Where Do Rats Nest Outside?

Rats are agile, prolific, and can access areas that you really wouldn’t expect. If you have seen rats, then you might have a problem. But, even if you haven’t, there may be tell-tale signs that rats have taken up residence in your property. Rat’s nests outside are bad news, as it doesn’t take much for them to be pushed into warmer areas, such as your home. Today we are going to look at where rats nest outside so you can decide on an effective strategy to deal with them. 

Where Do Rats Nest Outside? 

Rats can be found pretty much everywhere outside, but there are a few specific areas that are worth focusing on, as they do have their favorites. Here’s a list of where rats will nest outdoors: – 


Rats aren’t the biggest fans of getting wet, nor do they like to stay out in the open for extended periods. Anywhere that is dry, relatively warm, and quietly provides the perfect place for rats to nest. One such area is garden sheds. Because they are used infrequently, rats feel quite safe and secure in the garden outbuildings, especially in colder months. 


Garages can provide another great location for rats to nest outdoors. Often garages are next to other things that rats love, such as garbage piles and freshwater. Garages used for cars see fewer rats, but if you use your garage as a storage area, you may very well find rats there.  

Tree Roots 

Obviously, both sheds and garages are not naturally occurring phenomena. Rats live in enclosed spaces in the wild, and large exposed tree roots and bushes are the perfect habitats. Rats will tend to favor dense cover, so if you have overgrown shrubs, this could be the source of a nest. 

Bird Boxes 

Low bird boxes can often be recommissioned by rats, especially if they have been unoccupied for a while. It is often the case that bird boxes are full of discarded seeds, not to mention down and feathers, making for perfect nesting material. 


In open areas, rats will burrow into the surface to create holes. Unlike gophers, they won’t leave distinctive mounds either. If you have noticed a proliferation of holes in your garden, this could be down to a growing rat nest.  


One often overlooked area when discussing rats’ nests outside is under porches.  

Porches offer rats an almost perfect sanctuary. They will never be too far away from food and water sources. Porches provide the ideal shelter to avoid predators. What’s worse is that porches tend to be located under your home by their very nature, giving rats easy access! 

Garbage Cans 

Rats are not fussy eaters and will be very happy to enjoy any leftovers, and yes, this does include discarded food scraps in your trash can (yuck!) 

Even with closed and sealed trashcans, it can often be easy for the odd scrap to fall out here and there, which is the only encouragement rats need. A solid and integral can will help prevent rats, and piles of garbage should absolutely be avoided if you don’t want to encourage rats’ nests. 

Compost Heaps 

While compost heaps are very ecologically friendly, they can be like a welcome mat to rats looking to establish a nest. They contain everything rats love; food, warmth, and often water too. 

You can discourage rats from arriving by using a solid composter instead of simply leaving piles of composting matter in the corner of the garden. 

Identifying Rats Nests 

Now that you’ve seen some areas that rats nest outside let’s discuss how to identify if you’ve got a nest present. Here are some surefire signs that rats are calling your outdoor areas home: – 


Rat droppings are unsightly and unhygienic. Looking like large fat grains of dark rice, they can even spread disease. 

Rats aren’t too selective in where they ‘go’, but if they have established regular routes to and from their nest, you’ll find an accumulation of droppings in certain areas. While disgusting, following this trail will lead you directly to their nest. 

Strong (and Unpleasant) Smells 

Rat urine smells very strongly of ammonia and creates a foul odor. This is particularly noticeable in outbuildings. If your garden shed or garage has taken on a certain aroma, you may very well have a problem. 

Gnawing Marks 

Rats, like all rodents, chew away at hard materials almost constantly to wear down their front incisor teeth. If you have noticed scratch marks or missing corners, especially on sheds or wooden tools, this could indicate a nearby rat’s nest. 

Piles of Nesting Material 

Rat’s nests are actually quite obvious once you know what to look for. Essentially, they like to make a nice comfy bed. They aren’t too fussy about their choice of ‘bedding’. You can expect to find an accumulation of straw, grass, twigs as the natural elements. However, don’t be surprised to find shreds of cardboard, paper, plastic, and synthetic stuffing either.  

Rats Nests Outside | Dealing with the Problem 

The simplest and most effective way to deal with rats’ nests is to hire a professional pest control company. While you may be confident in removing the nest, there is no guarantee that they won’t eventually return. 

Pest control companies and exterminators make sure that this won’t happen. 

Rats can be extremely hardy and difficult to entirely eradicate. With high exponential breeding rates, only a few need to remain before you have a problem on your hands once again.  

Facility Pest Control can offer expert guidance and solutions in removing and controlling rats’ nests, both outside and in your home. We have decades of experience and can utilize highly effective techniques that ensure a rat’s nest outside is removed permanently. Facility Pest Control serves the California area. Contact us today so we can offer you a solution!