Rats have exceptional hearing, which allows them to communicate at ranges humans can’t detect. They can hear ultrasonic frequencies, which is any frequency above 20 kHz (Kilohertz) or 20,000Hz.
The frequency range of a rat’s hearing is between 250 Hz to 80 kHz, while human ears can only detect frequencies between 20 Hz and 20 kHz. A rat can pick up on sounds that a human can’t.
The sound of rubbing your fingers together is so high-pitched to the point of being imperceptible to human ears. Rats can detect these high frequencies since it’s within their ultrasonic range of hearing.
Aside from hearing ultrasound, rats are also able to communicate at high frequencies.
Do Rats Have Sensitive Hearing?
Here are the frequency ranges for different mammals:
- Rats – 250 Hz to 80 kHz
- Humans – 20 Hz to 20 kHz
- Cats – 45 Hz to 64 kHz
- Dogs – 67 Hz to 45 kHz
- Cows – 23 Hz to 35 kHz
Hearing sensitivity is a liability when encountering harmless but high-pitched sounds.
Rats can be more distressed than humans by certain noises. The sound of crinkling aluminum foil is negligible to humans but can be upsetting to rats.
Rats can communicate by emitting high-pitched vocalizations that only other rats can detect.
For example, when a rat is stressed due to pain, it can produce high frequencies of up to 20 kHz. Similarly, infant rats emit distress calls of 30 kHz to 50 kHz to elicit maternal care.
Can Rats Hear Human Voices?
Rats can hear human voices since they fall within average hearing frequencies. The human voice has a range of about 125 Hz to 8 kHz, which is well within the rat’s hearing frequency.
Can Rats Hear Ultrasonic Sound?
Rats can hear ultrasonic sounds, which refers to any frequencies above 20 kHz.
Rats can communicate in ultrasonic frequencies. They’re capable of producing high-pitched squeaks of up to 50 kHz when threatened by predators, and infant rats make high-pitched calls to their mothers.
Several other mammals can hear and communicate through ultrasonic frequencies, including:
- Bats – 2 kHz to 110 kHz
- Dolphins – 75 Hz to 150 kHz
- Moths – up to 350 kHz
What Frequency Can Rats Hear?
According to the Journal of Comprehensive Physiology And Neurological Senses, rats can hear frequencies ranging between 250 Hz and 80 kHz.
The greatest hearing sensitivity in rats occurs between 8 kHz and 38 kHz.
Why Can Rats Hear Higher Frequencies?
Rats can detect a wider range of sounds as an evolutionary adaptation. It allows them to identify dangers in their environment, but we need to consider the anatomy of their ears to understand why.
Their auditory system is comprised of the cochlea, middle ear, and ossicles. However, unlike humans, who develop the cochlea in the womb, the cochlea in rats’ ears matures during the first 2 weeks after birth.
However, this doesn’t mean that young rats are incapable of hearing.
According to The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, objective measures of hearing, such as the auditory brainstem response (ABR), can be detected in rats as early as 12 weeks after birth.
Rats start picking up sound frequencies through their auditory brainstem as early as 12 days after birth, which is long before the cochlea has fully developed.
Does Hearing in Rats Change Overtime?
The capacity of hearing in rats tends to slowly decline with age.
Rats that are only a few weeks old have a higher sensitive auditory system than older rats. Consequently, rats over a year old have a lower sensitivity to sound frequencies.
How Far Can Rats Hear?
It’s unknown exactly how far rats can hear, but we know they possess a sensitive auditory system that can pick up a wide range of frequencies.
Many things determine what sounds a rat can hear, including the following:
The louder a sound is, the easier it is for a rat’s ears to detect it.
Since rats have sensitive hearing, loud and high-pitched noises can frighten them. However, quiet sounds, especially from long distances, may be inaudible to rats.
A rat’s ability to hear a particular sound can be determined by whether there are any obstructions. So, it might not hear a high-pitched sound if a wall or tree is blocking it.
What Frequencies Do Rats Hate?
Ultrasound frequencies are unpleasant to rats and are effective at deterring them.
Ultrasonic rodent repellents produce sounds that are high-pitched enough to drive rodents away. While these frequencies aren’t perceptible to humans, rats find them terrifying.
Due to their sensitive hearing, rats are scared by the crinkling noise that aluminum foil makes when touched. This is why aluminum foil is often recommended as a deterrent against rats.
However, while the crinkling sound can deter rats in the beginning when they’re introduced to it, their ears adjust over time as they grow familiar with the sound.
This means after a period of time, rats that are exposed to the sound of aluminum foil will get used to it.
Rats are sensitive to the high-pitched sounds made by other rats. So, rats use high-frequency squeaks to communicate with their young ones.
Rats also produce high-pitched hisses and other sounds when scared to signal danger to other rats.
What Are Some Sounds Only Rats Can Hear?
Rats can detect frequencies that are within the human range, as well as ultrasonic frequencies that humans can’t perceive.
Ultrasonic rodent repellents produce high-pitched sounds that only rats can hear. Since rats are scared of high-pitched sounds, these auditory-based repellents are used as a deterrent against rats.
Rats can hear high-pitched sounds, including the hisses and squeaks made by other rats.
Rats communicate through ultrasound vocalizations ranging between 20 kHz to 50 kHz. These sounds convey a wide range of information such as pain, fear, and needs.
Can Mice Hear Better Than Rats?
Both rats and mice have very sensitive hearing and can detect ultrasonic frequencies.
While rats’ hearing frequency ranges between 250 Hz to 80 kHz, an average mouse can hear any sound between 1 kHz to 91 kHz.
Rats can hear better than humans and many mammals.