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Can Rats Climb? (Are They Good Climbers and Jumpers?)

Rats can climb, and they are good at it. They have sharp claws and five mobile fingers they use to easily climb on trees, walls, pipes, or cables and use their long tails for balance. They have strong hind legs which they also use to jump up to 36 inches vertically and 48 inches horizontally.

Rats are known for fitting into small holes and cracks to invade homes.

They are often found on roofs, attics, or in other high places. But how do they get there?

Rats are skilled climbers. Their sharp claws and long tail help them climb the most difficult places. They often build their nests in high places to protect their offspring from dangers and predators.

Keep reading to learn if rats can climb, if they are good climbers, what kind of surfaces they can climb, if rats can jump, how high, and much more.

Can Rats Climb?

Yes, rats can climb and are good at it. They climb to reach high places like trees, roofs, or attics. Rats use their claws, digits, and strong legs to climb walls and drain pipes.

Rats are skilled climbers. This is how they spread all over the world. They climbed on ships hundreds of years ago to reach the New World.

They can climb on a lot of surfaces, including cables and wires, to get where they want. They can climb trees in mere seconds when attacked by predators.

Can Rat Climb

Are Rats Good Climbers?

Yes, rats are good climbers. They can climb on a variety of surfaces, including trees. Different species have different climbing skills. The roof rat is better at climbing than the brown rat.

All common rats are generally good climbers, but the species rat influences their climbing skills. 

For example, the black rat (Rattus rattus) is smaller and slimmer than the Norwegian rat (R. norvegicus), making it a better climber. The black rat is also called the roof rat.

Physical condition is another factor that influences a rat’s climbing abilities. For example, fat rats or pregnant females are not as skilled as thin ones.

How Do Rats Climb?

Rats use their claws and tail to climb and maintain their balance. They have five fingers and use them to grab onto various surfaces, cables, or pipes. Their paw pad skin is textured, helping them get a better grip.

Most rats can climb because of their anatomy. They have hands, feet, and tails designed to climb and jump on various surfaces.

Their hands end in five mobile fingers, all of which have sharp claws. These features give rats the ability to grab onto surfaces and climb easily.

Rats also have textured skin on their paw pads, which helps them have a better grip.

Their long tail is another feature that helps rats maintain their balance or anchor themselves on various objects:

  • Cable
  • Cords
  • Electric wires
  • Branches

If a rat walks on a cable, it will wrap its tail around it to anchor itself and prevent accidental slipping.

Even if they fall, they won’t get injured, unless they fall from great heights. Rats can survive falls from heights of up to 50 feet (~15 meters).[1]

Are Rats Good Climbers

Do Rats Climb Walls?

Yes, rats do climb walls. They can climb on almost any wall, especially if it has a texture, using their claws to grip the wall. They also use their textured pads to avoid slipping.

Rats climb walls when they feel in danger and want to escape a predator or when they know they will find food up the wall.

Rats can successfully climb all kinds of walls, but are especially skilled at climbing textured ones:

  • Concrete
  • Brick
  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Drywall
  • Stucco
  • Plastic

They use their claws to fix themselves to the texture of the wall, climbing both up or down.

Rats are exposed to risks when climbing an exterior wall. These risks include injury (falling from a height) or predation (birds of prey hunt them). In addition, climbing walls consumes a lot of energy.

Do Rats Climb Walls
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Can Rats Climb Trees?

Yes, rats can climb trees, especially the Rattus rattus (black rat)[3]. They weigh less than the average rats and have slimmer bodies. This enables them to climb trees with ease.

Black rats also use trees as walkways to reach buildings or roofs. If you have trees within four feet of your house, it is possible for rats to reach your home. 

Once they get to the desired height, they will jump to reach your home.

Rats can also climb on ivy and other climbing plants you have on or near your house.

Can Rats Climb Smooth Surfaces?

Rats are good climbers, but they can’t climb completely smooth surfaces. They can’t grab onto smooth surfaces and, as a result, they slide down when attempting to climb.

Rats successfully climb on any surface with texture, but not on smooth ones. Their anatomy does not allow them to climb on such surfaces. Rats’ claws and adherent paw pads can’t fixate on the smooth texture.

The ones that try to climb on smooth surfaces eventually slip. 

If the smooth wall has cables, pipes/drains, or climbing plants, the rodent can use these means to get to the top.

Can Rats Climb Smooth Surfaces

What Can Rats Not Climb?

Rats can not climb smooth surfaces such as tile and glass. Rats use their claws and adhesive pads to climb, but they need a form of texture to get a grip.

Rats can’t grab onto smooth surfaces including the following:

  • Tile: Rats can grab onto the small tiles that have putty between them.
  • Glass: Rats cannot climb on windows.
  • Polished metal[3]

If the surface has shelves, climbing plants, pipes, or the smallest bit of texture, rats can climb it.

Can Rats Jump?

Yes, rats can jump, and they are good jumpers. Rats can leap up to 36 inches vertically and 48 inches horizontally. 

Besides the fact that rats are excellent climbers, they can also jump. Rats can jump approximately 36 inches in height (~3 feet) and 48 inches long (~4 feet).[4]

They use their jumping skills to clear traps, jump from trees, or get past obstacles.

If you’re planning on setting up rat traps, take this into account. Rats can easily jump over a single trap. Place the traps in areas that do not allow rats to jump high.

Can Rats Jump

How to Stop Rats from Climbing Walls, Fences, and Trees

Remove climbing plants and other objects rats can use to jump from to stop them from invading your property. You can also install wall guards to make sure rats can’t scale your fence.

Do the following to prevent rats from climbing over walls, fences, and trees:

  • Remove climbing plants and cut the trees and bushes around your house and fence walls.
  • Remove all the objects from the walls that rats can use to climb.
  • Use smooth material to cover the surfaces on which rats climb.
  • Seal the drain pipes on the house walls with rat blockers.
  • Wrap the electrical cables with anti-rodent tape.
  • Install wall guards.
  • Add plastic or metal foil to tree trunks.


Rats can easily climb on any textured surface. They can easily climb on walls, cables, ropes, or pipes. They use their hands, claws, and tail to fix and maintain balance.

They cannot climb on smooth and shiny surfaces, such as glass or polished metal.

In addition to their climbing skills, rats are also good jumpers. They can jump both in height and length. Roof rats use this ability to jump from trees to buildings or high areas.


Can Rats Jump and Climb?

Yes, rats can both jump and climb. They can climb on almost any surface, except smooth ones like glass or polished metal. Rats can also jump about 4 feet high and 3 feet long. Roof rats are the most skilled at climbing and jumping, often nesting in trees or high places.

Can Rats Go Upstairs?

Rats can go upstairs if they have something to grab onto. If your walls or stairs are textured, rats can climb them to reach the top. If the stairs have a smooth surface but are still low enough for a rat to jump on them, they can do so.

Can a Rat Climb a Bed?

Yes, if the bed is low enough or the material has some texture. Even if rats can climb in your bed, don’t be scared because these rodents usually avoid human contact as much as they can. Mice usually climb in beds and are not so afraid of people.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

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