How Far Away Can Rats Smell Food [Interesting Facts]

Spread the love

You must have heard: I smell a rat. Well, a rat can smell you long before you can smell it. Rats have sensitive olfactory receptors, which help them in locating food sources. You must be wondering how far away can rats smell food. 

Rats can smell food from ten miles away. More than one percent of a rat’s DNA is associated with the sense of smell. Rats can smell food in closed containers and even from behind doors.

The article below is a complete guide on rats’ smell sense. Read it till the end so you can find your desired answers. 

How Far Away Can Rats Smell Food
How Far Away Can Rats Smell Food

Rats’ Sense Of Smell

Rats have extraordinary olfactory receptors. They are also called living sensors. Rats not only smell common odors but can also smell the substances that cause alteration in the environment or mood.

According to Harvard University, research rats are very responsive to scents and odors. They can smell explosives like bombs and land mines from several feet away.

The vomeronasal organ is another scent organ found in rats. Its located in the lower portion of the nasal canal. When the rat sniffs, the vomeronasal organ distinguishes and identifies the odors. 

Rats’ Sense Of Smell Compared To Humans.

Rats, rodents, and dogs have a stronger smell sense in compassion for humans. Rats can distinguish smell like humans can distinguish colors. Rats have multiple receptors in their brain-specific for scent detection.

Research states that rats have approximately a thousand receptors for smell. On the other hand, humans have only four hundred receptors for the sense of smell. Rats can smell birds, other animals, and humans from miles away.

They can also identify the changes in temperature through their nostrils. They will look for shelter when they smell cold or rain.

Do Rats Follow Smell?

Rats are social mammals, and they go after the scents and odors of the food to eat. Only one sniff is enough for rats to detect the smell and locate it. It will nest anywhere with an ample food supply.

According to 2006 research by Upinder Bhalla and the scientist, rats can detect the location of a specific smell within fifty milliseconds.

For research purposes, several rats were placed in cages without water. Those rats were trained to detect the scents. Rats identifying the correct smell; were given water rewards.

Female rats can also identify the prescience of male rats in the area through sniffing. Therefore, rats use olfactory receptors for mating purposes as well.

How Much Can A Rat Smell?

Rats have a sharp sense of smell. They have highly developed olfactory receptors that are highly sensitive to smell. They can smell almost everything from a great distance. Rats are blind for one week after they are born.

They depend on their sense of smell to identify their mother.

They are dependent on their olfactory receptors for locating food and shelter. Rats can travel about a hundred meters each night in search of food. Rats can differentiate between two thousand different scents. 

Can Rats Smell Food Through Plastic Bags?

Rats can smell food through plastic bags when not sealed. Sealed packages have less chance of getting attacked by rats. When the seal breaks, the scent spreads. The food scent will attract the rats.

One must put the food item in an airtight container after opening them. Another tip to prevent rats from eating your grocery is to never put them in cabinets attached to the floor as it is easy to access rats. 

Thirdly seal your garbage, or else you will find a huge mess around your house each morning.

How Do I Get Rid Of Rat Scent Trails?

Rats have a sharp smell sense which helps them find food sources. To prevent rats from invading your home, you will have to remove rat scent trails. Use the following tips to help you with this. 

Natural Repellent

If you happen to have a yard or garden in your home, I recommend you grow plants that can repel the rats. The plants that act as natural repellents for rats include basil, peppermint onions, oregano, garlic, and eucalyptus. 

· Essential Oils

Use essential oils. Soak a few cotton balls in peppermint oil or citronella oil. Place the soaked pieces of cotton in the areas infested by the pest.

· Red Chili Powder

Sprinkle the infested areas with chili powder every day. You can also make a chili powder solution with water and spray it on the infested areas.

· Ammonia Cleaners

Mix two cups of ammonia with one cup of water and two tablespoons of detergent. Place the bowl with the solution near the entrance. 


Use bleach diluted with water in your house. The sharp smell of bleach will keep the rats away.

· Mothballs

Place mothballs around the house. However, avoid using this if you have children and pets in the home.

What Odors Attract Rats?

Rats are mischievous mammals and can eat anything available in your kitchen or garbage cans. Rats are attracted to the smell of garbage, food packages, pet food, pet feces, bird feeder, rotten fruits, and vegetables.

Additionally, indoor plants’ odor will also attract rats.

According to Dr. Katz’s study rats can sense and smell food through other rats’ breath. A rat will look for the food items that humans and other rats enjoy. Assuming that a rat loses its sense of smell, it will have no preference. It will eat whatever is available.

Can Rats Smell Food?

Rats are dependent on their olfactory receptors for food search and storage. They have an exceptional sense of smell. 

Rats are not picky about their food. They will eat whatever they find, From plant seeds to grains, nuts, berries, and oranges.

Rats prefer to eat food in large quantities and make nests in the area with easy access to food sources.

Rats like to store food items. If it finds a large amount of food, it will break it into pieces. It will carry small chunks and will burrow them in the dirt for later. 

How Far Do Rats Travel From Their Nest?

Rats can travel thirty to ninety meters from their nest in search of food. A rat residing in your home is likely to move three to fifteen meters every night in your house looking for something to eat.

Additionally, rats travel in search of nesting material and mates as well.

When you find a rat nest on your property with no rats in it, a rat may be nearby wandering in your home. It will return to its nest after finding the food or nesting material. 

What Smell Kills Rats Instantly?  

The smell of peppermint and eucalyptus will kill the rats instantly. You can grow these plants around your house. Rats will avoid going near the area, and you can scare them away for good.

Rats also hate the chemical odor of naphthalene. You can place mothballs that contain naphthalene around your home to scare away the rats. 

Will Rats Go Away If No Food Is Available?

Rats prefer living near food and water sources. To keep rats out of your home, make sure there are no food sources around your house.

  • Avoid keeping bird feeders and pet feeders out and on the floor.
  • Never store pet food in garages or sheds. Always use heavy metal tins with tightly closed lids to store pet food items.
  • Never place food leftovers and containers on the entrance or garage floors.
  • Clean and efficiently pack your BBQ grills; so there is no smell wafting from them.
  • Make sure you cover your house plants with hardware metal cloth.

What Attracts Rats To Your House?

Rats’ strong sense of smell guides and helps them locate food sources. When a house provides rats with warmth, nesting material, food, and water, they will live there.

They not only feed on the fruits and vegetables grown on plants, but they can chew down the seeds of the plant. 

Rats are rats; they are annoying. They will probably live in the same space for a long time even when you try to get rid of them.

To get rid of them from your house, you must know all the facts about their olfactory receptors.

How Far Away Can Rats Smell Peanut Butter?

Rats are attracted to the smell of peanut butter. They will follow the scent and can make their way into your pantry.

However, peanut butter is dangerous to rats. It is sticky and thick and will stick in the airway of rats. It will make it difficult for the rat to breathe and cause death. 

You can use peanut butter as a trap to get rid of rats roaming in your home. 

How Good Is A Rat’s Sense Of Smell?

The distinct smell sense is the secret to the rat population in almost all residential areas. They can smell food from miles away, behind doors, and even packages containing food items.

Rats are uninvited guests that visit your home in search of food. If they like your house, they might make a nest in it. Your pantry might be a perfect nesting place for a rat.

The home provides warmth, shelter, and an ample supply of food. Once these comforts are no longer available, they will leave.


Rats will jump in garbage cans or enter your house for food. They can eat anything from pet waste to rotten food or the seeds in your garden.

Rats have two organs for identifying scents. Therefore, it makes it easier for them to travel in search of food. I hope the above article has helped you find answers to all the questions. If you have any more queries, comment below. 

In case you have a rat infestation around your property that you cannot control, it is better to call pest control to help you.