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What To Do About Rats in Backyard

a rat in a backyard

For many homeowners, the backyard is their favorite part of their home. Many memorable activities happen there, including playtime with kids, family gatherings and weddings. Unfortunately, rats can ruin all of that.

These pests thrive in backyards and can cause significant damage to your property fast. If rats are taking over your backyard, here’s how to deal with the infestation. But, the best solution is to contact the pros. Pest control specialists have the expertise to efficiently control rats.

Rats in the Backyard: What Should Homeowners Do?

Rats can destroy your garden, plants and vegetables and eventually enter your home. Once inside, they’ll chew on practically anything, including drywall, wires, wood and plastic. They are not picky at all. They can also contaminate your food and spread disease.

Fortunately, there are some things homeowners can do to keep rats out of their garden and backyard. Here are some preventative tips you can apply.

Proper Backyard Sanitation

Regular sanitation is the most crucial step in rat control. Without it, the other measures will be useless. Store your gardening equipment, wood piles and other backyard items in counters that aren’t on the ground. That will lessen their access to shelter and make them easier to spot. It’s also worth moving planters, storage cabinets and dog houses away from your home’s exterior.

In addition, gather and dispose of trash and garden debris regularly and cover all garbage bins with tight lids. If you have dogs and you feed them outside, don’t give rats easy access to their food supply. Store them in rodent-proof containers inside your home. It will also help to regularly trim the grass, bushes and trees in your backyard.

Remove Possible Food and Water Sources

Rats see your backyard as an eat-all-you-can restaurant. Standing water, pet waste, compost and plants are all sources of nutrients to them. You can follow these steps to eliminate possible food sources and make your backyard less appealing to them.

Move your vegetable garden away from your home’s exterior, backyard and other outdoor living areas. As long as there are vegetables and other food sources, rats won’t leave. But growing your vegetables in a far corner will at least keep them away from your family and guests.

Without a water source, rats can’t thrive. Eliminate all standing water in your backyard, including buckets and pets’ water bowls. Homeowners should also fix leaking faucets, garden hoses and pipes. However, some water sources aren’t as straightforward to remove. For example, some rats will gnaw on drip irrigation lines for a drink of water.

Rats will feast on just about anything, including pet feces. Deal with pet waste immediately instead of leaving it in the backyard.

If you have compost in your backyard, transfer it to a secure, above-ground compost bin. Keep the lid on and move it away from trees, ladders and fences. That way, rats have no access to it. If you prefer to have your compost in the ground, purchase a durable bin with thick sides. Ensure the lid fits securely, and install a mesh on the bin’s underside.

Try Natural Rat Repellants

Rats have poor eyesight and rely heavily on their sense of smell to navigate their surroundings. That’s why scents can be an effective rat deterrent. Mint and lavender are two smells that rats dislike, so try planting them in your backyard and other spots where rats may hole up.

Eucalyptus and peppermint oil are two other scents that rats hate. Mix them with water and spray the solution on possible rat nest locations. These include vegetable garden beds, doghouses and under the deck. You can also soak cotton balls in these oils and place them around your backyard.

While these methods can deter rats, they might not be effective against rats that are already living on your property. Letting a pest control specialist take over is still the best solution.

a rat

Do Rats Eat Plants?

If you have a rat infestation, you might be worried about your plants. Rats are adaptable pests and will eat various types of food to survive in their environment. These include the plants and vegetables in your backyard.

They have a penchant for sweet corn, squash and pumpkins. They also munch on root vegetables like potatoes, parsnips, carrots and beetroot. Seeds, plants and harvested fruits aren’t safe from them either. However, rats still prefer human and pet food. They’ll only consume plants, vegetables and fruits when there’s nothing else available.

It’s unfortunate when rats feast on your beloved garden, but they can do more harm than that. These pests carry many diseases, including leptospirosis, rat-bite fever and salmonellosis and can spread them. People can get these diseases through direct contact. For example, you might touch a contaminated item and then rub your eyes or nose. It’s also possible to consume contaminated food. Infected rodents can also scratch and bite.

These diseases can also spread through indirect contact. People can get them through mites, fleas, ticks and mosquitoes that suck on infected rodents’ blood. The best way to prevent this is by contacting experienced pest control specialists.

a field mouse

Field Mouse Versus Rat: How to Tell Them Apart

Many homeowners will lump field mice, pictured above, and rats together into one category. But, homeowners should be able to tell them apart because they require different treatment methods. If you have an infestation at home but can’t tell whether it’s a rat or mouse infestation, here are some differences to help you distinguish between the two.

Physical Characteristics

Size is the most noticeable difference between mice and rats. Mice are small and slender, while rats are longer and heftier. You can also look at their tails to identify them. Mice have thin, hairy ones that are long for their bodies. Meanwhile, rats have thick, short and hairless tails.


Mice and rats have opposite personalities. Mice are curious creatures that like to explore their surroundings and examine new things. They are adventurers who will squeeze themselves through tiny cracks and crevices.

On the contrary, rats are extremely cautious by nature. They will only come out of their hiding places if they are sure no people or predators are around. They also avoid foreign items until they become accustomed to them.

a rat


Mice and rats, pictured above, build their nests near food sources using finely shredded paper and soft materials to construct them. One female mouse can produce as many as eight litters yearly, each with five to six babies. Their offspring will start to make their own babies as early as six weeks old. As for rats, they can have up to seven litters yearly, each with as many as twelve babies. Young rats can start breeding as early as three months old.


Mice are agile creatures. They have excellent swimming, jumping, running and climbing skills. They can even stand on their hind legs with their tail as support. On the other hand, rats are burrowers. While mice rarely dig, rats will burrow under plants, fences and buildings. They’re strong swimmers, too, so they often use toilets and drains as entry points into buildings and houses.

Whether you have a rat or mouse infestation, a pest control professional can help manage the situation. Contact one immediately once you notice signs of rats or mice in your home.

Let the Professionals Handle the Rats in the Backyard

A rat infestation in the backyard is a severe issue that few homeowners know how to handle. If you have rodents on your property, trust pest control professionals to deal with the problem. They will control the population in your home.

ABC Can Help with Pest Problems

Managing a rat problem can be unnerving for a number of reasons. If rodents, wildlife or any other variety of animal or insect pest is giving you trouble, contact ABC. Our highly-trained pest specialists can remove any unwelcome visitors on your property, so you can feel comfortable at home again.

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