Rats in the Garden & How to Deter Rats
Rats in the Garden?
Gardens provide safe shelter and food sources for rodents. Either food that is growing in the garden or stored in outbuildings such as sheds or garages.
If you see a number of rats in the garden, a good starting point is to look for nesting areas. Rats typically nest under timber or wood piles, under rubbish, in over grown areas, in drain pipes, underneath decking, underneath/inside sheds or garages.
Rats are nocturnal feeders and so come out of hiding at night. However, if food is scarce you may seem them during the daytime searching for food.
As well as seeing a rat, if there are large numbers present you may also be able to smell them, as they have a distinctive odor. You may also hear their activity, and see rat droppings.
Other indications of a rodent issue, are holes or burrows which are typically 6 to 9cm in diameter. Rats also use runs/ tracks. The rat runs are typically close to a wall or an edge which provides coverage. For example, an embankment, hedge or vegetation. Rats will use the same runs to go to and from their nesting area. You may see smear marks along these runs - where the rats undersides have rubbed against the surface as they run along. These will be black smears , that typically can be seen on stone surfaces such as steps or the wood of a fence or post.
Of course the most obvious indication of rats, other than visually seeing them, is the damage they cause. Rats will gnaw at any barriers to a food source. This could be fence panels, compost/household bins and sheds/outbuildings. As well as gnawing through any packaging that food may be stored in.
The rats teeth a very strong, and it can be surprising to see the hard materials they can chew through. We have seen rats chew through the back of fridges in outbuildings to get to the food within!
How to Deter Rats
The best course of action is to deny food and shelter to the rats. This way you can reduce the chance of them invading your garden.
To deny shelter, make sure your garden is clear of any potential nesting places. Do not let rubbish, garden clippings or wood piles build up. Keep grass short and cut back any overgrown areas of the garden.
Inspect your shed or garage to ensure that there are no gaps which may allow entry. Rats can squeeze through very small gaps, even 15mm (1.5cm) is enough space for the rat to get through.
To deny food, ensure all bins (compost and household) have a lid on, and refrain from leaving any rubbish bags containing food outside.
If you have been dining outside, ensure all food is cleared away and any crumbs swept up promptly.
Do not put bird feed on the ground. You can use a bird feeder or bird table, however rats CAN climb. So it is best to clear away any bird feed before it gets dark. If you already have rat activity in the garden, we advise that you remove bird feed completely.
If you believe you have a rats nest in your garden or neighbouring garden, we are happy to come and remove it. Where possible, we prefer to use terriers to do this, as it is a natural, fast and effective way to knock down numbers quickly. We can also provide trapping.
Please do NOT use rodenticide in gardens, as you are unable to specifically target the rats, and may end up harming other non-target animals such as domestic cats and other pets, hedgehogs, and birds of prey.