Few sounds send chills up a homeowner’s spine, quite like rats’ scratching, gnawing, and squeaking sounds. Even just seeing one on your property is enough to ignite a sense of panic, leaving you frantically searching for answers about how to get rid of rats under a deck, shed, or home fast.
Overall, there are several options for how to get rid of rats under a deck, house, or shed. It’s smart to start with bright lights and removing food sources. Adding fans and natural deterrents is similarly wise. Even gravel can be effective, allowing you to avoid the hassles of traps and poisons.
But those aren’t the only options at your disposal. If you need to figure out how to get rid of rats under a shed, patio, deck, or house, here’s what you need to know.
- Do Rats Live Under Decking?
- Are Rats Dangerous?
- Signs of Rats Under Deck, Shed, House, Porch
- How to Get Rid of Rats Under Your Deck, Shed, and House Permanently
- What Scent Will Keep Rats Away?
- What Are Rats Scared Of?
- What Food Kills Rats Instantly?
- How Do You Find a Rats Nest?
- What’s the Best Way to Get Rid of Rats Fast?
Do Rats Live Under Decking?
Rats may live under a deck if the conditions are right. If the space is suitably dark, has places for nests, and is near a food source, rats may view the area under your deck as a great home.
Often, this is more common with ground-level decks or decks with surrounds. In those cases, the space below the deck is usually dark and isn’t frequently traveled by people, pets, or other animals, making it attractive to a range of critters. If the deck is also near a bird feeder that usually spills seeds, an open garbage can, or you frequently drop food pieces while dining on it, it becomes even more enticing to rats.
Are Rats Dangerous?
While rats are smaller than many other critters you might encounter, they are potentially dangerous. Rats can carry a variety of diseases and parasites, some of which can be deadly to humans and pets.
While some of the conditions are transmitted through bites and scratches, others can spread through contact with droppings. As a result, that makes them dangerous even if you never encounter the rat directly.
Rats can also cause property damage in fairly short order. Chewing on items is a common activity for rats, so they might gnaw on different parts of your home. Depending on where they hole up, that could lead to electrical, plumbing, HVAC, or structural damage, all of which can be costly to repair.
Signs of Rats Under Deck, Shed, House, Porch
Before you worry about getting rid of rats under your deck, shed, or house, you want to make sure that rats are your problem. If you spot rats in the area, you may feel pretty confident about your assessment. However, if you haven’t seen a critter, it’s important to note that several animals could be to blame.
Along with rats, you may be dealing with rabbits, raccoons, possums, or skunks, just to name a few options. Since the animal involved may make changing your approach a necessity, it’s best to make sure it’s rats.
Checking for droppings is an easy way to begin and using a UV light to detect urine. Since rats usually burrow underneath decking or foundations, holes may be another sign. Paper or cloth are clues, as many rats use those materials for nests. You might see indications of chewing or gnawing on boards or deck supports.
Baby rats may openly wander through your yard. They aren’t as cautious as adults, making them easier to spot in some cases. Otherwise, you may want to watch potential burrow openings near dusk or install a camera trap that can monitor the area instead. Since rats are nocturnal, that gives you the best chance of spotting one if they’re the issue.
How to Get Rid of Rats Under Your Deck, Shed, and House Permanently
1. Remove Food Sources
In many cases, the simplest way to get rats to leave an area is to eliminate any food sources. Precisely what that involves may depend on your situation. However, temporarily removing bird feeders, avoiding eating on your deck, and sealing up garbage cans are excellent ways to begin.
Even if you still have a vegetable garden, that isn’t enough to meet all of a rat’s dietary needs. Since that’s the case, you can usually leave that as long as you get rid of any possible source of fats and proteins.
Overall, eliminating food sources makes your home less attractive, as the rat now has to travel to handle this need. Just make sure you block any possible entries into your home. Otherwise, removing outdoor food sources may encourage the rats to look inside, which isn’t ideal.
2. Bright Lights
As with most nocturnal animals, rats generally prefer to remain shrouded in darkness whenever possible. Bright light can actually hurt their eyes, causing them to shy away from well-lit areas.
If you have rats under your deck, in a crawl space, or another reasonably accessible area, installing bright lights in the space could encourage rats to leave. It makes the area less comfortable, and they’ll feel more exposed, making your property seem less safe.
Just make sure that you leave the lights on 24/7 until the problem resolves. Otherwise, this solution isn’t as effective, as the space may end up darker than you expect when they’re off, even if it’s a bright, sunny day.
3. Strong FansWhile a strong fan might seem like an odd solution, it’s surprisingly effective, especially if the rat is in an enclosed space. When you turn the fan on, it creates a draft. Along with being generally uncomfortable, it can cause smaller animals – including rats – to head elsewhere.
Usually, small mammals can’t afford to lose much body heat. Since drafts make conversing body heat harder, they usually won’t stick around if there is much air movement. As a result, that makes fans an easy way to encourage rats to leave spaces under decks, sheds, or homes.
If the space is larger, you may want to go with an industrial fan or blower instead of a traditional house-style fan. In many cases, you can rent those from home improvement stores, allowing you to access one without purchasing your own.
4. Spicy PeppersIn the world of natural deterrents, spicy peppers are typically an easy way to go. You can get fresh peppers – like jalapenos and habaneros – at most grocery stores. Plus, even dried or powdered ones can be incredibly effective, and they’re also highly accessible.
There are several ways to make this natural deterrent work. For example, you could plant spicy peppers in areas where rats congregate, such as along the edges of decks. You could chop up fresh peppers and soak them in white vinegar, creating a spicy spray. Even sprinkling dried cayenne pepper around burrows could do the trick.
The reason peppers can work is that they function as irritants. The strong smell and burning sensations are unpleasant to rats, making your property seem less viable as a home.
5. Peppermint or Clove OilBoth peppermint and clove oil have incredibly strong scents. In some cases, they’re also an eye irritant, and not just when they physically get into the eye. As a result, they can be another natural deterrent if you need to deal with rats.
Overall, rats have sensitive noses, so they often avoid unpleasant scents. Since peppermint and clove oil are uncomfortable if they get in the eyes, environments where the oil may accumulate on paws and onto their faces are less appealing to rats. Finally, peppermint and clove oil may alter the taste of foods.
While it’s true that rats are used to places where stenches are common and aren’t known for refined palettes, that doesn’t mean they prefer to live in areas with smells or tastes they dislike. Since that’s the case, the oils can make your house, deck, or shed less appealing, increasing the odds that the rats will look for greener pastures.
6. Predator UrineSimilarly to the option above, predator urine gives the rat the impression that it’s potentially in danger. While it isn’t universally effective, it typically comes with very little risk. Just make sure to choose a version that matches a suitable predator that lives in your local area. Usually, that means fox or coyote urine.
It’s important to note that this option isn’t just unpleasant to rats. The smell of these products is strong and is often off-putting to people.
Pets may react in various ways, depending on the type of pet you have and the urine involved. Some may avoid the area, while others may want to investigate or even roll in it. It could also trigger ongoing stress, especially if the scent is detectable inside your home.
7. Dry Ice
Dry ice may be your best bet if you’re looking for a lower-risk way to kill rats in an enclosed space. As dry ice melts, it releases carbon dioxide, reducing the amount of oxygen in an area. If rats are in an enclosed space, they’ll asphyxiate, typically within a few minutes.
While this option is safer than many poisons, it isn’t risk-free. Handling dry ice is potentially dangerous, as it can cause burns if it comes in direct contact with skin. Additionally, the releasing carbon dioxide is harmful to essentially any animal, including people and pets.
Since that’s the case, it’s best only to use dry ice in areas that you can fully close off and don’t allow carbon dioxide into your home. Keep pets secured away from the area during the entire process and before going into the space after using dry ice, vent the site – allowing it to mix with outdoor air – to allow the carbon dioxide to dissipate.
8. Rat TrapsIn some cases, the simplest way to deal with rats is traps. Most snap traps are designed to kill rats instantly, making the process humane. Plus, most are small enough to fit into tight spaces, ensuring other animals or pets won’t encounter them directly.
When you’re looking for bait, peanut butter is an accessible and effective option. Just make sure to apply it carefully to ensure you don’t set the trap off by mistake.
If you prefer an alternative to snap traps, rat zappers may be a reasonable choice. Again, they are fast and effective, making them more humane than alternatives like glue traps.
9. Dog or Cat
Like many smaller mammals, rats aren’t inclined to stay in locations they perceive as dangerous. By having a cat or dog on your property, the rat may view your pet as a threat to their safety. If that occurs, they may head out solely to avoid the potential risks.
Generally, this works best if the cat or dog encroaches on the rat’s space. By getting close to a nest, the rat may assume it’s only a matter of time before a predator attacks, causing them to seek shelter elsewhere.
If that isn’t an option, you can simulate a pet getting nearby. For example, used cat litter adds the scent of a predator to an area. By placing it near burrow entry points, the rat may assume a predator is close, even if your cat remains indoors at all times.
10. Gravel Around House and Under Deck
Rats dig under foundations, allowing them to create a dark burrow under your house or shed. If you’re dealing with that kind of nest or want to reduce the odds of rats taking up residence under your home, shed, or patio, gravel along the edges may do the trick.
By surrounding your property in a two-foot wide run of gravel – preferably about six-inches deep – rats won’t have an easy time digging under your foundation. Since accomplishing the task takes too much effort, most rats will move on instead of continuing to try.
However, this works best if the pieces are larger and rough. That makes the gravel harder to move and less comfortable to handle or cross, increasing the odds that it’ll serve as a deterrent.
11. Rat Poison
Generally speaking, rat poison should be a last resource. While it’s highly effective at killing rats, it’s dangerous to use. Rat poison can kill people, especially children or those with certain medical conditions. It’s also fatal to most pets, often in quantities far smaller than you’d expect.
If you have to use poison, try using bait stations instead of simply placing poison around. That may help reduce the odds of pets or people contacting the poison, making it less risky. You could also try a water bait option, as those may be easier to place in areas away from pets and people.
Just keep in mind that rat poisons aren’t instantaneous. As a result, the rat may die under your home, shed, or deck, potentially in areas you can’t reach. If that’s the case, you may get stuck with an unpleasant smell for quite some time.
What Scent Will Keep Rats Away?
Scents like peppermint and clove encourage rats to move on, mainly because they find them unpleasant. The smell of a predator – including a pet cat or dog or certain predator urines – may also cause rats to seek accommodations elsewhere.
Hot peppers are another solid choice. Whether you create a spray or plant peppers in your garden, the aroma isn’t enticing, so it may keep rats away.
What Are Rats Scared Of?
Rats aren’t particularly fearful creatures, though there are encounters they’d rather avoid. First, rats aren’t a fan of people. Along with people being larger, we’re viewed as a threat. Second, cats and dogs known to hunt rodents are troublesome to rats, making a property less attractive.
Finally, rats may also worry about birds of prey, such as owls, hawks, or eagles. The same goes for snakes and weasels.
What Food Kills Rats Instantly?
Generally speaking, there aren’t any foods that kill rats instantly. However, that doesn’t mean certain foods aren’t toxic, making them potentially deadly.
Rhubarb leaves and green potatoes are harmful to various animals, including rats. Bitter almond and poppy seeds can also hurt rats. Surprisingly, blue cheese is toxic to rats.
There are also some household substances that can cause harm. For example, combining cornmeal, powdered hot chocolate mix, and baking soda (1 cup of each) can actually poison rats. The cornmeal and hot chocolate mix attract the rat, and the high quantities of baking soda kill it. Again, it isn’t instant, but it can be a safer alternative to conventional poisons.
How Do You Find a Rats Nest?
Finding a rat nest is potentially tricky. Usually, the nest is little more than a sizeable clump of paper scraps, fabric bits, insulation clumps, and similar materials. As a result, it may blend in with what’s already there, particularly if insulation is involved.
However, knowing where rats tend to nest can increase your odds. In homes, rats usually nest in attics, wall cavities, eaves, and similar dark spaces. For options like attics, you may be able to simply spot a nest.
For wall cavities, it may take more effort. You may need to listen for rat activity to determine whether the rat is passing through or nesting in an area. In time, you may be able to narrow it down. However, you won’t want to cut into a wall to address a nest until you deal with the actual rats, so make that a priority.
Outdoors, you’ll usually need to look for holes near foundations or under decking. If you spot a hole with paper, fabric, leaves, twigs, or similar items inside, there’s a good chance to be a nest.
What’s the Best Way to Get Rid of Rats Fast?
If you were wondering how to get rid of rats under a deck, shed, or home, you probably have some solid ideas by now. Usually, the best way to start is with deterrent-based options, like bright lights, fans, food source removal, and scent-based irritants. They don’t cause lasting harm, are typically safe for people and pets, and are highly accessible.
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