Do Rats Burrow Underground?

rat in a burrow

Rats are small mammals that live in a variety of habitats. In the wild, they are found in forests, grasslands, and agricultural areas. In urban areas, rats live in close proximity to humans and can be found in sewers, basements, and other indoor and outdoor locations. They are clever and adaptable creatures that will do whatever it takes to get what they need. But do they burrow underground? This article will explore rats ‘ burrowing habits and provide answers to this question.

So, Do Rats Burrow?

The short answer is, Yes. Rats do burrow underground. Rats are not exactly known for their digging abilities, but they will occasionally dig when necessary. For the most part, rats prefer to live in areas where there is plenty of overhead covers. This means that they typically don’t burrow underground unless they have no other choice.

Rats like the common brown or Norway rats and roof rats often build their rat nest out of whatever materials are available. In the wild, these nests might be built in trees or other elevated areas so that they can protect themselves from predators and remain safe while sleeping. Rats will also build nests underground to avoid the heat, cold, wind, rain, etc.

What Kind of Rats Burrow in Ground?

Burrowing is a natural activity for rodents and rats are no exception. Rats dig underground in order to hunt for food, build nests, move through the ground more easily (especially when it is too hot or cold), and keep safe from predators above the ground such as cats and other animals that can kill them.

The most common rat species that will burrow in the ground are the black rat or roof rat ( Rattus rattus ), Norway rat or Brown rat ( Rattus norvegicus ), and the house mouse ( Mus musculus ). These rats have been known to dig tunnels up to 18 inches deep.

Why Do Rats Burrow Underground?

There are a few reasons why rats might dig rat holes underground. As mentioned earlier, they might do it to build a nest, move through the ground more easily, or avoid predators. Rats might also burrow underground if they are looking for food. The soil is a great place to find insects, worms, and other small creatures that rats love to eat.

In some cases, rats will burrow holes under buildings or homes in order to find a place to live. This can be a big problem for homeowners and property owners. Rat burrows can weaken the foundation of a building or home, which can lead to serious damage over time.

What Does a Rat Burrow Look Like?

A rat hole or burrow is typically a long, narrow tunnel that goes into the ground. The entrance is usually about 2 to 4 inches wide, and the tunnel can be up to 18 inches deep. The burrow might have several entrances and exits, and it is often well-hidden from view.

On the inside, it is typically filled with soft materials such as grass, leaves, and mud. This provides a comfortable place for the rats to live and sleep. The burrow might also have a “den” area where the rats can hide from danger. It includes up to 3 feet of tunnels that house the nesting area and food storage.

How Deep are Rats Burrowed?

Most rat burrows are between 12 and 18 inches deep. These will usually house several distinct rat families and can be quite extensive. Some rats, however, will only dig a few inches into the ground while others might dig deeper.

Rats are very good at digging underground tunnels and they can do it very quickly. They are also good at moving through the ground. This can be a problem for homeowners and property owners who have to deal with rat burrows. The rats can quickly damage the foundation of a building or home.

How Can I Tell if There are Rats Burrowing in My Yard?

There are a few things you can look for to see if rats are digging in your yard. You might look for evidence of dirt being moved around, rodent footprints and trails, or access to burrows under the ground.

Rats typically like to dig beside walls or fences, so look for holes or other signs of digging near these areas. You will notice loose dirt as well as dark and greasy soil around the entrance to a rat burrow, which is caused by the animal’s fur and oils.

There will also be rat droppings around the entrance to the burrow. If you see any of these signs, it is likely that rats are digging in your yard and you should take action to get rid of them.

Damage Caused by Rats Burrowing in the Ground

Rats burrowing in the ground can cause a number of problems. Mostly damage to buildings and property, but it can also be a serious health hazard. Rats are known to carry at least 25 diseases that they can spread through their droppings or urine. Here is damage that rats can do when they burrow underground:

Soil erosion

The soil around a rat’s den or tunnel will be disturbed, which reduces its ability to absorb water. This leads to more runoff and flooding during heavy rains. It also means that there are fewer nutrients in the soil for plants and grasses, so it is less healthy.

Structural damage

Rats can burrow under buildings and homes, which can weaken the foundation over time. This can lead to serious structural damage that is expensive to repair. Also, if rats are digging under your home’s wooden frame, it will eventually rot away causing further damage.

Rodent-inflicted fire hazards

A rat’s nest or food storage area might contain flammable materials such as paper or cardboard. If these items are near a flame source, they can start a fire.

Health risks from parasites and pathogens

Rats carry a variety of parasites and infectious diseases that they spread through their droppings or urine. Humans are at risk for developing these infections if the rats burrow in an area where people commonly walk around barefoot, such as in playgrounds or parks.

Damage Pipes and Cables Underground

Rats can also damage underground pipes and wires while they are burrowing. This can lead to expensive repairs or even a dangerous situation if the pipe or wire is carrying gas or water.

What Can I Do If I Have Rats Burrowing in my Yard?

If you think that rats are burrowing in your yard, the best thing to do is call a professional pest control specialist. They will be able to inspect your property and find any potential rat nests. Once they are found, extermination is possible.

Before you call an exterminator, however, it might be helpful to get rid of any excess food sources that are in your yard or garden since this will make it harder for rats to survive and easier for them to become exposed while they are trying to find more food. If there’s less food for rats to find, they’re less likely to burrow in your yard.

Rat Prevention in Your Yard

The best way to prevent a rat infestation is to make your yard less appealing for them. This includes getting rid of possible food sources and shelter, as well as making sure that there aren’t any areas where they can burrow underground or access the surface. Here are a few things you can do to make your yard less appealing to rats:

Remove Potential Food Sources

Rats are omnivores so they will eat anything. This makes it important to remove any potential food sources from your yard, including pet food, birdseed, fruit trees, and compost piles.

Remove Possible Shelter

Rats need a place to hide from predators and the weather, so get rid of any potential shelter in your yards such as dense shrubs, sheds, or garages. Yard upkeep is one of the best ways to remove these hiding places.

Fill Holes and Cover Spaces

Rats can’t burrow through hard surfaces like concrete, but they will use soft garden soil to make tunnels. To prevent this you should fill up any holes or spaces in your yard with sand or gravel. You could also use wire mesh over these areas to keep rats out of them.

Seal Cracks and Crevices

Rats can get through spaces that are less than an inch wide, so it is important to seal off any cracks or crevices you find around your yard. You could use concrete or mortar for larger areas and wire mesh for smaller ones. If the space has a pipe going through it make sure to stuff some steel wool inside to prevent rats from getting through.

What to Do If You Find a Rat Burrow?

If you find a rat burrow on your property, there are a few things that you can do to get rid of the rats. First, try to identify where the entrance and exit points are for the burrow. Rats prefer to dig near walls or fences, so look for holes or other signs of digging in these areas.

Once you have identified where the burrow is and what evidence there is of rats, you can take action. If there’s a hole less than an inch in diameter, you can try stuffing steel wool into the hole to prevent the rats from using it. If there are multiple holes you can use wire mesh over them or concrete and mortar

If these options aren’t available, you can try filling up any gaps with sand, gravel, mulch, leaves, sticks, etc. Make sure that whatever you stuff in is hard enough so that the rats can’t dig it out. You could also try using a chemical deterrent such as predator urine or ammonia to keep the rats away.

If there is an active rat burrow on your property, it is best to call a professional rat exterminator who will be able to take care of the situation for you. Rats can be difficult to get rid of, so it is best to leave the job to the experts.


Rats, as we’ve seen, are quite capable of burrowing underground in search of food, shelter, and mates. While they are not as good at it as moles, they can still create quite a mess for homeowners. Prevention is always the best strategy, but if you find yourself with an active rat burrow on your property, there are a few things that you can do to get rid of them. Always remember to consult a professional exterminator if the problem is too big for you to handle.

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