Do Rats Die In The Winter?

The winter is a challenging time for all kinds of animal species, and from the scarce food resources to be found through to the drop in the temperatures, there are a number of factors that each animal will need to be able to overcome in order to be able to survive the winter. Rats are like many other animal species at this time of year, as they will have to adapt to their surroundings and to find an area where they can be warm and dry in order to be able get through the coldest weather. It is almost inevitable that animals of every species will die during the winter, and any animals that are ill or injured at the end of the fall will find it particularly difficult to survive the winter.

How Does The Cold Weather Affect Rats?

Rats are warm blooded animals, so in order to be able to survive they do need to be able to keep their body temperature relatively high in order to be able to survive. If they aren’t able to find a nesting spot that is warm and dry enough, they can suffer from conditions similar to colds and hypothermia, in the same way that people exposed to prolonged periods of cold can do. Other problems that can also affect rats during the cold weather is frostbite, and the loss of toes or the tip of their tail is not uncommon, particularly in those rats that live in areas with particularly cold winters.

Food Sources For Rats In The Winter

Although rats can hide in their dens to avoid the coldest periods for a few days, they do not hibernate or go into torpor in any way, so they will need to eat every few days as a minimum. Because food sources are likely to be scarcer in the winter, rats will become less picky around their food sources, and may become bolder in the areas where they will go scavenging for food. They have a durable digestive system, and may be able to survive by eating parts of dog poop, bark, any surviving plant life, and in some cases they may also eat carrion and even other dead rats in order to be able to survive.

Can Rats Breed During The Winter?

This is a question that will largely depend on where the rats live, and whether they will have access to sufficient food stores. Rats will usually view eating as a greater priority than breeding, but as in many urban areas rats find food sources throughout the year, rats in urban areas tend to be more likely to breed during the winter than the rats found in urban areas. One of the distinct impacts that winter has on those rats that do choose to breed is that they are more likely to have smaller litters, as even urban rats do not wish to put too great a pressure on the food sources available at this time of year.

Mortality Rates For Rats In Winter

There is no doubt that more rats will die during the winter than at other times of the year, although the cold weather is only a part of the answer. Because of the colder temperatures, more rats will seek dry and warm nests, and in urban areas this can lead rats to explore domestic and commercial properties, which leads to more rats being killed by traps and poison. Along with this, the cold temperatures and the lack of food in many areas will also see higher mortality rates for rats in both rural and urban areas, as each animal will be in a fight to survive until the spring.

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