Spring is around the corner and you are probably busy preparing to spruce up the exterior of your home. After being cooped up all winter it’s exciting to think about getting back outdoors. Maybe you have aspirations of planting a garden in the yard, decorating the patio, or re-landscaping around the house. When warm weather finally arrives, you want to be ready to enjoy the outdoors of your property.
What you don’t want when you’re out enjoying the first warm spring day, is to find that you’re sharing your yard with a nasty rodent!
Maybe you noticed a hole here or there in the ground when you were laying mulch. Or you caught a glimpse of a small raggedy looking critter scuttling away when you were taking the trash out, but you brushed it off. No one wants to entertain the idea of a rat in their yard. The mere thought of it will make your skin crawl!
But if you even suspect that your yard may have been invaded by a rat (or worse yet, an infestation of them!), do yourself a favor and don’t ignore your suspicion- investigate it. Every day that a rat goes unchecked, it’s gaining ground. Soon it won’t be in the yard anymore, it’ll have found a way into your house!
Learn about how to spot the tell-tale signs that you have a rat in the yard. Check out the common places on the exterior of your property that they’re likely to be squatting. Then, make an action plan! Let your rat become overrun with rats. Find out how to get rid of rats in your yard.
Step 1: Check for Signs of Rats in the Yard
Holes in the lawn
You are probably familiar with the holes that moles and gophers are known for making that will absolutely destroy a well-manicured lawn. The pests are a beast to get rid of as well! But unlike moles and gophers, rats are perfectly comfortable living in close quarters with people and their ultimate goal is to get inside.
It is a little-known fact that rats are very adept burrowers themselves. They too create holes in the yard from the digging habits. The difference is, a rat will only tunnel about 18 inches below ground level. Their burrowing holes are small and are not as deep, or elaborate as the tunneling systems that gophers and moles create.
If you’re planting shrubs or raking up dead leaves and break through shallow, small burrowed holes, you may have spotted your first sign that a rat is in your yard.
Rats have a habit on gnawing on just about any material they can get their teeth on. They can chew through tough materials- even some concrete! If you spot gnaw marks on your shed, the woodpile, on exterior vents, or other possible home entry access points, there’s a sure sign that a rat is in the yard somewhere.
Step 2: Locate Where the Rat is Hiding in Your Yard
There are several stake out spots in your yard that rats can comfortably camp out in while they plot how to get inside. What rats really seek out above all else is a food and water source. They even enjoy dark and damp spaces. So it’s actually no surprise that the woodpile is one of their favorite hiding spots.
Photo by Lemhi Lumber
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably stacked your wood pile right up against the house for convenient access. The woodpile will catch and collect rain, giving rats a water source. Rats will wriggle their way into the nooks and crannies of the stacked wood and find a comfortable spot to nest. All the while, they’re checking the exterior of your house that the wood is stacked against for weak spots that they can gnaw through to get in! Be proactive and move your woodpile at least 20 feet away from the house. Contact your local rat control specialists to do a walk through and make sure your home wasn’t compromised!
If they can gnaw through the wood, your shed is a top pick for a rat nesting ground. It’s dark and isolated, and also collects standing rainwater around it. Sheds are commonly used for storage, and rats will go town burrowing, gnawing, and nesting in storage containers if they get the chance.
Rats are not picky eaters- honestly, their stomach can handle just about anything. Do have a vegetable garden in your yard? Even when it’s out of season, rats will pick through it and feast on rotting veggies. Their other top source of food is the trash you put out. Don’t attract rats- empty garbage regularly and keep your garbage canisters secured with tight lids! Finally, don’t feed the birds. Rats can survive on very little- even the bird seed leftovers on the ground.
Step 3: Eliminate the Rat!
Unfortunately, you’ve identified some of the tell-tale signs that a rat is living in your yard. What next? How do you get rid of the rat in your yard??
There are several possible solutions to get rid of the rat in your yard. Let’s review how each works and their pros and cons.
Get a Cat
It might seem counter-intuitive to get an animal just to rid yourself of another. But having a pet cat is a highly effective solution to getting rid of rats in your yard. Known for being self-reliant and independent, Cats are rats natural predators and they are excellent hunters. Even crafty rats won’t be able to escape the sharp senses of a pet cat.
Most people think rat traps are just for using inside the house, but they can work outdoors as well. Standard snap traps will work with effective bait. Newer electronic rat traps will box in and electrocute the rat, ensuring its demise. The con of using a trap outside is that they can be disturbed by other unsuspecting animals like chipmunks or squirrels.
If you are morally opposed to killing the rat in your yard, there’s good news- you can get it to leave by disturbing its environment. Ultrasonic repellents are an excellent alternative to deadly traps because they resonate noise that is excruciating to rats but completely undetectable to people. The repellent causes discomfort and panic for the rat, making them run away. The downside is it’s hard to know for sure if the rat is gone for good.
Spray repellents work by using odors and tastes that rats have a strong aversion to. They are inexpensive and easy to use, lust point and spray on the areas you suspect the rat to be hiding. They are also safe for use outside because they won’t harm other wildlife. The downside is that by themselves, spray repellents might not be enough of a deterrent to getting rid of the rat in your yard.
If at first, you don’t succeed, try again. Consider combining multiple elimination methods to increase your chances of getting rid of the rat in your yard. Definitely, keep in mind the dangers you may be introducing into the environment for the other wildlife and pets (even small children!) who may be out in the yard. Finally, dead rat carcasses can be hazardous, as they may carry infectious diseases. If you manage to kill the rat in your yard, you need to contact professional rat removal services asap to dispose of the dead animal.