Rats are often portrayed as tenacious creatures that can chew through almost anything. But can they really bite through strong materials like steel? If you’re wondering whether rats can use their sharp teeth to penetrate metal, you’ve come to the right place.

In short: While rats are capable chewers and their teeth can be very destructive, they cannot bite directly through thick, hard steel. However, they can gradually wear away at thinner steel over time. Keep reading to learn all the details.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll examine rats’ anatomy, their jaw strength, tests on their chewing capacity, and how to rat-proof metal materials. We’ll also look at real-world examples of rats chewing through barriers and the thickness or type of steel they can penetrate.

By the end, you’ll have a clear answer to whether rats can live up to their fierce, steel-biting reputation.

An Overview of Rats’ Jaws and Teeth

When it comes to rats, their jaws and teeth are marvels of nature. These small rodents possess unique adaptations that allow them to gnaw through various materials, including wood, plastic, and even metal. Let’s take a closer look at how rats’ jaws and teeth are designed for this impressive feat.

Rodents’ Teeth Are Specialized for Gnawing

Rats are part of the rodent family, and like other rodents, they have specialized teeth that are perfectly suited for their gnawing behavior. Their incisors, the front teeth, are constantly growing, which means they must continuously chew on objects to keep them at a manageable length.

In fact, a rat’s incisors can grow up to five inches per year!

These incisors are incredibly sharp and have a hard enamel layer, making them perfect for cutting through tough materials. Additionally, their teeth have a chisel-like shape, allowing them to exert maximum force on a small area.

This combination of sharpness and shape enables rats to make quick work of many different substances.

A Rat’s Jaw Muscles Generate Impressive Force

Not only do rats have specialized teeth, but their jaw muscles are also incredibly powerful. These muscles are designed to generate a significant amount of force, enabling rats to exert pressure when gnawing.

In fact, a rat’s bite force is estimated to be around 7,000 pounds per square inch (psi), which is quite impressive considering their small size.

To put this into perspective, a rat’s bite force is stronger than that of a human, which averages around 150 psi. This immense pressure, combined with their sharp incisors, allows rats to bite through a wide range of materials, including softer metals like aluminum and even thinner steel.

It’s important to note that while rats can bite through steel, they are not typically able to chew through thick, heavy-duty steel. Their teeth may become damaged or worn down if they attempt to gnaw on such materials. However, when it comes to thinner steel, rats can certainly leave their mark.

Tests on Rats’ Chewing Capabilities

Rats are known for their sharp incisors and powerful jaws, which allow them to chew through a wide range of materials. However, when it comes to steel, their abilities are put to the test. Researchers have conducted experiments to determine whether rats can bite through steel, and the results are fascinating.

Rats Can Exert Over 7,000 Pounds Per Square Inch of Force

It may come as a surprise, but rats are capable of exerting an astonishing amount of force with their jaws. In fact, they can exert over 7,000 pounds per square inch (psi) of force. To put this into perspective, humans typically exert around 150 to 200 psi when biting down.

This immense biting force is due to the anatomy of their teeth and jaw muscles, which are designed for gnawing and chewing through various materials.

However, just because rats have the ability to exert such force doesn’t mean they can easily bite through steel.

But Thick Steel Withstands Their Bites in Lab Tests

Lab tests have shown that while rats can exert significant force, thick steel is able to withstand their bites. Researchers have conducted experiments using different gauges and thicknesses of steel, ranging from thin sheets to thick plates.

In all cases, the rats were unable to bite through the steel.

This is due to the high hardness and strength of steel, which makes it extremely difficult for the rats’ teeth to penetrate the material. The durability of steel combined with the rats’ relatively small size and limited jaw opening prevents them from successfully gnawing through thick steel.

It’s important to note that these lab tests were conducted under controlled conditions, and real-world scenarios may vary. For example, rats may be able to access weakened or corroded steel, making it easier for them to chew through.

Additionally, rats have been known to chew through other materials such as wood, plastic, and concrete, so it’s always important to take precautions to prevent rodent infestations.

Examples of Rats Penetrating Metal in the Real World

When it comes to rats and their ability to chew through various materials, it’s no surprise that metal is often a topic of concern. While rats are not typically known for their brute strength, they do possess sharp incisors that can cause damage to certain types of metal.

Let’s take a closer look at some real-world examples of rats penetrating metal.

Rats Can Chew Through Thin Steel Wool Over Time

One common example of rats penetrating metal is their ability to chew through thin steel wool over time. Steel wool is often used as a deterrent to keep rodents out of small openings or gaps. While steel wool is effective against mice, rats have been known to chew through it given enough time and determination.

The sharp teeth of a rat can easily tear through the fibers of the steel wool, creating an entry point into your home or building.

Aluminum Siding and Ductwork Are Vulnerable

Another example of rats penetrating metal is their ability to damage aluminum siding and ductwork. Rats are capable of gnawing through aluminum, especially if it is thin or corroded. This can lead to holes in your siding or ductwork, which not only compromises the structural integrity but also provides an entry point for rats and other pests.

It’s important to regularly inspect and maintain your aluminum surfaces to prevent rodent intrusion.

Rats Won’t Bite Through Structural Steel Beams

While rats can cause damage to certain types of metal, it’s important to note that they won’t bite through structural steel beams. Structural steel beams are much thicker and stronger than materials like steel wool or aluminum. Rats simply lack the jaw strength to chew through these heavy-duty beams.

So, if you’re concerned about rats damaging the structural integrity of your building, rest assured that they are not capable of chewing through these types of metals.

How to Rat-Proof Metals and Prevent Damage

Prioritize Thick Steel for Maximum Protection

When it comes to rat-proofing metals, one of the first steps is to prioritize the use of thick steel. Rats are known for their sharp teeth and strong jaws, capable of gnawing through various materials, but thick steel can pose a significant challenge for them.

The thicker the steel, the more difficult it becomes for rats to bite through it. By using thick steel, you can provide maximum protection against rat damage.

According to a study conducted by ResearchGate, it was found that rats struggled to bite through steel with a thickness of 2mm or more. This highlights the importance of opting for thicker steel materials when rat-proofing.

Thicker steel not only acts as a physical barrier, but it also deters rats from attempting to chew through the metal due to the increased effort required.

Use Steel Mesh for Small Openings Rats Could Access

Aside from using thick steel, another effective method to rat-proof metals is by using steel mesh for small openings that rats could potentially access. Rats are known for their ability to squeeze through tiny gaps, so it’s crucial to close off any potential entry points.

Steel mesh, with a fine grid pattern, can effectively prevent rats from entering through small openings. The mesh should be tightly secured over any gaps or holes in the metal to ensure that rats cannot pass through.

This method not only prevents rats from entering but also allows for proper ventilation and airflow, making it an ideal solution for rat-proofing metals.

According to extermination experts at Pest World, steel mesh with a mesh size of 1/4 inch or smaller is recommended for rat-proofing. This size is small enough to prevent rats from squeezing through, while still allowing for proper airflow.

It’s important to thoroughly inspect metals for any small openings and promptly cover them with steel mesh to prevent rat infestations.

When to Call a Professional Exterminator

Dealing with a rat infestation can be a nightmare. Rats are not only destructive but can also pose serious health risks. While some minor infestations can be handled with DIY methods, there are certain situations where it is best to call a professional exterminator.

Here are some signs that indicate it’s time to seek professional help:

Signs You Have a Serious Rat Infestation

If you notice any of the following signs, it’s a clear indication that you have a serious rat infestation:

  • Frequent Rat Sightings: Spotting rats during the day, especially in areas frequented by humans, is a strong indication that the infestation has reached a critical level.
  • Unusual Noises: Hearing scratching or scurrying sounds in walls, ceilings, or attics, particularly at night, could mean that rats have made themselves at home in your property.
  • Droppings and Urine Stains: Finding rat droppings or urine stains around your property, especially in food storage areas, indicates a significant rat presence.
  • Nested Materials: Discovering shredded paper, fabric, or other materials used for nesting in hidden corners or storage spaces suggests an established rat colony.
  • Chewed Wires and Cables: Rats have a habit of gnawing on electrical wires and cables, which can lead to potential fire hazards. If you find evidence of chewed wires, it’s time to take action.

It’s important to remember that rats breed rapidly, and what may seem like a minor issue can quickly escalate into a full-blown infestation. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to call a professional exterminator to assess the situation and implement effective measures for rat removal and prevention.

Why Trying to Seal Entry Points Yourself Can Backfire

Sealing entry points is a crucial step in preventing rats from entering your property. However, attempting to do it yourself can often lead to more problems than solutions. Here’s why:

  • Incomplete Sealing: Rats can squeeze through tiny openings as small as half an inch. Without proper knowledge and experience, it’s easy to miss potential entry points, leaving your property vulnerable to further infestations.
  • Masking the Problem: Simply sealing entry points without addressing the underlying issue can result in rats finding alternative ways to enter your property. This can lead to a game of cat and mouse, with the rodents constantly adapting and finding new access points.
  • Potential Damage: Improper sealing techniques can cause structural damage to your property. Rats, known for their strong teeth, can chew through materials like wood and plastic, compromising the integrity of your home or building.
  • Health Risks: Rats carry a range of diseases that can be transmitted to humans through direct contact or contaminated surfaces. Attempting to seal entry points without proper precautions can put your health at risk.

By hiring a professional exterminator, you can ensure that all entry points are properly sealed, preventing rats from reentering your property. Additionally, they can provide expert advice on rat prevention measures and implement effective extermination techniques to eradicate the infestation.

Remember, when it comes to rat infestations, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help when the signs indicate a serious problem. Your health, safety, and peace of mind are worth it.


While rats can’t simply bite through and crunch up thick, structural steel, their relentless gnawing over time can penetrate thinner steel barriers and cause costly damage. The takeaway? Don’t underestimate how much havoc these determined rodents can wreak given the chance.

By rat-proofing potential entry points and high-risk areas with durable steel materials, you can keep your home or building protected from rats’ teeth. But if you suspect you already have an advanced infestation, call in professional exterminators right away before the situation gets out of control.

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