It doesn't matter how clean and comfortable your home is indoors. It's impossible to relax and enjoy your space when you know rats are scurrying around in your backyard. Allowing a rat infestation to flourish in your yard isn't just unpleasant and unhygienic but could ultimately lead to the rodents making their way into your home. This is an urgent issue, and it's not something you can necessarily solve on your own.
Why Rats Gather
To get rid of rats, it's important to understand why these pests have chosen your backyard. They're strongly attracted to organic matter, including human and pet food. Open trash bins or ripped bags of trash will draw them in. So will accessible containers of grains like bags of grass seed and bird food.
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Rats are also drawn to water sources, so a yard with a pool or any standing water will be an attractive home base. Rats like to hide in dark places and burrow into piles of leaves or trash. A messy or crowded yard with open trash cans is the perfect setting for them to put down roots.
DIY Methods to Control Rats
The most effective thing you can do on your own to minimize a rat problem is to eliminate the conditions that draw the rodents to your yard in the first place. Pick up any trash from the ground and clear out any old stacks of wood or other detritus that could make a good hiding place for crafty rodents. If you have pets that use the yard, make a habit of cleaning up any waste each day. Store trash, pet food, birdseed, and other organic matter that's kept outdoors in rodent-proof trash bins with lids. If you feed pets outdoors, remove their bowls and any leftover food as soon as they're done eating.
These steps are all useful for controlling a rat infestation. However, the problem with DIY solutions is that they won't solve the problem in the long term. You might try using glue traps to kill a small number of rats, but more rodents will appear.
That said, there's no harm in trying some of the more common natural ways to get rid of rats, which generally involve using unpleasant smells to drive them away from an area. For example, some people use mint to repel rats. Planting mint in your garden probably won't make a huge difference if rats are determined to make a home in your yard, but it can't hurt. Likewise, spraying a rodent repellent around the border of your home may not entirely keep rats away but could discourage them from getting inside — at least until you can get an exterminator out to your property.
When to Call a Pro
Because a rat infestation is hard to control on your own, it's advisable to call a pest control company as soon as you notice rat droppings, live rodents, or other signs of a rat infestation in your yard. An exterminator can help in several ways. They can identify the places where rats are accessing your yard and make recommendations to keep them out. They can help you find and remove any rat nests that exist. An exterminator can also examine the foundation of your home and close any gaps where rats might be able to get inside.
Most important, an exterminator can safely set traps around the property to kill the rodents that flock to your yard. Killing them is the only way to end a rat infestation. Pest control companies have the experience to set up traps that use poison or electricity to destroy rats as humanely and quickly as possible. Your exterminator may have to make multiple visits to empty and reset the traps before the infestation is well controlled.