Why Do We Have Rats In Your Backyard?

People are sometimes surprised to find rats living comfortably in their backyard. This can be a little problematic because rats are not just unsightly but can also carry diseases. They can also destroy property, ruin gardens and eventually find a way into sheds and your home. 

Why do we have rats in your backyard? There are three reasons rats find your backyard inviting. There is food, water, and a warm place to breed. Knowing this is key to you getting rid of rats. 

Read further to find out if you have rats, how many are living in your yard, and how to get rid of them. 

Knowing You Have Rats

Rats can affect yards no matter where you live. You may think they are animals that like country areas like cornfields but inner-city gardeners have to contend with them also.

Rats will live anywhere there is a food and water supply. They multiply easily so you can be overrun quickly if you fail to take action. 

You may see rat droppings on your patio or in your garden. You will see holes where they are creating nests.

Fresh earth near food sources makes the perfect nest so gardens are where you will find the most rats, whether in the city or country. It’s key to look for rat burrows. 

Rats will dig a burrow that is one to six feet deep. It will look organized with an entrance and an exit. It could even have an escape hole! The one thing to know about a rat burrow is it typically is home to a family of around eight rats. Counting the burrows gives you an approximate number of how many have infested your garden. 

Read: How Much Does It Cost To Redo A Backyard?

Eliminate Food Sources

Rats need food and water to live so getting rid of both sources will encourage them to move on. Their diet includes one to two ounces of food daily and water. Rats are scavengers. They will eat human food and many disgusting things you can’t imagine anything would consume. 

Rats eat animal proteins as well as vegetables and reproducing females also eat more fat and carbohydrates than males. They will eat garden vegetables but want animal proteins found in garbage and composts. 

A compost of only vegetables and fruits won’t attract them but those who put things like table scraps of oils, meats, grains, and fats into the compost are asking for a rat party.

Composts also generate warmth and that makes it a wonderful winter habitat. 

Rats find available trash and garbage to be an all-you-can-eat buffet that rivals those humans thrive on in Las Vegas. Fallen good from a backyard barbecue is their favorite. They are also drawn to open or non-secured bags of birdseed and grass seed.

Another food rats love is dog poop. You may feel that you shouldn’t need to pick up dog poop in your backyard but poop is a delicacy to rats so it is best to get rid of it.

Two simple things you can do to eliminate rats in your backyard and around your home is to put your trash in a sealed trash bin. Make sure all pet food is inside the home and keep all seeds, whether it’s bird, grass, or plant, stored in sealed containers. 

Rats will move on if they can’t get a good food supply. 

Read: How Much Should I Spend On My Backyard?

Stop Water Supply

Water is somewhat trickier because many people have pools, water features, and ponds. These may provide beauty and fun but also provide a source of water for rats. It’s important to monitor these and, if necessary, set rat traps around them to prevent them from getting water. 

One key source of water for rats is leaky pipes and outdoor faucets. Leaky garden hoses and where they attach to the house provide a good, steady supply of water for rats. A leaky pipe in or around your home will motivate rats to move in. 

Take some time to seal any water leaks and make sure your hoses are turned off when not in use. 

Read: How Much Does A 14×20 Deck Cost To Build On The Backyard?

Eliminate Shelter

The other thing rats want is shelter. They have poor eyesight so they move in straight lines along curbs and walls. They look for things like high grass, thick brush, leaves, and rock crevices to nest. 

Rats love the low brush like ivy, low shrubs, and ground cover.

Eliminate all that by cutting everything back. Experts say to cut all vegetation at least 18 inches from walls and curbs. Get rid of vines from trees and buildings and trim trees. Rake leaves. All of this makes rats less confident and forces them to move on. 

Read: How Do I Landscape My Backyard On A Budget?

Rat Elimination

People will do virtually anything to get rid of rats. However, some things are illegal.

  • Blowing poison dust into burrows is illegal in many places because of hazards to other animals and children.
  • Glue and snap traps work but could also trap birds and even pets.
  • Sonic devices have no proof they work.
  • Things like peppermint, human or dog hair, and other home-grown rat remedies have also not been proven to work but some say they do.
  • Rodent repellent will keep rats from entering your home but won’t keep them out of your yard.
  • You can rid your rat population by luring birds of prey, like owls, into your yard. However, that can also present a problem for smaller pets.
  • Smoke bombs and dry ice have been known to be effective.

The best option if you have an infestation is to call a pest control company. They can determine where all the burrows are and help get rid of all the rats and offspring legally and efficiently. 

Read: How To Catch A Bird On The Backyard?


What’s the quickest way to get rid of rats?

The snap traps are the fastest way to kill rats. You can put them under a milk crate or small box with a little opening to prevent other animals from activating them. 

Is there a smell that keeps rats away?

Rats don’t enjoy strong smells like peppermint oil. That’s why many gardeners plant mint around their garden. However, there isn’t scientific evidence it works. Black pepper is another smell rates hate. 

What attracts rats in the first place?

The smell is what attracts rats to a yard. Specifically, smells from pet food, garbage, pet waste, birdfeeders, grills, and fruit and nuts that remain unharvested attract both rats and mice.

Will rats return to nest in my yard?

Rats are known to return to previous nests. The condition is that the nest be undisturbed. Those who eliminate the nest will prevent return visits.

Does blocking a rat hole work?

Blocking gaps that are 10mm in diameter or larger is a priority. You should use wire wool to block smaller holes. Scrunch it and pack it tight in the hole to prevent rats from chewing through. 

Will rats hurt my pet?

It depends on the size of the rat and the pet. Some pets, both dogs and cats, make good mousers. Some are even bread specifically to dig up things like rats, gophers, and other vermin. However, large rats can defend themselves with teeth and claws and that makes not make for a winnable battle. 

Plus, rats have diseases you don’t want to be exposed to your pets.