Rats may create underground burrows or pathways from the nest to where they get their food source in order to escape the predators. Such burrows are usually found in the bushes or in other types of dense vegetation. The rat’s burrow may have one main entrance with exit holes away from the main entrance. You can find the runways near the grass or the walls. The rats will run in the same place many times and they will leave a worn down path in the grass or in the dark greasy track mark on the foundation of walls. The fecal droppings on the runway or in the place where they feed can be a new sign for the rat infestation.
When you see a hole, it may have been dug by a rat, but you have to remember that there are other animals that also dig holes like deer mice, moles and voles. The brown rats can make their nest in any place such as in the ceiling voids, the wall, upholstered furniture, crawlspaces and the attic. However, when they are outdoors, the rats are burrowers naturally and they can make the burrow under heavy objects like concrete slabs and rocks. They like to dig the burrow under a concrete slab where dumpsters are since they will still have a cozy home and the food will be ready from the dumpster. They may also dig under thick and low shrubbery and under trees like English ivy. A rat burrow will typically not go farther down into the ground than 18 inches, but it can be deeper if the rat is trying to dig under the foundation. The burrows that are not over 3 feet long with the central nest area can be filled using soft debris, grass and leaves.
The size of the burrow opening is a key factor in determining if you are looking at the hole of the rat or of another animal. A rat’s hole has an entrance of 2 to 4 inches in diameter, and it is smooth because of being used. The opening will most of the time have dirt that is freshly excavated. To know whether the hole is being used, you can fill the burrow using debris or collapse it partially so that you can come back and check if the entrance has been reopened. The rat may have escape holes or secondary holes where they hide things. After identifying that the holes are that of the rats, then they may be trapped or they may be killed using rodenticide.
We are the Pest Education Network, a non-profit organization that focuses on wildlife and pest removal education. Our approach utilizes Integrated Pest Management, a strategy advocating prevention and humane methods.