Rat Symbolism & Spiritual Meaning

Rats have been rodents of mystery and fascination for centuries. In some cultures, rats are considered symbols of good luck as omens of bad fortune in others. But what does rat symbolism really mean? Let’s take a closer look at rats’ spiritual meaning and symbolism.

What Does a Rat Symbolize?

Rats are symbols of fertility, resourcefulness, adaptability, and intelligence. On the other hand, they can also represent dirtiness, disease, and uncleanliness. In some cultures, rats are believed to represent death or bad luck.

Rat Facts

  1. Rats have keen senses of hearing, smell, taste, touch, and sight.
  2. Rats are social animals that live in colonies and can easily recognize each other’s voices.
  3. Rats are very curious by nature and love to explore their environment.
  4. The average life span of a rat is 2–3 years, but some species can live up to 7 years.
  5. A female rat can produce up to 24 babies per litter, with an average of 8 – 12 babies per litter.
  6. Rats enjoy digging for food or just for fun and exploring tight spaces like your walls!
  7. They use their sharp teeth to gnaw through wood, wires, and even cement blocks!
  8. Norway rats tend to burrow underground, while roof rats prefer nesting in trees or large bushes close to the ground.

What Does It Mean When You See a Rat?

Seeing a rat could be interpreted as an indication of changes coming or a reminder to stay alert and use caution when making decisions.

Rats are associated with fertility and good fortune, so seeing one may symbolize the potential for growth and abundance.

On the other hand, rats can also symbolize poverty and a lack of resources.

Rat symbolism could be seen as a warning about the potential for a decrease in health, wealth, or emotional stability.

Rats are also known as scavengers, which means they can represent an opportunity to find value in something that has been discarded or overlooked.

This may suggest that it is time to look at options and resources that have been previously disregarded.

what does it mean when you see a rat

Rats are also seen as symbols of wisdom and intelligence, suggesting much to be learned from any given situation.

What Do Rats Symbolize in Arts and Literature?

Rats have long been used to symbolize a variety of attributes in arts and literature. In many cultures, rats are seen as symbols of intelligence, fertility, and success. In some parts of Asia, for example, rats are thought to bring good luck due to their ability to store food away for the winter.

rat on book

Furthermore, they’re often used as symbols of industry and hard work because they’re known for their tireless effort in finding food and supplies.

In literature, rats are frequently used to convey feelings of fear or danger. They may also be seen as representing darkness, disease, and death. For example, in the classic novel “Rats” by James Herbert, rats are depicted as vicious and dangerous creatures that threaten the safety of humans.

Rat symbolism in 1984

In this book, rats convey feelings of fear, danger, and oppression. The novel uses rats as a metaphor for government surveillance and control. Winston Smith talks about the ever-present “telescreens” that watch his every move and listens to his thoughts: ”…the telescreen was its ally… the eyes of the Party always confronted you…” (Orwell, 116). The telescreens represent an oppressive regime that monitors and guides the thoughts and actions of its citizens.

The use of rats in this book is further emphasized when Winston visits a prole woman on the street and notices her pet rat. He remembers being “horrified by its black eyes” and notices that the rat “seemed to know, as well as he did, that an intolerable danger… existed in the room” (Orwell,218). This scene illustrates how everyone lives, fearing being caught by Big Brother.

Rat Spirit Animal

The Rat spirit animal is highly active, always looking for new adventures and opportunities. It encourages us to be brave, explore different paths in life, and find creative solutions to our problems. It symbolizes resourcefulness, an essential trait needed to navigate life’s difficulties easily and confidently.

Rat Spirit Animal

Those with the Rat as their spirit animal can focus on the small details while still considering the big picture. With its help, they can use learned experience combined with sound critical thinking to take quick action and make smart choices. The Rat urges us to get out of our usual routine and try something new.

Rat Power Animal

The Rat is an excellent problem solver, able to think on its feet and come up with creative solutions. As a power animal, it encourages us to be flexible and adaptable in all situations. It reminds us to stay aware of our surroundings, look for clues, and pay attention to the details that can help us overcome obstacles.

Rat Totem Animal

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The rat totem animal is known for being cunning and resourceful. Also known to be agents of change. Rats use their smarts and adaptability to thrive in all environments and circumstances.

Rats are also powerful symbols of survival as they can repopulate quickly after large reductions in numbers. Aside from its associated traits, the rat can also be an omen of abundance and fertility when it works as your totem.

Rat Dream Meanings

It is believed that rats can symbolize both positive and negative occurrences in our lives. Positive associations with dreams involving rats often include an increase in wealth or good fortune, while negative connotations could reflect the presence of enemies or false friends.

sleeping woman dreaming about rat

Rats can also be seen as a reminder that one should pay attention to information from unexpected sources and a sign that impending change should not be feared but accepted without hesitation.

Rat Meaning in the Bible And Christianity

In the Bible and Christianity, rats are often seen as a symbol of sin and uncleanliness. The book of Leviticus states, “Whoever touches any swarming thing by which he may be made unclean… shall be unclean until evening” (Lev 11:29-30).

This suggests that contact with rats may be spiritually damaging and that caution should be taken when encountering them. Additionally, the Bible references rats as a punishment from God, such as in the book of Exodus when God turned Pharaoh’s sorcerers into rats.

In Christian symbolism, rats have often been associated with traitors and betrayers, such as Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus. In some cases, the rat can also be viewed positively regarding vermin and rodents coming to the aid of a better cause. An example of this comes from the parable of Jesus, in which he praises a small mouse for taking bread crumbs and using them to sustain families during difficult times.

Rat Mythology, Folklore, and Symbolism in Different Cultures


In certain African rituals and ceremonies, rats are respected and even worshiped in some forms to bring good fortune. For example, the Igbo people of Nigeria believe that sacrificing a rat at the beginning of a planting season will bring them good luck for the year ahead.

rat as symbol of bad omen

The belief that rats come from divine sources is so pervasive that to Kenyan Kisii people, rats serve as divinely-ordained members who pass messages from one tribe member to another or between humans and spiritual beings.

Ancient Egypt

In the ancient Egyptian writings of Horapollon, rats were described as a symbol of destruction representing evil. To them, this animal was a form of physical evidence that the wrath of the gods had been brought down on the land.

grafik 150

Rats were thought to bring mayhem and chaos in their wake, so they were especially feared by those living near food storages or in other locations where rats might be found. In mythology and folklore, rats have sometimes been seen as an emblem of fertility due to their ability to reproduce quickly and widely.


Rats have long been reviled in Europe, from their connection with the pestilence of the black plague to their symbolic meanings that warn against greed and idleness.

grafik 151

The symbolism of rats persists in folktales and literature, especially stories involving trickery or daring deeds that ultimately lead to success or failure. Although they are seen as pests throughout Europe, certain cultures view them more neutrally, understanding that they represent renewal and fertility of resources.

Other cultures take a harsher stand against them, associating them primarily with disease and destruction. Whatever the perception, rats certainly continue to play an important role in European mythology and folklore as both threat and a blessing depending on who you ask.

Greek and Roman

In many Greek and Roman stories, rats were characters that demonstrated uncanny intelligence & agility; from these tales arise cultural philosophies about fortune & wits working together to overcome adversity.

In addition, rats have both positive and negative associations with death; nesting or swarming near corpses has led some Greeks & Romans to associate death with divinity, while others regard them as harbingers of doom.


The Celts believed their nation was prosperous due to their connection with rats, who would bring good luck through their hard work and resourcefulness.

Celtic style rat

Rat imagery is still noticeable in traditional Irish tales which feature these animals frequently, from the crafty rat in ‘Biddy Early’s Drank A Drop’ to the knowledgeable honeycomb rat of ‘The Mysterious Pot of Gold at the Rainbows End’.

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In Norse mythology, rats and their meaning deeply connect to trickery and convenience. Throughout the myths, rats were often portrayed as the mischievous companions of Loki. The sly god of chaos loved using them to further deceive his enemies. Even Odin’s horse, Sleipnir, was known to turn into a giant rat upon occasion!

Native American

In Native American mythology, rats symbolize cleverness, hard work, and fertility. In Ojibwe folklore, the Rat was a reluctant friend to the Coyote who used his tricks and agility to prevent Coyote from obtaining food.

The Rat also has strong symbolic ties to material reward and embodies the need for preparation and resourcefulness when dealing with life’s challenges.

Native American style rat

Additionally, in some Pueblo stories, the Rat is seen as a symbol of protection against famine; if one were to keep two Rats nearby, they would encourage many generations of abundance.


The rakali, or pouched rat in aboriginal mythology, is a symbol of both mischief and cunning. It is often viewed as a mischievous creature and a teacher of skills and lore; it possesses great wisdom and power, though its sly nature can often lead to trouble. Folktales from native Australia contain stories in which the rakali appears either as a key character or an archetypal symbol.


In Native Polynesian mythology, rats are seen as positive figures with access to knowledge not attainable by humans — something that makes rats worthy of respect for their skills and insight.

spirit animal banner

Some native Polynesian cultures even used the rat as a guardian spirit, believing they could guard against unlucky events like disease or death. Because of its ability to bring luck, finding an auspicious Rat sign is thought to lead to great fortune.


Rat symbolism and meaning have occupied an important place in Japanese mythology for centuries. Perhaps the most recognizable source of rat imagery comes from daikoku, a god of wealth and abundance.

Daikoku is often illustrated with a rat at his feet, symbolizing how daikoku ensures good fortune will always follow him. The rat’s connection to daikoku has spread to developing the concept of “rat luck”, which suggests that rats often bring good luck and fortune, especially when they appear in out-of-the-ordinary places.

ancient japanese rat painting

Additionally, rats are symbolic in Japan due to their place in the zodiac. Like other Asian countries which use the 12-year cycle system as part of their culture and heritage, Japan associates different characteristics with each animal representing a critical aspect of one’s life; mice and rats are said to represent fertility, abundance, and harmony amongst family members.


In Chinese mythology, the rat has strong ties to the Chinese calendar, as it is the first of twelve in the Chinese zodiac cycle.

The rat is associated with hard work and success due to its ability to scurry into tiny holes and harvest food when others can’t. Some folklore claims that rats bring good luck because they bravely lead people out of burning cities.


In traditional Hindu belief, it was even said that rats would carry small portions of grains and other food items to lord Vishnu’s palace as a sign of gratitude for all his blessings.

Hinduism style rat

Furthermore, according to one belief, Lord Ganesh is the Ratnakar, the deity who takes on the form of a rat and unearths gems underneath the ground. Thus for many Hindus, rats bear positive symbolism and are seen as helpful companions.


In Buddhism, the rat symbolizes alertness, intelligence, optimism, and compassion. The tale of how the rat protected the Buddha in the Jataka tales is one of great significance.

Rats are also seen as symbols of perseverance, with their ability to survive in various environments no matter what obstacles may come their way.


Is rat a lucky zodiac?

Rats are considered a symbol of prosperity and good luck in some cultures, while they are considered a symbol of evil and bad luck in others. In Chinese astrology, the Rat is seen as an industrious, clever, and ambitious creature that is quick to seize opportunities. The Rat is also seen as a sign of fertility and abundance, symbolizing the ability to attract wealth and good fortune. Thus, the Rat is considered a lucky zodiac in Chinese astrology.

What does rat mean in a relationship?

In a relationship, the term “rat” refers to someone who goes behind their partner’s back and engages in deceitful or untrustworthy behavior. This could include anything from having an affair to lying about their whereabouts or intentions to hiding information from their partner.

What does a dead rat symbolize?

A dead rat can symbolize death or decay. It could signify the end of something or a warning that something bad is coming. In other cases, it could represent an unwelcome guest or pest in one’s life or a reminder of something unpleasant that has happened in the past.

Final Words – Rat Symbolism

Rats have a long and storied history in many cultures around the world, often associated with fertility, abundance, hard work, alertness, intelligence, optimism, and compassion. In some cases, they are seen as symbols of good luck, while in others, they represent bad luck or death. Ultimately their symbolism varies from culture to culture.

Still, one thing is certain – rats carry powerful meanings that can provide insight into our lives when we take the time to consider them. Whether you believe rats bring fortune or misfortune, it’s important to understand how different cultures perceive animals to make an informed decision about what rat symbolism means for your own life.

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Christina Johnson

About the Author

My name is Christina, and I am the founder of centerspirited. Being a physiotherapist for several years I have found that many people, including myself, don’t achieve well-being only from a physical point of view. I’ve always viewed a person’s body, soul, and emotions as a whole construct of beauty. Always being a yoga enthusiast, I finally became an instructor myself. On a secret mission to capture spirituality in all of her beautiful shapes, I found myself being guided on a way through ayurvedic nutrition and lifestyle. Through this platform, I will hopefully be able to help other beautiful souls out there find their inner peace and bond with their spiritual selves.

Discover simple steps to unlock inner peace and live a life aligned with your true self.
Transform Your Spiritual Journey: Get Your Free Guide to a More Fulfilling Life!
Free Download: Tarot Card Reading & Your Destiny
Your destiny is shaped by your choices, and tarot can help you make the right ones. Get your hands on our eBook!