Rat holes in garden – here’s what to do

No one likes finding rats in their garbage or running around in their garden. If you’re anything like me, the sight of a rat sends shivers down my spine. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to get rid of rats in your garden and keep them away for good. In this post, I’ll discuss how to prevent rats from entering your garden and how to prevent them from leaving holes:

rat burrows

Table of Contents

Rat holes in garden

Rats don’t always infest homes, in a lot of cases, your yard is more than adequate to meet their needs. If you have rats in your garden, the best thing you can do is figure out how they’re entering in the first place. After that, here are is are some ways to get rid of them:

  • Eliminate any potential food sources
  • Fix leaking pipes and faucets
  • Keep all vegetation on your property mowed and maintained as low as possible.
  • Maintain garden by picking fruits and vegetables regularly
  • Flush Out the Hole
  • Apply Deterrents Around the Hole
  • Keep Your Garden Well Maintained
  • Block the Holes With Mesh or Chicken Wire
  • Smoke out the holes
  • Contact a local pest control company
rats burrow

What Do Rat Holes Look Like?

The easiest way to tell if a hole was made by a rat is by looking at the size of the opening. A rat hole is usually 2-4 inches in diameter and is smooth from use.

The difficulty of finding rat holes highlights the importance of hiring a licensed pest control company. They appear as gaps created by crumbling mortar and cracks in foundations. Rats usually enter their nests through quiet areas which is why you rarely find rat holes near doorways.

Rats create large burrows underground as protection from the elements above ground. Within these burrows and pathways are different places where they store their food and other areas where they rest and generally live. In most cases, there is usually one main entrance and 1-2 smaller entrances (which are often less obvious). A lot of people make the mistake of sealing the main entrance to the rat burrow whilst forgetting about the other 2 smaller entrances/ exits. These smaller holes enable the rats to move quickly when they sense a threat.

Rats usually choose sandy soil as a place to build their nests which is usually close to food and water sources. To make matters more frustrating, these nests are normally somewhat concealed. In my experience of finding rat holes, I have usually found them under bushes or different types of dense vegetation.

Quick things to look out for

When you’re trying to work out if it is indeed a rat hole you have found, there are some obvious giveaways. I have written an article about small holes in lawn overnight which outlines holes made by different garden pests. Let’s find out what you should look out for if you suspect you have rat holes:

  • Dark track marks – if you see a run of dark grease or oil marks, chances are it’s from a rat running through the area. These rats usually leave their smudge marks as they travel from their holes to their food source and back again.
  • Poop droppings – as well as seeing grease marks, you may also find small piles of droppings. These usually look like black pellets.
  • Strong putrid smell – if you suspect there are rats in the area, take a step back and have a smell. In my experience, you can usually smell them before you see them. As rats have no control over their bladders, they usually defecate everywhere, the urine is one of the main reasons for the strong smell.
rat droppings

How Do I Get Rid of Rat Holes in My Garden?

Hopefully, you have now been able to identify if you have rat holes in your garden. In the following paragraphs, I’m going to cover some of the best ways that you can prevent rat holes from forming in the first place and also how to eliminate rats:

Eliminate any potential food sources outdoors

One of the best ways to prevent rats from taking up residence in your garden is by removing any potential food sources. This means that you need to keep your outdoor area tidy and free from any rubbish or leftover food. If you have a compost heap, it’s important to make sure that it’s covered so that rats can’t get to the food scraps. It’s also a good idea to turn the compost regularly so that it doesn’t start to rot.

It’s important to make sure that you don’t leave pet food outdoors as this will attract rats (and other pests) to your property. A lot of people make the mistake of feeding their pets outside as they don’t want to run the risk of dirtying their kitchen floors. Rats love pet food, so if they find leftover food on your decking or patio then they will keep coming back for more.

One thing to note is that if you have an increase in the rat population in your yard, you can bet your bottom dollar that you will also attract other unwanted visitors like snakes. Snakes love to consume vermin, so if you have a lot of rats then you may start to see snakes in your garden too.

rat nests

Fix leaking pipes and faucets

Rats are attracted to water, so if you have any leaking pipes or faucets then this will be a beacon for them. Not only will they be drawn to the water but they will also use the pipes as a way to gain access to your property. To prevent this from happening, you need to make sure that all of your outdoor pipes and faucets are in good working order.

If you do have a problem with rats then one thing that you can do is to put some wire mesh over any exposed pipes. This will stop them from being able to gnaw through the pipes and gain access to your home.

leaking pipes and faucets

Keep all vegetation on your property mowed and maintained

Overgrown vegetation is the perfect place for rats to hide and build their nests. If you have long grass, weeds or bushes then you need to make sure that you keep them trimmed on a regular basis. This will not only stop rats from being able to hide but it will also make it easier for you to spot any potential rat holes.

If you have fruit trees on your property then it’s important to pick up any fallen fruit as this can attract rats (and other pests). Fallen fruit is like a buffet for rats so if they find an easy food source then they will keep coming back for more.

norway rat

Flush Out the Hole With Water

If you have found a rat hole in your garden then one thing that you can do is to flush it out with water. This will force the rats out of their nest and make it easier for you to eliminate them.

To do this, you need to find a hosepipe that will fit into the hole. If the hole is too small then you can try using a watering can. Once you have the hosepipe or watering can in place, turn on the water and let it flow into the hole. The pressure of the water should be enough to force the rats out of their nest.

Once the rats are out, you need to block up the hole so that they can’t get back in. One way to do this is to fill the hole with soil or sand. Another option is to put a wire mesh over the hole. This will stop the rats from being able to regain entry.

use a hose to flush out rats

Apply Deterrents Around the Hole

You should never put down rodent poisons without first consulting a pest professional. This is even more important if you have pets or small children, as they are more susceptible to picking up and eating what they find. Instead of using poison, use deterrents that will stop the rodents from coming into your home or garden in the first place.

Sprinkling cayenne pepper is a popular rodent repellant. Any nesting rats will be driven away by the pepper around the hole’s perimeter and even within the hole. If you’re looking to get rid of rats, this is an excellent method. This will also prevent any damage to plants or fruits and vegetables in your garden and will not harm the foliage if applied directly to plant leaves or outer skin.

use pepper for rats

Smoke out the holes

If you have a rat problem, then you can try smoking them out of their holes. This is a relatively simple process and all you need is a smoke bomb or a smudge stick. To do this, light the smoke bomb or smudge stick and place it at the entrance to the rat hole. The smoke will then travel down the hole and force the rats out. Once they are out, you can block up the hole so that they can’t get back in.

This method is ideal for getting rid of rats that are living in your attic or eaves. It’s also a good option if you have a lot of holes to deal with as it’s quick and easy to do.

Contact a professional pest control company

If you have tried all of the above methods and you are still having problems with rats then it’s time to contact a professional pest control company. They will be able to provide you with a more comprehensive solution to your rat problem and will also be able to advise you on how to prevent rats from returning in the future.


So hopefully you now have more of an understanding of how rats are attracted to your property and how to correctly identify a rat hole. Let’s summarise what we’ve learnt:

  • A rat hole is typically 2-4 inches in diameter
  • Rats leave dark greasy track marks, droppings and a strong smell around their nesting holes
  • To prevent rats you should, eliminate food sources
  • Fix leaking pipes
  • Maintain your garden and keep it neat and tidy
  • Flush out the hole by using high-pressure water
  • Use deterrents like pepper and sprinkle around the holes
  • Block holes using chicken wire or mesh
  • Smoke out the holes using a smoke-bomb or smudge stick
  • Contact a pest control company if the above fails
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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

I hope you enjoy reading some of the content and ideas from this site, I tend to share articles and product reviews on a daily basis, so be rest assured… you won’t run out of things to read!

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