Eliminating Rats from Your Garden: Tips from BBC Gardeners' World Magazine.

Rats, primarily active during the night, may not be easily observed, but there are other noticeable indicators to be aware of. Look for their tunnels, which typically have a diameter of 6-9cm, or their pathways known as 'runs' that run alongside walls, fences, or buildings and can be as wide as 10cm. Additionally, you might come across their cylindrical droppings, measuring around 15mm in length and 5mm in width, evidence of gnawed wood (particularly in areas where food is stored), or parallel teeth marks on crops.

If you require assistance in eliminating rats or wish to share your own tips, you can visit the forum and seek guidance:

Forum: Request help or share advice to eliminate rats

Mowing long grass

Similar to all living organisms, rats require food, water, and shelter to survive. By eliminating at least one of these elements from your garden or allotment, you reduce the likelihood of them staying.

Effectively removing rats from your garden

Moving objects around

An arrangement of terracotta pots and garden furniture on a meticulously swept patio.

Rats have a tendency to feed on grain and may be attracted to your garden due to spilled bird feed. Cease feeding birds if rats are suspected of frequenting your garden, and secure chicken enclosures. Safely store bird and other animal food in containers that are not easily accessible.

Maintaining a well-groomed garden

Gardens that are kept tidy are less likely to entice rats since they offer minimal hiding spots. Keep grass trimmed, declutter storage areas, dispose of rubbish, and minimize overgrown areas, particularly near fences or garden structures.

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A plastic tube bird feeder brimming with birdseed, suspended from a tree.

Block access to decking

Rats possess a fear of novel objects, known as 'neo-phobia'. They dislike disruptions within their territory, so by placing obstacles in their pathways and frequently rearranging items in your garden, you can deter them.

Wooden decking in a garden

The area beneath decking provides an ideal habitat for rats – it offers shelter, is difficult to access, and food remnants can easily fall through the gaps. After open-air meals, be sure to clean up any dropped food. If the problem persists, consider blocking off access or contemplating the installation of a patio instead.

Garden shed

More like this

A garden shed constructed from wood with an ivy screen adorning one side

Seal any gaps in the walls, floors, and doors of your garden structures securely. To prevent entry, you may want to attach a metal "kick plate" to the door of your shed.

Turning a compost bin

Safeguard your compost bin

Transform green and brown materials into a compost bin equipped with a reliable lid.

Discourage rodents from approaching your bin or heap – do not include food scraps and maintain moisture levels (which rats dislike) by incorporating an abundance of green and brown materials. Regularly watering the heap can also act as a deterrent. Adding chicken wire around the base of the bin can assist in preventing rats from digging underneath to gain access. While it is important to turn the heap regularly, keep in mind that other wildlife also utilizes compost heaps. If rats have taken up residence in your bin, refrain from utilizing the compost on edible crops.

Storing apples

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Storing apples enveloped in newspaper, layered within trays

There is little you can do to prevent rats from accessing your crops. Rats have an appetite for sweetcorn, pumpkins, squash, root vegetables, and apples, so it is crucial to store them in a secure location once harvested. If you suspect that stored or growing crops have suffered from rat nibbling, it is advisable to refrain from consuming them. Rats also have a predilection for seeds, hence it's imperative to store them in a secure manner.

Dripping tap

An impeccably maintained garden faucet

Rats cannot survive without water. While it is not recommended to eliminate garden ponds or bird baths, the eradication of other water sources such as leaking faucets may act as a deterrent for rats. Additionally, reinforcing drains and incorporating baffles into drainpipes can provide further protection.

Fox looking for food in autumn. Getty Images

A fox on the hunt for sustenance in the autumn season. Getty Images

Rats constitute a significant portion of a fox's diet; hence, it is advisable to allocate space for foxes to inhabit your garden or allotment whenever feasible. Moreover, the presence of domesticated pets can discourage rats, as they disrupt the tranquility of the garden and render it less appealing to these pests.

Rat in a garden. Credit: Getty Images

An image of a rat captured within a garden (photo credit Getty Images)

Only as an absolute last measure should more drastic actions be considered to control rat populations. Consequently, such actions should only be pursued after all other attempts to deter these creatures have been thoroughly exhausted, as the usage of poisons can have adverse effects on other wildlife in your garden and can seep into the broader environment. Initially, pinpoint the rats' dwelling areas and map their feeding routes, which may extend into neighboring gardens as well. Traps and poisons can be acquired from garden centers, yet their proper usage is paramount – refer to the instructions provided. Ideally, and for safety reasons, it is advisable to contact your local council or a professional pest controller for assistance.

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