What Happens If You Disturb a Rat’s Nest? | 7 Things to Expect

If you have rats in your home, you’ll naturally want to get rid of them as soon as possible, but you have to be careful when disturbing their nest as they are very territorial.

If you disturb a rats’ next they can become aggressive, they can spread disease, the can move on quickly to create a nest somewhere nearby or the nest could be too big to handle on your own.

This article will explore the 7 things to expect if you disturb a rat’s nest.

7 Things That Happen When You Disturb a Rat’s Nest

Several things can happen when you decide to disturb a rat’s nest for one reason or another. Here are a few of them:

1. The Rats Can Attack You

Rats are very protective of their nests, and it’s possible they will attack you if you try to get rid of them. This type of behavior can be very aggressive and can include biting you and even chasing after you, which is something you don’t want. It is very scary to get chased by a rat!

2. They Can Spread Disease

Rats are notorious for carrying diseases, and if you get too close to them, you could very well get one of these diseases. In fact, not only are rat bites painful, but they can spread diseases that are fatal to humans. Some of these include salmonellosis, Lassa fever, and plague.

3. They Can Escape and Build Nests Elsewhere

When you irritate a rat’s nest, the rats sometimes scatter in different directions, only to build a new nest in a brand-new location. So you’re not getting rid of the nest; in a sense, it’s just being relocated.

4. You Might Find More Rats Than You Thought

Oftentimes, there can be up to 10 rats in one nest, so not only will you have to deal with rodents, you might have to deal with a lot more of them than you thought. This can be a very nasty situation for you and your family.

5. You Might Not Be Able to Get Rid of It On Your Own

A lot of times, the methods you use to get rid of the rats’ nests in your home are ineffective. When this happens, you might want to consider hiring a professional exterminator.

6. You Might Find More Nests Than You Thought

In addition to finding more rats than you thought were there, you might find a lot more nests than you thought were there. This can feel overwhelming to the entire household.

7. You Might Actually Miss the Nest

In some cases, it is difficult to find the rat’s nest, which makes you believe that one isn’t there. You might actually disturb another type of nest and miss the problem nests completely.

6 Ways to Safely Get Rid of a Rat’s Nest

If you’d prefer to get rid of a rat’s nest the all-natural way instead of hiring an exterminator, there are a few ways to do this. They include the following:

1. Use Bleach

Mix 1.5 cups of bleach with one gallon of water and place some of the mixture on the nest. After 5 minutes, you can remove the nest with your hands (wearing gloves!) and place it in a plastic bag.

Tie the bag tightly and place it into a second plastic bag, then tie it shut and place it in a trash can.

2. Use Mothballs

Mothballs are easy to find but shouldn’t be handled unless you’re wearing gloves. They are poisonous to rodents and also to humans. There’s nothing special you have to do—just place them in various locations around your home where rats tend to gather and where you’ve seen them in the past, including their nests.

3. Use Peppermint Oil

Rats hate certain smells, including peppermint essential oil. Sprinkle a few drops on a few cotton balls and place the cotton near holes, nests, and the cracks and crevices that rats can use to get inside your home.

4. Use Onions

Onions are cheap and have a strong smell—a smell that rats hate! To deter rats from living in your home, place a few slices of onion around burrows, holes, or rats’ nests. Make sure you replace the onions every week to get the best results.

5. Use Ammonia

Mix two cups of ammonia, two spoons of detergent, and 1/2 cup of water together. Divide the mixture into several smaller bowls and place the bowls where the rats might be.

This is yet another smell that rats detest, and they’ll quickly learn to avoid the areas where the bowls are located.

6. Use Black Pepper

Rats also hate the smell of black pepper, so you can sprinkle some on the nests and anywhere else you’ve seen rats. They should disappear simply to avoid the area where the smell is located.

Will Rats Leave If Disturbed?

If you disturb the rats’ nests, they may leave, but keep in mind that they can always come back. When it comes to their homes, rats can be very stubborn and very loyal, which makes it more difficult to keep the rats away permanently.

Rats might also decide to stay and try to fight you to protect their nests. When they do that, it’s very unlikely that they’ll leave. So while some rats leave their nests if the nests are disturbed, some may decide to stay and stand their ground!

How Many Rats are Usually in a Nest?

The number of rats found in a typical nest can vary. If a litter of rats has just been birthed, there could easily be a dozen or more rats in a nest. If the nest hasn’t been there that long, you might only find a few rats.

On average, 5–10 rats can be found in the average nest, so when you decide you want to get rid of it, you should consider what you’re up against.


If you disturb a rat’s nest because you’re trying to get rid of it, the rats may retaliate and attack. You might be exposed to a deadly disease, or they may leave the nest then only to set up one or more other nests elsewhere. In many cases, calling an exterminator works better than trying to get rid of the nests yourself.