If you want to get rats out of your yard without putting dogs, cats, and other pets in harm’s way, the following methods are most effective.
- Reduce yard clutter and trim bushes to reduce rat habitat.
- Remove any outdoor food sources rats may be drawn to.
- Use pet-safe rat traps.
- Place rodent smoke bombs in rat burrows.
- Place pet-safe rat poison in your yard.
- Implement natural scent repellents to drive rats away.
- Use electronic rat repellents.
In addition to these methods, it’s important to avoid using any rat control methods that may harm your pets. Traditional snap traps pose a danger to animals and children. Additionally, traditional rat poison is deadly to your pets. Choose a route that will protect your furry friends and drive out the rodent intruders.
What are the Signs of Rats in Your Yard?
Rats are at home in many habitats—from urban centers to ships, to your home and yard. Because they are so crafty, they can show up nearly anywhere. Look for these signs to determine if your yard has a rat problem:
- Rat Burrows: These are uncovered tunnel entrances that slant down into the dirt. Commonly found under bushes and ivy.
- Rat Droppings: Dark brown or black, about the size and shape of a large grain of rice.
- Rat Nests: These are often piles of insulation, leaves, cloth, or other soft material. You may find them in woodpiles, among garbage, or in a burrow that you excavate.
- Scratching or Climbing Sounds: Rats are adept climbers. If you hear the sound of small scrambling claws in trees, or in the eaves of your house, shed, or garage, take a closer look—it may be a rat.
It’s important to note that rats dig burrows with open entrances. This makes the burrows easy to find. It also makes them easy to tell apart from the dens of other animals. Pocket gophers plug the entrances to their burrows by pushing dirt into the opening behind them. Moles leave conical mounds with an opening at the center. Most often, a rat burrow entrance slants downward at an angle.
7 Tips to Get Rid of Rats in Your Yard Without Harming Pets
Rats breed quickly. If left uncontrolled, they can take over your yard and garden. As they do, they’ll spread diseases, such as parasitic worms and fleas, which they can transfer to your pets. Keep your pets safe by getting rid of the rats quickly with these methods.
Clean Up Your Yard
Rats thrive in places where they can find cover and hide from predators. It’s up to you to make your yard uninviting to rats. This will drive rats out and keep them out. Some ways to make your outdoor spaces less inviting for rats are:
- Trim any low-growing bushes or plants so that the lowest branches are at least 12 inches (30cm) from the ground.
- Remove ground cover plants, such as ivy. These are rat havens.
- Clean up or dispose of any outdoor trash or debris where rats may nest.
- Move any outdoor wood piles into a storage area elevated at least 18 inches (45cm) off the ground.
- Seal up entrances or holes where rats can move from your yard into your garage, shed, or home.
Rats that don’t have cover or places to safely dig burrows will not remain in your yard. Taking this step will ensure that once you do drive out the rats, they won’t return.
Remove Food Sources
If there’s something that can be eaten, rats will eat it. They build burrows in yards that present abundant food sources. To reduce rat food sources in your yard, do the following:
- Remove bird feeders.
- Use rat-proof garbage bins.
- Dispose of compost, or seal it in a rat-proof container.
- Clean any outdoor grills or barbeques. Move them into a garage or shed if possible.
- Store any livestock or pet food indoors, in rat-proof bins.
- Clean up pet waste in your yard.
- Dispose of fallen fruit and vegetables from garden plants.
If you are a prolific gardener, or you have fruit trees growing in your yard, it will be impossible to eliminate all the rat food sources. The good news is, you can maintain a thriving vegetable garden and get rid of rats with the next few methods.
Traditional rat traps are a danger to pets, children, and even yourself if precaution isn’t taken when setting them. Thankfully, there are pet-safe rat traps available on the market. These products kill rats but pose no harm to a dog or cat.
- Easy to set and re-use.
- Can be baited with food (such as peanut butter) or a non-toxic rat attractant.
Another excellent thing about these safe rat traps is that bait is loaded from the bottom, so there’s no chance of the trap snapping closed on your fingers during set-up. They can be used indoors or out to catch and kill rats.
Once you’ve found a rat burrow in your yard, half the battle’s over. Using a rodent bomb, you can kill the rats in the burrow. It’s much simpler than luring them into a trap.
- Simply put the bomb into the burrow and cover it with wood, a cinder block, or another solid object to prevent smoke from escaping.
- Keep all pets indoors until the smoke bomb has completed its work (15 minutes). Once the bomb has finished smoking, the yard is safe for pets.
In recent years, dry ice has been used as a substitute for commercial rodent bombs. The CO2 released by dry ice deprives any rats in the burrow of oxygen, killing them peacefully. However, dry ice must be handled with heavy-duty gloves and protective equipment. Consult a professional before attempting this method yourself.
Pet-Safe Rat Poison
Try using a rat poison that is harmless to humans and pets. Instead of traditional poison, bait areas of your yard with this substitute.
- Pet-safe rat poison is proven to kill rats, but will not harm pets, humans, or other wildlife.
- Place bait in small containers throughout the yard to attract and kill rats.
This product can be used with peace of mind because it not only won’t harm your pets, it also won’t kill gophers, moles, and other wildlife.
Scent as a Weapon
Rodents use scent as a primary way to distinguish threats and food sources. Certain scents interfere with a rat’s ability to find food and will drive the rats away. In order to rat-proof your yard with scent, try the following:
- Plant lavender and mint in your garden to drive out rats.
- Spray a non-toxic rat-repellent made from peppermint.
- Spray repellent every few days, concentrating on areas where rats burrow or hide.
The presence of peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus scents will drive rats from your yard. Even better, these products are non-toxic and completely harmless to pets.
Electronic Rat Repellent
You can repel rats with sound alone. An electronic rodent repeller emits sounds too high-pitched for human ears. This sound is ear-splitting to any rodents in the area and will typically drive them out within 2 weeks.
- Electronic rat repellent drives rats away by emitting ultrasonic sounds that can’t be heard by humans.
- Effective at driving out rats within 12–16 days.
- Harmless to pets.
This unconventional method works, and it’s as simple as plugging in the unit and switching it on. This eliminates the need to fuss with baits and traps at the same time it keeps your pets safe.
Rat Removal Methods to Avoid if You Own Pets
Some methods of rat and mouse removal pose a danger to your pets. If you’re a pet owner and are battling a rat invasion in your yard, do not use the following products, as it may put your animals at risk.
Traditional Rat Poison
Rat poisons come in several different varieties. Almost all are deadly to pets. If you have pets that use your yard, don’t lay out any poison that isn’t specifically marketed and proven to be pet-friendly. Rat poison can seriously harm your pets.
- Pets may be attracted to rat poison and eat it.
- Pets may play with or eat a poisoned rat, ingesting the poison secondhand.
- Use pet-safe rat poison instead.
Both firsthand and secondhand rat poisoning can be deadly to your pet. Keep your loved ones from harm by staying away from old-school rat poison.
Traditional rat traps are not a good solution for a pet owner. They are easily triggered and can snap shut on paws and noses, causing serious injury. Don’t use any traps that can be triggered by your pets.
- Pets can be injured by snap traps.
- Pets are more likely to eat or play with dead rats caught in traditional traps, exposing them to diseases carried by rats.
- Use tunnel traps that prevent accidental triggering and keep pets from reaching a trapped rat.
By avoiding these archaic traps, you can easily and effectively get rid of rats in your yard without harming pets.
How to Get Rid of Rats in the Yard Without Endangering Your Pets
By cleaning up your yard, eliminating food sources, and using scent-based products, you can get rid of rats from your yard naturally and permanently. However, rats are stubborn and resourceful and you may need to up the ante. Thankfully, there are pet-safe rat traps, poisons, and rodent bombs available on the market. Additionally, you may want to use an electronic rat repeller to drive the pests out.
Each of these solutions is safe for pets and will deliver results. You can reclaim your yard from rats without putting your pets at risk.