What do dreams of rats mean?

Jonathan Warren

Author: Jonathan Warren



What do dreams of rats mean?

Have you been dreaming of rats? Despite being dismissed as furry little pests, rats actually carry a lot of symbolism when they scurry into your sleeping hours.

Spanning a number of cultures, religions and theories, rat dreams can be considered both a blessing and a curse. But mostly, it all depends on your personal feelings towards these little critters. After all, some of us are terrified of rats, while others keep them as pets!

Whatever your ratty disposition, we’ve uncovered everything you need to know about why rats are dominating your dreams, from symbolism to interpretations and real-life implications.

Symbolism and cultural associations

Let’s be honest, rats have a pretty overwhelmingly bad rep. In popular culture, they are portrayed as dirty scavengers that thrive in the dark, steal food, cause nuisance and spread disease. And in some respects, this is true – rats can be a real pain when they enter your home uninvited! However, it’s important to note that many, many people actually have rats as pets and love their intelligent and playful natures.

You don’t have to look far in the realms of literature and film to see these stereotypes in action. Picture the evil Ratigan in Basil the Mouse Detective or the role of rats in torture sequences in books such as Nineteen Eighty-Four and American Psycho. But all is not lost, as our furry friends are sometimes represented in much kinder lights in films such as Ratatouille where our clever little friend Remy achieves gastronomic acclaim. 

Also in the rat’s favour is that they are the first animal of the Chinese zodiac. People who are born in the year of the rat are said to be intelligent, creative and ambitious – all positive qualities in our book!

Personal interpretations

With any dream, it’s important to remember there is no one-size-fits-all answer as to why you’re experiencing them. Our dreams are highly subjective and incredibly personal, drawing on our own individual emotions, experiences and subconscious thoughts. So, while a rodent dream may mean one thing to Bill, it will mean another thing to Ben.
Especially in relation to dreams of rats and other critters, your dreams will massively depend on your own relationship with them. For example, if you suffer from a fear of rats, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll have a wholesome dream where you’re breaking bread with a furry friend now is it?

Common rat dream scenarios

Dreams of rats biting you

If you’ve ever heard someone call another person a rat, there’s no doubt the individual they’re describing has exhibited some highly suspect and untrustworthy behaviour. In this vein, if you have a dream of a rat biting you, it’s believed this is representative of a betrayal in your personal life. Maybe a friend has broken your confidence, a partner has let you down or maybe you even suspect that someone at work has thrown you under the bus with the powers that be. There’s no doubt – this is a dream centred in negativity and a warning for you to be careful about who you trust!

Dreams of being chased by rats

A scary prospect in any circumstance, dreams of rats chasing you could derive from something as simple as experiencing overwhelming anxiety in your daily life. Other interpretations suggest you may feel you’re being outsmarted and threatened by someone in your life – in your dreams, they manifest as they therefore manifest as a rabid rat nipping at your heels.

Dreams about rat infestations

A simple explanation is you actually are battling a rat infestation in your real life! However, a more complex and abstract understanding of dreams about rat infestations tie into themes of overwhelm, anxiety and helplessness. In the real world, this situation is incredibly unsettling and inconvenient, so it’s easy to see how our brains could make this association in our dreams with other distressing scenarios in our lives.

Dreams of black and white rats

In Chinese discourse, things get a little more positive when it comes to the colour of your dream rats! Lore suggests that black rats are a good omen, meaning you will have good luck that day and your wishes are soon to be realised. And even more rare and wonderful, dreams of white rats are a sign that your current fortunes are great and things are set to continue going your way. 

Dream encounters and real-life implications

Now that we’ve looked into what certain rat dream scenarios could mean, the next step is to assess what real-life implications they could have. While highly subjective, it’s widely believed that dreams involving rats can often act as metaphors and warning for what’s happening or to come in your waking life. For example, more terrifying and negative rat dreams could be a vehicle for your subconscious telling you to approach certain situations with caution. Whereas, other more positive dreams of rodents could be trying to provide you with some guidance about how to capitalise on your good fortune.

As with any dreams, we’re dealing with abstract ideas and emotions so nothing is concrete – you know this. But especially if your dreams are causing you added stress and/or anxiety, it’s a strong sign you need to check in with yourself to see how you can make some changes to regain your status quo and peace of mind. Whether it’s a chat with a friend or manager, some positive wellness changes or even some self exploration with a therapist, there are so many actions you can take to address this negative source of energy in your life.

Searching for more ways to boost your sleep quality?

At Time4Sleep we are all about enhancing your sleep quality. Whether you’re looking to explore what dreams actually mean or perhaps you are debating whether to sleep with a pillow between your legs or trying to understand what you should drink before bed, our Time4Sleep blog has plenty of hints and tips on how you can get the most restorative sleep possible.