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DIY Tips & Tricks for a Rat-Free Home

Rats, like humans, have five primary senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. However, their sensory capabilities can differ in some ways. For instance, rats have poor eyesight compared to humans but possess an acute sense of smell and excellent hearing. Their taste and touch senses also play significant roles in their ability to navigate and interact with their environment. Knowing the different ways rats use their senses can help you to protect your home from their intrusion.

A pair of glasses with a view of a city in the background.

Understanding How Rats See the World

Rats have relatively poor eyesight compared to humans. They are nearsighted and are better at detecting motion than discerning fine details. Their vision is optimized for low light conditions, making them well-adapted to nocturnal activities. Despite their limited visual ability, rats compensate with their keen sense of smell and sensitive hearing to navigate their surroundings.

Interesting Fact: Rats cannot see the colour red at all, but they can tell the difference between blue and green.

Getting Through Life One Sniff at a Time

Rats have an exceptional sense of smell that plays a crucial role in their survival. They use their olfactory abilities to locate food, identify potential threats, and navigate their surroundings. Additionally, rats rely on scent-based communication, using pheromones to convey important information to other rats. Their acute sense of smell allows them to interpret these chemical signals, helping them to establish territories, attract mates, and maintain social structures within their colonies.

Interesting Fact: Rats have 2 different organs that can detect smells.

A person is kissing a small ground squirrel.
A sound wave on a dark background.

Eavesdroppers of the Underground: The Remarkable Hearing of Rats

Rats have a highly sensitive sense of hearing, which aids them in detecting a wide range of sounds, including high-frequency noises. This acute hearing is a crucial aspect of their survival, as it allows them to be alert to potential dangers and to communicate with other rats using ultrasonic vocalizations that are inaudible to humans. Additionally, rats’ ability to detect and decipher various auditory cues plays a significant role in their navigation, foraging, and social interactions within their environment.

Interesting Fact: Rats quickly become familiar with recurring sounds, which is why ultrasonic rodent repellers don’t work. Once the rats realize that the ultrasound emitted by the pest repeller poses no threat, they become accustomed to the sound and resume their activities in their nesting and feeding areas.

The Tactile World of Rats: The Role of Whiskers in Sensory Perception

Rats have a highly developed sense of touch, particularly through the use of their whiskers. These specialized hairs are incredibly sensitive and are used to navigate and explore their environment. By actively whisking and brushing against objects, rats can gather crucial information about the shape, texture, and dimensions of the surrounding objects. This tactile sensitivity allows them to navigate in the dark, detect obstacles, and locate food, making it an essential aspect of their sensory perception. Additionally, the sense of touch plays a significant role in social interactions among rats, enabling them to communicate and bond with each other through physical contact.

Interesting Fact: Whiskers are essential for swimming, particularly in rough water. Without whiskers, rats are at risk of drowning, because their whiskers enable them to sense when their nose is above the water’s surface.

A rat is sitting in a toilet bowl.
Mice rats in a jar with oats.

Savoring the World: Unveiling the Fascinating Sense of Taste in Rats

Rats have a well-developed sense of taste, similar to humans. They possess taste buds on their tongues, allowing them to distinguish between different flavors, including sweet, sour, bitter, and salty tastes. Like many animals, rats exhibit preferences for certain flavors and can learn to associate specific tastes with food rewards or potential dangers. Their ability to detect and discriminate between various tastes plays a significant role in their foraging behavior and dietary choices.

Interesting Fact: Rats are very picky eaters! They will eat just about anything if they have to, but they much prefer grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

DIY Tips & Tricks for a Rat-Free Home

How to use a rat’s senses against them to make sure they don’t choose your property to call home

Turn their Sniffer Away!

What Smells Do Rats Hate?

Eucalyptus plant in a white vase.
Red chili peppers in a wicker basket.
A close up of a mint plant.
A group of garlic bulbs on a wooden surface.

Peppermint has long been known for its pleasant scent, but it also serves as a natural deterrent for rats and other rodents. Rats have a strong aversion to the smell of peppermint because it contains menthol, which, if strong enough, irritates their nasal cavities causing rats to get disoriented. By planting mint plants around your property, you can create an unwelcoming environment for rats. The strong aroma of peppermint disrupts the rodents’ ability to smell food sources and navigate, prompting them to avoid areas where the scent is present. This natural approach to rodent control provides a non-toxic and aromatic solution for keeping rats at bay.

A bottle of mint essential oil on a towel.
Does Peppermint Oil Repel Rats?

If you are using essential oils with a high concentration of mint, the scent might temporarily repel rats, but it is unlikely to be a long-term option. One of the primary reasons for this is your comfort. For the essential oil to be potent enough to irritate a rat, it has to be VERY strong, which for people can be a bit overpowering. In addition to the overwhelming scent, there are also health risks to having prolonged exposure to peppermint oil. For example, inhaling highly concentrated peppermint oil can lead to shortness of breath, coughing, nasal irritation, and a sore throat.

It is of course possible to use peppermint oil at a concentration that is not harmful, but unfortunately, it is rarely potent enough at this concentration to deter rats.

Will Mint Plants Deter Rats?

Yes! Mint plants will help to deter rats, which makes it an effective and environmentally friendly option to keep your home rodent-free. Mint plants have a very strong aroma, and if you plant them outside around the perimeter of your home, it can be a great defense to keeping the rats outside of your house. However, this may not be a long-term solution. Eventually, the rats will adjust to the scent, and if they want inside they will find a way.

Bonus to planting mint: Wasps and hornets hate the smell of mint too! Unfortunately, bees don’t mind the scent of mint, so you might have some fluffy little guests flying around your property in the spring and summer. But, at least you won’t have the big bad wasps lurking around.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to get out that green thumb and plant some mint!

A plant with green leaves growing in the dirt.

Peppers, often known for their spicy kick in culinary dishes, can also act as a natural deterrent for rats. Capsaicin is a naturally occurring compound that is found in all peppers (except bell peppers), and it is responsible for their spicy heat. The compound activates sensory neurons in the skin and mucous membranes, causing a sensation of burning or heat. Have you ever been told not to touch your eyes after cutting peppers? It’s because the Capsaicin in the pepper will cause any tissue it comes into contact with to experience a burning sensation.

Red chili peppers on a wooden table.

How Can You Use Peppers to Keep Rats Outside?

Fortunately, we aren’t the only ones who want to avoid that burning sensation that capsaicin (peppers) cause! Rats are very sensitive to capsaicin as well. The potent odor and taste of chili can deter rats from approaching or consuming items treated with this natural substance. By utilizing chili pepper powder or spray in strategic areas, you can create a less inviting environment for rats, deterring them from infesting your space. This non-toxic and eco-friendly method offers a DIY means of rat control, helping to keep these pests at bay.

Curious about using garlic to keep rats at bay? Garlic contains compounds such as allicin, which can be harmful to rats in high doses. Ingesting garlic can lead to various health issues for rats, including potential damage to their red blood cells. However, simply smelling garlic will not cause rats to experience any health issues. The pungent smell may keep them out of the area, but it will also be unpleasant for the non-rodent population – meaning your friends and family may not be too interested in visiting your garlicky house!

Can Garlic Keep Rats out of the House?

While rats have a strong aversion to the pungent odor of garlic, it is not a foolproof method for rat control. Unfortunately, the strong smell of garlic will only irritate the rats for a short while, and eventually, they will adjust to the scent and will no longer be repelled by it. As such, it is important to have additional pest control measures in place to ensure that your house is kept rodent-free.

Garlic in a wooden bowl on a wooden table.

Eucalyptus is another natural repellent that can be effective in deterring rats. The strong, minty aroma of eucalyptus oil is known to be unpleasant for rats and can help in keeping them away from specific areas. Some people use eucalyptus leaves or eucalyptus oil as a natural rat deterrent by placing them strategically in areas where rats are not welcome. However, studies have shown that while rats don’t like the smell of Eucalyptus, it won’t deter them from entering the area long-term, because similar to garlic and peppermint, the rats will become accustomed to the scent and it will no longer work as a deterrent.

Eucalyptus plant in a white vase.

Using Eucalyptus to Keep Rats out of The House:

Even though Eucalyptus is unlikely to keep rats out of your home, it can be used to make your property unfavorable to rats. Recent studies have indicated that rats don’t like the taste of Eucalyptus, so if you have a pond on your property, you could put Eucalyptus in the pond, so they don’t make your yard the local watering hole. You would need to do this daily, otherwise the taste will fade away, and the rodents will happily drink out of your pond.

However, Eucalyptus can be toxic to fish and pets, so it’s not advisable to use it if you have furry friends wandering the property.