Walking around your lovingly tended garden you check your budding fruit trees and listen to the cluck, cluck, clucking of your chickens when you suddenly spot something that makes you stop dead in your tracks. The hair on the nape of your neck raises and your skin starts to crawl. On the path in front of you, you discover RAT POO. Filthy specs of sultana-sized feces litter your garden path and you instantly know you’ve got a problem.
But what to do about rats in the garden?
Like your best friend, once they’ve made your acquaintance, rats are around for life if you let them. So best to deal with them quickly and safely – before the kids think that you’ve invested in a new family of pets for the yard!
When it comes to dealing with rats and mice in and around your home and garden, using both prevention and control strategies together will help rid your abode of those furry invaders for good. Firstly let’s talk prevention.
Keep rubbish at bay
Ensure all rubbish in and around your yard and inside your home is kept in sealed containers with bin lids well and truly secured.
Clear out sheds
Regularly clear out sheds and storage areas and remove anything you no longer use. The less clutter, the less nesting places available for them.
Store piles off the ground
Stack firewood and bricks etc. off the ground (about 30cm is recommended) as this minimises nesting and thoroughfare locations for rodents.
Pick your fruit
There’s nothing quite growing your own fruit but if your trees are prolific producers, ensure you collect and dispose of any fallen fruit from the ground and surrounding areas.
Cut your grass
Long grass and un-kept yards are havens for rats and mice (and their slithery mates) so keep your grass mown and your yard clear of debris.
Seal compost bins
Unless you’re hoping to offer the neighbourhood rats a nightly smorgasbord, ensure your compost bin is completely sealed and preferably off the ground.
Feed domestic pets only what they need
If you have domestic pets it’s a good idea to leave out only enough food that they’ll eat in one day. Rats love dog, cat, bird and chicken food. Actually unlike your pampered pooch, rats aren’t that fussy at all, they’ll feed on any food left out for them.
Store chook food away
If you do happen to have chickens or other birds, store all food for them in a sealable vermin-proof container. Be mindful that if rats are particularly hungry, they can chew through plastic containers.
Plug holes and cover drains
Have a good look around the house and cover or repair any cracks, holes or crevices in homes, buildings, garden sheds and outdoor areas that could be nesting points for rats. If you have any uncovered drains, cover them with wire mesh to prevent rats from using the pipe or drain as a thoroughfare.
If you already have rats take up residence in your backyard, it’s time to implement control strategies. There’s a number of ways of controlling rats and mice in and around your house and garden including poisons, chemicals and all sorts of traps. Some are more messy than others and if you have children or pets then this might affect your options. Here’s a few strategies to rid your home and garden of revolting rodents:
Rat poisons and rat baits are usually a short-term solution for larger populations. Rats usually feed on baits and poisoned foods and then go away to die. There are down-sides to using poisons however as there are risks to pets and children ingesting mislaid baits or baits moved by pests. Also from time-to-time rats will find some of the weirdest places to lay down and decay (including in your roof or in your walls) so the resulting smell of rotting, deceased rat may be enough to put you off your meals for a few days * gag *.
Live rodent traps are a popular way of managing rats in the garden particularly for those who aren’t keen on destroying rats and mice but still want to rid their garden of them. The key with live traps is ensuring the traps are checked daily to remove and relocate (or humanely destroy) the rodents.
Snap traps are a fast and humane way of controlling rats. Traps can be purchased at most grocery and hardware stores and can be set with bread, meat, cheese, chocolate or fish. Traps like these need to be set across rat-traffic areas or near nests and need to be checked daily. These traps have the tendency to get quite messy so if you have a weak stomach, arrange for someone else to dispose of your ‘trap victims’.
Electronic Rodent Repellers
Electronic rodent repellers are devices that emit a range of electromagnetic, ultrasonic and ionic technologies to keep the pesky rodents far away. Some even come with flashing lights as a further deterrent. You can get them in a range of battery, electric or even solar powered devices and are some of the safest alternatives for minimising your rat population especially if you have children or domestic animals.
So take a deep breath, sweep that rat poo from your garden path and once you implement a few of these simple strategies, wave goodbye to those vexatious vermin for good.
Have you ever had rats take up residence in your house or garden? How did you control them?PESTS: Ant Control PESTS: Aphids