Rat Control: How to Identify, Prevent and Get Rid of Rats

Rats are common in the garden, but spotting them can be quite tricky because they are clever and they hide well. They also find it easy to adapt to their environment. While there are many species of rats, not all of them are present in the garden. Only Norway rat and brown rat are problems for gardeners. They can cause significant damages to the garden, which makes it important to know how to get rid of rats.

The physical characteristics of rats will vary depending on their species. They look like mice, but they are larger. One of the most common types is Rattus norvegicus, which is the scientific name of Norway rat. Their length is about 23 centimeters, which is measured all the way to their tail’s base. Their weight can reach a maximum of 2 pounds. They have coarse fur, with color that can range from brown to gray. The tail and ears, on the other hand, are hairless. One of their most noticeable characteristics is that they have a good sense of touch and hearing.

Brown Rats

Rats Can Cause Significant Damages to the Garden

Rat’s Habitat

Anywhere there is shelter, water, and food, rats can be present. You can find them in the wild, inside homes, and in the garden. They are common in places where there are also humans. Specifically, you can find rats in open fields, sewers, garbage bins, underground tunnels, and in areas with thick vegetation, which is exactly why they are always in the garden. They also survive in stacks of materials, such as firewood, thick mulch, and compost piles.

Identifying Rat’s Damage

Plants Affected

Rats are heavy eaters. They are most active at night. In a day, they can consume up to 50 grams of food. They are omnivorous, and hence, they have a diet that is similar to humans. They can devour fresh produce in the garden, such as tomatoes, pumpkin, squash, potato tubers, carrots, parsnip, beetroot, and sweetcorn cob.


The following are some of the signs that rats are present not only in the garden, but in the other parts of the house as well:

  • They can create burrows or holes, which will have an average diameter of 6 to 9 diameters. These holes are common in areas where there are no disruptions. Underneath these holes, they can create tunnels.
  • Pay attention as well to the presence of pathways, which will have a width of 5 to 10 centimeters. This is the path where the rats walk. It is important to note that rats are able to memorize their pathways, which is why they will be walking on the same route.
  • Rats will also excrete droppings with an approximate length of 15 to 20 millimeters. They are cylindrical. One end is pointed while the other is cylindrical. They start out as moist, but can also quickly dry.
  • They have hard teeth, which means that their symptoms of gnawing are apparent even on hard surfaces, such as wood.

Results of Infestation

The damages that are caused by rats in the garden are mostly cosmetic in nature. They are ferocious eaters, which is why their host plants can show significant signs of damage. They will gnaw on the bark of trees, which will restrict the flow of nutrients and can affect its overall health. The damage can be insignificant if the population is small and if you execute the necessary control measures. Economic losses can be possible, but again, this is uncommon, especially because there are several preventive and control measures that can deliver excellent results.

Rats Damage

Bark of Trees Damaged by Rats

How to Get Rid of Rats

Natural and Organic Solutions

To get rid of rats in a manner that is safe and effective, the following are some of the things that you can do:

  • Creating a clean environment is perhaps the best solution you might want to consider. Keep litter out of the surface and make sure that trash cans are not open. Indoors, especially in the kitchen, make sure as well that it is clean and that you throw trash daily. If there is a possible nesting place, eliminate it immediately.
  • If you have bird feed, do not scatter it on the ground. This can serve as foods for rats and will encourage their presence. With this, it is better to use a feeder basket or bird table.
  • Trapping is another effective way to deal with rats, although you have to choose those that are more humane. Live traps are common as they can catch rats in an instant. In the case of other rats, to be more effective, it will help if you will have plenty of rats. You can also use glue traps, but they are good only if you are dealing with smaller pests.
  • Rather than using poisons with toxic chemicals, you can also opt for those using natural materials. You can rub or spray peppermint oil in the paths where the rats travel. You can also use dry mint leaves. They will help to repel rats in the garden. A mixture of ammonia, detergent, and water can also be a promising solution to get rid of rats.
  • There are also electronic devices that you can use. They produce electromagnetic waves or sound waves. Humans will not be able to hear them, but they will be audible for cats. This is a more common method if you are dealing with rats that are indoors rather than those in the garden.

Chemical Solutions

A lot of people tend to stay away from chemical control. When rats eat the poison, they do not die right away. For this reason, they will walk away and they can hide in places that are hard for you to see. When they die, they can create a foul smell.

If you will resort to the use of chemicals, on the other hand, be sure to follow the instructions from the manufacturer. Keep them away from kids as they can possibly mistake it as food. Rodenticides will effectively kill rats, although some of them may require multiple applications. One of the most popular active ingredient is chloropacinone. To be specific, some of the most popular brands include Microzul, Rozul, and Raviac.


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