Rats in the garden is a common problem for anyone living in a house. With plenty of places to hide and rubbish bins providing a great food source, it’s no surprise that these rodents are happy to make themselves at home here.

It’s important to get a potential problem with rats seen to quickly if you suspect you have rats in the garden. With autumn just around the corner, the temperature will start dropping and food supplies will become scarce. This means that before long, these pests will start making their way into your home.

Below we discuss the signs that you may have rats in your garden and what to do about it.

Signs of rats in the garden
It’s a good idea to spend 10-15 minutes checking your garden for signs of rats on a regular basis. Look out for:

• Rat droppings. These are distinct and resemble a large grain of rice (about 9-14mm) and are dark brown in colour. Rats can produce up to 40 droppings in just one night so you’re likely to notice it in large volumes
• Bite marks. Rats have a strong bite and can chew through things such as plastic, wood, lead, aluminium and even cement. If you notice bite marks around bins, in hoses, furniture, sheds or anywhere else around the garden, it’s likely to be rats
• Nests. You’re likely to find rat nests in areas that are dry and hidden from predators so you may need to search a bit harder for this one. They’re attracted to clutter and easy food sources so these are the high risk areas of your garden
• Footprints. Rats are very active so it’s inevitable they’re going to leave footprints. A good way to test this is to sprinkle flour or anything with a similar texture and wait to see if there are any fresh prints
• Burrows. Rats are more likely to dig burrows in proximity to compost bins, sheds, the garage and under shelters and decking
• Increased pet activity. Cats and dogs have a much stronger sense of smell and hearing than we do so they may pick up on rats before you. If your pet is putting its nose inside crevices for longer and more often than usual or they’re suddenly constantly on the hunt for something, it could be rats
• You can smell ammonia. If you have a very large rat infestation in your garden, you will probably be able to smell it

What to do if you have rats in the garden
There are a number of ways you can encourage rats to move on and prevent them coming back in future.

Remove potential food sources
Pests are drawn to easy food sources so make it as difficult as possible for them to get food from your garden.

• Ensure bin bags are securely fastened and are kept preferably in a metal bin
• Don’t feed your pet outside. If you do, ensure it’s cleared away as soon as they’ve finished
• If you eat outside, clean away any debris immediately and wipe down source
• Don’t leave food out for birds or squirrels
• Remove fallen fruits from the ground
• If possible, remove any water sources

Keep your garden clean
Rats like to keep hidden so any clutter will provide shelter for them.

• Trim bushes, cut the grass and remove weeds regularly
• Rake leaves regularly and don’t leave them in a pile on the ground
• Inspect children’s toys regularly
• Keep your shed clean because rats can easily gnaw their way inside
• If you keep garden furniture covered, check it regularly

Get planting
There are a number of plants that deter rats so try to incorporate a couple of these into your garden design.

• Lavender
• Daffodils
• Marigolds
• Garlic
• Black pepper
• Cayenne
• Sage
• Oregano

Call a local pest controller
If you suspect you have a rat infestation in your garden, you should always call a local pest controller. They will be able to diagnose the problem and how severe it is, safely remove any unwanted pests and show you how to prevent them coming back.

If you need help with a rat infestation, please get in touch with Prokill and our experts will be on hand to help.