How Fast Can a Rat Run

Rats have a remarkable capacity for speed and agility. These small, lively animals excel at moving quickly through tight spots with ease.

The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the species of rat, its age, sex, and physical condition. Generally speaking, rats can run at speeds of up to 8 miles per hour (13 kilometers per hour).

However, some species of rat, such as the black rat, can run much faster, reaching speeds of up to 12 miles per hour (20 kilometers per hour).

Understanding Rats

Physiology of Rats

Physiology of Rats

Rats belong to the family Muridae, which includes over 700 species of rodents. The most common types of rats are the black rat (Rattus rattus), house rat (Rattus norvegicus), and brown rat (Rattus norvegicus).

Rats are small mammals that have a pointed snout, long tail, and sharp teeth. They have a relatively short lifespan of around 2-3 years.

Habitat and Distribution

Habitat and Distribution

Rats are found all over the world, except for Antarctica. They are adaptable animals that can live in a wide range of habitats, including urban areas, forests, and grasslands.

The Norway rat, also known as the brown rat, is the most widely distributed rat species in the world, and is found in almost every country.

Breeding and Lifespan

Rats are prolific breeders and can have up to 12 litters per year, with each litter containing 6-12 offspring. The gestation period for rats is around 21-23 days. Rats reach sexual maturity at around 3-4 months of age.

As mentioned earlier, rats have a relatively short lifespan of around 2-3 years.

Scientific Classification

Scientific Classification

Rats belong to the order Rodentia and the family Muridae. The scientific name for the Norway rat is Rattus norvegicus, while the black rat is known as Rattus rattus.

The Bosavi wooly rat, a species of rat discovered in 2009, is one of the largest rats in the world, weighing up to 3.3 pounds.

Rats are known for their fast running speed, with some species capable of running up to 8 miles per hour. However, the exact speed at which rats can run varies depending on the species and individual rat.

Rats and Speed

Rats are known for their agility and speed. They are capable of running at impressive speeds for their size, making them one of the fastest rodents.

Factors Influencing Rat Speed

Several factors influence the speed of rats. One of the most significant factors is their size. Smaller rats tend to be faster than larger rats. Another critical factor is age. Younger rats are generally faster than older ones.

The running surface and the rat’s physical fitness level also play a role in its speed.

According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, male rats can run at an average speed of 10-12 mph (16-19 km/h) for a duration of 30 minutes.

The study also found that the speed of rats decreases as they age, and the average running speed for older rats is lower than that of younger ones.

Comparison with Other Animals

When compared to other animals, rats are not the fastest runners.

Rats vs Rabbits and Squirrels

Rats vs Rabbits and Squirrels

For instance, rabbits and squirrels can run faster than rats. A rabbit can run at a top speed of 45 mph (72 km/h), while a squirrel can run at a top speed of 12 mph (20 km/h).

Rats vs Mice and Ermines

Rats vs Mice and Ermines

On the other hand, rats are faster than mice and ermines. Mice can run at a top speed of 8 mph (13 km/h), while ermines can run at a top speed of 4 mph (6.5 km/h). Cats and dogs are also slower than rats.

Rats vs Cat and Dog

Rats vs Cat and Dog

A cat can run at a top speed of 30 mph (48 km/h), while a dog’s top speed is around 45 mph (72 km/h).

When it comes to big cats, rats are significantly slower. Cheetahs and lions are the fastest land animals, with cheetahs being able to run at a top speed of 70 mph (112 km/h), while lions can run at a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h).

Rats in Human Context

Rats are common pests that are found in various human contexts, including homes, restaurants, and warehouses. While rats are often viewed as nuisances, they can also pose serious health risks to humans.

This section will explore rats in human context, including their role as pests and the measures used to control their populations.

Rats as Pests

Rats are known for their ability to reproduce quickly and adapt to various environments, making them a common pest in human habitats. They are attracted to food sources and can contaminate food and surfaces with their feces and urine.

Rats can also carry diseases such as the plague and St. Louis encephalitis, which can be transmitted to humans through bites or contact with contaminated surfaces.

In addition to health risks, rats can also cause significant damage to property. They can gnaw through wires, pipes, and insulation, leading to costly repairs. Rats can also damage crops and stored food, leading to economic losses.

Rat Control Measures

Given the risks associated with rat infestations, it is important to implement effective pest control measures.

Prevention is key, and measures such as sealing entry points, removing food sources, and maintaining clean environments can help deter rats from entering human habitats.

In cases where rats have already infested an area, various control measures can be used. These include trapping, baiting, and using rodenticides.

However, it is important to use these measures carefully and responsibly, as they can also pose risks to non-target species and the environment.

Rat Behavior and Adaptations

Rats are small, fast, and agile creatures that have adapted to survive in a variety of environments. They are known for their ability to run quickly and navigate tight spaces with ease.

Rat's Diet

Rats are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. Their diet consists of a variety of foods, including grains, fruits, vegetables, insects, and small animals.

They have strong jaws and teeth that allow them to chew through tough materials, such as wood and plastic, to access food sources.

Predators and Threats

Rats have many predators in the wild, including cats, snakes, and birds of prey. They have adapted to avoid these threats by being fast and agile, and by hiding in small spaces.

Rats are also known for their ability to jump long distances, which allows them to escape predators and navigate their environments.

Unique Characteristics

Rats have several unique characteristics that help them survive in their natural habitats. They have long tails that provide balance and help them climb and navigate tight spaces.

Their flexible bodies allow them to squeeze through small openings and avoid predators. Rats are also known for their keen sense of smell, which helps them locate food sources and avoid danger.

Their diet, predators, and unique characteristics all contribute to their ability to thrive in the wild. Understanding these behaviors and adaptations can help us better appreciate these small but mighty animals.

Physical Attributes of Rats

Rats are small, agile rodents that are known for their quick movements and nimble nature. They are typically between 6 and 10 inches long, with a tail that can add an additional 7 to 10 inches to their overall length.

Size and weight

The size of a rat can vary depending on the species, but most rats are relatively small and lightweight.

In terms of weight, rats typically range from 100 to 500 grams, with males typically being larger than females. Despite their relatively small size, rats are strong and agile, with powerful legs that allow them to run quickly and climb with ease.

Other physical attributes

The physical attributes of rats are well-suited for their natural habitat, which includes a variety of environments such as forests, fields, and urban areas.

Their small size and agility allow them to navigate through tight spaces and avoid predators, while their quick movements and sharp senses help them to locate food and avoid danger.

While rats are not typically known for their speed, they are capable of running at relatively fast speeds when necessary.


The top speed of a rat depends on various factors, such as its species, age, and health. However, on average, a rat can run at a speed of 8-10 miles per hour (12-16 kilometers per hour).

Compared to other animals, a rat’s running speed is not particularly impressive.

For example, a cheetah can run at a speed of up to 70 miles per hour (112 kilometers per hour), and a horse can run at a speed of up to 55 miles per hour (88 kilometers per hour).

Several factors can affect a rat’s running speed, such as its age, health, and environment. For example, a rat that is sick or injured may not be able to run as fast as a healthy rat.

Additionally, rats that live in environments with obstacles or barriers may not be able to run as fast as rats that live in open spaces.

A rat’s size and weight can affect its running speed. Generally, smaller and lighter rats are faster than larger and heavier rats. However, there are exceptions, and factors such as the rat’s species and environment can also play a role.

While rats are relatively fast runners, they cannot outrun humans. The average human can run at a speed of 15-20 miles per hour (24-32 kilometers per hour), which is significantly faster than the top speed of a rat.

Yes, rats have several natural predators, such as cats, dogs, birds of prey, and snakes. To avoid being caught by their predators, rats have developed various escape strategies, such as running, hiding, and climbing.

It’s widely acknowledged that several major cities grapple with issues related to rats. While certain U.S. cities have notably high instances, counterparts in Europe present formidable challenges of their own.

We made a list of the rattiest cities in the world.

Scott Williams
Author: Scott Williams - Scott is a pest control expert and has worked in the industry for over 20 years, most recently in NYC, where he runs a pest control business. Scott loves to write articles, share his knowledge on exterminator services, and advise on safe DIY method.