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Can dogs sense mice?

Hidden Lives of Rats and Mice

Rats and mice are highly intelligent rodents. They are natural students who excel at learning and understanding concepts. Rats are considerably smaller than dogs, but they are at least as capable of thinking about things and figuring them out as dogs are! And, while rats are much smaller than elephants, they have excellent memories. Although their eyesight is poor, once rats learn a navigation route, they never forget it.

Both mice and rats are also highly social animals. They become attached to each other, love their own families, and easily bond with their human guardians—returning as much affection as is given to them. Many rats will even “groom” a human companion’s hand and would appreciate a massage, a scratch behind the ears, or even a tickle in return. For more fascinating facts and inspiring stories about mice, rats, and other animals, pick up Animalkind, cowritten by PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk.

Recent studies by Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist at Bowling Green State University, suggest that when rats play or are playfully tickled, they make chirping sounds that are strikingly similar to human laughter. The rats he studied also bonded socially with the human tickler and even sought to be tickled more. Panksepp corroborates what rat lovers have known all along: “[Y]oung rats have a marvelous sense of fun.”

Male rats will snuggle up for a cuddle and find contentment when they are curled up in a person’s lap. Although female rats are just as affectionate, they tend to be tremendously energetic and inquisitive. Rats love seeing kind people and will often bounce around waiting to be noticed and picked up. Rats can bond with their human companions to the point that if they are suddenly given away to someone else or forgotten, they can pine away—and even die.

Rats and Mice Have Rights!

It is estimated that tens of millions of rats and mice are killed in experiments each year in the U.S. alone. With the popularity of genetic engineering, the numbers are increasing. These small, sensitive creatures are not even protected under the Animal Welfare Act, which exempts birds, rodents, and coldblooded animals entirely from consideration.

Mice and rats are complex, unique, social individuals with the capacity to experience a wide range of emotions. They deserve our respect, compassion, and protection.

The millions of dogs, mice, rabbits, and other animals who are suffering in laboratories need your help today.

Bigotry begins when categories such as race, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or species are used to justify discrimination.

Did You Know?

  • Mice and rats are fastidiously clean animals, grooming themselves several times a day. In fact, rats and mice are less likely than dogs or cats to catch and transmit parasites and viruses.
  • Mice and rats are highly social animals. They communicate with each other using high-frequency sounds that we can’t hear without instrumentation. Mice have even been recorded “singing” like birds but at ultrasonic frequencies. They play together, wrestle, and love sleeping curled up together. Much like us, if they do not have companionship, they can become lonely, anxious, depressed, and stressed.
  • Mice and rats have complex systems of communication. They can communicate by touch, by smell, and by sound at frequencies that we can’t hear.
  • Rats have clearly demonstrated empathy. In one ethically questionable study, the vast majority of the rats tested chose to help another rat who was being forced to tread water, even when they were offered the opportunity to help themselves to a chocolate treat instead.
  • Rats can recognize expressions of pain on other rats’ faces and react to them.
  • Mice and rats are so smart that they can recognize their names and respond when called.
  • Mice are choosy. They like variety and enjoy picking around in their food—eating the tastiest parts first and separating out what they dislike.
  • Female mice with litters will vigorously defend their nests and young.
  • If not forced to live in a dirty cage, a rat’s skin has a very pleasant perfume-like scent.
  • After engaging in sex, male rats sing at frequencies beyond the range of human hearing, at around 20 to 22 kHz.

You can help protect mice and rats. Take PETA’s pledge to go cruelty-free and purchase only products that are not tested on animals.

woman reads animalkind by ingrid newkirk against a brick wall

Feeling Inspired? Order Your Copy of Animalkind Now

As an Amazon Associate, PETA earns from qualifying purchases. If you buy something after clicking the Amazon links on this page, a percentage of the qualifying purchase will be donated to PETA and help us protect more animals from exploitation.

Question: How do dogs react to mice?

Whining, barking, and even growling while staring at the wall are all additional signs that your dog can hear and smell mice. You should monitor your dog’s body language, as this could indicate that it senses, hears, and smells mice in the walls.

What will a dog do if it sees a mouse?

Look for things like barking and growling at – what appears to be – nothing. Your dog also might chase, run after, or lunge at things you can’t see! It’s also possible that, if the mouse is under the floor or in the wall, your dog will try to scratch, sniff, and lick the spot where they hear or smell the mouse.

Will a dog scare away mice?

Will a dog keep mice away? Dogs can scare away mice, but it’s not foolproof or guaranteed. There are some breeds which will try to catch and keep mice under control and the numbers lower. However, the mere presence of a dog, is not enough to keep mice away.

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How do dogs act around mice?

Dogs use their powerful smelling abilities to detect when a mouse is near. When they detect that something is interesting, whether it is a predator or a dog park, you’ll see them start sniffing excessively.

Can mice make my dog sick?

Other animals such as mice, gerbils, squirrels, cats and dogs can also get infected and may or may not get sick with rat bite fever, and can spread it. Rat bite fever is thought to be rare in the U.S. Persons who handle rats as part of their work or children who live in rat infested areas are at higher risk of this …

Do dogs sense mice?

Dogs such as Terriers have become well known for the ability to hear, smell, and catch mice. Today, dogs are still able to hear, smell, sense, and catch mice and rats, so this is definitely not something that is exclusive to our furry feline friends.

Are some dogs afraid of mice?

We already know that there is a natural dislike between cats and rodents as they have a predator-prey relationship. Dogs are pretty terrifying to smaller animals and have a strong hate/fear relationship with cats, the predators of rodents. So it should stand to reason that rodents would be terrified of canines.

Does dog food attract mice?

It is true that dog food can attract rodents and other mice. Rodents and mice are opportunistic feeders which means they will feed on anything they encounter. Although leftover dry dog food does not sound appetizing to us, it can still contain several nutrients and fats that make it irresistible to rodents.

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Does dog poop attract mice?

Dog poop attracts rodents such as rats and mice. Inside the excrement, there are usually bits of food that can be a valuable resource to rodents. You won’t see them in the day because rodents come out at night.

What smells keep mice away?

Mice have a very keen sense of smell that is much stronger than what humans experience. You can use this trait to repel mice and use scents that mice hate like cinnamon, vinegar, dryer sheets, clove oil, peppermint, tea bags, mint toothpaste, ammonia, cloves, clove oil, and cayenne pepper.

Are rats afraid of dogs?

An indoor cat or dog is a minor deterrent to rat infestation. … Much as dogs can hear dog whistles, rats can hear high frequencies that don’t disturb humans but that greatly aggravate rats.

What are mice afraid of?

These creatures are sensitive to bright lights and have poor eyesight. Survival instincts cause them to avoid larger animals and being active at night helps mice avoid being seen by predators, as well as people. Because mice avoid danger, they may be scared off by bright, flashing lights or loud noises.

What time of year do mice enter houses?

Rodents are generally nocturnal animals, with peak activity occurring shortly after dusk and again prior to dawn. Inside occupied structures, they often become active within about 30-60 minutes following the subsiding of evening human activity.

Can a mouse hurt my dog?

A poisoned mouse can seriously harm a dog if it is swallowed. Yes, even if the toxin is only present in small amounts. If your pup has eaten a dead mouse or one caught near a populated area where people are likely to put out rodenticides, call your local pet poisoning hotline or your veterinarian immediately.

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Is mouse urine toxic to dogs?

Since it is hard to tell if a mouse or a rat carries a hantavirus, it is best to avoid all wild mice and rats and to safely clean up any rodent urine, droppings, or nests in your home. Dogs and cats cannot give people hantavirus infections.

What are symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs?

Signs and Symptoms in Pets

  • Fever.
  • Vomiting.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Refusal to eat.
  • Severe weakness and depression.
  • Stiffness.
  • Severe muscle pain.

Do Dogs Smell Rats?

Do Dogs Smell Rats?

While rats and mice may be cute, having them in your home uninvited can make life difficult. If you also happen to have a man’s best friend in your home, you may wonder, do dogs smell rats? With their combination of super-smell and acute hearing, dogs can act as excellent rat detectors.

In the same vein, you may also ask, do dogs smell mice? The good news is that your pooch can detect both rats and mice similarly. Even the smallest of sounds may be detectable by your canine companion. To find out more about this topic, read on with us today!

Can Dogs Smell Rats?

The short answer to whether dogs can smell rats or not is overwhelming: yes!

Dogs have a better sense of smell than we do. Research suggests that a dog’s sense of smell is somewhere between 1,000 to 10,000 times more acute than our own. This is because dogs have millions more sensory receptor sites in their nasal cavities, and the part of their brain that analyzes odors is 40 times larger than our own.

As well as this, your dog can hear sounds between 40 Hz and 60,000 Hz – a range much higher than our own, which ends at around 20,000 Hz. This is important to note because rats communicate with sounds from 22,000 Hz all the way up to 100,000 Hz or more. As such, your dog may be able to hear the ultrasonic conversations that rats have behind your walls.

Signs That Your Dog Can Sense Rats

Even when you are unaware of intruders in your home, your dog may be able to hear and smell rats and mice inside your walls. A dog’s hearing is so sensitive that they are able to hear the small scratching sounds and squeaks as rats and mice move around. In response, your dog might do several things.


In an attempt to get to the rats, your dog might dig and scratch at a specific wall in your home. Even when you try to stop them, your dog may insist on continuing the behavior. Note that excessive digging, especially indoors, is not always a sign of pests in your home.

Dogs require a lot of mental stimulation, otherwise, they will find other ways to amuse themselves. Your dog may start using the carpet as a toy, digging into it to relieve boredom.


Because your pup’s sense of smell is so acute, they can probably smell rats and mice through the walls. As such, they may sniff around the area, press their nose to the wall, and seem fixated on searching with their nose nearby.

Not all cases of wall-sniffing indicate rats, though. This behavior can be a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder or boredom. Behavior like this may also be the result of a neurological problem, such as seizures or liver failure.

Gets Upset Easily

With rats in your home, your dog might be more agitated or easily upset than normal. This is because they will be on high alert, listening for movements in the walls or under the floorboards. However, note that this behavior can also be indicative of pain or distress in your dog. Be sure to monitor them for signs of illness if this behavior occurs often.

Sitting and Staring

A dog who can sense rats in the home may display odd behaviors like sitting and staring at specific spots in the house. However, behaviors like this can also be indicative of some medical conditions. If your dog is older, consider the possibility of canine dementia.

Barking or Whining

Frequent barking or whining directed at a specific area of your home could suggest that pests are nearby. However, this isn’t always the case. Repetitive barking can be a sign of some health or behavioral problems. Your dog may bark excessively due to boredom, anxiety, fear, or feeling a lack of attention.

Running Around the Same Place

With rats in your home, your dog may pace around the same area, following walls attentively. As rats and mice scurry through the wall, your dog might hear them and attempt to follow them. However, dogs will pace for other reasons as well. These include boredom, anxiety, and stereotypical behaviors developing from stress.

Training Your Dog to Smell Rats Safely

When keeping pet rats and dogs in your home, it’s important to introduce them gradually. Pet rats and pet dogs are different creatures, though they share some similarities. Your pet rat is likely very small and cautious, while dogs are much larger and more curious with predatory instincts.

Depending on your dog’s breed, introducing them to rats may not be advisable – breeds developed to hunt rats specifically are some of the least suitable for cohabitation.

Make sure that you allow your dog and rats to smell each other safely. Allow them to smell each other through the cage bars first; but exercise caution, as rats are territorial and may not take kindly to a predator in their home. Always supervise your dog and your rats closely and end the introduction if aggressive behaviors develop.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe From Rats

First and foremost, make sure that your dog is up to date on their vaccinations. Depending on where you live, your pooch may be at risk of Leptospirosis, spread through rat urine. Secondly, keep your dog on a leash in affected areas.

Your dog may become infected through direct contact with rat droppings, rat bites, or eating dead rats. Thirdly, know the early signs of illness. Leptospirosis is an infection that can lead to kidney failure and liver disease. Look for fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and coughing.

In your home, you will need to take different measures. Remember not to leave food outside, including your pet’s food. Rats can chew through and eat almost anything. Be sure to secure rubbish in bins with tight-fitting lids.

Don’t leave your pet’s food out overnight if possible. As well as this, change your dog’s water regularly and clean the bowl often. If you find rat droppings, be sure to clean them up as soon as possible to avoid having your pooch eat them.

So, do dogs smell rats? In short, not only can they smell them, they can hear them with ease, too. If your pooch starts showing strange behaviors close to specific walls in your home, consider if rats or mice are the culprits.

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