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Rats are smart critters. A rodent infestation can be a serious problem in the garden. There is a multitude of methods you can try to get rid of them, ranging from old wives’ tales to the latest technology. But which is best?
Rats are a pest. And a health hazard. They will eat away at your fruit and vegetables, camp in your compost, gnaw through fences, planters and containers and, worse still, carry diseases harmful to humans.
Wild rats can bite and scratch when approached and will seek shelter in sheds, greenhouses and even your home. A female rat can birth six litters a year with up to 12 pups. So left unchecked, unwelcome rodent visitors will soon become an infestation.
Think like a rat
Like any other mammal, rats need food, shelter and water to survive. Logic tells us that removing one or all three of those ratty necessities will simply get rid of the rodents.
And that may be true. Keeping your garden clear of rubbish, ensuring discarded household food is stored securely, fixing that leaky outdoor tap, securing the dripping drain pipe and securing drains will all help.
But rats are resourceful and will find their life essentials in ways you hadn’t even thought possible.
Is it a rat, or is it a cat?
Many the gardener has been checking on his crops after dusk only to mistake a cat for a rat or vice versa. Garden rats can grow huge, weighing half a kilo and up to 10 inches in length.
If you reassure yourself that a clandestine feline will deal with the threat of an omnipotent rodent, think again.
In studies, cats have been shown to be particularly poor at the dispatching of rats. Often the neighbour’s moggy will simply conclude that taking on a ferocious rat is too much like hard work, especially if they’re well-fed at home anyway.
Supposedly rats hate peppermint and it allegedly masks their pheromone trails. One method is to soak cotton wool balls in peppermint oil and strategically place them around the garden where rats are known to frequent.
There isn’t any scientific evidence to suggest peppermint oil will get rid of rats. And who really wants to litter their garden with soaked cotton wool? And what happens after a heavy downpour washes it all away? Won’t ratty just retreat to a non-minty corner or head for next door until the coast is clear?
How do I lay traps to catch rats?
Rats are naturally suspicious so you’ll need to be a little cunning in where you lay traps. It’s also best to bait them for a week or so until the cagey critters can’t resist a sniff. Or lay traps without bait so rats become accustomed to their presence before adding a chunk of peanut butter.
The advantage of traps is that they avoid a dead rat taking cover to lie low and die a slow death. A rotting carcass can cause as many problems as a live rat with flies and maggots infesting the area. Place traps in out-of-the-way areas unlikely to injure children or pets.
Traps can be effective at eliminating small numbers of rats. But it really is a case of trial and error.
Can you buy electronic devices to get rid of rats?
There are lots of these devices on the market. They emit electromagnetic waves or high pitched noises inaudible to humans to scare off rats and other pests.
No one really knows if they work or not and picking one that might actually be effective is painstaking and a case of potluck.
The most effective method. Poison isn’t for everyone. The thought of poisoning a living animal is too much for some people. But it is a humane and quick method of killing off a rat problem.
Laying your own rat poison can be effective but it needs great care. For good reason did spurned lovers of old use rat poison to dispatch their victims.
The most effective, efficient and safest way to use poison for a rat infestation is to call in the professionals.
A pro pest controller will assess the scale of the problem and devise a plan to achieve the best solution. They may not even opt for poison but, if they do, you can be assured the strategy will quickly eradicate rats from your beloved garden.
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