Get Familiar with the Signs of Rats in the Yard & What to Do About the Pesky Critter
Rats! Although some may find the fur-covered critter to be cute, they can actually cause a substantial amount of damage to our landscape, homes, businesses, and other structures found on the property.
The invading nuisance wildlife critter will burrow into any earthen area that is close to food, but rats prefer fertile soil, which is why gardens and yards are attractive. After all, these areas often feature water, access to food, and safe areas to create nests.
Unfortunately, these unwelcome visitors don’t just wreak havoc on grass and landscaping. They can also cause severe structural damage by burrowing beneath structures, chew through pipes and electrical wires, contaminate food, and spread diseases like leptospirosis.
The Norway rat is among the most common species found throughout the New England area, but most rats share similar characteristics, including strong teeth and surprisingly dexterous paws.
Rats are nocturnal, so you may not see them, but it’s possible to see signs of rats in your yard. If you suspect you have found a rat burrow in your yard, it helps to understand what you’re looking at, how to approach eliminating rat burrows, and getting rid of the rodents permanently.
Why Rats Burrow in Yards
These pests can create burrows anywhere from one-foot to six-feet deep. The nests often have one main entrance and a couple of other entrances that are more concealed and harder to spot.
In most cases, there are three burrows per rat family. In most rat families, there are six to eight members. These facts help professionals give reasonably accurate estimations of rat populations based on the number of rat burrows found.
So, this means for every three burrows, there is likely to be eight rats who call it their home.
What tempts rats to burrow in yards and gardens? Rats require easy access to water and a steady supply of food. The nuisance wildlife critter can eat as much as two ounces of food per day. Their diet consists of carbohydrates, animal-based protein, and fat.
So, if you only have fruits and vegetables in your garden, rats will likely move on to another spot where fats and proteins are found.
A compost pile that only has garden scraps won’t sustain them long-term, but a compost pile with fats, meats, grains, and oils, is likely to attract these vermin.
Monitoring compost piles and keeping compost contained in a metal or durable plastic containers can help. Being careful with trash storage and securing it in durable cans with tightly fitting lids is essential.
Additionally, any food that you put out to feed birds, chickens, rabbits, or other animals can nourish rats and encourage them to set up their new homes close by.
Signs of Rats in Yards
Rat nests and burrows are frequently located in dense vegetation or under bushes and shrubbery. The animals may also nest beneath a porch, under a deck, inside a shed or barn, or even near the foundation of the home.
The size of the opening can help differentiate rat burrows from other animal nests. Most rat burrows have openings with a diameter between two and four inches with smooth walls and fresh dirt around the outside of the opening.
If you’re checking for signs of rats in your yard, start by inspecting areas where rodents would be undisturbed by humans. Visible rat burrows in yards are only one potential sign of a rat infestation. Others include:
- Greasy tracks: Rats tend to create paths in the grass by running in the same areas repeatedly. They also leave rub marks or smudges that appear greasy along the foundation of the structure.
- Strong smells: Rats leave pheromones behind on their tracks. Additionally, they often urinate on the paths created and drag themselves through that urine. If you notice a musky, strong odor, it could be a sign of rats.
- Hair: Bits of tan, black, or gray hair might be left behind by shedding rats as they squeeze through tight spots or run against walls and hard surfaces.
- Droppings: Rat droppings look like seeds. The color can vary, depending on the rats’ diet.
Eliminating Rat Burrows
Properties with active rat nests and burrows nearby, may also have to deal with rats trying to access the home. Rats are excellent climbers and can enter through wiring and HVAC systems, among other entry points.
And if rat burrows are found on the property next to your own, or one structure on the property — such a shed, it is likely that other structures or yards will have rats. This is a common issue as rats are known as a region or neighborhood problem, as opposed to a single-structure problem.
Nearby nests may also expose the plumbing and wiring to rats’ relentless gnawing.
Homeowners might choose to trap or bait rats on their own to eliminate the rodent before destroying the rat burrows. But it’s important to know to truly eliminate the issue, a trained professional is needed.
To help rid the property of this rodent, start by removing access to food and water. Make sure trash and compost receptacles are sealed and trim all vegetation as low as possible.
Once the burrows are free of any rats and animals, fill it with sand or dirt and seal the entryways using materials that rats can’t chew through. Make sure all the rats are out of the hole first, or you will end up with a strong, off-putting odor as their bodies decompose.
The best time to start watching for signs of rats in the yard is in early spring. Continue monitoring throughout the spring, summer, and fall — particularly if you have a garden or compost pile that provides a readily available food source.
But without expert help, homeowners or property owners are likely to make the issue worse or encounter a rodent infestation in the future. An infestation that isn’t taken care of properly could lead to an infestation of the home, business, or other structure on the property.
A true nightmare, especially when we consider each burrow could be a home to approximately eight rats. So, a property with multiple burrows will have a significant issue on their hands.
When to Call a Professional
If you have tried eliminating rat burrows on your own without success or you simply don’t want to use DIY tactics, the experts at Catseye Pest Control can help.
Our nuisance wildlife and pest control technicians have the skills needed to remove existing rats, eliminate rat burrows, and prevent future infestations.
Our Rat Control and Exclusion program tackles the issue in three phases: removal, clean up, and exclusion.
First, we find the source of the infestation and repair any damage the rats have caused. We then clean up droppings and messes before installing a permanent exclusion feature to protect your home or business from future rat infestations.
Don’t let signs of rats in your yard become an out-of-control rat infestation.
Catseye has provided the Northeastern United States with the industry’s only premium pest control, wildlife control and removal for nearly three decades. Contact us today to speak with one of our knowledgeable professionals and schedule a free inspection.
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