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Home > Rodents > Do Rats Purr? Sounds & Pet Facts

Do Rats Purr? Sounds & Pet Facts

pet rat eatng

Wild rats are pests, but domesticated rats can be great companions for humans of all ages and lifestyles. Rats are smart, friendly, and playful. Most pet rats like to hang out with their human companions in close proximity. Many even like to cuddle — at least occasionally. Rats also tend to make noises that can serve as an extra form of communication. For example, you may have heard that rats can purr. While rats don’t technically purr the way that cats do, they do make a noise and create a vibrating sensation that can be perceived as purring. Find out more here.


Rats Don’t Technically Purr But They Sound Like They Do

Rats can make a purring sound and vibrating sensation by lightly grinding their molar teeth together. The noise doesn’t sound exactly like a purring cat, but it is certainly reminiscent of that. The act is referred to as “bruxing,” and it does not hurt the rat or indicate danger to humans. It may, however, take new owners off-guard when they hear and feel “bruxing” for the first time.

Rats typically accompany bruxing with something that is called boggling. This is when it looks like their eyes slightly bulge and then slightly retract, multiple times in a row. Boggling can be tough to spot until you get used to the activity and what it looks like.

three pet rats in a cage
Image Credit: sipa, Pixabay

What Does Rat “Purring” or “Bruxing” Mean?

The reason that rats brux is to show their contentment. You should notice that the action happens most often when you’re holding or cuddling with your pet rat. You likely will not see or hear a wild rat bruxing, as they would only do it in their nests, where they feel safe and comfortable. Bruxing, or “purring,” does not happen every time a rat experiences cuddling or close contact. So, don’t worry if you don’t hear or feel your rat doing it when you’re spending quality time together.

Other Sounds That Rats Make and What They Mean

There are many sounds that rats can make. Each sound can mean different things, and you should know your companion rat well enough to understand their communication. Here are the rat sounds to be aware of:

  • Squeaks: Rats can squeak in many different tones, some of which we cannot hear with our own ears. Squeaking can happen when a rat is excited, scared, full of energy, or intimidated, to name a few reasons.
  • Chirps: Rats tend to chirp like a bird when they feel happy and comfortable. That said, chirping may also be a sign of anguish or high alertness.
  • Hisses: A hissing rat is usually a sign that the animal is warning against a predator, which could be anything from a bright light that suddenly goes on to you walking into a space that they are in.
  • Scratching: Scratching sounds usually come from rats that are trying to get into something. They could be trying to get into a bag of food, a box of wires, or a bag of garbage somewhere inside or outside of your home.
  • Scurrying: Another sound that rats can make is a scurrying noise. You will most likely hear this sound when rats (pets or wild) are literally scurrying around on the ground, as well as over and around objects.
  • Gnawing: Rats gnaw on things as dogs and cats would. They will use their teeth to try to gnaw through anything from wood and plastic to metal and vinyl. They aren’t always successful, though.

These sounds can be attributed to many types of animals, not just rats. So, it’s important to look for other signs of rats, like droppings, to confirm their presence rather than relying on sounds alone.

black and white domestic rat
Image Credit By: Varga, Pixabay


Final Thoughts

Rats make many noises. They can even “purr” like cats, but the process is not the same, and the effects can vary from animal to animal. If your pet rat is safe, comfortable, and making a “purring” noise, you can rest assured that they are happy and content in your presence.

Featured Image Credit: jarleeknes, Pixabay

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