Rats are sneaky little pests that can find their way into any home. They make burrows in the yard to travel from their nests to the sources of food, and they use these burrows to hide from predators. They tend to build their pathways and then use them over and over again, so it is important to locate them so that you can get rid of the rats.
Where Do Rats Create Burrows?
It is most common for rats to find locations under thick bushes or other types of landscaping. The burrows usually have one main entry, but they also have a few exits that are away from the main entrance. You will find the entry near the nest, but the exits are usually by walls or walkways close to your house.
The Problem with Rats
The problem with rats is that they are incredibly destructive. They will gnaw on your home and anything that is in their way, including plastic pipes, furniture, and whatever else you can imagine. They can also carry diseases, and it is hard to tell which rats have diseases and which do not.
Common diseases carried by rats include rat-bite fever, jaundice, cowpox virus, and salmonellosis, among others. You need to deter them from your home and do whatever you can to prevent them from coming back.
How to Find Rat Burrows
The most obvious sign of burrowing rats is rat droppings. They will leave droppings along their burrows and in places where they find food. In addition, since they normally use the same route, the grass and dirt will be worn down. If you actually see the rats, this is a sign of a larger infestation. The old saying says, “Where you see one rat, 50 more are hiding.”
Calling an exterminator and poisoning the rats is the quickest and easiest method of eliminating them, but this method comes with a whole range of consequences. If you have other animals, domesticated or wild, they may eat the poison and die. The danger in using poisonous chemicals is that other wild animals, your pets, or even small children may eat the poison and die.
Chemicals used for rat poison are lethal to all life, and this option should only be used if you have tried everything else and the rats are still there. If you do need to resort to poison, be sure to call a reputable exterminator and follow the guidelines on how to safely poison the rats.
Steps to Get Rid of Burrowing Rats (Without Poison)
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get rid of rats without using toxic chemicals that are harmful to all living organisms.
1 – Seal All Containers
Rats love to get into garbage cans and food containers. They are very resourceful and destructive; they will chew open a side or chew a hole in a plastic container. You need to make sure that your trash cans are sealed and closed, and if you store pet food in a container, it should be sealed and closed as well.
In fact, your best bet is to use heavy-duty plastic or metal containers, as it is difficult for rats to gnaw their way in. Rats can flatten their bodies and squeeze through the smallest opening, so if you see any hole in your container, you can be sure that a rat can get into it.
2 – Remove Piles of Items Around the House
Rats love to make their nests in spaces where they feel safe. If you have piles of debris, firewood, or really anything around your house, rats will nest there. When a pile of anything sits for a length of time, rats seize the opportunity to build a nest. If you keep your firewood outside of your home, move it and rotate it from time to time. It would be even better if you could move the firewood further away from your house. You don’t want to give the rats close access.
3 – Clean up Your Landscaping
If you make piles of limbs and other landscaping debris, you really need to get it outside of your yard as soon as you are able. If it sits in one place too long, rats will begin to nest inside of it. If you can’t have it removed until a particular day, make sure that you build the pile as far away from your home as possible.
In addition, you need to keep your bushes and trees trimmed. Heavy foliage is an opportunity for rats to feel safe and hide, and they will take over space under bushes or inside of thick trees. You should trim trees and bushes so that they aren’t nestled right up against your house, and keep landscaping debris as far away from your home as you can.
4 – Get Rid of Water Sources
Rats need water as much as any other living organism, and if you have any water source, they will thrive nearby your home. Make sure that you repair any pipes that may have a leak, and don’t leave containers that collect water out in the yard.
You should also make sure that your hose spigots are turned off completely, or the rats will use the drips for their water source. If you have moisture or any water in your basement, you need to take precautions and use a sump pump or other device to remove it.
Remember that the less inviting and convenient your home is, the more likely the rats will move somewhere else. They need water, and if they can’t get to it on your property, they will go somewhere else to find it.
5 – Seal and Protect Your Points of Entry
This is something you want to do in general, but it is especially true if you have burrowing rats. Make sure that your doorways and windows are sealed so that they can’t get in. Have your chimney checked to make sure that the screen is in place and that rats can’t enter through the chimney.
If you have vents that go to the exterior of your home from your laundry room or bathroom, you should cover the flap on the outside with a screen. Anything you can do to make it difficult for rats to enter your home will help to deter them from nesting nearby.
6 – Attract Owls to Eat Them
Owls are natural predators for rats. The best way to attract them to your yard is to build an owl house. You want to make sure that the opening is big enough for the owl to fit, but small enough that other larger birds of prey don’t fit. You need to prevent squirrels and other rodents from nesting in the box, so place it on top of a 10-foot pole.
7 – Use Traps, Smoke Bombs, or Dry Ice
These methods are effective, but they are more dangerous because you could accidentally harm animals that aren’t your target. There are many different types of rat traps on the market, and you need to select the one that is safest for your home.
If you use smoke bombs, make sure that the burrows aren’t near a tree or any flammable structure. Dry ice will kill the rats because it produces carbon dioxide. It’s a quick and effective way of dealing with the problem, but you need to be careful because it can harm people and other animals as well.