Natural repellent could ‘successfully’ deter rats from your home

Gardening expert gives tips on deterring pets and pests

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Knowing you have a rat problem in your home can be distressing, so it’s best to do everything you can to try and avoid the situation in the first place. The best way to deter rats is to deny them access to food, water and shelter. Unlike mice, rats need daily access to a water source. They only drink between 15ml and 60ml of water a day, but they need access to it easily and consistently. They’re renowned for eating just about anything, but rats prefer to eat small amounts of a wide variety of foods, giving them a very varied diet. To help stop these pests from invading homes, experts at pests.org have shared four effective tips households should implement.

They said: “If you’ve identified a rat infestation on your property, there are several methods you can use to help turn rats away. But as always, it’s much easier to prevent an infestation than to treat one. Try these effective habits on a daily basis to successfully deter rats whether or not you’re already dealing with rodents.”

1. Mitigate odours and food waste 

Rat problems usually start when one stumbles upon an accessible food source in the home. They tend to set up shop in buildings they can easily feed themselves. Keeping your home clean, particularly your kitchen, discourages a rat infestation.

If there are open bins or food waste lying around homes this could be a magnet for rats. The experts said: “Rats usually find their way into places that provide feeding opportunities. The smell from your garbage may attract them, as will the odour from old food in your cupboards or refrigerator.”

To combat this, the pest pros advised: “Check to see that pantry doors and trash can lids close properly and make sure that you always immediately throw out any food that is past its expiration date.

“Keep an eye on pet food. Remove anything left in open dishes once your pet has finished feeding, and store any food in airtight containers when it isn’t in use.”

When people are eating in their homes, the experts advised only doing it in specified areas. They said: “If your family frequently eats in bedrooms, food will inevitably fall behind headboards and under beds, attracting rats.

“When you are eating, try to use place mats as much as possible so they can easily be wiped down afterwards. Try to sweep and wipe up the area where you’ve eaten after you’re done so there aren’t any leftover crumbs or residue.”

2. Sanitise your home

Many of the odours that draw rats come from dust and food droppings that find their way into the corners of your home. 

The pest control gurus explained: “For this reason, it’s important to take the proper steps toward sanitising your entire home, and not just the kitchen, to effectively deter them.”

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Britons can sanitise their home by regularly vacuuming and dusting. They should also make sure that they move their furniture and get into the corners of their home to clean up all of the old food and sticky dust that may attract them.

The experts added: “You also need to protect your home from your neighbours’ sanitation problems. If your neighbours are messy or smelly, you may want to have a talk with them to make sure any odours or trash aren’t making their way over to your property.”

3. Rat-proof your house

According to the pros, those who can “successfully guard their house” against rodents will never have to worry about an infestation as long as they keep up with maintenance. 

They said: “Whether you’ve just entered a new home or heard of a nearby infestation, it’s important to take the time and complete the following steps toward rat-proofing your home.”

Start by inspecting the foundation of the house. Look for gaps or holes that may be large enough for a rat to enter. Britons can block off those entry points with expandable foam or mesh.

Once those areas are secured, check the doors and windows. The experts noted: “This is especially important at the change of seasons, when doors and windows may warp and leave gaps large enough for rodents to crawl into. Metal kickplates are a good solution for these, as well as insulation treatment.”

Next, inspect the roof. If vents, shingles, or chimneys allow access to an attic, households may have a problem as roof rats can be “especially difficult to eradicate” once they’ve gotten in there, according to the pest control experts. 

Cap the chimney when it is not being used, fix any holes that might be in the vents and make sure the roof is in good repair in general.

4. Natural repellents 

Natural repellents are also an easy way to turn a home into “a rat-free sanctuary” according to the expert. They said: “There are many products they’ll tend to stay away from, and chances are you already have at least one in your cabinets.”

One natural repellent is peppermint oil. This works as a deterrent when it is regularly applied inside the home and on the property borders. It can be distilled in water and sprayed around the house.

Eucalyptus oil is another natural repellent. Experts at Pest Exterminators said: “This is an unusual option that has been shown to be very effective in recent studies. Applying the oil to repel rats has given some great initial results in research conditions, offering hope for long-term preventative effects in household situations.”

Castor oil can also be used to deter rats as it works in a similar way to how citronella repels mosquitoes, according to pests.org experts.

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