Rats are one of the difficult pests to deal with and they can quickly evolve beyond a nuisance for your home and turn into a health hazard. Sometimes, however, they don’t target your actual house, but your outdoor space.
So, Fantastic Pest Control has made this quick handy guide to answer the most common questions and explain exactly how to get rid of rats in the garden.
Why Do You Get Rats in the Garden?
Rats will infest a garden if they find it hospitable for a dwelling. So, if your garden offers plenty of hiding places, they will love it. If it offers them lots of food, be it from a food garden you’re working really hard on, pet food left outside, or a constantly opened rubbish bin, they will love it. Have a sprinkler? They will love it.
Where do rats nest in the garden?
Rats would find the safest place they can to make their nest. This can be a garden shed, hollow space understructures, or another cluttered area with a roof. It’s possible that they also use the nearby sewers.
Are garden rats dangerous?
Yes. It doesn’t matter if they’re in your garden, or in your house – rats are a dangerous pest that carries an array of serious diseases, which are harmful to people and pets. Not only that, but they can also chew on electrical cables, which can cause significant damage to your property.
What diseases do rodents carry?
Rats, mice and voles are carriers of various rodent-borne diseases, including salmonella, leptospirosis, cryptosporidium, and rat-bite fever.
In the garden, pests may not be as obvious as in the home. However, contaminated soil and plants may spread diseases. Direct contact with rodent droppings, bites, or scratches can be dangerous to humans and pets.
What damage can rats cause in the garden?
The first damage you can think of is if they eat all the fruit and vegetables you grow in your food garden. If you store any produce in the garden shed, they will most likely eat the food there as well. If you have compost bins, they will invade those, too.
Their sharp teeth are able to gnaw on fences and shed doors as well as electrical wires and water pipes. Additionally, they dig holes and shallow tunnels, which can disturb your lawn and create uneven surfaces.
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Where do rats live in the winter? Do rats hibernate?
Rats will find a warm place to stay during the cold season. Usually, this will be a house or buildings such as barns. However, if they cannot access your home, they will find a hole that can also work as a shelter.
Although rats don’t hibernate, they can prepare for the winter by collecting their food supplies in other ways. They need to eat twice as much food in the winter. It is necessary for them to consume this amount to maintain their body temperature.
In fact, rats are notoriously resilient in cold weather. They can survive the winter quite well and often need to exploit human resources to survive.
Signs of Rats in the Garden
- Rat droppings. It’s very easy to spot rat droppings, they are a sure sign that you have a problem. They are oval-shaped and resemble a large rice grain about 10 mm long.
- Pets are acting strangely. Cats and dogs will be the first to notice if there is an infestation. If you spot your pet stalking holes and crevices too much, you should be alarmed, because there is definitely something hiding.
- Burrows. The common brown rat is known to dig holes and make shallow tunnels. They’re usually placed close to the food source.
- Bite marks. Rats would gnaw on anything, but the most common thing you can find in the garden is rubber hoses. If there are teeth marks, this is a big sign.
Read more about Signs of rats.
How to Get Rid of Rats in the Garden
Using rat poison is the most successful method for dealing with rats. However, it’s not advisable to place toxic products anywhere near where you grow food. So for now, we will concentrate on other methods.
- Remove all clutter. The first thing to do is to remove all the clutter that provides the rats with hiding places. In some cases, this might be enough for them to find your garden inhospitable, despite the abundance of food.
- Live traps. Use small cages with food bait to capture the rat. These are mostly used if you’re not sure what kind of rodent infestation you’re dealing with. It may turn out not to be a rat, but an endangered species. In this case, you should capture it alive and release into the wild.
- Snap traps. These are designed to kill the rats instantly. For a long time, they have been a very successful method of dealing with rats. If the infestation is small, they might be enough.
- Electrocution traps. Another effective (and expensive) type of trap that can help you a lot. These are boxes that produce a high voltage shock that kills the rat instantly.
- Use water. Flooding their burrows is a good way to evict them, however, bear in mind they might have dug tunnels under your crops, so you might be flooding your plants as well.
Read our post on How to get rid of rats in the garden without poison.
How to Get Rid of Rats in the Garden Shed
- Get equipped. You might get in contact with rat faeces or with a dead rat, and that can be extremely dangerous for your health. So, put on a face mask and rubber gloves.
- Find and seal all holes. Look at all the possible entry points in the walls, door, floor, and even roof. A rat can easily get through a coin-sized hole, so seal all of them tightly.
- Install traps. Be it traps for instant killing, or the more humane live traps, just make sure to make the shed environment inhospitable.
Read more about How to get rid of rats.
How to Keep Rats Away from the Garden
Once you’re certain you are rat-free, it’s a good idea to make a few changes in the garden in order to make sure they won’t come back.
Get a pet
If you don’t have a dog or an outdoor cat, now might be a good time to consider the option. It’s not advisable to use your pets as pest control, but as a preventative measure, they can do a good job.
Plant your own pest control
Rats generally avoid lavender, so you can plant it in your garden or place lavender pots around their preferred hang-out spots to help deter them. For a more lasting solution, sprinkle lavender and mint around the perimeter of your yard to keep rats away.
Put soft garden furnishings away
Keep your patio furniture cushions in a secure cabinet when not in use. If you already have rats, you likely know that they love to nap on soft surfaces just as much as we do. It’s best to store cushions to keep them clean and free from rat poop and urine.
Don’t keep woodpiles out in the open
Woodpiles provide a nice little hiding spot for rats when they need some privacy. Keeping a woodpile away from your house or a fence prevents rats from getting access to your home and food. You should store firewood at least 18 inches off of the ground and at least four feet away from any structures.
Keep food away from the lawn
Things like bird feeders and pet food can easily attract rats and other rodents, so don’t put any there, unless it’s highly necessary.
Shut the rubbish bin tightly
There are very handy locks you can install on the rubbish bin, so the smell from organic waste doesn’t attract just rats, but any wildlife in general.
Keep the garden tidy
The less clutter you have, the more inhospitable your garden would be for rats. This includes the lawn. High grass is perfect for hiding, so make sure to mow it regularly.
Block access to the garden shed
Block holes in the walls and door and make sure there are no hollow areas under the shed that can serve as a potential hiding spot. This will keep the rats away from the shed.
Remove water sources if possible
It’s a tricky thing to do, but it’s a good idea to remove sprinklers and birdbaths from your lawn. Unlike mice, rats cannot survive without water and this would be a good reason for them to keep away.
Rats are very difficult to deal with when they manage to increase in number, so you should ever be vigilant to notice the first signs and act accordingly. If you let a rat infestation get out of hand, you may find it hard to eliminate without the help of professional pest controllers, and the Fantastic Pest Control team is always ready.
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