Rats are usually unwelcome visitors to our gardens – they are generally considered dangerous pests and can spread potentially serious diseases, including leptospirosis, which can lead to Weil’s disease. They can take up residence under deck boards, in sheds or greenhouses, and in compost piles. It may be tempting to use traps or poison, but that can pose a danger to dogs, children and native wildlife. It’s better to use methods that deter rats and provide a permanent solution. We’ll give you helpful ideas on how to successfully repel rats in your yard.
Table of Contents
- Rats in the garden – a big problem
- Discover rats in the garden
- How to get rid of the rodents
Rats in the garden – a big problem
Black rats are a nuisance and a health hazard. They eat your fruits and vegetables, lodge in your compost , gnaw through fences, planters and containers and what’s worse – they carry diseases dangerous to humans, for example, bubonic plague and hantavirus.
Wild rats can bite and scratch when approached, and they seek shelter in garden sheds, greenhouses, and even your home. A female rat can give birth to six litters of up to 12 young per year. So if these uninvited visitors are left unchecked, they will soon become a nuisance.
Discovering rats in the garden
Rats are mostly nocturnal, so you may not see them, but there are other telltale signs to look out for. You may spot their tunnels or their tunnels up to 10 inches wide along walls, fences or buildings. You may also notice their cylindrical droppings, chewed wood (especially where food is stored), or parallel teeth marks in plants.
Here’s how to get rid of rodents
Remove food and water sources
Rats thrive where there is food, water and a place to hide. Eliminate these three things and you’ll be able to quickly reduce the rat population in your yard. Make sure your faucets don’t drip and don’t use bird feeders. Remove pet food and water bowls at night.
Ripe and fallen fruits, vegetables and nuts provide easy food for rats. Leaving fruits and vegetables to rot on the ground will not only attract rodents from your yard, but also from neighboring areas. Avoid giving these pests easy access to food by regularly picking up fruits and vegetables from the ground and storing them safely indoors or in a rodent-proof shed.
Take care of your compost pile
Your backyard compost pile is another important food source for pests. Rodents eat vegetables, but they still feed on animal protein and fat. A purely vegetarian compost pile will not feed a large family of rats. But throwing fat and meat on the pile will attract rats overnight. The compost pit is an important part of your garden’s ecosystem because it is a rich source of fertilizer. Keep a close eye on the compost pit and, if possible, cover it with a tight-fitting rodent-proof lid.
Rats can be carriers of serious diseases such as leptospirosis. If your compost is infested with rodents, do not spread the manure on fruits and vegetables you plan to eat.
You should also be careful with your garbage bags. We recommend storing them in garbage cans instead of putting them outside, where the decomposing food scraps can attract rodents. Also, do not leave garbage bags outside for extended periods of time.
Cats as helpers
It is often thought that feral cats can drive away rats, but in a yard with a large rat colony, cats can only help so much. Rodents reproduce rapidly, and a single female gives birth to a dozen young several times a year. Meanwhile, a cat may only catch a rat every other day and won’t do much to control the rat population.
Use home remedies – peppermint oil
Rats hate the smell of peppermint oil and can be effectively driven away. Moisten some cotton balls with 100 percent pure peppermint oil and place them in various locations around the yard, including the garage and shed. Apply the oil a few times a week.
Castor oil and garlic help fight rats in the garden
Garlic repels rats, that’s why you can use it in a homemade rat repellent recipe. Mix one clove of chopped garlic, two tablespoons of castor oil, liquid dishwashing liquid and Tabasco in a liter of water and shake well. This remedy is only suitable for outdoor use. Spray it on the edges of your garden and the rats’ entrance holes.
Catnip against rats in the garden
Buy catnip at a garden center and plant it in various places in your garden. Be strategic in your planting and watch for signs of rat activity such as nests and pellet excretions.
Keep your garden clean
You can deter rats by keeping your yard neat and tidy. Remove wood piles and garden debris and cut back overgrown areas, especially near fences or garden buildings. Tidy gardens attract fewer rodents because they provide less cover. Therefore, keep grass short and clear cluttered parking areas.
Ground netting to repel pests.
If you want to protect a new garden from rats, place a piece of netting directly under the soil. This will prevent rats from rummaging through and nibbling on roots and bulbs. Stubborn rodents can gnaw through the netting, so keep an eye out.