If you have adopted a pet rat or have a local population in your area, you may be wondering whether they can climb stairs. Is this a significant hurdle for them? Will stairs keep them in or out? Here is what you need to know.
So, can rats climb stairs? Rats can climb both up and down stairs – they are surprisingly good at doing so. Rats are competent climbers and have been known to climb brick walls, trees, and even telephone poles. It helps that they can jump up to three feet in height from a flat surface and 4 feet vertically.
That’s a lot.
When we consider that the average human woman is 5 foot 3, they’re not really far from this.
Now, of course, this may be of concern.
But it also depends on your contexts and circumstances.
If you have a pet rat, then you’re going to need to make some considerations for it.
If you have local mischief of rats that are known in your location, you may need to think about areas of access!
Nevertheless, let us now take a closer look at the typical stair before we look more closely at the climbing abilities of these rodents.
How High Is A Typical Stair?
The typical stair in the US is between 7-11 inches (17.78cm-27.94 cm) in height. Indoor stairs are typically lower, around 7 inches, whereas outdoor stairs have an average height of 11 inches. Either way, the height of a stair is known as the stair riser height.
Of course, there is one other dimension to consider, too – stair length.
Although in the context of a rat climbing, this other dimension is not going to have much of an impact.
They can simply run across this flat surface.
Now, with these dimensions in mind, we then have to consider rats climbing abilities.
Let’s now do so…
How Well Do Rats Climb?
Rats are considered excellent climbers – they have powerful legs that enable them to jump up to 3 feet vertically (upwards) and 4 feet horizontally (forwards). They are also very agile, smart, and adaptable, helping them to climb and access great heights.
Then there are their small claws, pads, and sharp phalanges (fingers). These enable them to grip onto pretty much any type of surface, from brick all the way through to plastic.
And last but not least is that long tail, which they use to balance and even wrap around a surface to help keep them attached (and save them if necessary!)
But back to stairs.
When we run these comparisons, we can soon see how ‘easy’ stairs are for rats to climb.
Of course, first, we need to do some calculations:
- 3 Feet = 36 Inches
- 4 Feet = 48 inches
Now, when we consider the average dimensions that American architects use when designing staircases (which are done so for maximum human comfort), we get the following:
- Indoor Stairs: a rat can clear the height by 27 inches (36-7).
- Outdoor Stairs: a rat can clear the height by 25 inches (36-11).
Stairs are thus simple for these rodents to overcome.
And this means that this is not going to be much of a barrier to keeping them in and out.
A rat is capable and often quite willing to take them on.
Especially if they catch the scent of food or have a reason to climb.
And here’s another thing to consider.
Rats can safely fall up to 50 feet without injury.
So coming down stairs is pretty effortless too.
Beyond just stairs, rats have been known to get up and over 8 feet walls, trees, and telephone lines too.
So much so that there has been even research into rodent-proof construction and exclusion methods!
Can Rats Climb On Beds?
Rats can climb onto beds and are likely to do so when exploring – particularly in the pursuit of food or water. Rats will either climb the bed directly or use other furniture as a means to get up onto the surface.
We’ve already touched upon their jumping abilities and their anatomical advantages.
But, there is also their intelligence to consider here.
Rats will leverage anything they can get a grip on, whether that is the bedsheets, the frame of the bed – or even perhaps the draws that sit to the side of the bed.
How To Prevent A Rat From Climbing The Stairs
Limiting access and reducing incentives are perhaps the best ways to prevent a rat from climbing the stairs.
If you have a pet rat, then you will need to consider when and where they free roam when letting them out of the cage.
You will need to ensure that you are securely locked in a room with no exit points. And you’ll be surprised how easily they can escape!
It goes without saying, but you will need to ensure they are securely locked in their cages. Rats are very intelligent and have been known to make an escape whenever there is an opportunity to do so.
In the case of wild rats, you are going to need to consider your property and what could be enticing them to it. This is usually food, such as rubbish bags, bins, birdseed, or compost.
So, either way, you are going to need to ensure that any small gaps under doorways are blocked off.
Rats can squeeze easily under doorways, so fitting some strips to the bottom of a door works well.
Any gaps in walls should also be quickly covered and filled too. This is especially important for exterior walls if you do not want wild rats from accessing your home.
Rats can climb stairs. In fact, they can climb stairs very easily.
And it doesn’t matter what material the stair is made out of either.
Whether it is a concrete external stair or a carpeted internal stair.
Either way, this is no challenge for this particular rodent.
Rats are incredible climbers, not to mention they are highly intelligent and resourceful too.
So, if you have a pet rat that you want to keep an eye on, or if you here on the grounds of pest control, rest assured they’ll access and overcome them.
If they feel the need to and if presented with the opportunity.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.