Will Rats Leave if There is no Food?: Starve Rats Out!

Rats cannot go without food for more than 7 days. However, they can last longer if there is no water (maximum 2 weeks). Rats need to eat after every 12 hours and they cannot survive without food.

Rats will leave if there is no food for more than 1 week. To starve them out, block the entrance to their hideouts, and ensure your house is clean with no food. Spray citronella or peppermint essential oil to repel them.

Rats get dehydrated fast if they lack food. Naturally, their system will always drain water from anything that they eat as long as it is not dry. This is why when there is food, rats are not desperate to have water for survival.

Can You Starve Rats Out?
Can You Starve Rats Out?

How to starve rats out

The best time to starve rats out of your home is when you are away. There will be fewer activities in the house. They will be desperate for food and this will make them feed on anything including poisoned food baits and traps.

Here are the steps and measures that will help you starve them out:

  1. Keep the house clean
  2. Pack and keep any food that they like eating away for some time
  3. Spray natural rat repellants like peppermint oil in areas that you suspect they hide in
  4. Check under your cooker for any food that drops while you cook and remove them
  5. Place cotton balls soaked in essential oils like citronella in cupboards and wardrobes
  6. Keep any source of water dry

How long can rats live without food?

Rats cannot stay for more than one week without food. If they are big in size, the maximum they will last without food and water is 14 days. They have several alternatives for food. Adult rats can also store food in their hideouts.

They will not last for more than 5 days if you keep both water and food away. Rats get dehydrated so fast if they lack food. They become desperate for water and you should keep this in mind if you want to starve them successfully.

Rats become desperate when they lack food and will eat anything they come across as long as It is edible. When starving them, this is the best time to leave baits for them to feed on.

You should observe and know what rats eat in your house. Starving them will mean that you keep their favorite food away.  Once they become hungry, you can eat things like oranges, mangoes, and lemons which causes kidney damage in rats.

Leaving those in the open for them to eat will kill them very fast. For fast results, remove any water that they may drink. Mix some poorly cooked onions with minced meat for them to eat because onions kill rats faster than you can imagine.

After how long will rats leave without food?

It takes one month to completely starve rats out of your house. This is because they will not die suddenly from hunger. They will continue surviving on their natural immune system for not more than a week.

After that, the weak ones will start to die and the adults may start feeding on them. This may take a week but it is a fact that they will get bored with one type of meal. They will also move out to look for water and other types of food.

An estimate of one month is logical since the whole process will take time. The good news is that it will be very effective in the end. Rats need food to survive and they will leave your house after 4 days if the house is super clean with nothing to eat.

Female rats will only nest and give birth where they can find enough food when their young ones. So when they notice that there is no food, they will be the first to move out.

When rats move out of your house to look for food and they find some, they will never come back. If you have poultry in your backyard, rats will go into the chicken coop since there is always water and food in there. For them, it is always about their stomach and nothing else matters. They are not like us who have several other things that can keep us in one place.

Do rats eat dead rats when starving?

Rats can eat other dead rats if they lack food or anything to eat. It will be their last option as long as the dead body is still fresh. They can do anything to survive and hunger will make them turn against each other.

When there is no food, baby rats will die fast. The older ones will then eating their dead bodies to survive. After some time, they will move out because rats do not like feeding on one meal every day.

They will move out to find new habitats and if your neighbor is not careful, they will definitely find a new home next door. Rats are smart and they will sense danger once they start seeing their nestmates dying all over the place.

In addition, rats will only eat their dead mates because they are desperate. It is not like they enjoy it doing that. They will move out if that is the only thing they have to eat. It has been observed that female rats will move out due to starvation faster than the male.

When the female moves out, it means they will not reproduce in your house. This shall have worked to your advantage when it comes to controlling their population. Rats give birth in large numbers at once and starvation is one of the best ways to control them.

How long can baby rats go without food?

They cannot go for 2 days without food. They can only survive on their mother’s milk for a maximum of 6 weeks. After that, they will need to find solid food. In most cases, they tend to be weak. Starvation will force them to move out and look for something to eat.

It is important to keep any source of water away from them because when rats start having kidney problems because of what they eat, they tend to drink a lot of water.

This helps in keeping them hydrated. If you keep pet rats, one of the signs of kidney failure is a sudden increase in water intake. You can also use natural smells that rats hate to speed up their migration during the starvation period.

There is no way the rats will be starving in your house and still stay put while all they get are things they don’t like. They will have no choice but to get out of your house as soon as they can.


  1. Cornell University: Counting mole-rat mammaries and hungry pups by H. Roger Segelken
  2. PubMed: Acute hunger of rat pups by Judith M Stern and Stephanie E Keer
  3. University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources: Rats, How to manage pests