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do rats talk to each other?

How Do Rats Communicate With Each Other?

Rats make various noises when they’re happy, angry, frightened, stressed, or nervous. They also grind their teeth and use pheromones to communicate their displeasure or mark their territory.

When a rat is in danger, it’ll make noises to warn other rats of the looming threat.

Rats communicate with each other through sounds and body language. Since they can’t talk, they squeak, squeal, scream, and hiss to express their emotions.

Rats use high-frequency ultrasonic sounds to communicate, and they also use urine and different scents to communicate with other rats.

Rats usually make these noises at night because this is when they’re most actively scavenging for food. They may also wag or wriggle their tail to indicate happiness or anger.

Do Rats Talk To Each Other?

Rats talk to each other using different sounds and body language.

They squeak, squeal, scream, hiss, and grunt to express their emotions. Rats also communicate by grooming each other and grinding their teeth.

According to the Case Western Reserve University, rats can communicate through sniffing. They use their olfactory senses to learn about each other through the scents from their counterparts left by feces and urine.

Rats secrete pheromones to pass messages to other rats in the same colony. They can easily pick up on these scents from a great distance, making communication easy.

Things that rats indicate with pheromones include:

  • Nearby danger.
  • Food sources.
  • Territories.

Since rats are territorial animals, they tend to be more aggressive toward each other.

They usually communicate and mark their dominance through physical battles. Most rats talk to each other and establish their territories through physical communication.

What Noises Do Rats Make To Communicate?

While pheromones reign supreme, rats also communicate using sounds and noises.

Below is an overview of various communication sounds produced by rats:


Squeaking is the most common rat vocalization.

Rats may make a short or long squeak, depending on the situation. Short squeaks signify fear, so rats may squeak when cornered or frightened. They may also make short squeaks when interacting and grooming each other.

Long squeaks are a sign of pain, stress, or discomfort. Rats produce long squeaks when fighting or protesting. They may also make long squeaks when annoyed or to get other rats to back off.

A submissive rat will squeak to indicate submission to the dominant rat.


Rats make screaming noises in various situations, but the most common reason rats scream is fear. A rat will scream when cornered by a predator because it’s unsure how to escape the situation.

When confronted by an adult rat, a young rat may scream as a sign of disapproval or submission. This mainly occurs because they have yet to learn hierarchy and develop social skills.

Before then, a young rat will likely scream when it encounters a strange adult rat in its nest.

rat communication sounds


A rat will squeal to warn other rats of looming danger.

When faced with a risky or life-threatening situation, rats make a sharp, shrill noise. They may also squeal when distressed or feeling trapped.

According to the University of Southern California, most rats squeal due to heightened aggression caused by high testosterone levels.

They produce these sounds to warn others from coming closer. Rat squeals are similar to the sound made by a fearful pig. However, the noise is not as long and may not be audible to humans.


Illnesses or allergies may cause sneezing, but most causes are non-threatening.

A rat may develop allergies to different scents in its environment and sneeze when sick from respiratory distress. Nevertheless, sneezing in rats isn’t common, so you may not notice it. Also, it doesn’t sound the same as human sneezing.


Bruxing refers to the grinding of teeth. Rats clench or grind their teeth when stressed or relaxed.

Rats also grind their teeth to keep them at the right length. Rats’ teeth constantly grow, so it wears them down by clenching and grinding them.

Likewise, teeth grinding keeps the biting surface in the correct shape and at an appropriate sharpness. During this process, the rat produces various noises, such as clicking and squeaking.


Rats hiss to show aggression against other rats, particularly intruders in their nests.

A mother rat will hiss when a strange rat approaches her babies. A male rat can hiss when encountering another strange male in its colony, accompanying these sounds with aggressive posturing and tail wagging.

A hissing rat can be dangerous and may attack when cornered. You should never attempt to get rid of the rat without protective gear. Call professional pest control to eliminate stubborn rats from your home.


Rats communicate their annoyance at something by huffing.

A rat will huff and make a grumpy noise to tell other rats to keep away. It essentially means the rat wants to be alone, and any interaction will be met with aggression.

Huffing may also be accompanied by other forms of communication, like sniffing and whisking. According to a Current Opinion of Neurobiology, rats huff and whisk to explore new environments.

Dominant rats usually huff to assert their authority, while submissive rats do the same to prevent aggression and appease superior rats.

Piping or Peeping

A rat will peep or pip when groomed by another rat. Sometimes, a rat may pip for no apparent reason, but it is usually a sign of submission or happiness.

Piping is usually associated with good sensations. Mother rats usually groom their babies as a way of bonding with them, while the baby rats will respond by producing short squeaks and pips.

Adult rats often groom each other for friendship and social interaction. They usually react by producing short squeaks to indicate they enjoy the grooming activity.


Grunting noises may be a sign of respiratory illness. However, most rats grunt when in pain, indicating distress or uneasiness. A rat may grunt or hoot when a new rat intrudes into its territory.

They may also grunt when they feel trapped or confined and can’t escape. Grunting is also a common way for them to express their emotions about a stressful situation to other members of their pack.

Rat Body Language

Rats communicate through body language in addition to verbal expressions. They are social animals that communicate and show affection by licking and grooming each other.

Females on heat communicate by flapping their ears rapidly, while males respond by chasing after them and trying to mount them. Alphas display their dominance by grooming submissive rats aggressively.

Other ways rats communicate using body language include:

Tail Wagging

Rats wag their tails when happy. A rat may also wriggle or wag its tail when angry or annoyed at something or another rat. Tail movements in rats may even be a sign of fear and resentment.

Standing On Hind Legs

A rat will stand on its hind legs when spoiling for a fight, as it’s a sign of aggression against other rats or potential predators. A rat may also stand on its hind legs if scared, combining this with screaming or squeaking.

Sniffing The Air

Rats sniff the air out of curiosity or to explore new environments. They have poor vision, but their excellent olfactory system makes up for this shortcoming.

Twitching Of Ears

Twitching of the ears is a sign of fear or apprehension. A rat will twitch its ears back and forth to indicate fear. This may happen when a submissive rat encounters a dominant rat.

Rats mainly communicate through pheromones and vocalizations, but body language plays a valuable role in their communication. Most cues aren’t detectable by humans, giving them a rich inner social life.