The best way to get rid of a rat hole in your garden is to make it undesirable for rats. Using poisonous baits and traps can seem quick fixes, but they only work until the next rat moves in. Taking steps to eliminate food and shelter for rats will cause the rats to move elsewhere. Survey the area for places where rats may find food. Rats rarely travel more than 100 to 150 feet of their burrows for food. Your goal should be to find their food and eliminate it. Then you can get rid of the hole without fear of the rats returning.
Hang a net or pan under any bird feeders to catch spilt seed. You may opt to stop feeding birds for a short period until you get rid of the rats.
Remove any overgrown areas or rubbish that rats use for shelter.
Store firewood, lumber, crates, and other items at least 8 inches off the ground. Stacks should be at least 18 inches from the wall.
Keep trash and garden debris in metal cans with tight lids.
Thin any dense vegetation to make it less attractive to rats. Areas with dense vines like ivy, star jasmine, and honeysuckle are very attractive to rats. Thin or remove them.
Prune bushes and shrubs so they are several inches from the ground.
Don't leave any dog or cat food sitting out. Pick up any pet bowls that are unattended. Store bird or pet food and seeds in airtight plastic containers.
Pick up any pet droppings. Rats will eat and can survive by eating faeces.
Clean up any fruit, nuts, and seed pods from the ground.
Rototill the area between your plants to remove any plant material and destroy any burrows or tunnels under the ground.
Fill in the burrow with soil or dirt. If possible, place some used cat litter in the hole before sealing it. Cat urine will cause most rats to leave. Cover the cat litter with dirt, and pack it down so the soil is secure.
Don't use poison for kangaroo rats if there is a chance it may be one of five endangered species: Fresno kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides exilis); giant kangaroo rat (D. ingens); Morro Bay kangaroo rat (D. heermanni morroensis); Stephens' kangaroo rat (D. stephensi, including D. cascus); and Tipton kangaroo rat (D. nitratoides nitratoides).
Tips and warnings
- Don't use poison for kangaroo rats if there is a chance it may be one of five endangered species: Fresno kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides exilis); giant kangaroo rat (D. ingens); Morro Bay kangaroo rat (D. heermanni morroensis); Stephens' kangaroo rat (D. stephensi, including D. cascus); and Tipton kangaroo rat (D. nitratoides nitratoides).
- University of California IPM Online; Rats; T. P. Salmon, et al.; January 2003
- Washington State University; Garden Friends and Foes; Todd Murray
- Washington State University Extension; Principles of Vertebrate Pest Management; Dave Pehling; July 2008
- Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management; Norway Rats; Robert M. Timm; 1994
- Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management; Kangaroo Rats; Volney W. Howard, Jr.