meaning of rats

Symbolic Meaning of Rats

Last Updated on September 30, 2020 by Avia

Scurrying Into Symbolic Meaning of Rats

I realize rats aren’t the most esteemed creatures of the animal kingdom.  The symbolic meaning of rats isn’t a popular topic.  But – all of nature has a purpose. This article urges you to consider the rat in a unique way. These creatures are about cleansing, resourcefulness, and opportunity. Rats aren’t bad; they’re just often misunderstood and they have great lessons to share with us.

Oh rats! So misunderstood. So misjudged!

Now, for those of you who’ve been following my work for a while – you know I’m always seeking the bright side in symbolic meanings. I steer clear of negative connotations. I explain why I keep it positive on my blog here.

It’s no secret rats have a bad rap. The symbolic meaning of rats delve into some pretty harsh ideals.

David J. Crotty Photography on Etsy

It’s true, some types of rats can cause some damage. But rats aren’t the exclusive culprit all the time. Take the plague. Folks commonly think rats were solely responsible for it. Not true. Fleas also played a part. So did crummy hygiene practices of the Middle Ages. Baths weren’t a regular thing back then, and uncleanness of the human race played its part in both the Black Plague and Bubonic Plague.

This is just one fact and rationalization we can all be guilty of overlooking. It’s a common belief that all rats are dirty, and carry disease. But saying ‘all rats are dirty’ is like saying ‘all birds are brown’. It’s simply not true. Country rats tend to be remarkably clean. Pet rats are practically squeaky clean!

meaning of rats
Symbolic meaning of rats

“You must be imaginative and strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul.”

~Gusteau from the movie “Ratatouille”

Huh? Pet rats? Yeah. I had one! Once upon a very long time ago, I worked for a pet store. As a result, I was the owner of all kinds of critters. Once such critter was Templeton, my pet rat. Yep – he’s named after the rat in the book Charlotte’s Web.This is where highlighting positive symbolic meaning of rats gets easy.

The pet rats sold in the pet store, and my pet rat Templeton are a great PSA on behalf of rats. Did you know rats are very social? Quite loving, actually. They’re incredibly helpful too. Countless observations have been made (by pet rat owners and workers of lab rat facilities) that rats commonly open cages for other rats. They also share their food with other rats. Food-sharing isn’t just in tamed or lab rat circles…it happens with wild rats and city rats too.

That’s a big deal folks, and big symbolism. Encounter a rat in your life? It’s a good reminder of the virtue of giving and sharing. It’s also a sign to consider helping out when you see a need. Know someone who is trapped in a situation? Give a hand, lend a shoulder to cry on, offer a kind gesture. Who knew symbolic meaning of rats would ever, EVER deal with kindness!?! Crazy, right?

meaning of rats
More about the meaning of rats

That’s not where crazy ends…check out this list of keywords associated with symbolism of rats:

Keywords for Symbolic Meaning of Rats

  • Success
  • Sharing
  • Helpful
  • Ambition
  • Kindness
  • Creativity
  • Expansion
  • Preparation
  • Intelligence
  • Shrewdness
  • Opportunistic
  • Resourcefulness

Pretty impressive list for a creature commonly held in disfavor, eh? After enjoying companionship with Templeton, all these character-qualities were very evident to me. For example, Templeton took to training like ducks take to water. This showed off his smarts. He seemed eager to learn new tricks (or maybe it was the rewarding treats he was eager about, lol). This deals with intelligence and shrewdness. Rats of all kinds have an innate intelligence. They know how to figure things out.

This is often born from a driving force to move into better position in life. If a rat senses an opportunity, it often expresses impressive intelligence in getting what it wants. That’s symbolic for us humans. Rats ask us to think up paths to our solutions. Got a problem? Rather than act, sit a bit and chew on the problem. Contemplate it with rat-like motivation to gain opportunity.

Need a way out of a mess? Rats are the perfect energy to help guide you out. These critters are like Houdini’s of the animal world. They are masters at finding a way in. They’re equally masterful at finding a way out. Rat energy can help with both. Ask the rat to help you cipher the best way into an opportunity. Conversely, ask the rat to guide you out of a sticky, complicated maze of a problem.

symbolic meaning of rats
Closing thoughts on the symbolic meaning of rats

Rats also carry a message of resources, expanse and excess. This is often a bittersweet message. How so? Well, rats are notorious hoarders. Therefore, when rats come into our consciousness, it might be a sign to take stock. Look around. Are you hoarding? I’m not just talking about piles of magazines and canned goods that expired in 1982. I’m talking about taking a look around the mind and heart too. Rat asks us to look at all forms of hoarding. Hanging onto old thoughts or beliefs that are way outdated, and totally not of any good use? Whether physical, mental or emotional – rats might be a sign to ditch the old stuff that isn’t serving us.

On the flip side, there’s an element of hoarding that might not call for pitch and ditch. I’m talking about preparation and resourcefulness. Rats hoard because they always want to be prepared. Likewise, the symbolic meaning of rats deals with gathering resources to be ready for whatever comes. Got a big meeting or interview? Rats can help us accumulate every fact and figure we could possibly need to be the best prepared for these events. That also means mentally gathering ourselves. Round up all the wonderful aspects of you. Recall all the awesome successes you’ve had in the past too. This is rat-action at its best. Gather what’s good, all statistics, and information. This insures our preparation when we’re up against a challenge.

Closing Thoughts on Symbolic Meaning of Rats

Well folks, how’d I do at winning your hearts for the rat? I hope I at least assuaged that sense of discomfort or distaste many of us have towards rats. Some of us might never make peace with rats, and that’s okay. But others, like me, love the symbolic meaning of rats. Maybe it’s because their deeper meanings are such a surprise.

In my case, my pet rat Templeton was a great teacher. He shared a great deal of lessons so many years ago. I guess you could say I hoarded all those lessons (in a good way) so I could write this article. I think Templeton would be proud.

As always, thanks for indulging me these thoughts on symbolic meaning of rats. To be true, mass opinion can make it tough to embrace this little creature. So thanks to those of you who give the rat a chance, and listen to the messages it has. And a big “Rock ON!” to all you rat-lovers out there!

May all your rat encounters be filled with potential,


Take-Away Points About the Symbolic Meaning of Rats

meaning of rats

When you consider the rat has existed on this planet (in one form or another) much longer than humans….you’ve got to wonder why. The answer is these creatures are extremely resourceful. Rats root around and scavenge for their survival. That’s a big deal and a big lesson for humans. If you want to thrive, you’ve got to scavenge to survive.

meaning of rats

All in the family!
Rats are prolific when it comes to producing offspring. What’s interesting about this, is that rats are extremely protective and affectionate towards their young. You might not think a rat would be a loving creature, but they are super-proud of their family ties.

Never give up!
Rats are extremely resilient. When they have a purpose in mind, there is not much that thwarts them from getting to their end-game. Whether protecting their family or themselves for survival – you can bet a rat will do whatever it takes to live another day. That’s a big lesson for humans. Sometimes we’ve got to roll up our sleeves, get a little dirty, and dig our heels in to get to our goals.

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