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Home » Blog » How Long Does a Rat Live? A Comprehensive Guide to average life expectancy of a Rat

How Long Does a Rat Live? A Comprehensive Guide to average life expectancy of a Rat

How Long Does a Rat Live? A Comprehensive Guide to average life expectancy of a Rat

Rats are one of the most common rodents found throughout the world. Known mostly for their long tail, pointed face, sharp teeth and being capable of surviving almost any environment. A very common question people have about rat life span or how long can rats live for?. This article will explore the lifespan of rats and give you some of the most common and asked questions about these creatures.

The lifespan of a rat can vary depending on a number of factors, including its species, diet, and living conditions. On average, a wild rat will live for around one to two years, while a pet rat can live for up to three years or more. However, there have been instances where rats have lived for as long as four or five years, although these cases are relatively rare. Note that it is important that the lifespan of these animals can also be influenced by factors such as disease, injury, and predators.

Rats tail

Factors Affecting Rat Lifespan

Known as the average lifespan of a rat with most living for about two years. However, several factors can affect their lifespan, including genetics, diet, and environment.


Genetics plays a significant role in determining the lifespan of a rat. Some rats may have a genetic predisposition to certain diseases, which can impact their lifespan. For example, rats that are prone to heart disease may have a shorter lifespan than those that are not.


Diet plays a very important role in the lifespan of a rat. Rats that are fed a healthy and balanced diet are more likely to live longer than those that are not. A diet that is high in fat and sugar can cause problems like diabetes and obesity, which shorten’s a rat's lifespan.


The environment in which a rat lives can also impact its lifespan. Rats that live in the wild have a shorter lifespan when kept in captivity. In the wild, rats are exposed to predators, disease, and other environmental factors that can impact their health. Rats that are kept in captivity are protected from these factors and are more likely to live longer.

Overall, it is important to provide rats with a healthy diet, a safe environment, and proper medical care to ensure that they live a long and healthy life.

Breeds of Rats

Species and Breeds of Rats

Rats are a common pest, found in all earth. They belong to the order Rodentia and are known for their sharp teeth, long tails, and pointed ears. There are several species and breeds of rats, each with its own unique characteristics and lifespan.

Common Species

The most common species of rat is the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus), also known as the Norway rat. This species is found throughout the world and their abilities to change and adapt to a variety of environments. Brown rats have a lifespan of 2-3 years out of the world, but if kept captive they can live up to 4 years.

Another common species of rat is the black rat (Rattus rattus), also known as the roof rat. This species is found in warmer climates and is known for its agility and ability to climb. Black rats have a lifespan of 1-2 years in the wild, but can live up to 3 years in captivity.

Breeds and Their Lifespan

There are several breeds of domesticated rats that are kept as pets. These rats have been bred for their friendly temperament and unique coat colors and patterns. Some of the most popular breeds include:

  • Dumbo rats: These rats have large, floppy ears and a friendly disposition. They typically live for 2-3 years.
  • Fancy rats: This is a catch-all term for domesticated rats that are bred for their unique coat colors and patterns. Fancy rats can live for 2-3 years.
  • Hairless rats: These rats have little to no fur and require special care to keep their skin healthy. Hairless rats can live for 2-3 years.
  • Rex rats: These rats have a curly or wavy coat and are known for their playful personalities. Rex rats can live for 2-3 years.

It's important to note that the lifespan of a rat can be influenced due to various factors, that includes their diet, exercise, and their genes. If you give your pet rat a healthy diet, exercise and regular visits to the vet, they can help you maintain a long and healthy life.


Health Issues and Their Impact on Lifespan

Common Health Issues

Rats are susceptible to a variety of health issues, both in the wild and in captivity. Some of the most common health issues that rats face include respiratory infections, tumors, and dental problems. Respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens. Other issues such as tumors, which can be benign or malignant, can grow and cause issues in various parts of the body. Dental issues, such as overgrown teeth or the loose of teeth, can cause incredible pain and difficulty eating.

Impact on Lifespan

The impact of health issues on a rat's lifespan can vary depending on the severity of the issue and the availability of treatment. Respiratory infections, if left untreated, can be fatal. Tumors can also significantly impact a rat's lifespan, especially if they are malignant and spread to other parts of the body. Dental problems can make it difficult for rats to eat and can lead to malnutrition and other health issues.

In captivity, rats can receive medical treatment for many health issues, which can extend their lifespan. However, in the wild, rats may not have access to medical treatment and may succumb to health issues more quickly. Additionally, predators and disease can also impact a rat's lifespan in the wild.

Overall, it is important to monitor a rat's health and seek medical treatment if any health issues arise. By doing so, their lifespan can be extended and they can continue to survive and thrive.


Summary of Rat Lifespan

In conclusion, how many years does a rat live? The lifespan of a rat varies depending on various factors such as genetics, environment, and diet. On average, rats live for about 2-3 years in the wild, while those kept as pets can live for up to 4 years or more. Female rats tend to live slightly longer than males, and black rats have been known to live longer than brown rats.

Tips for Prolonging Lifespan

To prolong the lifespan of a rat, it is essential to provide a healthy and clean living environment. This includes a spacious cage with proper ventilation, fresh water, and a balanced diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, and high-quality rat food. Regular exercise and mental stimulation through playtime and toys can also contribute to a longer and healthier life for rats.

It is important to note that rats can pose a problem as pests, especially in urban areas. However, it is crucial to handle pest control in a humane and ethical way. Quick and effective methods such as trapping and removal prevent majorly the spread of diseases and damage to your house while minimizing harm to the animals.

Overall, rats are fascinating animals with a relatively short lifespan. By providing a healthy and stimulating environment, owners can ensure that their pet rats live a long and happy life.

domesticated pet rat

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the lifespan of a domesticated pet rat?

The lifespan of a domesticated pet rat is typically between two to three years. But, there's exceptions to the rule in which there are rats that have lived up to four or five years with proper care and attention.

Can a rat survive for an extended period without food?

Rats can survive for several days without food, but as for any animal, if deprived from food for a very long period of time it can lead to health problems and even death.

What is the average lifespan of rats in their natural habitat?

The average lifespan of rats in their natural habitat is around one to two years. Factors like; food availability, predators, and environmental conditions, can be significant into the lifespan of the rats.

Are there differences in lifespan between rat breeds, such as Dumbo rats?

There can be slight differences in lifespan between rat breeds, but it is not significant. Generally, the lifespan of Dumbo rats is similar to that of other domesticated rat breeds.

How long might a rat survive when trapped inside a wall?

A rat can survive for several days when trapped inside a wall, but it is not recommended to leave them there for an extended period. Trapped rats can become stressed, dehydrated, and malnourished, which can lead to health problems and even death.

Do wild rats have a shorter or longer lifespan compared to captive rats?

Wild rats have a shorter lifespan compared to captive rats due to the harsh living conditions in the wild, such as predators, disease, and lack of food. Captive rats, on the other hand, have access to a controlled environment, proper nutrition, and medical care, which can extend their lifespan.

Afraid of rats? Don't worry at Critter Stop we’ve got a great team of professional Critter removers, that will provide you with the best consultation and experience necessary to help you deal with a rat infestation or whichever problem you have Contact Us or Call us: (214) 234-2616 at we will gladly assist you.

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Lee Gorman
Lee Gorman
13:50 21 Nov 22
I’d give a 10 star review if I could! We had a great experience with Critter Stop. Everyone I dealt was friendly, professional, and reassuring. Phillip was very helpful and knowledgeable about the work he was doing. He walked me around the entire house to make sure I saw and understood the services he provided. He was also really nice and answered all my questions — he is exactly the type of person that should be interacting with customers.I love the fact that they will come back for up to 1 year after installation if any problems occur — this shows me they stand behind their work.The owner was great too, he personally came to my house and walked me through their offering. I recommend critter stop to anyone and everyone!
Susan Casey
Susan Casey
14:53 15 Nov 22
Critter Stop is a fantastic business! Everyone involved is extremely professional and very easy to communicate with. Chisam, the owner, did a great job of explaining the process to get the squirrels out of my attic during the initial free estimate. The exclusion crew who did all of the initial work was fabulous. The crew consisted of Phillip, Nick and Corey who arrived promptly when they said they would. They are happy, positive employees. Everyone is very polite and patient in explaining their work and answering questions. They came back several times to check the traps and finish it off with the fogging. Lester was very good about following up to schedule each trap check with me, and the office staff who took care of the billing was very efficient. Critter Stop is a well run company with honest, trustworthy employees! Thank you to all of you who worked hard to make my attic critter free and for the peace of mind that you guarantee your work. Great to know I can call them if for some reason a squirrel figures out a way to get back in!
Karen Eckholdt
Karen Eckholdt
14:54 22 Sep 22
Critter Stop has made this project easy and extremely professional from start to finish! They are very detailed and competent from start to finish and know so much about their business. They made a problem easy for us and at a reasonable cost. We would be happy to recommend this company and their owners and staff to anyone.
Aaron Echols
Aaron Echols
13:51 03 Aug 22
The guys at Critter Stop responded quickly, were very friendly, and gave us an honest estimate of what we might need. They explained why some items on other quotes were or were not necessary. They communicated well to get us scheduled, and did the work well and quickly. Great service at a fair and competitive price.
Jacob Scribner
Jacob Scribner
19:23 27 Jul 22
Brandon and his other coworker Gavin came to install insulation in my attic. I am very grateful for the hard work and professionalism. My house feels a lot better with the insulation installed. 5 star review. Cory Leach was also very nice and helpful. He came to my house to do another job and was very attentive and professional. Thank you Corey and thank you Critter Stop for helping me.The owner very polite and helpful, I’m glad I found this company to help me.
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