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What Surprising Things Can A Rat Chew Through?

Have you ever seen an “eye-boggling” rat?
The muscles controlling a rat’s jaws are very powerful, and anchored around the eye sockets, running behind the eyeballs.  When a rat grinds his teeth, his eyeballs can vibrate in and out; this usually indicates pleasure and contentment.

Why do rats need such powerful jaw muscles?

Because their incisors never stop growing!  Rats must gnaw (chew) on things constantly to wear their teeth down.  If their teeth were allowed to grow unchecked, they would grow continuously in a spiral at an 86 degree angle, making it impossible for the rat to close its mouth or eat, resulting in death.

What do rats chew on to wear their teeth down?

Rats will chew on anything that is not harder than their teeth.  The Mohs Scale, developed by German mineralogist Friedrich Moh in 1812, measures the hardness of gemstones and minerals based on their ability to scratch another gemstone or mineral.  The scale ranks from 1 (softest, such as Talc) to 10 (hardest, such as Diamonds).  Rat teeth rank about 5.5 on the Mohs Scale, harder than iron or copper.  Human tooth enamel only ranks about 5 on the Mohs Scale.  Because their teeth are so hard, rats are able to chew through most of the materials people use to keep them out, such as:
  • Plastic
  • Wood
  • Brick
  • Cement
  • Lead
  • Asbestos
  • Aluminum
  • Cinder blocks

Super strong teeth are not the only superpower like trait these rodents possess.  Rats can fall 50 feet without injury; they can swim and tread water for 3 days without drowning; they can squeeze through openings the size of a quarter; they breed at an astonishing rate, rapidly populating any given area; and last but not least, their genes have mutated, making them immune to most rat poisons.


They may seem like an invincible opponent, but it is possible to keep rats out.   The first and most important step in preventing a rat infestation is good sanitation.  Removing food and water sources will go a long way when getting rid of rats.  Store pet food and pantry goods in glass or metal containers and use a covered trash can.  Keep things picked up and organized so there are fewer hiding places for rodents.  Outside of the home, keep shrubbery and wood or compost piles away from the building.

The second step to get rid of rats is to block off entry points.  Even though they can chew their way through almost anything, you don’t need to leave the door open for them.  Use metal screens over chimney and dryer vents.  Make sure the building’s foundation and roof soffits are well maintained.  Keep window screens in good repair and install door sweeps if there is a gap under any exterior doors.

Lastly, protect property with a natural rodent repellent.  Rats have poor eyesight, but an exceptional sense of smell.  As a matter of fact, rats have been trained to sniff out landmines, drugs, and even to serve as rescue rats sniffing out survivors after disasters.  Fresh Cab® Botanical Rodent Repellent uses essential oils that smell pleasant to humans but are offensive to rodents to deter rats and mice.  Placing Fresh Cab pouches around your home, in your vehicles, and in your stored property will protect it against rats and mice.

33 responses to “What Surprising Things Can A Rat Chew Through?”

  1. Thanks for your comprehensive article, especially explaining the Moh’s scale.

    I live above a bakery which is infested with rats. If I install a mesh of stainless around my windows, will it prevent rats from gnawing the mesh and entering my house? Stainless steel’s hardness is harder than that of mild steel and aluminum.

    Else please suggest what material’s mesh I should use?

    Thanks in advance

    • Stainless steel mesh or hardware cloth should help keep the rats out. We’d also suggest using a rodent repellent in your home to discourage the rats from entering. Thanks for reading!

  2. Why do rats chew holes in bottom of hand lotion tubes but leave the lotion? And don’t chew pill bottles? Are there any home remedies to kill rats in the house? How to block incoming and ‘evict’ current residents?

    • Rats enjoy chewing or gnawing on different materials because their teeth never stop growing. The act of chewing files their teeth down to the preferred size, keeping them from getting too long. To keep rats out, we suggest a 3 step approach: 1. Clean up — remove clutter that offers gnawing materials and hiding places for rats. 2. Seal up — Seal any openings rats are using to get in such as gaps around doors and windows, uncovered dryer vents, etc… 3. Pouch up — Place a pouch of Fresh Cab anywhere you have seen rats, or signs of rats. The scent of Fresh Cab will repel rats. Thanks for reading!

    • Hi, thanks for reading! I suppose it would depend on the type of metal. What type of situation are you dealing with?

  3. I went to a unit with a rat infestation they gnawed through a desk bottom draw, wardrobe, suit case, picture frame and in to a couch in the lounge room. It was feral and disgusting.

    • Our products are made with plant fibers and essential oils instead of harmful chemicals, so they shouldn’t pose any threat to your pets. Fresh Cab Rodent Repellent should keep the rats away. Make sure you are storing your dog food in a sealed container and there is no other accessible food in the area that may attract rats or other pests. Thanks for reading!

  4. I had an old car that sat next to an out building at my place in Montana. I went to sell it and discovered that mice had been raiding the out side dog dish and hauling the food to that car for storage. I kid you not,they had hauled probably 75lbs to store there. Under the spare tire especially. I also have used fresh cab for about 3 years now in my pickup that sits unused for long periods of time. I have yet to see any mouse or rat sign in it. I am a firm believer. This site is very short and informative. Well done!

  5. My mom has laminated plywood with Formica on each side of the wood standing vertical .each pc .of wood is 5/8 In. thick ×2 in addition to Formica totaling 1/16 inch thick . One small rat with body and tail equals length of 6 inches ,chewed through this material in 3 weeks , off and on. How is it possible ?

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