If you only know a few things about rats, then chances are that you have at least heard that these animals are nocturnal. In other words, they sleep during the day and are active at night. While that is frequently true, it is not always the case. Some rats are crepuscular, meaning they will be active at dusk and dawn while others are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day.
Active When Convenient
While the typical rat is nocturnal and sleeps during the day, they are adaptable enough to change their sleeping habits if necessary. Rats in buildings where people are present at night instead of during the day will typically sleep at night and be active when no one is around; an example would be a night club. In situations where rats are too close to a dominant rat’s territory, they may also choose to be active during the day and avoid contact with the dominant rat as a safety measure. Domesticated rats also tend to adjust their sleeping habits somewhat, being more active at the twilight hours than actually being nocturnal.
Even in the above examples, the rat will naturally be nocturnal. If rats are in a situation where they can sleep during the day and be active at night, that is what they will choose to do. This is due to the fact that wild rats in centuries past adapted to be active at night as a way to avoid predators. It worked well and the evolutionary trait stuck. It should also be mentioned that rats can sleep 15 hours every day, so this can easily span the gap between night and day.
Other Rat Behavior Of Note
In addition to the time that they are active, it can help to know other behavioral traits of rats if you are dealing with a problem in your home. Most rats found in the United States tend to be social, living in packs of varying sizes. Roof rats, for example, will have a few females and a few males in their packs while Norway rats tend to have larger packs. They have multiple forms of communication, including body language and focal cues. Rats will also communicate with each other when apart by leaving oil smears as a way to mark their territory. The most common communication method with rats, however, is sound and they have a range of noises they make, even if the average person won’t necessarily distinguish among them.