Rats are considered vermin by the majority of people, so it’s no wonder they are one of the most hated of garden pests. This is mostly down to their ability to spread potentially disease – and those creepy long tails.
As rats are nocturnal, you are unlikely to see them in the day. If a rat has taken shelter in your garden, however, there are some tell-tale signs you may discover:
- Runs and tunnels against garden walls and fences
- Rat droppings
- Gnawed wood
To find out how to deter rats naturally from your garden, read on.
Why Go Natural?
The most common way to get rid of rats from gardens is the use of rat poison and traps.
Rat poison is toxic and may pose danger to wildlife, pets and humans. High levels of rat poison have been found in wildlife higher up the food chain, including red kites which are near threatened species.
Additionally, neither traps or poisons are sustainable ways to deter rats from your garden. Both merely get rid of them. If you want a sustainable and natural way to deter rats, prevention is the best answer to deter rats naturally.
Remove Food Sources
Rats are attracted to gardens because they contain bountiful food sources. There are a number of steps you can take to ensure your garden doesn’t become, or stops being, so attractive to rats.
Compost bins are a treasure trove to rats. Ensure your compost bin is secure (invest in an above-ground compost bin with a lid) and move it away from possible routes of access, such as fences and walls. You can find out more about pest-proofing your compost bin here.
If you love feeding the birds, there’s a good chance rats may be getting into your bird see and nuts. A squirrel-proof bird feeder will block off rats, and using no-mess seed mix will ensure there is no discarded food left on the floor that may attract rats.
Ensure you collect fallen fruit from your fruit trees soon after it falls, otherwise rats may start to feast on your harvest. Store them somewhere secure where rats will not be able to access them.
Block Off Potential Shelter
Rats make home under existing structures, such as garden buildings and decking. To prevent this, block entry to areas beneath these – no matter how narrow the space. Before you do this, ensure there are no rats living underneath the structure you are blocking off, as they will die an unpleasant death.
Have a general clear up in your garden, getting rid of any debris and cutting back overgrown vegetation. This will provide rats with less cover. Keep your grass short. You can also take this opportunity to move things around in your garden. Rats are neo-phobic, and this disruption of their territory will confuse them and encourage them to make home elsewhere.
Rats have one of the best senses of smell in the animal kingdom, trumping that of dogs.When used in concentration, essential oils can do wonders in deterring rats from your garden due to their potency.
Peppermint oil, citronella and eucalyptus essential oils in their pure form are all smells that rats will dislike. A few drops of these oils in their pure form around the areas you know the rats have been should do the trick. Alternatively, soak cotton wool in essential oil and place in rat traffic areas.
Similarly to essential oils, rats high sense of smells means they can’t stand hot pepper or anything very spicy. To make homemade natural rat repellent spray:
- Mix cayenne pepper or chilli flakes with water
- Heat the mixture vigorously to infuse the chilli
- Allow to cool – the longer you leave it, the more potent the chilli will be
- If you used chilli flakes, sieve them out
- Add a little castille soap (which is biodegradable)
- Pour into a spray bottle
- Apply liberally to areas where their is evidence of rats
This spray also deters other pests, such as squirrels and rabbits.
There are many different ways to deter rats from your garden without resorting to toxic rat poison or inhumane rat traps. If you try any of these methods, let us know in the comments!
Megan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.