How to Get Rid of Rats in Your Yard and Keep Them Away for Good

Rats are clever, curious rodents who thrive on the outskirts of our homes and businesses. They make a better living off our scraps and trash than they can in truly wild lands. These canny critters are extraordinarily adept at survival, making getting rid of them challenging. Rather than using powerful poisons or cruel traps that can harm other forms of wildlife, the most effective way to get rid of rats in the yard is to stop giving them what they need. When you roll up the welcome mat, rats move on, looking for a cushy home elsewhere.

Signs You Have a Rat Problem in Your Yard

The most obvious sign you have rats is when you see one scuttling across your path or spot that long, naked tail whisking away through the foliage. (Ugh!) But there are other signs you may spot that indicate you have rats in the yard:

  • Rat Droppings: Rat droppings look like small, dark, rice-like pellets, pointy at one end and rounded at the other. You’ll find droppings near food or the rats’ runways.
  • Gnaw Marks: Rats’ teeth never stop growing, so they must gnaw constantly to keep them worn down. Gnaw marks on wooden fence posts, plant stakes, bags of soil, or organic plant food are common signs.
  • Damage to Plants and Vegetables: Like many pests, rats feast on our plants, especially fruits and vegetables. Half-eaten veggies or plants indicate someone is busy in the yard.
  • Burrows: Rats form burrows near walls or fences. A burrow has an opening about 2 to 4 inches wide, and all debris is cleared away from the hole.
  • Funky Smell: A weird smell, like stale ammonia, can indicate a rodent problem.
  • Footprints: Soft soils and mud may show tiny, thin footprints as rats go about their business. Rat tracks show four toes on the front feet and five on the back.

If you note any of these signs, it’s time to learn how to get rid of rats in the yard.

Why It’s Important to Get Rid of Rats in Your Yard

Some homeowners want an oasis free from anyone but family, while others are not just tolerant of wildlife — they cultivate it. The world is big enough for both views, but even wildlife lovers should not welcome rats as neighbors. Not only are the rodents utterly filthy, scattering their urine and feces everywhere they go (sorry!), but they also carry a wide range of diseases, bacteria, parasites, and germs that can make people and pets sick. Further, unlike most wildlife, rats are delighted to move right into your outbuildings or even your home, where they promptly cause significant property damage. Feed the birds and watch the deer if you like, but getting rid of rats in the yard is critical.

Understanding Why Rats Invade Your Yard

Rats are highly practical and come to your yard looking for just three things: food, water, and shelter. These essentials are typically easier to come by in our yards than “in the wild.”
While rats can climb trees in search of nests full of eggs or baby birds, rooting around in our garbage is far easier and more rewarding. Spilled birdseed and leftover pet food are also welcome meals. Leaky faucets, full catch trays, and water caught in tire swings or debris offer the water they need. Cultivated soil, long grass, and overgrown shrubs and flower beds provide plenty of shelter. Eliminating these attractants is the key to getting rid of rats in the yard.

How to Make Your Yard Unattractive to Rats

Leaky faucets and spilled birdseed act like the equivalent of a neon motel “vacancy” sign on the highway. The best way to get rid of rats in the yard starts with eliminating the amenities they come for. Take these steps for effective rodent control:

  • Eliminate food sources in the yard.
    • Temporarily remove bird feeders.
    • Clean up all spilled birdseed, and tightly secure any stored seed.
    • Tightly seal all garbage cans and keep them clean.
    • Keep the composter tightly closed.
    • Harvest fruits, vegetables, and nuts promptly.
    • Don’t leave pet food outdoors.
  • Eliminate leaks and standing water.
    • Fix leaky faucets and irrigation.
    • Empty plants’ catch trays and bird baths until the problem is resolved.
    • Eliminate clutter that can hold water after a rainfall.
    • Unclog and clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Eliminate hiding and highways.
    • Mow the grass regularly.
    • Trim all shrubs, vines, and trees, keeping growth away from the walls and roofline.
    • Chop up fallen leaves, and do not mulch more than 3 inches deep.
    • Choose large bark chip mulch rather than finely shredded materials.

How to Trap Rats in Your Yard

We know you’d rather clean up the yard ten times than trap a single rat. The tips listed above will eventually succeed in getting rid of rats in your yard, but if you’ve got a bad infestation, you may be reluctant to wait.

When ridding your yard of rats is urgent, snap traps are highly effective. Set the trap along the rats’ runways and bait it with peanut butter. A nonlethal trap that catches multiple animals without hurting them is a tall, smooth-sided bucket with peanut butter and crackers in the bottom. Provide a ramp for the rodents to climb and use a purpose-built lid that drops the hungry rodent into the bucket. The smooth sides prevent the rats (mice or squirrels) from climbing back out. Then, drive at least a mile away to release the animals away from housing.

Considering Professional Rodent Extermination

If your rat problem is bigger than you can manage, consider rat exterminators. Mosquito Joe® offers effective methods for getting rid of rats in your yard, so you don’t have to face the problem alone. We’re mindful of the potential impact on the environment and other wildlife, so we avoid potent poisons and killing traps. Instead, we use humane lures to trap every rodent on your premises. We remove them from your property and leave a repellent in strategic locations to prevent local populations from moving in.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Mosquito Joe!

When knowing how to get rid of rats in the yard isn’t enough to get ahead of the problem, call on the pros at Mosquito Joe. We’ll make sure they scuttle away and leave your property in peace. Not sure what kind of pest you have in your yard? Our Mosquito Joe pros can tell the difference between rats or other rodents. The Neighborly Done Right Promise™ and Mosquito Joe Satisfaction Guarantee back all of our pest control services, ensuring your satisfaction.

If you’ve got something better to do than learn how to get rid of large rats outside, we’re ready to help! Request a free quote today.


Warning Signs of a Rodent Infestation

There they are again — those strange scratching and skittering sounds that might be coming from the wall. Surely, it’s not what you dread most — a rodent infestation (ugh!). Unfortunately, mice, rats, and other rodents do move into buildings, seeking warmth, food, and shelter. While winter’s cold is a primary force driving these critters indoors, storms, rain, and drought can do so, too. Before you panic over the sounds, look for other signs of a rodent infestation. Rest assured, if you need rodent control, Mosquito Joe® will handle it for you.


If you discover dark gray, brown, or black pellets that look like grains of wild rice scattered in a drawer, on the breadboard, or in your cupboards, those are likely rodent droppings. (Cockroach droppings look similar.) Droppings left near a food source are often the first signs of a rodent infestation people encounter in their homes.

Gnaw Marks

Mice and rats chew through cereal and cracker boxes in search of food. If you find bite marks on cardboard boxes or plastic bags, it’s a good indication that you may have rodents in the house. The larger the tooth marks, the bigger the beast that left them.

Chewed Wires or Materials

Rodents chew on everything. Once they are in your home, they continue chewing — on the baseboards, drywall, doors, electrical cords, ledges, and anything that gets them closer to food.

Urine Stains

Urine stains are another common sign of a rodent infestation. The urine may be soaked up by cardboard, paper towels, and other absorbent materials. In that case, you’ll just see the stain left behind. You may also notice a dirty smudge or smear along your baseboards. These are urine stains tracked by tiny feet as they move about your home.

Nesting Materials

If you discover shredded paper, paper towels, fabric, or other small bits of soft material gathered or in a pile, you have found a rodent’s nesting materials. While they sometimes nest for comfort, the most common reason they nest is because they are planning a family.

Scratching or Scurrying Sounds

Back to the unexplained sounds: Gnawing can sound like scratching, and rodents make scurrying, scuttling sounds as they race across the floor, along the baseboards, or within walls. Chances are you are hearing rodents if you’re also hearing high-pitched squeaking.

Pets Acting Strangely

Sometimes, the first indication of mice or rats in the house is the reaction of your cat or dog. If you notice your pets acting strangely, scratching at a wall, or gravitating toward one specific room, look for other signs of rodent activity.

Strange Smells

Strange smells like stale ammonia are another sign of a rat infestation, as they are indicative of rodent urine and droppings. A potent smell reminiscent of rotting cabbage is another odor associated with mice and rats. It is the smell of a dead, decaying rodent. (Blech!)

Live or Dead Rodents

If you spot a rodent in your home, living or dead, there’s a good chance you have more. They are social creatures and reproduce quickly.

Why Is Identifying Signs of a Rodent Infestation Important?

While some people would shriek in fright at the very notion of a rodent in the house, others take a live-and-let-live approach. That can be a fine attitude with wildlife outdoors, but you really must avoid a rodent infestation in your home. Protecting your family’s health and preventing property damage are the best reasons to watch for signs of a rodent infestation.

Rodents are known to carry many diseases, including several that can spread to people directly and indirectly. Diseases like Hantavirus, Tularemia, and Monkeypox are spread directly through contact with an infected animal, such as eating contaminated food, touching their urine or feces, or getting bitten or scratched. Other diseases like Plague, Lyme disease, and Colorado tick fever are contracted indirectly by beIfflea, tick, or mosquito that previously bit an infected rodent.

In addition to carrying disease, rodents cause tremendous property damage. Americans splash out hundreds of millions of dollars repairing property damaged by rodent infestations every year. Most insurance companies do not cover the damage rodents do to HVAC equipment, electrical wiring, roofing, flooring, walls, baseboards, or furniture.

How to Prevent Rodent Infestation

The very best rodent control is rodent prevention. The goal is twofold:

  • Stop attracting rodents to your home and property, and
  • Deny them entry to your home.

What attracts rodents, pets, or any wildlife to your property are the things they need to survive. Food, water, warmth, shelter, and propagation support are the resources they are hunting. If your property provides what they need, they’ll move in, which brings them closer to your home. If rodents take up residence in your garden, they’ll come into your home the next time they cannot meet their needs outdoors. There are several steps to effectively prevent a rodent infestation:

  • Seal up entry points to your home.
  • Install screens on chimneys and vents.
  • Keep all food and food waste cleaned up and sealed away.
  • Store firewood properly.
  • Trim shrubs and trees.
  • Keep the yard tidy and clean.
  • Eliminate leaky fixtures.
  • Use natural deterrents.
  • Hire professional residential pest control.

Why Hiring a Professional Rodent Control Is Better Than DIY

Preventing a rodent infestation is where homeowners should focus their efforts. If you catch a single mouse investigating the premises, DIY efforts may be all that’s needed. But once the mouse’s friends and relatives have moved in, the situation quickly spirals out of control. Often, it’s difficult to find or reach the heart of the colony, leaving your best efforts just nibbling at the edges of the problem. A female mouse gives birth to a litter of five to six babies between five and ten times a year. This rapid birth rate plus the rodents’ extraordinary survival skills make professional rodent control a better bet than DIY strategies.

Worried About Rodents In Your Home or Business? Call Mosquito Joe!

When you see signs of a rodent infestation on your property, call the pest control experts at Mosquito Joe. Our comprehensive pest control services include keeping rodents out of your home or business. We evaluate your property to locate nesting sites and runways the rodents repeatedly use to get to their food sources. We treat these locations and form a barrier around your structures to keep the critters outside.

Trust Mosquito Joe to protect your family and property. All our work is backed by the Neighborly Done Right Promise™ and the Mosquito Joe Guarantee because the job’s not done until it’s done right.

Request a free quote today, and look forward to a rodent-free tomorrow — with Mosquito Joe!


How to Prevent a Rodent Infestation in 9 Steps


Scuttling sounds in the attic and walls can be unnerving for any homeowner. Chewing marks on packaged foods. And droppings. Yuck! If you’re dealing with a rodent problem and you’re losing the war, let’s explore how to get rid of rodent infestations. Or, better yet, how to prevent rodent infestation so you’ll never be faced with this. You can keep your home protected from these unwanted intruders by taking these nine steps. So read on and learn how to get rid of rodent infestation and how to prevent rodent infestation in your home.

Step 1: Seal Up Entry Points

All animals seek shelter from the weather, predators, and as a place to raise their young. A home that is not properly sealed is like a beacon for rodents and insects with tiny cracks and gaps serving as a “vacancy” sign. Some rodents can squeeze through an opening as tiny as a dime. Figuring out how to prevent rodent infestation at your home starts with identifying entry points and sealing them up. Let rodents know there is “no vacancy” at your home, and they’re not getting in.

Start by doing a thorough pest inspection of your home’s exterior. Check for cracks in the walls, gaps in windows and doors, and spaces around pipes or vents. Seal these potential entryways with caulk or steel wool secured by caulk to make your home less accessible to critters. Depending on the size of the opening, wood, cement, or material may be needed to properly seal the opening. Not only is this an effective way to get rid of a rodent infestation, but it also keeps a host of other pests outside where they belong.

Step 2: Keep Your Home Clean

Rodents are opportunistic creatures. When they invade your home, they’re not just searching for shelter; they’re also hunting for their next meal. Dirty dishes, accessible trash bins, pet food left out, and crumbs on countertops serve as a free rodent buffet. And who doesn’t like a free meal? Once the word is out, you’ll have a full-blown infestation on your hands. Effective rodent prevention requires shutting down the buffet line. Washing dishes promptly, taking out the trash regularly, and keeping food secured in containers, and storage areas crumb-free denies these freeloaders the free food they crave. Don’t forget cluttered areas like basements and garages provide perfect nesting material, as well as a great place to hide. Remember, a clean home not only sparkles but also keeps rodents at bay.

Step 3: Store Firewood Properly

What looks like an innocent stack of firewood may be a cozy hideout for the local mice and rats. Improperly stored firewood is an open invitation to these pests, who can nestle between pieces and be carried inside with the next load. So, it’s important to learn how to prevent rodents from hitching a ride. Start by storing firewood at least 20 feet away from your home. Cover it with a tarp and keep it raised about a foot off the ground. This also helps the wood dry out, so it is less attractive to rodents and other pests. A well-maintained firewood pile is a small but significant step toward robust rodent prevention.

Step 4: Trim Trees and Shrubs

Overhanging tree branches and lush shrubs around your house can inadvertently become a welcome mat for rodents. These climbing critters can easily use branches as direct routes to your chimney, attic or walls. So, let’s determine how to prevent rodents from making this trek. If you trim trees and shrubs to maintain a 6-foot distance from your house, you’ll disrupt the rodents’ travel plans. They won’t have a direct passageway to your home, and they’ll have no cover, so you can more easily spot any signs of rodent infestation. Your garden is your first line of defense in keeping your home rodent-free. Planting herbs around your garden can serve as a protective wall to keep rodents out of your home. Herbs that emit a strong smell, such as mint (especially peppermint), catnip, rosemary, sage, lavender, oregano, and basil are effective at keeping these unwelcome visitors away from the area.

Step 5: Install Screens on Vents and Chimneys

We rely on vent and chimney openings to maintain healthy air quality in our homes. Unfortunately, they also provide easy access for rodents. Want to know how to get rid of a rodent infestation on your roof? Install screens or caps on your chimney and vent openings! Installing vent screens is pretty simple, but it may require access to your roof. This essential step will support your rodent prevention efforts and stops other unwanted critters from dropping in too. Regularly checking your screens for damage and ensuring they remain securely attached is also an important part of this process.

Step 6: Keep Your Yard Tidy and Clean

Just as an untidy home can attract rodents, so can a cluttered yard. Overgrown foliage, garden waste, scattered birdseed, uncovered pet food, and fallen fruit can create a haven for rodents, leading to a potential rodent infestation. And they can easily venture from the yard to your home. So, how do you get rid of a rodent infestation in your yard? You shut down the smorgasbord by keeping your yard well-maintained. That is a key piece of guidance on how to prevent rodents from venturing into your home.

Regular lawn maintenance, including mowing, pruning, harvesting, and debris removal, can help dissuade rodents from setting up camp in your yard. Make sure to pick up birdseed and cover pet food tightly. When your yard is not providing a feast, rodents will be less likely to descend upon it.

Step 7: Fix Leaks and Moisture Problems

Like us, rodents need water to survive. Even the smallest leak can turn your home or garden into a rodent watering hole. Addressing leaks and moisture problems both inside and outside of your home is a crucial part of how to prevent rodent infestation. Check pipes, faucets, and irrigation systems for leaks to ensure that they are working effectively. It’s also important to keep gutters clean and working properly so water doesn’t accumulate around the exterior of your home. Fixing these issues prevents damage to your home and also removes a key attractant for rodents (mosquitos, too!). Remember, when it comes to rodent prevention, a dry house is far less inviting.

Step 8: Use Natural Deterrents

You can also keep rodents away from your home with natural deterrents. One way is to leverage their strong sense of smell against them. Using scents they find unpleasant Like, cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil or vinegar that are placed near entry points or in areas where you see signs of rodent activity can prove to be very effective. These scents are known to deter rodents, as does cayenne pepper and cloves. Once rodents get a whiff of any of these, they’ll be happy to seek shelter elsewhere.

Step 9: Hire a Pest Control Professional

In the battle against rodent infestation, sometimes the best strategy is calling in the experts. Pest control professionals like Mosquito Joe® utilize in-depth knowledge, experience, and access to professional-grade tools and products to protect your home and property. They offer comprehensive pest control services that not only help in getting rid of an existing infestation but also provide strategies for future rodent prevention.

Your friendly Mosquito Joe pest control expert can show you how to get rid of a rodent infestation effectively and efficiently. So, let us take this unpleasant task off your hands! By identifying and blocking potential entry points and removing attractants, we can protect you and your family from rodent issues. Remember, sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

Don’t Wait — Take Action Today!

Understanding how to get rid of a rodent infestation starts with a proactive plan and consistent execution. Remember, rodents breed quickly, and a small issue can become a large infestation in no time. Begin by inspecting your home for signs of rodent infestation, sealing up potential entry points, and maintaining cleanliness both inside and outside of your home. Don’t allow rodents to make your home theirs.

Finally, for rodent control you can trust, call on the pros at your local Mosquito Joe. The Neighborly Done Right Promise™ and the Mosquito Joe® Satisfaction Guarantee back all our work, so you know you’ll be pleased. Request a free estimate online or give us a call at 1-855-275-2563.

Let Mosquito Joe put an end to your rodent infestation.


Winter Pest Control Tips

Winter Pest Control Tips

It’s tempting to embrace the chilly winter months, trusting the cold to prevent problems with pests. After all, most pests, like mosquitoes, die in winter, right? Nope. While many pests are most active in spring and summer, some may show up in your home in winter, seeking shelter from the chilly temperatures. So, is pest control necessary in the winter? The answer is yes. For the sake of safety and hygiene, you do need pest control in winter months too.

Common Winter Pests

Our homes make cozy shelters for winter pests, which include an array of mammals and insects looking for warmth. Around the country, people frequently discover mice, rats, squirrels, bats, birds, cockroaches, moths, fleas, bed bugs, and spiders entering through chimneys, attics, small gaps, and wall openings designed for wiring and pipes. They come searching for food, water, and warmth. So, your winter pest control efforts should focus on denying them the essentials they need for survival. Read on for our best tips to control winter pests.

Seal Entry Points

Winter pest control begins with denying entrance to your home. Seal off the many entry points that winter pests exploit. Ensure that all doors and windows fit snugly. Even a tiny gap is wide enough for silverfish, cockroaches, or mosquitoes to enter. You would be amazed at how mice can squeeze through very small openings. If a pencil can fit through a hole, so can a mouse. Check every screen to be sure it fits well, with no tears or frayed holes. Caulk small cracks and seal all wall penetrations where pipes and power cords pass through. Expandable polyurethane foam is an excellent solution for filling holes and gaps in walls and around pipes.

Screen Vents to Chimneys

It is, of course, essential to properly vent a working chimney. Vents allow the smoke and ash to escape outdoors instead of entering your home. But the chimney is also a large, inviting space for rats, squirrels, bats, birds, raccoons, and other winter pests to enter, looking for a place to hide out and get warm. Vinyl screens can be chewed through. Instead, install a metal chimney screen. If you have a chimney screen (also referred to as an exterior spark arrestor) in place, inspect it to be certain it fits well and is in good condition.

Store Food Properly

Thus far, our winter pest control tips have focused on denying critters entry to your home. But another essential facet of winter pest control is to stop luring them to your home in the first place. Cleaning up the kitchen, securely sealing away all food, and keeping an air-tight lid on the trash and pet food will make your home less enticing. Also, keep spilled seeds from bird feeders cleaned up or away from the house, so they don’t attract winter pests.

Store Firewood at Least 20 Feet Away From Your Home

Stacked firewood creates an inviting habitat for many winter pests. They can hunker down and find good hiding spots within the stacks of wood. Unfortunately, that makes it easy to miss them and to carry them right over your threshold when you want to build a fire. So, be sure to keep firewood neatly stacked, well away from your home. It is best to keep it off the ground, supported on bricks or concrete blocks, while allowing airflow underneath the wood. This prevents moisture from collecting under the wood to attract insects. For winter pest control, plan to burn the wood as soon as you bring it indoors. This ensures that any hiding insects or eggs get destroyed. It’s also a good practice to give each piece of wood a quick inspection before bringing it into your home.

Keep Your Home Clean

Good housekeeping is an integral part of winter pest control. In addition to keeping food picked up and put away, you should wipe up crumbs and spills promptly. Dusting and vacuuming are effective for cleaning up insect eggs and larvae that are too small to see. Wash bedding weekly, and make sure to include items used by your pets, such as blankets, rugs, and stuffed animals. Mop kitchen and bathroom floors weekly, and keep the towels laundered. If you need help keeping up with cleaning chores around the house, hire a professional cleaning service to help out. If it keeps pests away, it will be money well spent.

Eliminate All Moisture Sites from Your Home

In addition to craving food and warm shelter, pests need water to drink. So, eliminating moisture indoors helps greatly with winter pest control. Spilled water should be promptly wiped up. All leaky faucets, sprinkler heads, and hoses should be repaired. Clear out blocked gutters and any other places water collects. Don’t allow dirty dishes to soak in water. Squeeze out excess water from sponges, and hang up wet towels and washcloths. If the shower or tub remains wet, wipe it down.

Inspect for Rodents

Rodents are among the smartest and most tenacious of winter pests. It is essential to detect them early before they do considerable damage, start a family, and spread disease or allergens to your family or pets. Be on the lookout for the most common signs of rodent activity: droppings that look like tiny pellets or black grains of rice, gnawing, grease marks, scuttling sounds, the odor of urine, and excited pets. Use a flashlight to inspect deep cupboards, store rooms, closets, baseboards, the attic, crawl spaces, and other dark or recessed areas. Prevention and prompt action are key to effective winter pest control.

Consider Professional Pest Control Services

There is so much to consider to protect your home in the winter. You’re concerned about the potential damage caused by storms, snow, and flooding while trying to keep your home warm and the heating bills down. Thinking about pest control in the winter may feel like an added burden. We get that. Following the preceding winter pest control tips will help you keep critters from spending the colder months in your cozy home, but you may need additional assistance.

When winter pest control becomes overwhelming, or you discover your home is invaded by insects or animals, it’s time to call on professional pest control services like Mosquito Joe. Our comprehensive pest control services are available to you all year round. We have locations with trained service personnel across the country. The Mosquito Joe professionals at each location are experts at identifying and controlling the specific pests in their local area. We tailor our services to your particular needs so you, your family, and your pets can enjoy your home and property in peace, free of pests.

Contact Mosquito Joe for winter pest control. All our work is backed by the Neighborly Done Right Promise™ and our Mosquito Joe® Satisfaction Guarantee, so you know you’ll be pleased. Request a free quote at the top of this page, or give us a call. We are here to help.