Here in Oklahoma, like most of the country, we have two predominate types of rats and many kinds of mice. We have the Norway rat and the roof rat. Both of these rats are very athletic. The question asked here is can rats swim? Yes, and very well. They can swim or tread water for 3 days, hold their breath for 3 minutes and have been known to swim up pipes.
Of these two types of rats, the Norway rat nests underground, while the roof rat, as the name implies, prefers higher locations, such as roofs and attics. The Norway rat is the larger of the two, weighing in at about a pound and about 8 to 10 inches in length without the tail. The roof rat, or black rat, is somewhat smaller. It weighs between a half to one pound and is about 5 to 7 inches long.
HOW GOOD ARE THEY AT SWIMMING?
These creatures are amazing swimmers. As stated previously, they can tread water for up to three days. They are also very proficient swimmers that can swim up to a mile. Norway rats flourish in sewers because of this fact. Holding their breath can give them amazing range underwater. There are islands in New Zealand, where rats are an invasive species, where rats have actually swam to to infest.
Different species are better swimmers than others. The roof rat, for example, prefers dry ground. This is not surprising, since they love to be higher off the ground. The brown rat, on the other hand, is very adept at swimming. The marsh rice rat, found in the southern United States, actually hunts for food underwater. They eat turtles, crabs and other small fish. The greater marsh rat in South America is another underwater hunter.
CAN RATS SWIM UP YOUR TOILET?
This may be the golden question. Yes, rats can swim up your toilet, but it is rare. If you look at the side of your toilet, you will see a curvy pipe called a trap. This has an air pocket that traps sewer gas and bad smells. This air pocket provides a place for a rat to stop and get a breath. These pests also have collapsible rib cages allowing them to travel through very tight places.
If you have a concern about rats traveling up your toilet, there are options. First of all, keep the toilet lid shut. This won’t stop rats from coming up the pipes, but it will keep them from entering your home. Also, a rat guard can be installed on your toilet. This one way valve is installed on the sewer end of your toilet, allowing water and sewage to go out, but nothing to go back in.
WHAT ELSE CAN RATS DO?
Rats are very athletic physically. They can jump up to three feet in the air, and four feet horizontally. These rodents are expert climbers and can climb on masonry, piping, metal, wood and many other surfaces. Rats can fall up to 50 feet without getting hurt. They can scamper through holes as small as a quarter. If it can get its head through a hole, its body will follow.
Rats can chew through just about anything, as long as it can get a grip with its front teeth. This includes lead, cinder block and aluminum sheeting. Their front teeth curve backwards, making it impossible to chew on flat surfaces. Rats two front teeth will grow four inches or more every year, so they have to chew on things to keep the teeth from pushing through their skulls.