Where Do Rats Nest Outside? | 10 Ways to Know If a Rat is Nesting Nearby

The worst news about finding rats’ nests outside is the fact that it’s easy for them to eventually come inside your home instead. This is why getting rid of these nests is such a good idea.

Rats like to nest outside in areas that are protected from harsh weather conditions. This can include sheds, bird boxes, compost heaps, garages, under porches or in trees.

This article will explore 10 places rats nest outside and how to keep them out of your yard.

10 Places Rats Nest Outside

If you want to look outdoors to determine where rats’ nests might be located, here are a few areas to search first:

1. Sheds

Rats prefer places that are quiet, dry, and relatively warm, which is why they often hide out in sheds found on your property. Sheds are buildings that people tend to visit infrequently, so they give rats a little privacy as well as a few other things they love.

2. Bird Boxes

Low bird boxes are often filled with discarded seeds and feathers, among other things, making them the perfect structures for rats to inhabit. If they’ve been unoccupied for a long time, they are especially attractive to rats, who will build the perfect nest inside of the boxes.

3. Compost Heaps

Compost heaps usually have food, warmth, and sometimes even water, which makes them the perfect environment for rats looking for a place to build a nest. Compost piles that you set up in the corner of your yard are the most enticing. Instead of this, try using a solid composter.

4. Garages

Garages are often used as storage spaces, which means rats will love living there. If you use your garage to park your cars and do little to no storing of items there, you’re less likely to find rats in your garage.

5. Porches

There are numerous advantages to rats nesting on your porch. It is close to various food and water sources, they can avoid predators there, and they have easy access to the inside of your home!

6. In Trees

Trees can have sunken areas where birds build their nests, but these same areas are attractive to rats as well. Trees of all sizes can be attractive to rats, so it’s a good idea to look for them there.

7. Leaves and Debris

If you’ve raked the leaves in your yard or raked up debris but decide to finish the job later, rats will take this as an invitation to invade your yard. The longer you leave the debris alone, the more likely rats will build a nest there.

8. Garbage Cans

Rats love garbage cans because there is so much leftover food there, and rats are not exactly picky eaters! Keeping your garbage in bags that are tied tight can help prevent this from happening.

9. Tree Roots

In addition to the trees themselves, rats can also build nests in the roots of trees. There are numerous areas in the roots where a rat’s nest will fit perfectly!

10. Burrows

Burrows are basically holes formed by the rats themselves, which are sometimes difficult to find because they don’t create mounds the way gophers do. But if you see holes all over your yard, they could have rats’ nests inside of them.

Check out this rats next outside in a turtle enclosure.

6 Things Rats Look for When Choosing a Nest

The main reasons rats create nests include

1. They Want Shelter.

Rats are like everyone else—they want a place to live! A nest is a perfect shelter because it is created by the rats for the rats.

2. They are Seeking Warmth.

When it’s cold outside, rats are much like humans in that they wish to get warm and cozy. Once rats build their nests, they offer the perfect place to warm up.

3. They are Seeking Food.

Rats spend much of the night hunting for food and bringing it back to the nest. They even like to hoard food there to prepare for the future.

4. They are Trying to Escape Predators.

Like most other animals, rats have predators, and to escape from these predators, they can hide in a nest they’ve built just for that purpose.

5. They are Trying to Escape Inclement Weather.

Rats build nests to protect themselves from bad weather, including snow, downpours, flooding, and other weather conditions.

6. They Need It to Breed and Nurse.

Rats use their nests to breed, give birth to young, and nurse their young. Just like humans, rats need a safe place to raise their families.

5 Ways to Stop Rats from Nesting in Your Yard

If you wish to stop rats from nesting in your yard, just follow these simple tips:

1. Find the Source of Food

If rats start building nests somewhere on your property, you can rest assured it’s because they have found a food source. The first thing you need to do is find where their food is coming from and cut off the supply.

2. Find Out Where the Rats are Coming From

Keep in mind that rats can get into some very small places, so you need to know why they’re being attracted to your yard. Look for areas with gnawing signs because they could be coming from this source.

3. Eliminate Their Nests.

Once you eliminate the rats’ nests, they usually leave. But you have to be careful because sometimes, they simply relocate elsewhere and build additional nests.

4. Seal Up the Entry Points.

Once you find how the rats are getting into the area, try to seal up the entry points if you can. This isn’t always possible, but you should try doing this when you can.

5. Add Lights to the Area.

Adding string lights around the yard can deter the rats. Try placing these lights near places where you found rats in the past.


Rats can nest just about anywhere in your yard, including garbage cans, compost piles, and even porches. They do this for food, shelter, safety, and warmth, but if you want to stop them, you need to learn their most common hiding places and what you can do about the problem.