Common Signs of Rats in Your Garden

a rat eating leftovers on the ground
22 Jun 2023 | Trifecta Pest Solutions (UK) Ltd

Imagine strolling through your garden only to come face to face with a huge rat! This can happen and considering the UK’s estimated rat population is around 150 million (that’s nearly double the human population!) it may happen more frequently than you expect.

The key is knowing the signs of rats in garden areas and understanding their habits and behavior. By identifying the signs you can then take action and call a professional pest control company to take care of these dreaded critters.

To keep you well-informed, I have created a simple guide below that explains the common signs of rats in your garden and what to do if you find them.

Physical Indicators of Rat Presence

Spotting a potential rat infestation can be quite easy due to the array of physical indicators they leave when scurrying around your garden.

Seeing a Rat or Dead Rats

The most obvious sign is actually seeing a rat! This is pretty conclusive and if you see one of these rodents scurrying away then try to see where they go as they could be traveling to their nest. Dead rats can also be a sign although this could be the result of your pets bringing you “gifts”!

Rat Droppings and Urine

Rats are notorious for their droppings and urine and it is one of the things that makes them so undesirable. Rat droppings are typically small and brown or black and are slightly larger than a grain of rice. They will be spread over a wide area as rats really don’t care where they do their business!

The urine is easily noticeable and it will be a dark orange or brown color. Both the droppings and urine give off a strong smell and should be completely different from anything else in your garden.

Nests and Burrows

Rats are rodents and they typically create burrows and nests. You may spot the entrances to burrows in your garden or through things like holes in your shed or fence.

Rat nests are incredibly easy to spot and they are essentially a small amalgamation of random items including leaves, twigs, branches, paper, plastic, cotton, and other rubbish. You will often find them in attics or the corners of buildings.

Disturbed Soil and Vegetation

When rats are scurrying around they leave mess and destruction so you can expect to find random disturbed solids and vegetation in your garden too. The disruption may not be as obvious compared to something like a dog or cat trampling through your garden.

Plant and Crop Damage

You will also notice extensive damage to your plants, trees, and any crops if you have a vegetable patch and this is one of the main reasons you want to get rid of the rats!

Chewed Garden Plants

You can guarantee that you will start to notice your plants and flowers with chew marks on them as rats will try and eat anything! Basically, anything that is green in your garden is at risk and the bite marks will be larger than what you would expect from caterpillars and flies.

Seed and Bulb Consumption

Similarly, the appetites of these rodents know no bounds and they will not hesitate to attack your seeds and bulbs too. If you have a vegetable patch or bird feeders then you may notice a shortage or plant bulbs mysteriously being half eaten.

Girdling of Tree Trunks

Girdling is an occurrence when the bark of a tree has been completely worn away so that the wood underneath is visible. This can occur naturally over time, but if you see girdling lower down at the base of trees in your garden then it can be an indicator of rats.

You have to think about this one carefully as other animals can scratch tree bark too - it could simply be your cat for example using your trees as a scratching post!

Other Signs of a Potential Rat Infestation

There are other common signs of rats in garden enclosures too including:

  • Garden furniture gnawed
  • Unusual noises
  • Pet behaviour changes
  • A strong ammonia smell

Rats never seem to stop chewing and feeding, therefore, you can expect gnawing marks on anything in your garden including wooden furniture.

If you have pets like cats and dogs you may notice a stark change in their behaviour too. If the pet senses the presence of rats or a nest, they will most likely patrol the area trying to catch them. You may notice them continually going back to a certain area or sitting in one place staying alert.

An ammonia-like smell is a key giveaway for the presence of rats too as their urine typically smells like this. It can be overpowering and incredibly strong - particularly near the rat’s nest. Of course, you may hear random scratching sounds and other strange noises which are key indicators too.

Rat Prevention and Control Measures

Some people don’t mind rats but they can wreak havoc in your garden, cause damage, and even potential health issues so if you do see signs of these pests on your property, it is best to get in touch with professional rat exterminators.

I advise against trying to tackle the issue yourself as you have no real way of knowing how many rats there are or where their nest is. Also, using something like rat poison when you are untrained can be potentially dangerous - especially for kids and pets.

A professional pest control company can take care of your rat problem effectively and make sure that the rats are eliminated. This gives you peace of mind and ensures that your garden and property isn’t destroyed.