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What Are the Dangers of Having Rats in the Walls of an Apartment?

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The sound of rats scampering inside your walls is certainly not conducive to a good night's sleep. If your apartment complex has a rat problem, discuss it with your landlord as soon as possible. Because of the structural damage that rats can cause, it is usually the property management's responsibility to control pests and rodents. In the meantime, keep food tightly sealed and practice good sanitation habits to keep rats from traveling into your apartment.

Property Damage

Rats can cause extensive structural damage to an apartment complex, which is why it is in the best interest of your property management to fix the problem immediately. Rats cause damage by gnawing on electrical wires, doors, ledges and walls. The Norway rat can also cause extensive damage to lead, copper and plastic with their gnawing habits. Rats also use insulation inside the walls as a nesting material and can destroy them with their breeding habits.

Interior Damage

In addition to the structural damage that rats can cause, they may also destroy your personal property and have been known to gnaw their way into books, paper and upholstery to build their nests. Their ability to chew through wires can create fire hazards in your apartment and damage appliances. According to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, roof rats have been known to disable refrigeration units by gnawing through wires.

Health Hazards

Rats are perhaps most well-known for the health risks they pose to apartment and home dwellers alike. The bubonic plague, one of the most devastating epidemics in history, was primarily caused by disease transmission through rats. They can spread disease with their droppings, as well as the parasites they carry on their bodies, including fleas and worms. Examples of diseases that rats can spread include murine typhus, leptospirosis, salmonellosis and ratbite fever.


If you live in an apartment, you are somewhat limited in the actions you can take to prevent a rat infestation. If you know that you have rats behind your walls, however, there are steps you can take to keep them out of your apartment. The most important factor is sanitation. Empty the garbage regularly and cover trash cans with a tight-fitting lid. Store grains and other foods in tightly-sealed containers. If you suspect that rats have already moved inside your apartment, use snap traps to try to eliminate the problem.

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