There are few things in life that are certain, but one thing’s for sure: no one wants to come home to a rat. To prevent these creatures from taking over our homes, it’s worth looking at why they might find our houses more attractive than other nesting places.
Read our tips below to learn effective techniques to keep rats away from your home, garden and yard so that you don’t have to worry about an unexpected encounter with one of these unwelcome guests.
How To Keep Rats Away From Your Home
In the southern United States, many homeowners have to deal with the roof rat (Rattus rattus). These are brown or black rats that are smaller than the Norway rats that live throughout most of the rest of the United States.
The roof rat is better suited for these warm climates than the Norway rat. These rats set up their nests in trees, bushes and woodpiles and generally only seek out our homes in the winter. They especially love palm trees and other high nesting locations where there are fewer predators. It’s easy for roof rats to climb several stories, and they can fall from a significant height without injury.
Roof rats live close to food and water sources, and are common out in the country, living near farms orchards and ponds. In the city, these rodents prefer areas around the river, parks and gardens and areas that aren’t regularly mowed.
These black rats have a varied diet that includes bugs and worms, seeds, nuts, green plant growth and all of the fruits and vegetables we grow in our gardens. You’ll sometimes find them seeking out easy meals at pet bowls, chicken coops and bird feeders.
Prevention is the key to dealing with rats, and the best way to keep them out of your house is to discourage them from visiting your yard in the first place. Here are some tips to keep all types of rodents away:
- Keep pet and bird feed indoors, or if you must store feed outside, keep it in metal or hard plastic containers.
- Remove trash piles, wood or brush piles.
- Pick fruits and vegetables from your garden as soon as they are ripe and bring them inside.
- Keep your lawn mowed and remove debris piles and wood piles.
- Fix plumbing leaks so you don’t provide rats with a water source.
Preventing Rats From Entering Your Yard And Garden
Rats come looking for shelter in our homes primarily during cold or rainy periods, as well as when more suitable nesting locations can’t be found, often due to overpopulation. Do rats hibernate in winter? This is a common question among homeowners. Rats survive the colder months by seeking shelter and warmth in our homes. Adult roof rats can squeeze through tiny holes as small as a quarter in roof eaves, fascia and siding and along the foundation.
Is there a way to scare away rats? Some homeowners claim that their pets are effective rodent hunters. While the scent of a dog or cat could indicate to a rat that a predator is nearby, most rats are savvy enough to evade pets, especially since many of our pets remain inside most of the day. If you really think about what eats rats, you will quickly realize that most pets aren’t a very reliable way to keep these rodents away.
To keep rats out of your garden, consider live traps, scent repellents and even fencing to keep rats away from your plants. Although sonic pest deterrents are commercially available, scientific studies have concluded that not enough is known about how pest species process sound for these to be effective.
Closing Common Entry Points
If you still have tried all the tactics we have suggested and you still rats, you should make a larger effort to seal any possible holes or crevices that these creatures might be using to get inside.
Here are a few suggestions on how to protect your exterior against rats and other types of wildlife:
- Inspect your roof and siding, as well as any crawl spaces under the house, for possible access points.
- Patch holes with hardware cloth or fill them with steel wool or copper mesh before applying patching compound. This will discourage rats from chewing a hole in the same location.
- Caulk around pipes and wiring where these materials enter the home.
- Make sure your dryer vent has a screen to prevent rats from entering through that opening.
When these other rodent control methods fail, consider using rats’ habits against them. Roof rats hate changes to their environments, and they are strongly affected by unfamiliar odors. Here are some ways you can scare rats away from your home and deter mice from getting inside:
- Use cotton balls soaked in clove or peppermint oil around their points of entry or near food sources.
- Place scented dryer sheets in pantries, under appliances and other hard-to-reach areas.
- Try pureeing hot peppers and water in a food processor or blender and then strain the mixture and add to a spray bottle. Spritz this spray in areas where rats have been chewing (and where you, pets and small children won’t come into contact with it later). Be sure to use gloves, as this mixture may sting your skin.
- Allow your pets into the area where rats like to nest. Both the sound and smell of Fido or Fluffy may be enough to convince the rats to find a better place to live.
What If Rats Do Get Inside?
To remove rats, we recommend using either live traps or contacting a pest control professional. Other forms of rat eradication have significant downsides. Electronic traps that kill immediately with a jolt of electricity, but then you are forced to dispose of the carcass and risk the transmission of disease.
Rat poison kills indiscriminately, which means that other animals can get into the poison or eat a poisoned rat and be affected themselves. Also when you put poison out, rats might carry it back to their nest, and then die inside your home, causing additional problems as the animal decomposes. While glue traps and snap traps can be effective, they are also are considered by some homeowners as inhumane options, since these creatures can suffer for days before they die.
ABC Can Get Rid Of Rodents, So You Don’t Have To
When you need help dealing with rats in or around your home, reach out to ABC Home & Commercial Services. We have rodent experts who can come out to check your home for rat damage and access points, and help you get rid of these intruders once and for all.