rat peaking out from a hole in cardboard

Rat Holes, Your Home, and Stopping a Rodent Invasion

Rats and mice are potential problems for homeowners and renters in nearly any location in the United States, including across Southern California. When it comes to addressing a rat infestation in a residence (or other building), the best course of action is to stop a rodent invasion before it occurs. As part of such an effort, keeping rats away from the grounds surrounding your home before rodents have a chance to work their way inside is important. In the alternative, driving rats from the exterior of your residence is a secondary tactic that is far more preferable than rats ending up in your home. Rat holes play an important role in a strategy to keep these rodents from inside your home and eliminating them from the grounds and interior of your home should they invade the premises.

Dealing With Rat Holes in Your Lawn or Garden

As mentioned previously, it pays to be as proactive as possible when it comes to preventing a rat infestation in your home. Part of that proactive strategy should be countering the presence of rats around the exterior of your home. Indeed, this is your front line of offense against a rat infestation in your home.

This includes dealing with rat holes in your lawn or garden. There are some specific strategies that you need to consider employing to address rats that appear to have taken up residence outside of your home. Up to eight rats can inhabit a single rat hole or burrow in your yard or garden. (Keep in mind that the interior of your home is only a wall away for a rat. Moreover, as the temperature drops, rats will be more inclined to seek sanctuary inside your home, garage, or other types of building.)

The type of strategy you employ in regard to a nuisance critter in your yard depends on what type of animal has invaded your space. Thus, if you believe you have an issue with rats outside your home, being able to identify rat holes to confirm the matter is important.

Rat holes in a lawn or garden can be distinguished from those created by other types of burrowing animals. The entrance to rat holes typically is between two and four inches in diameter. The entrance of rat holes are well-packed and the interior walls are smooth in their appearance. Loose dirt from a rat’s excavating can be found around the exterior of the entrance in a fan-like manner.

Keep in mind that a rat will build more than one entryway into its burrow. Thus, when you discover an entrance, walk in a straight line away from that opening, using the structural foundation of a house or other building, a fence, or brush as a guide. When rats construct burrows outside residences and other structures, they will use these features as guides when constructed their burrows and entrances and exits into them. Staying near buildings, fences, brush and similar items or objects give rats a heightened sense of security.

There are effective, humane practices you can employ to address rats that have started to invade the grounds around your home. The bottom line is to render the ground around your home unappealing to rats.

If rat holes have appeared on your property, you need to seal them up. If you desire to follow a humane practice, you may want to first force rats to vacate these holes or burrows. One step you can take to “encourage” rats to abandon existing holes is to generously apply vinegar around all holes. You will want to apply the vinegar every day for the course of several days. This nearly always drives rats from using a hole that has been treated in his manner.

Once the “vinegar removal process” is completed, odds are you can humanely plug up existing rat holes without burying rats in the process. At this juncture, consider plugging existing holes with steel wool or copper mesh wire. Although these substances are not necessarily 100 percent effective at blocking the return of rats, these materials are the closest thing to an impenetrable solution. The reality is that rats can chew through many different types of substances, including cement (because oftentimes cement is not fully or appropriately cured, leaving it vulnerable to attack from rodents, including rats).

Although rats technically can chew through steel wool and copper mesh, they are not at all likely to want to do so. These substances can be painful for a rat to gnaw on and a rat is likely to avoid doing so.

If you’ve yet identified rats on the grounds of your residence (or business, for that matter), you can be truly proactive and take specific steps that will render your property considerably less attractive to rats (and mice).

A primary strategy that you must employ in this regard is to tightly seal up any type of waste that necessarily ends up on the exterior of your home. This includes:

  • Garbage
  • Grass and other lawn and garden waste
  • Compost

Another important tactic is to clean up after your pets on a daily basis. If you have a dog or a cat that is allowed to venture outside, clean up their feces every day. The reality is that rats will use the feces of other animals as a food source.

Eliminate any standing water around the exterior of your home. This includes even smaller areas in a garden or on your lawn at which water puddles from time to time. When water is left to pool in this manner, it becomes an attraction to rats who not only forage for sources of food but for water as well.

Fortifying Your Residence Against Rats

Despite your best efforts, you may not prevail when it comes to keeping rats at bay from your yard and even from the interior of your home. Rat holes of a different type play a role in providing you with evidence of a rat infestation of some type inside your residence.

When it comes to identifying rat holes gnawed into the structure of your home (or other building), there are some prime locations at which you should pay particular attention. These locations include areas on the exterior of your home that feature rotted or rotting materials like:

  • Wood
  • Tile
  • Bricks

Additionally, rats will take advantage of existing structural features to gain entry into a house. These can include entry points into a home for water and sewage pipes as well as gas pipe entry holes. Rats will use these as their point of egress. If necessary, a rat will use a small crack or gap as the beginning of a rat hole that allows the animal access to the premises.

Clutter on the grounds around your home, particularly next to the exterior walls of your residence, will prove attractive to rats. They will be more apt to gnaw rat holes if they have some level of cover around the exterior of your house.

Examples of clutter which provide rats cover for the construction of rat holes include:

  • Firewood piles near exterior walls
  • Shrubbery, bushes, and other vegetation abutting the exterior walls
  • An unkempt lawn next to exterior walls

Inside a residence, rats are inclined to gnaw holes in locations that include:

  • Under floorboards
  • Between and through walls
  • In an attic
  • In closets

A telltale sign of a rat hole in a residence is a small opening at the base of a wall or in a closet accompanied by a greasy “trail” on the wall or floor itself leading to the hole. Rats use urine and other substances to create this trail as a means of communicating with other rats.

Rat holes that enter into or exist inside a residence can be addressed in much the same way that those found on the grounds are resolved. Steel wool or copper mesh are generally recommended as fairly reliable means of blocking holes otherwise used by rats.

In summary, you need to be as proactive as possible in protecting your home from a rat infestation. Not only do rats cause damage to the structure of your home and objects in it, they potentially expose you and your family to disease – and sometimes seriously so. Familiarizing yourself with rat holes and their presence is a key element of getting rats off your property – or preventing them from invading your premises in the first instance.