating in the center. The chlorine will be unpleasant, but it won’t kill or drive off the rat.
Swimming pools attract rats. After all, they have a large supply of drinking water. Furthermore, swimming pool areas have comfortable hiding spots that rats can utilize.
Rats will nest inside pool equipment such as water pumps and heaters and in bushes and plants around the pool area.
Rats can swim through sewers and make their way up toilet bowls. Rats have highly compressible rib cages that enable them to squeeze through tight spaces.
This adaptation, coupled with their ability to hold their breath for several minutes, enables them to swim through thin sewer pipes.
Most toilets are designed with a curvy pipe that connects the bowl to the sewer system. The bend of the pipe is meant to block smell from the sewer.
However, its design creates air pockets that allow rats to breathe as they swim up the toilet.
Non-return valves are stainless steel flaps that are attached inside sewer drains. They work by allowing water and waste materials from your toilet to flow in one direction.
Installing non-return valves in your drain pipes can block sewer rats from reaching a toilet bowl.