Why Do Rats Chew Wires and How Can You Stop Them?

A rat chewing a wire.

The eerie flicker of a midnight kitchen light bulb. The uneasy sizzling of a morning bathroom outlet. A mysterious pitter-patter rolling through your somnambulist dreams. The sound of something sinister chewing, a raw gnawing drone coming from behind your bedroom wall, inches from your resting head. What creature makes such noises?

It’s rats. And they love chewing everything, including your electrical wires, whether they’re tucked away inside your house, your garage, your art studio or your brand-new Tesla. For rats, electrical wires are the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet every single day. But why do rats chew wires? How can an animal that’s been around for 34 million years learn to adapt and love electrical components so much that they literally destroy your house and your vehicle with their unchecked obsession?

No matter what the reason, rats must be stopped. But in order to defeat these wire-chewing vermin, we must explore the psychology behind their impulsive electrical snacking. So let’s dive into the whys when it comes to rats chewing wires as well as the solutions to keep your wiring safe.

Why do rats chew wires?

Why Do Rats Chew Wires? 

1. Tooth Maintenance 

Rats have incisors that continue to grow throughout their lives—like fingernails, only way more uncomfortable. Need perspective? Imagine if you were teething your entire life. In order for rats’ teeth to remain in their mouths and not become overgrown like a walrus, they must constantly gnaw on hard to semi-hard objects on a perpetual basis. Unfortunately, wires have the perfect combination of hard outer layer with sharp inner workings to keep those rat teeth in check—which is why the furry rodents love them so.

2. Food Source

Ready to have your mind blown? Rats actually seek out wires as potential nutrient sources. Why? Because certain wires contain soy-based plastic coverings which rats may seek out for food. The more wires to chew on, the healthier they stay. Live in an apartment? That building is basically a giant hors d’oeuvres tray for rats, each electrical outlet brimming with a yummy, wiry delight.

3. Nesting

Rats are truly dedicated to raising their families in safe environments. And part of creating a safe environment is building nests for their little ones to cozy up into. Unfortunately for your electrical systems, rats chew up casings to create their nests. Those long dangly wires inside your wall are equivalent to the lumber section at Home Depot when it comes to nest building. And that’s a lot of free material.  

4. Stressed Out

Some rats just can’t take the day-to-day struggles of being a rat. The constant search for food. The nonstop growth of incisors. The dark, dank walls and attics. Traps around every corner. So, when rats get stressed, they chew. They’ll chew on your 2 x 4’s, your walls, your foundation…and your wires. For rats, chewing is a simple way to relieve stress and anxiety so they can continue to do what they love: chew more of your home down to the studs! 

5. Curiosity Killed the Rat

 Rats are naturally curious creatures that love to explore their environments and create a safe and protected area to nest. In order to explore their surroundings, rats use their keen sense of smell as well as their mouth and teeth to familiarize themselves with the space and materials at their disposal. And, as we mentioned before, once they find those delectable wires, it’s a true chewfest for nesting, nutrients, and stress relief.  

A gray rat on top of a white wire.

How Can You Stop Rats from Chewing Wires?

Rats are not only an inconvenience to have around your house (or car), but can also create health problems, start electrical fires, and create thousands of dollars of repair work to your structural and electrical systems. So, regardless of what they’re chewing on, it’s best to keep them out of your house at all costs! 

If rodents are wreaking havoc on your vehicle, consider purchasing the UltraSweep Traveler. Using ultrasonic frequencies and flashing LED lights, this device creates an unpleasant environment that pests want to avoid. It turns on automatically when your vehicle is off and shuts off when the engine starts, running on your car battery so you never have to worry about changing batteries. Safe for people, pets, and pests, this humane repeller will keep your vehicle pest-free and protect it from expensive rodent damage.

Rat-Proof Your Home

Seal any and all entry points to your home, such as gaps in walls, floors, or ceilings. Rats can squeeze through surprisingly small openings—some as small as U.S. $.25 pieces. If you see small holes from squirrels or other critters leading under your foundation, plug them up or call a specialist. Also, check basements and attics for potential entry points into walls and ceilings. Rats are crafty with their teeth and can chew through almost anything. 

Keep Food Secure

Rats are constantly hunting for food. So if you leave it out for them, they’ll come find it. Keep all food (especially pet food) sealed in containers and tucked into cabinets. Clean your kitchen sink and cutting boards each night, and keep trash away from entry points to your home.  

Use Devices and/or Traps

 If you’re using traps, then you’re already dealing with a rat problem. But there is also a way to prevent rats from coming in and chewing your house down. Traps and poisons may be effective, but they pose risks to children and pets. Instead, choose a safer, more humane solution to your pest problems: the Pest Repeller Ultimate AT

This innovative 5-in-1 electronic repeller uses ultrasonic and electromagnetic waves to drive away mice, roaches, rats, scorpions, and more. The varying frequencies confuse pests and cause them discomfort, persuading them to leave your property for good. Without using any sprays, poisons, or traps, you can create a pest-free zone indoors. It’s safe around food, children, and pets.

Rodent-proof Wiring

Yes, rodent-proof wiring exists. But yes, it also requires you to replace your current wiring, which can lead to hefty costs. If you’ve reached the end of your wire, this may be your last hope of keeping your lights on. But still…it might be wise to invest in something small that works before going all in on new electrical. 

Keep It Clean

 Throw out old newspapers. Take out the trash. Break out the Dust Buster. Scrub. Get rid of debris. Unclutter. Remove leaves and woodpiles. Keep brush away from the exterior walls. Keep tree branches from growing too close to your roof.

Rats use anything they can to get into your house and chew everything they can to create their nests. Keep your home and property clean, and they’ll stay out!  

No More Rats!

Now that you understand the deeply intellectual thought process of rats, it’s time to start your rat-proofing! Find the holes and plug ‘em up. Put away last night’s half-eaten burrito. Vacuum your kitchen after a messy meal.

And if those lights are flickering, don’t waste time. Call an electrician to professionally assess what the trouble is. And if those wires are faulty because of rat activity, call a professional to handle your rodent problem. But just because you’re rat-free now, doesn’t mean you’ll be rat-free forever. Take preventative measures each month to keep them away for good.
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