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Home » Blog » What Can Rats Chew Through? A Comprehensive Guide

What Can Rats Chew Through? A Comprehensive Guide


Mice are among the most prevalent pests found in households. They have the potential to inflict considerable harm to residences and commercial establishments, and their knack for gnawing through diverse substances contributes to their detrimental behavior. It's important to know what rats can chew through to prevent damage and take necessary precautions.

Rodents possess formidable teeth that continually grow without stopping. They must continuously gnaw on items to prevent their teeth from overgrowing. Consequently, they possess the capability to nibble through a vast array of substances, encompassing wood, plastic, metal, and even solid concrete. This makes them a significant threat to homes, businesses, and other structures.

Knowing what rats can chew through is essential for preventing damage. Homeowners and business owners should take necessary precautions, such as sealing all entry points and using rat-proof materials. Next, we'll take a closer look at what rats can chew through and how to prevent damage.

Rat's Powerful and Persistent Chewing Behavior

Rats are known for their powerful and persistent chewing behavior. They possess robust teeth capable of chewing through a diverse array of materials. Their dental structure is engineered for perpetual growth, necessitating constant gnawing on objects to maintain their sharpness and prevent overgrowth.

Can Rats Chew Through Metal?

Can Rats Chew 1

Rats are capable of chewing through some types of metal, but it depends on the thickness and hardness of the metal. They can easily chew through thin sheets of aluminum, lead, and copper. However, they may struggle to chew through thicker metal sheets or harder metals like steel.

Can Rats Chew Through Concrete?

Rats cannot chew through concrete, but they can gnaw through the softer materials used to make it, such as wood, plastic, and insulation. They may also be able to create holes in concrete by burrowing through it.

Do Rats Chew Through Wood?

Rats are excellent chewers and can easily gnaw through wood. They can chew through both softwoods and hardwoods, including pine, cedar, and oak. They can also chew through pressure-treated wood and plywood.

In conclusion, rats have powerful and persistent chewing behavior that allows them to gnaw through a wide range of materials. While they may struggle to chew through thicker or harder materials, they can easily chew through softer materials like wood, plastic, and insulation. It is important to take measures to prevent rats from entering homes and buildings to avoid damage to property and potential health risks.

Rat's anatomy related to their chewing abilities

Rats are known for their remarkable chewing abilities. They can gnaw through various type of materials, like wood, plastic, and even some metals. To understand how rats are able to chew through such tough materials, it is important to look at their anatomy.

Rats have powerful jaws and sharp incisors that never stop growing. Their incisors are made up of a hard, enamel layer on the front surface and a softer, dentin layer on the back surface. This unique arrangement allows rats to maintain a sharp edge on their teeth by constantly gnawing on hard objects.

When rats chew, they use a combination of their incisors and powerful jaw muscles to apply pressure and break down materials. They are also able to move their jaws from side to side, which helps them grind and break apart tough materials.

While rats are capable of chewing through many materials, their ability to chew through metal and concrete is limited. While they may be able to gnaw through thin sheets of metal, it is unlikely that they would be able to chew through thicker metal objects. Similarly, while rats can chew through concrete, it would require investing a lot of time and energy to do so. 

Wood, on the other hand, is one of the materials that rats are most adept at chewing through. Their sharp incisors and powerful jaw muscles allow them to quickly and efficiently gnaw through wooden objects, making them a common problem for homeowners.

Overall, rats' anatomy plays a significant role in their ability to chew through various materials. Although they might not penetrate every material, their potent jaws and razor-sharp incisors render them formidable nuisances capable of inflicting considerable harm if not properly addressed.

What materials rats can chew through?

Materials Rats Can Chew

Rats are known for their gnawing and chewing behavior, which is essential for their survival. They have strong teeth that can grow up to 5 inches per year, and they use them to chew through various materials to create nests, burrows, and access food sources.

Here are some common materials that rats can chew through:

  • Wood: Rats can easily chew through wood, including furniture, walls, and even structural beams. They use their teeth to create holes and tunnels for nesting and food storage.
  • Concrete: While rats cannot chew through solid concrete, they can gnaw through weak or damaged areas, such as cracks or gaps. They can also chew through concrete blocks and mortar.
  • Metal: Rats can chew through some types of metal, such as aluminum, lead, and copper. However, they may have difficulty with harder metals like steel or iron.
  • Plastic: Rats can easily chew through plastic materials, such as garbage bags, food containers, and pipes. They can also chew electrical wires, leading to damage and potential fire hazards.

It is important to understand that not all rat species have the same chewing power. Some of them, such as the Norway rat, have stronger teeth and jaws than others. Additionally, factors such as age, diet, and environment can affect a rat's chewing ability.

To prevent rat damage, it is essential to seal all openings and gaps in buildings, store food in sealed containers, and remove any potential nesting materials. Regular examinations and upkeep can additionally aid in pinpointing and addressing any weak or damaged areas that rats may be able to chew through.

Understanding Rat Teeth


Rats have unique dental anatomy that allows them to gnaw through various materials. Understanding the structure and properties of rat teeth can help explain their impressive chewing abilities.

Description of Rat Dental Anatomy

Rat teeth are divided into four types: incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. The incisors are the most prominent and are used for gnawing. They have a chisel-like shape and are curved inwards. Canines are smaller and are used for biting, while premolars and molars are used for grinding.

Rat teeth are made up of dentin, a hard and dense tissue, and enamel, a thin layer of hard tissue that covers the dentin. The enamel layer is thicker on the front surface of the incisors, which is the part that comes into contact with the material being gnawed.

The Continuous Growth of Rat Incisors and the Need to Gnaw

Rat incisors grow continuously throughout their lives, at a rate of about 0.3 to 0.4 mm per day. This means that if they don't gnaw regularly, their teeth can become too long and cause problems such as difficulty eating and grooming.

To prevent this, rats need to gnaw on hard materials such as wood, plastic, and metal to wear down their incisors. Chewing also helps rats to maintain the sharpness and alignment of their teeth.

The Hardness of Rat Teeth and How it Compares to Other Materials

Rat teeth are extremely hard and can gnaw through many materials, including wood, plastic, rubber, and even some metals. However, there are some materials that rats cannot chew through, such as steel, concrete, and glass.

The hardness of rat teeth is comparable to that of aluminum and copper. This means that they can easily gnaw through soft metals, but not harder ones.

In conclusion, understanding rat teeth is crucial to understanding their impressive chewing abilities. Rat teeth are unique in their structure and properties, allowing rats to gnaw through a variety of materials.

Common Materials Rats Can Chew Through

Rats are renowned for their knack for gnawing through a variety of materials, which can cause significant damage to homes, businesses, and other structures. Next, we will dive into some of the common materials that rats can chew through, as well as the implications of their chewing behavior.

Soft Materials

Soft materials are some of the most vulnerable to rat damage, as rats can easily gnaw through them. Some examples of soft materials that rats can chew through include:

  1. Wood - Rats can easily gnaw through wood, including both hardwoods and softwoods. This can lead to damage to furniture, flooring, and even structural elements of buildings. The reason for their ease of gnawing is due to their constantly growing incisors, which they need to wear down.
  2. Fabrics - Rats can chew through various kinds of fabrics, including clothes, upholstery, and curtains. This can lead to damage to personal belongings and furniture.
  3. Insulation - Different types of insulation commonly found in buildings, including fiberglass and foam, are also vulnerable to rat damage. As a consequence, This can result in reduced energy efficiency and more expensive bills for heating and cooling services.

Plastic Materials

Plastic materials are also vulnerable to rat damage, as rats can easily chew through them. Some examples of plastic materials that rats can chew through include:

  1. Pipes and Conduit - Rats can chew through plastic pipes and conduit, which can have implications for plumbing and electrical systems. This can lead to leaks, electrical shorts, and other issues.
  2. Storage Containers - Household and commercial storage containers made of plastic are also vulnerable to rat damage. This can lead to contamination of stored items and an increased risk of infestation.
  3. Garbage Bins - Rats can chew through plastic garbage bins, which can have a significant impact on sanitation. This can lead to an increased risk of disease and other health concerns.

Flexible Materials

Flexible materials are also vulnerable to rat damage, as rats can easily gnaw through them. Some examples of flexible materials that rats can chew through include:

  1. Rubber - Rats can chew through rubber, including seals and hoses. This can lead to leaks and other complications.
  2. Soft Metals - Soft metals, such as aluminum and lead, are also vulnerable to rat damage. This can produce damage to pipes and other metal structures.
  3. Wall Materials - Drywall, different plaster types, and ceiling tiles are also vulnerable to rat damage. This can provoke damage to the structural integrity of buildings.

Overall, it is important to be aware of the materials that rats can chew through in order to prevent damage and infestations. While rats cannot chew through steel, they can chew through many other common materials, so it is very important to take preventive measures to protect your property.

Surprising Items and Scenarios Where Rats Chew Through

Rats are recognized for their remarkable capability to chew through virtually any material. Their robust teeth enable them to chew through wood, plastic, and even metal. While it's common knowledge that rats can chew through wires and cables, there are other surprising items and scenarios where rats can cause damage.

Food packaging – the extent of contamination risks

Rats can easily chew through food packaging, which can lead to contamination and health risks. They can gnaw through cardboard boxes, plastic bags, and even metal cans. This can be a serious problem in food processing plants, warehouses, and homes.

To prevent rats from contaminating food, it's important to store it in sealed containers made of materials that rats cannot chew through. This includes glass, metal, and hard plastic. Soft plastics and cardboard should be avoided as they can easily be chewed through.

Vehicle components – wire harnesses and other chewable parts

Rats can also cause damage to vehicles by chewing through wire harnesses, rubber hoses, and other chewable parts. This can lead to expensive repairs and even accidents.

To prevent rats from damaging vehicles, it's important to park them in well-lit areas and avoid leaving food or trash inside. It's also recommended to use rodent repellents and seal any openings where rats can enter.

In addition to food packaging and vehicles, rats can also chew through clothes, furniture, and other household items. It's important to take measures to prevent rats from entering homes and buildings, such as sealing cracks and holes, using traps and baits, and keeping the area clean and free of clutter.

Overall, rats can cause a lot of damage and pose health risks. It's important to take proactive measures to prevent infestations and protect against their destructive behavior.

Materials Resistant to Rat Chewing

When it comes to materials that rats cannot easily chew through, there are a few options available. Here are some of the most resistant materials:

Hardened steel and certain metal alloys

Hardened steel and some metal alloys are highly resistant to rat chewing. These kinds of materials are normally used in the construction of rat-proof barriers, such as doors, grates, and cages. When selecting a metal alloy, it is important to choose one that is not only strong but also resistant to corrosion.

Concrete and stone – limitations in penetration

Concrete and stone are also highly resistant to rat chewing. Anyway, it is important to remember that rats can still penetrate these materials if they are not thick enough. In addition, rats can chew through the mortar between bricks or stones, so it is important to ensure that the structure is properly sealed.

Certain types of glass and ceramics

Certain types of glass and ceramics, such as tempered glass and porcelain, are also resistant to rat chewing. However, it is essential to know that rats can still break through these materials if they are not thick enough or if they are weakened by cracks or other damage.

Overall, while there are materials that are highly resistant to rat chewing, it is important to take a multi-faceted approach to rat control, including proper sanitation, exclusion, and trapping.

Consequences of Rats Chewing Through Materials

Consequences of Rats Chewing Through Materials

Rats are infamous for their talent in chewing through diverse materials. Although initially perceived as a minor nuisance, the repercussions of their behavior can be profoundly significant. In this segment, we will delve into the myriad ways rats can wreak havoc through their chewing habits.

Structural Damage

Rats can cause significant structural damage through their chewing. This damage can occur in two main ways: weakening of support structures and penetration of barriers, leading to infestations.

  1. Weakening of support structures: Rats can chew through wooden beams, electrical wires, and other materials that provide essential support to a building. Over time, this can weaken the structure and lead to collapse or other safety hazards.
  2. Penetration of barriers, leading to infestations: Rats can chew through walls, floors, and ceilings to gain access to a building. Once inside, they can create nests and breed, leading to a full-blown infestation.

Fire Hazards

Rats can also represent a significant fire hazard problem. This is because they can chew through electrical wires and cause short circuits, which can lead to electrical fires. There have been historical cases and statistics of rat-caused fires, making it a serious concern for homeowners and building managers.

  1. Electrical damage and the risk of short circuits: Rats can chew through electrical wires, causing damage and creating a risk of short circuits. This can lead to electrical fires, which can be devastating.
  2. Historical cases or statistics of rat-caused fires: There have been numerous cases of rat-caused fires throughout history. In some cases, these fires have caused significant damage to buildings and even resulted in fatalities.

Health Risks

In addition to causing structural damage and fire hazards, rats can also pose a significant health risk. This is because they can spread disease via contamination through chewing and pose a direct threat to human and animal safety.

  1. Spread of disease via contamination through chewing: Rats can spread disease by contaminating food, water, and other materials through their chewing. Such actions can result in the dissemination of diseases such as salmonella, hantavirus, and leptospirosis.
  2. Direct threats to human and animal safety: Rats can also pose a direct threat to human and animal safety. This is because they can bite, scratch, and transmit diseases through contact. In some cases, they can even attack pets and small children.

In conclusion, rats can cause significant damage through their chewing. From structural damage to fire hazards and health risks, it is essential to take steps to prevent and control rat infestations.

Prevention and Damage Control

Rats can cause significant damage to property, and prevention is key to avoiding such damage. Here are some prevention tips that can be taken by homeowners to prevent and control rat infestations:

Physical Barriers – best materials and practices for rat-proofing

Physical barriers are maybe one of the most effective solution to prevent rats from entering a property. The following materials and practices can be used to create effective physical barriers:

  • Steel wool: This can be used to seal gaps around pipes, vents, and other openings. 
  • Concrete: This can be used to seal gaps in the foundation, walls, and floors. Rats cannot chew through concrete.
  • Metal flashing: This can be used to seal gaps around the roofline and other areas. Rats cannot chew through metal flashing.
  • Mesh screens: These can be used to cover vents and other openings. Rats cannot chew through metal mesh screens.

Environmental Management – reducing attractants and nesting sites

Environmental management is another effective way to prevent rat infestations. The following measures can be taken to reduce attractants and nesting sites:

  • Correct food storage: Food should be stored in sealed containers, and any spills should be promptly cleaned up.
  • Garbage management: Garbage should be stored in sealed containers, and bins should be emptied regularly.
  • Yard maintenance: Grass and weeds should be kept short, and debris should be removed.
  • Elimination of clutter: Clutter should be removed from both the interior and exterior of the property.

Monitoring and rapid response – importance of early detection

Early detection is critical in controlling rat infestations. The following measures can be taken to monitor for rat activity and respond quickly:

  • Regular inspections: Regular property inspections are essential to detect signs of rat activity, including droppings, gnaw marks, and burrows.
  • Traps: Traps can be used to monitor for rat activity and capture rats.
  • Professional pest control: If rat activity is detected, professional pest control should be contacted immediately.

By implementing these measures, property owners can effectively prevent and control rat infestations.


Recap of the materials vulnerable to rat chewing and the potential consequences

In conclusion, rats are capable of chewing through a wide range of materials, including wood, plastic, wires, and even concrete. This can lead to serious consequences such as electrical fires, water damage, and structural damage to buildings. Homeowners need to be mindful of the potential hazards and implement measures to prevent rat infestations.

Upon suspecting a rat infestation, it is crucial to act promptly to prevent any additional damage. Critter Stop offers professional rat prevention and removal services to homeowners. Contact us today at (214) 234-2616 to schedule a free estimate and discover more about how we can help protect your home from rat damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do rats eat clothes?

Rats do not eat clothes, but they may chew on them to use the fabric for their nests.

Can a rat chew through steel?

Rats cannot chew through solid steel, but they can gnaw through weaker metals that may be used in steel structures.

What can rats not chew through?

Rats cannot chew through materials that are too hard or thick for their teeth to penetrate, such as glass, ceramic, or some types of metal.

Will rats chew through aluminum foil?

Rats can chew through aluminum foil if they are motivated enough, but it is not a common behavior for them. It is more effective to use other methods, such as traps or repellents, to keep rats away.

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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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