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Are There Smells That Keep Rats Away?

Smells that keep rats away

A homeowner who has dealt with rats or mice inside or elsewhere on a property may wonder: are there certain smells that keep rats away? If rats are naturally repelled by particular scents, foods, plants or other substances, it makes sense that these could be good deterrents for someone to use in keeping their home and property free of rodents.

Before we get into more specifics about making your home less attractive to rats and mice, let’s talk about why rodents really are a problem that needs to be handled both quickly and effectively. If you’ve ever had rats living in your home, attic or garage, then you know these pests are far more than just a simple nuisance. These pests carry infectious diseases, as well as parasites, including fleas and ticks that can be dangerous for people and pets. Worse still, the gnawing needs of these animals can cause extensive damage to drywall, wood, electrical wiring and other structures within your home, causing house fires. If rats build a nest somewhere in your home, their urine and feces can also be a big problem, endangering the health of your loved ones.

If you’ve dealt with rats before, or if you want to protect your home from these unwelcome guests, it makes sense that you would research how to keep them away from your home and property. Many homeowners who have children or pets are particularly interested in more natural rat repellents, since they are concerned about exposing their loved ones to any potentially harmful ingredients or other common yet dangerous means of controlling rodent populations. Let’s review which smells and substances homeowners have used and which are most effective in keeping rats, mice and other rodent pests away from your indoor and outdoor living spaces.

Best mouse repellent

What Is The Best Mouse Repellent?

One of the best ways to keep rats and mice away from your home and property is to cut off any access to food, water and shelter. These are the three basic needs of any rodent, after all—of any animal, really—so if rats and mice are venturing into your home or garage, they are almost certainly doing so in search of these three things.

Therefore, if you want to keep rodents out of your home, it’s important to block off their physical access to interior spaces by closing off any holes or gaps around windows or doors, through vents, in the eaves or anyplace else around your home. Cut off access to any potential food supply by keeping your food in airtight containers in your pantry or refrigerator, rather than out in the open, and keeping any pet food in tightly sealed containers as well. Limit rodents’ access to water indoors by fixing any leaky pipes or faucets and dumping out any standing water that might attract them or encourage them to stick around.

You can also make your yard less appealing to rats and mice by cleaning up any fruits or nuts that drop from trees, positioning any bird feeders well away from your home and keeping your trees, bushes and other landscaping trimmed. Certain kinds of rats and mice are burrowing animals that build nests in the ground beneath overgrown shrubbery, and roof rats can travel from tree branches onto the roof of your home or garage if limbs aren’t cut back from the roofline, so a well-maintained yard can go a long way toward keeping rodent pests away.

Once you’ve done your due diligence to make your property less enticing for rats and mice, it’s time to focus on the best mouse repellent or rat repellent that might be effective in keeping these pests away from your home. But which repellents—if any—really do the job?

Scents that deter mice

Are There Scents That Deter Mice?

Many people believe there are powerful, spicy or astringent scents that deter mice and rats from taking up residence in a home, such as peppermint, garlic or vinegar. The truth is, however, these smells are unlikely to repel rodents in any effective way. Even the naphthalene that is contained in mothballs, which is known to inhibit red blood cells’ ability to carry oxygen in mammals, isn’t strong enough to affect mice or rats, or to deter them from entering your home.

Even if you scattered mothballs throughout your kitchen and set out peppermint oil-soaked cotton balls in every corner, you’d certainly have a strongly fragrant house—but any rodents would just go on about their business, not bothered at all by the seemingly overwhelming scent of their surroundings. Think about it: Rats and mice can happily thrive in sewers and other strong-smelling locations. Clearly, they aren’t excessively bothered by powerful scents, despite their keen senses of smell!

What smells do rats dislike

What Smells Do Rats Dislike?

Rats and mice have very sensitive senses of smell for a variety of reasons. For one thing, these rodents use their keen senses of smell to determine which foods are safe to eat. If a rat smells a particular food on another rat’s breath, it knows that food is likely to be safe to eat, and will gravitate toward its scent if it encounters that food in the future.

Rats and mice also use scent to communicate in important ways with others of their species—specifically, they use their urine to send messages to other mice or rats. This is called “scent marking,” and it’s a prime example of what a sensitive sense of smell these rodents have. Since rats and mice are typically most active at night, they need heightened senses other than vision to rely on when moving about their business in the dark. These creatures can use urine markings to let other rodents know a variety of things, including their sex, mating status, territorial and predator warnings and more.

Since rats and mice have such keen olfactory abilities, it is true that smells have a lot to do with whether they’ll be drawn to your home or want to stick around once inside. However, this has more to do with scents that rats and mice are drawn to than with scents that they dislike. As previously mentioned, if a rat or mouse makes its way into a kitchen where food is sitting out in the open or food scraps are left out on the floor, those scents will be readily apparent—and very appealing—to the rodent. This is why it’s so important to keep your home clean, especially areas where food is prepared and consumed, and to keep all human and pet foods stored well-sealed so that rats and mice can’t use their powerful incisors to have a nice snack.

Unfortunately, the fact is that there aren’t really any smells that are known to effectively deter rats from sticking around in a certain location. There are certain smells that rats are reported to dislike, such as the bitter scent of cocoa, but rats are more likely simply to avoid eating a substance they dislike than to stay away from the entire area.

Some people have reported that ammonia is effective in keeping rats and mice away, since its smell is similar to that of urine. Many others, however, report that ammonia is actually not an effective rat repellent, and the potential dangers of ammonia may outweigh any rat-repellent properties it may have. Ammonia can be dangerous to have around if there are children or pets nearby, or if you use certain products that may have a chemical reaction with the ammonia.

Homemade rat repellent

Can Homemade Rat Repellent Be Effective?

When it comes to effective rodent pest control, a common adage applies: “The best defense is a good offense.” This means that it’s a lot easier to rodent proof your home and property through proactive measures, such as eliminating the rodents’ access to indoor spaces, as well as to food and water sources, than it is to treat a rat problem once it develops. If rats or mice move into your home, you might try traps, poison or other means to kill them off, but each of these options comes with certain disadvantages that can make it tough to figure out the best approach. If you have an actual rodent infestation on your hands, do-it-yourself methods may not be enough to address the problem.

ABC Can Handle Your Rodent Problems

Rather than trying to concoct homemade rat repellents that aren’t likely to work, it’s often best simply to hire a professional exterminator to handle your rodent problem. Whether you’ve spotted the odd rat or mouse in your home or you’re dealing with a full-on rodent infestation, the pest control specialists at ABC Home & Commercial Services can take care of it and help in keeping rodents out of your home. Our skilled technicians are experienced in handling rodent problems of all kinds, and we will work with you to determine the type and extent of your rodent issue, as well as the best way to address it. We always consider the well-being of each home’s occupants first, including any children and pets. We will help you eliminate your rat problem so you can relax, knowing your home is rodent-free.

Russell Jenkins

Russell Jenkins is the Chief Communications Officer for ABC Home and Commercial Services in North Texas. Russell has been working as part of the ABC Family since he was 12 years old under the direction of his father, Owner Dennis Jenkins, and has since held several leadership roles at ABC. Russell holds a degree in Agricultural Leadership from Texas A&M University, and is a Food Safety Specialist. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his family and two children, playing tennis, and gaming.

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