How to Find Rat Burrows

By Chris Williams on June 22, 2015.

norwegian rat on a barrelWe’ve seen what we think is a rat in our backyard on more than one occasion. We can’t find any burrows though. Where would the burrow be located? P. N., Hooksett, NH



First, don’t assume though that rats are nesting on your property. Home for that rat could be next door or down the street. A rat that is foraging for food can travel hundreds of feet on that quest. But a normal foraging distance for a rat is 25 to 100 feet from its nest.

Rats will nest as close as they can get to a reliable food source. We’ll assume your rat is our common brown, or Norway, rat. These rats usually live outside in dirt burrows. Yet they don’t dig their burrows just anywhere or out in the open. They like to burrow under concrete slabs, foundations, porches, sidewalks, large stones, woodpiles, or at the edge of other large objects on the ground.

Look for Possible Rat Food Sources

In your case, I would first ask myself whether I am unknowingly providing food for rats. Begin your burrow search starting with the location of outside food sources like garbage cans, bird feeders, garden produce, fallen fruit, or outside pet food dishes. Work outward from these sites, looking for burrows nearby and especially under the heavy items mentioned above. Rats also like to burrow under heavy vegetation like dense shrubbery, or ivy or other ground covers. So you may have to move some plants to find the burrow openings.

How Do You Know if It’s a Rat’s Burrow?

A rat’s burrow opening is about 2-3 inches across with edges that are smooth from use. A newly dug, or re-dug, burrow will have fresh dirt strewn around the opening in a fan shape. There will usually be secondary (“bolt”) holes into the central burrow as well. A typical burrow is less than 3 feet long and less than 18 inches deep.

Probe into the opening to make sure that it really is a burrow opening and doesn’t end in a couple of inches. If there is loose soil outside of the burrow, you can check it for rat footprints. You may see rat droppings around the burrow opening or near the food source. Droppings are cylindrical and blunt at both ends, black, ¾ inch long, and often contain hairs.

Our technicians can help you out. They know what rat burrows look like and where to find rats. Even if the rat is not nesting on your property, you don’t want him visiting regularly either. We can inspect your property for rat activity and can trap or bait for rats. Give Colonial Pest a call today!

For more on rat burrows and rat nest sites, see these blogs:

Photo credit: bayercropscienceuk / Foter / CC BY



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