How to get rid of field mice in your yard?

  • Contents

    • Ten Best Ways to Keep Field Mice Out of Your Yard
      • Keep Lawns Trimmed and Neat
      • Take Care of Compost Piles
      • Get Rid of Waste and Trash from Garden
      • Keep the Bottom Floor of your Home Extra Clean
      • Move the Woodpile
      • Don’t Park Cars in the Yard
      • Keep Trash Containers Secured
      • Food Gardens Must Be at Safe Distance
      • Wrap the Tree Barks
      • Don’t Store Birdseed Outside – Keep it in the House
    • Rodent Free Yard – Final Steps
    • Conclusion

    Did you plan on planting a few rows of sweet yellow corn only to realize the next day everything was dug up and eaten? Was your prized squash ruined with nibbles and scrapes? If so, then you have a field mice problem.

    Don’t worry! You can get those little critters out of your garden and replant your corn well before the next harvest. It is all a matter of how to get rid of field mice in your yard.


    Ten Best Ways to Keep Field Mice Out of Your Yard

    It is extremely important to get rid of mice not only in your home but also in your yard. Mice spread diseases such as salmonella and carry other pests such as ticks and fleas. With this list, you can easily figure out how to get rid of mice in your yard and how to get rid of mice in your backyard too!

    • Keep Lawns Trimmed and Neat

    The first step to figuring out how to get rid of field mice in your yard is keeping your lawn maintained. As tedious as trimming the lawn sounds it is absolutely necessary, especially if you want to keep those pesky mice away from your veggies. Mice don’t like short grass due to the how vulnerable it leaves them to not only you but also predators such as owls, snakes, dogs, and cats.

    Another bonus to cutting the grass is it helps prevent ticks and cuts down flea populations as well. Ticks carry a wide variety of diseases ranging from Lyme disease to various types of bacteria to even causing allergies. If you live in the southwestern part of the United States, then fleas can even carry bubonic plague!

    • Take Care of Compost Piles

    Composting is great, especially if you are growing your own organic garden. But if you want to get rid of those nasty rodents from your yard you will need to tidy up the compost pile. Move your compost piles as far away from your home as possible. If you live near a wooded area then move the compost bins there. This way the mice can stay in their natural habitat and out of your home!

    If you do intend to keep compost nearby or can’t move it away, try to store your compost materials in plastic bins with lids. This way you cut out the field mouse’s potential home and food source in one fell swoop. Wooden compost boxes deteriorate fairly quickly this can leave a huge opening for mice to take advantage of.

    • Get Rid of Waste and Trash from Garden

    After you finish trimming the trees, shrubs, and the grass make sure you properly dispose of the waste away from your garden and home. Mice use tree and shrub trimmings, leaves, and grass to make warm nests. Mice also use the trimmings to hide from predators, especially at night when they are most active.

    Since trees, shrubs and grass trimmings take a while to compost you are best off either throwing them away or placing them in a designated compost pile far away from your yard. This is how to get rid of mice in your backyard, garden, and front yard. If you have leftover plant material from your garden, you can compost this easily for next year’s garden.

    • Keep the Bottom Floor of your Home Extra Clean

    Landscaping can add value to any home and it looks nice to see all the beautiful blossoms and shrubbery. But make sure you choose your landscaping wisely since shrubs, bushes, and even certain types of plants can easily attract field mice to your home. If you feel you must have bushes and shrubs then make sure you plant them away from the base of your house.

    For a nice barrier between your bushes and house place two feet of wide paths around the perimeter of your home. Pebbles, stones, or glass pebbles are all great options since mice dislike having to scamper across them. A great idea for your home may be to forgo shrubs and have a rock garden style landscaping instead. Saves money, water, and keeps the mice away!

    • Move the Woodpile

    Live in the north or any place where it gets cold snowy winters? Have that nice wood collection near the side of your house? Well, bad news you will have to move it away from your home. The price you pay for convenience and firewood is giving mice a free area to live in during the winter.

    Store the woodpile far away from your home like you would for your compost pile. If you still need it in time for winter then you can always store it near the shed. However, make sure your woodpile is still far away from both your home and garden to keep little seed thieves away.

    • Don’t Park Cars in the Yard

    Got a lot of old cars, junk, and furniture just laying around? Well, you will have to recycle or throw it all away if you hope to keep your yard free of mice. Mice like old furniture, abandoned cars, and junk since they provide the perfect shelters for mice. After all, there is a reason you see a lot of rats and mice at the local junkyard.

    But don’t worry! The good news is you can scrap most types of metal you have. You can also sell any old usable junk and furniture too. There is nothing like putting money in your pocket and keeping mice away. It is definitely how to get rid of mice in your yard and get some small profit on the side.

    • Keep Trash Containers Secured

    The best garbage keeping practice to have is to keep your cans covered, on concrete and a little ways from your home. This way you keep mice out of your home and your yard. The added benefit is you keep more than just mice out of your trash too. Raccoons, foxes, rabbits, birds and other scavenging animals all like to dig around human scraps.

    If you can’t move the cans then try to buy ones that come with a latch so that you can shut them tight every time you take out the trash. For extra security, you can also buy special trash bags that are laced with rodent repellent.

    • Food Gardens Must Be at Safe Distance

    If you intend to keep a veggie patch, make sure it is a good ways from your home. Mice, rabbits, crows, and other creatures all love your vegetables about as much as you do. So save you, your garden and your yard the trouble and plan your garden placement accordingly.
    For extra vegetable security, you can use moth balls around the perimeter of your garden to repel mice and rabbits from stealing your seeds or produce. Using paper plates, tin foil, dryer sheets and some string can also make a great barrier to protect your garden from field mice and other creatures.

    • Wrap the Tree Barks

    Have any young trees? Are you planning to have a small private orchard of your own for fresh citrus and more? Well, you will need to wrap their trunks. Mice like to eat tree bark off of fruit trees and young tree saplings. So save the trees and wrap them in either a plastic collar or wire mesh to keep the little field mice at bay.

    • Don’t Store Birdseed Outside – Keep it in the House

    Everyone loves watching squirrels do their best to steal birdseed from bird feeders. But squirrels aren’t the only rodents who love birdseed. Field mice and rats also enjoy it too! So if you intend to continue feeding the birds you should find a save storing place inside to keep mice out of your yard and home.
    It is recommended to store bird food and pet food in sealed, airtight containers. This will keep the food fresh for the animals and uninvited rodents out. Store the containers in either your shed, spare room, or garage.

    Rodent Free Yard – Final Steps

    Last but definitely not least, on how to get rid of field mice in your yard is a final once over. Once all the yard work and heavy lifting are done you will need to check around your yard and home for any other possible weak points.
    Checker near the base of your house, windows, doors, deck, shed, exposed pipes and electrical wiring, and so on. If you see any evidence of a mouse then you will need to take care of the issue immediately. This is the only way to keep mice away for good or until they make another way into your yard.


    It is a lot of work to keep your garden, yard, and backyard free of little woodland creatures, but your vegetable patch, family, and home will thank you. Figuring out how to get rid of field mice in your yard naturally is fairly simple when you use these simple steps and tricks. You can now plant your crops in peace and enjoy your bountiful harvests mice free!

    Field Mice

    Facts, Identification & Control

    What is a Field Mouse?

    Field mice is a term used for a variety of mice found in the U.S. including house mice (mus musculus). As the name implies, they are common in fields, which is also true of many other mice species.

    However, several species may also be found dwelling in the plains, forests and in old, rural homes.

    What do they look like?

    House Mouse

    Mice range in color depending on species and can be brown, black or white in color, with tails of varying length. They are extremely curious.

    How Did I Get Field Mice?

    The common name field mice includes a wide variety of small rodents and one of the most important is the domestic house mouse. These rodents possess an almost unbelievable ability to get into homes since they are able to climb, jump, swim, and gnaw their way into structures. They often enter through open doors or windows, holes in roofs, plus holes in foundations and siding that are more than only ¼ inch in diameter. After getting inside, they usually nest in attics, walls, voids under and behind cabinets and even under appliances.

    These rodents are highly aware of their surroundings and spend time exploring their environment. They eventually memorize pathways as well as where to locate food and shelter. This allows them to find entry points into houses in almost any situation and once inside, navigate a familiar environment at nighttime.

    How Serious Are Field Mice?

    In some cases, field mice cause extensive damage when they enter homes. For example, they contaminate stored foods with their feces or urine and gnaw on food containers and other items inside the home. Mice also can cause fires should they gnaw on electrical wires. Homeowners with field mouse infestations are at risk for food poisoning, tick-borne diseases, and other health issues. Field mice can also bring fleas and mites inside if they infest the home.

    The pests also chew through wires, rip up insulation, and destroy stored items in attics and garages. Fecal droppings, rub marks left by their oily fur rubbing up against surfaces, plus gnaw marks on wood, wiring, or plastic are often the first signs of a field mouse problem in homes.

    How Can I Get Rid of Field Mice?

    What Orkin Does

    The Orkin Man™ is trained to help manage field mice and other rodents. Since every yard or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.

    Keeping mice out of your home is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps — Assess, Implement and Monitor.

    The Orkin Man™ can provide the right solution to keep mice in their place…out of your home.

    Diet & Behavior

    Many mice are scavengers that will feed on any food available to them.

    These mice are prey to cats, dogs, bears, wolves, snakes, owls and rabbits.

    Nocturnal in nature, they are cautious and venture outside only after having fully assessed their surroundings.

    Mice use their coats as camouflage, blending in with rocks or dried leaves.

    Despite this, these mice are often consumed by their predators. Most field mice do not survive to their second year.

    Reproduction & Life Cycle

    Females are able to become pregnant every month. Baby field mice are born blind, bald and deaf. However, within several weeks, they will have reached maturity and begin mating.

    Learn More: Field Mouse vs. House Mouse

    With spring around the corner, people are getting ready to get their gardens into shape. Time to start clearing the deadwood and taking away the last of fallen leaves. But there may also be some unwanted pests lurking beneath the winter debris, especially rats. Because they are experts at hiding, you may not see rodents in the garden, so it’s important to learn how to recognise signs of rats and how to get rid of rats in the garden.

    Where do rats live in the garden?

    Gardens are a favourite spot for rodents to congregate and settle. The most common garden rodents are rats, mice and voles. Your gardens, no matter how big or small can be a prime location for rodents to inhabit. The downside to this is that rodents can inflict an array of destruction and damages to your backyard.

    Ample supplies of discarded food and waste ensure that they won’t go hungry. Your compost pile could become a banquet for these uninvited guests. And the trees, wooden structures and benches, and plastic ornaments give them plenty to chew on.

    Unfortunately, a garden also provides plenty of hiding places for rats: behind furniture, in shrubberies, under piles of grass, leaves, or firewood, inside sheds and glasshouses, and under barrels.

    Types of garden rodents

    There are a handful of different types of rodents that can commonly be found inhabiting your garden, they are:

    • Brown rat
    • House mouse
    • Wood mouse
    • Field vole
    • Bank vole

    Sign of rats in garden

    Although rodents are experts at hiding themselves, you can spot the signs of rats or signs of mice once you know what you’re looking for. Although rodents are usually nocturnal, you might see some rodent activity during the daytime too, especially if there’s a shortage of food.

    Pay particular attention to waste areas in the garden, such as rubbish bins, compost piles, pipes and firewood stacks. You might notice tell-tale signs, such as bite and nibble marks on paper and wood. Perhaps some wooden boxes or old newspapers have been chewed. Or discarded food may have been disturbed.

    Rodents will usually burrow their nests anywhere safe that’s also close to the food supply. You might be able to see track marks, such as disturbed grass, from the nest to the food. Rodents are creatures of habit and usually use the same pathways each time when looking for food. Also, watch out for rat droppings or mouse droppings; if they droppings are still moist, it’s a sign that there has been rodent activity in recent hours.

    • Burrows around 6-9 cm in diameter and can be located anywhere that is relatively undisturbed and near to food.
    • Track marks covering walls, banks, hedges and through vegetation. Rats memorise pathways and use the same routes to and from their shelter.
    • Smear marks along stone, wood or metal, such as on steps, fencing and gate posts.
    • Droppings between 15 and 20 mm long, cylindrical, flat at one end and often pointed at the other. They are moist when fresh, but dry within hours.
    • Damage to packaging and barriers, such as doors and fences.

    Damage caused by rodents in garden

    No one wants to see rats in their garden. From a purely financial point of view, the sight of rodents isn’t going to do any favours to the value of your house! And don’t forget the health risks. Rodents are notorious carriers and spreaders of diseases.

    Rodents can also do a lot of physical damage to your garden. Their burrows can cause holes and uneven surfaces in your garden. Wooden fences are particularly vulnerable to the rodent dental attention. Constant rodent gnawing can weaken any wooden structures or containers. Also, they might damage pipes and hoses. A particular danger arises when rodents gnaw any electrical wires or even water pipes. Also, rodents can damage your car.

    If you store food or seeds in garden sheds, these are likely to attract the rodents’ attention. They might chew their way through the containers and attack supplies within. Also be aware of the risks posed by leaving pet food unattended in the garden. And if you’re hoping to grow food in your garden, you’ll certainly want to ensure that you’re a not simply raising a crop for rodents to feast on.

    How to keep rodents out of a garden

    Your aim should be to prevent rodent activity in the first place. Check for any inviting openings in sheds and out-buildings, and seal them up. Remember, mice can squeeze through tiny holes.

    • Eliminate any harbourage points around buildings and sheds. Seal any small gaps that allow them access. Rats need only a height gap of around 15mm to gain entry and mice need 6mm, though normally mice access holes around 20-20mm in diameter.
    • Remove potential nesting places by keeping gardens clean and tidy. Remove piles of wood, garden clippings etc and cut back overgrown areas.
    • Cover any household food waste such as in compost heaps and garbage bins. Make sure lids are closed and garbage bags containing food are not left outside for long periods.
    • Do not scatter bird feed on the ground. Use a bird table or feeder basket to feed birds.

    How to get rid of rats in the garden

    Be careful if you’re putting down mouse traps or rat traps. Make sure that household pets (or even wandering humans) aren’t likely to stumble into them. Remember that rodents are likely to be suspicious of new items in the garden, so it will take time to traps to have an impact.

    If you use toxins, rat bait and poisons, seeks professional advice. These methods can lead to dangers if not used properly.

    Rodents are very cunning and opportunistic creatures so sometimes, although all the necessary prevention techniques are used, they still find a way to inhabit your garden. In these instances, your best option is to contact a certified rodent control professional to help deal with your situation. A professional pest control technician has a wide range of skills, knowledge, and expertise at their disposal allowing them to successfully remove any type of rodent from your garden.

    Do you have any rodents in your garden? Contact us for immediate advice and assistance from a local expert. We’re here to help.

    Rats in the Garden – Identification, Treatment & Prevention Methods

    Rats in the garden is a common problem for almost anyone who’s been living in a house. There are hundreds of things which may attract rodents to your property. Since rats have decent a population they are the most prevalent animal you can spot at the territory of your garden or even indoors.

    You can choose to simply deter them but such methods usually provide only a temporary solution for the rat problem. Your garden probably gives the perfect living conditions for rats such as shelter and food and if left undisturbed, they will multiply and increase their numbers fast, which will only further increase the scale of the infestation. This will make getting rid of them harder and at much higher costs.

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    Table of Contents

    1. Signs of Rats in The Garden
    2. Are Rats in The Garden Dangerous
    3. Where to Look For Rats Nest in Gardens
    4. Where do Rats Live in The Garden
    5. What Are Rats in The Garden Eating
    6. Rat Detering Plants
    7. How To Remove Rats From The Garden
    8. Best Methods To Remove Rats From The Garden
    9. Remove Rats Without Poison
    10. Removing Rats From Sheds
    11. Get Rid of Rats Humanely
    12. Can You Shoot The Rats in Your Garden

    We recommend reading the guide below so you can get informed about anything related to having rats in the garden such as: identification, dangers, treatment, prevention and more.

    Signs of Rats in Garden

    The signs of rat infestation in the garden are clear and easy to spot. You won’t have to spend more than 10-15 minutes to fully investigate your property. This is the complete list of signs that you have rats in your yard. Check them out and if you recognize a few of them, then you certainly have a rat problem to deal with.

    Image source: Flickr; License type:CC BY 2.0

    Rat Droppings in Your Garden

    Rat droppings are distinct and have a different shape and size compared to the mice droppings. If you want to learn more about it, check this detailed guide on the difference between mice and rat droppings.
    Rats defecate quite often and are able to produce up to 40 dropping per just 1 night. They resemble a large rice grain with a size of 9-14mm and dark brown colour. If you see such anywhere in your garden or in proximity to your house, it’s definitely rats you’re dealing with.

    Bite Marks on Garden Hoses

    Rats teeth have very tough enamel and according to Mohs Scale they rank 5.5, a bit over the tha humans’ 5 rank, which makes them able to gnaw through almost anything. Being able to chew through things such as: plastic; wood; brick; cement; lead; asbestos; aluminum; cinder blocks and more, makes the rat an animal that is easy to distinguish.
    Their bite marks are distinct and if signs such as torn food packaging and damaged wood or plastic materials guarantee the presence of rats in the garden or the shed.

    Rat nests

    Like any other rodent, rats make nests while they multiply. The perfect place for the vermin to take care of their newborns are dry places, hidden from predators. Rats are also easily attracted by clutter made of fabrics such as cloth or paper and cardboard materials.
    Another requirement for a decent nest is a nearby food source. This is why leaving standard bird feeders in your garden is bad thing, instead simply use squirrel proof feeders, which are unreachable by rodents and significantly reduce the amount of grains being spilled.

    Footprints in The Dirt

    Rats move a lot, in fact – they are often so active that leaving footprints is inevitable. Since they inhabit dusty or contaminated areas, whenever the rodents walk on such surfaces their feet and tails leave very distinct footprints. There is even a very simple way to find out if the marks were left any time soon and if the rats are still there.
    Disperse some flour or anything with similar texture and wait for 1 or 2 days. It will most certainly take only several hours until the vermin walk over it for an inspection. By doing this they will leave the very same marks you’ve seen before. This means, a pest control should be initiated immediately, otherwise, the rat population may increase way too fast, which will cause even more problems and will definitely cost you more to get rid of them later.


    Image source: Flickr; License type: CC BY 2.0

    Among all rat species, the brown rat is known for its exceptional abilities to dig faster and more efficiently. The core reason this species does so is to make shelter and secure a proper food shelter, as well as nesting environment for the future generation.
    The most common places in the garden where rat burrows may be found are places in proximity to compost bins, nearby garden sheds, inside the garage, under shelters & deckings or anywhere else where food might be stored.

    Increased Pet Activity

    Pets like cats and dogs have a much stronger hearing than ours which makes them able to detect sounds with very low frequency – the rats make most of the time.
    Once a pet detects the activity of the rodents, it becomes very active and starts looking for the vermins’ hidings. Often, the pet’s main goal is to locate and kill the rats so the sounds may stop. If you notice your pet stuffing its nose inside crevices longer and more often than usual, you’re probably dealing with a severe rat infestation. This makes things easier as the rodents will be located faster, so you can proceed straight to their extermination.

    Rat Pathways

    Runways made by rats, are made in order to ensure the rodents an easier access to food. Most often, such pathways cover the distance from the nest to the food source. The reason the vermin do so is to shorten the space between the 2 points.

    Rat Adour

    When a large number of rats infest a place there is a strong typical smell that may be sensed from a decent distance from the spot. The smell is very similar to this of ammonia because rats’ urine contains this compound. If your sights is not enough to spot the rats, maybe you should rely on your nose.

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    Are Rats in the Garden Dangerous?

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    The most important question here is whether rats are dangerous in general. The answer is – yes, they certainly are dangerous and may cause serious health-related problems. In addition, the sneaky rodents are very harmful to buildings and construction material such as bricks, wood, concrete and some metals.

    Rats are known for being able to transmit various diseases, some of which may even be deadly if not treated properly and on time. This is why in the past many people have died after an encounter with a rat. In return, evolution has made us so cautious and afraid from rats. What may be a reason for concern if you have rats in the garden is any of the following potential threats:

    1. Get a rat bite
    2. Steal food from bird feeders
    3. Transmit various diseases – bubonic plague; hantavirus, rabbit fever;
    4. Harm your pets
    5. Cost you a fee from the council (See who is responsible for pest control in UK.)
    6. Eat your veggies
    7. Cause severe structural damage

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    Where Do Rats Nest in Gardens?

    Image source: Wikimedia Commons; License type: CC-BY-2.0

    The rats’ nesting areas are common and no matter where the infestation is, rats seem to like particular places such as shed, greenhouses and buildings that provide the perfect shelter. Some of the places below seem to have proven as common places where rats nest:

    1. Under shelters
    2. Dry, warm places inside the house (they make their way through holes in the walls by gnawing on bricks and concrete)
    3. Cluttered areas
    4. Under the roof
    5. Inside sewers (which are in proximity to the garden)

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    Where Do Rats Live in the Garden?

    Image source: Andrew Smith; License type: CC BY-SA 2.0

    Aside from spending time in the nest, rats enjoy climbing and exploring stuff. They are very curious to inspect plants and anything else that may seem edible. Thick vegetation attracts them, so do any recyclables. This is a larger list of places in your garden which rats would be curious to explore:

    1. Bushes
    2. Tunnels under the ground dig up by other animals such as moles
    3. Stacked firewood
    4. Cardboard or paper waste
    5. Recyclables of almost any kind
    6. Construction refuse such as wood, concrete, plastic, foam and more
    7. Compost bins filled with organic waste

    If your goal is to deter the rats from these places, you can try any of these actionable techniques:

    1. Remove vegetation in which they hide
    2. Replace standard bird feeders with squirrel-proof ones or remove them at all
    3. Stop feed wildlife at all
    4. Keep the compost bin closed somewhere inside the property
    5. Clean the property on a regular basis from any kind of waste. During the autumn, some extra effort is required because of the falling leaves.
    6. Fill any tunnels in the yard with dirt.
    7. Try to set ultrasonic rat repellents

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    What Do Rats Eat in the Garden?

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    Like most mammals, rats are not vegetarian and need animal fat, protein, and carbohydrates. But that won’t stop them from eating the vegetables and fruits in your garden. Especially bulbs, swollen stems, seeds, ripe fruit, root vegetables, such as potatoes, carrot, beetroot, corn cobs, pumpkins and squash and various. Bear in mind that, only a compost pile, fruits and vegetables might not keep rats in your garden for long. But if there are also food scraps, meats, oils and grains, or other fats, they will be strongly attracted to it.

    Decomposing waste is a perfect place for rats to settle down, so it should be well monitored, and if possible, kept in a well closed metal container. Trash bags kept in the garden can turn into a dinner table for an entire colony of rats. To avoid offering them food and making your garden an even more enjoyable environment to them, keep your trash bags in sturdier cans with lids.

    Animal food can also attract rats. If you feed your cat or dog, rabbits, chickens or pigeons in your garden, you might be attracting rats by offering them food. Gardens should be cleaned up regularly, not only from trash and animal food, but from animal waste as well, as it could provide food for the rats. Rodents are attracted by pigeon feces as well. So if your garden is infested with pigeons that might lead to a rat infestation on top of it. You can see how to keep pigeons away from your garden from our post.

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    Plants That Deter Rats

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    Rats may eat your fruits and vegetables, however, there are a few that they will not near to. You can plant more of the following vegetables, herbs and spices, and plants to deter rats from your garden.

    1. Flowers that you can plant as a guard against rats are lavender, daffodils, and marigolds. Their scents, while enjoyable to us, is repugnant to rats and they stay away from it.
    2. Garlic has several sulphur compounds that emit a pungent smell that deters rodents. Planting garlic in a few places in your garden will keep them at bay. It will also keep fleas and ticks away as well.
    3. Black pepper, cayenne, sage and oregano are also known to repel rodents. Planting or sprinkling them around the edges of your garden can be an effective way to keep rats away.

    *Note. It is also said that tomato leaves and peppermint keep rats away from the garden, but our research proved that to be wrong. In fact, rats love to eat tomatoes. Check how to save your tomatoes from the rats.

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    How to Get Rid of Rats in the Garden?

    It can be quite difficult to get rid of the rats once they have infested your garden. Scientists have warned us that most repellents have short-term effects and your problem might not be solved for a very long time. Even ultrasonic devices do not guarantee permanent results.

    How to Deter Rats in Garden

    Image source: Wikimedia Commons; License type: CC BY 2.0

    Rats do not like changes. They can remember they ways around your garden and will hate it if something changes. So, to deter them you need to move things around, you should also do the following:

    1. Trim bushes, mow grass and remove weeds regularly, neat gardens do not provide a lot of places for rats to hide and nest;
    2. Having a dog or a cat can keep rats away for sure;
    3. Try planting the above mentioned herbs and plants;
    4. Keep compost and trash into sturdy and metal containers with tight lids;
    5. Store your bird and pet food into rodent-proof cans;
    6. Regularly remove fallen fruits and vegetables from the ground;
    7. Keep your garden clean from animal food and fecal matters;
    8. Remove all clutter and all things that a rat can nibble on from your shed;
    9. If possible, remove water sources from your garden.
    10. Place plastic mesh tubes around tender seedlings to prevent gophers and rats from eating them.

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    How to Catch Rats in Garden

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    Rodent traps

    1. Traps for live capture are small cages with food bait that are triggered and close as soon as the rat enters. They should be checked regularly and you should have a place in mind to release them at or kill them humanely.
    2. Snap traps with springs. They are designed to kill the rodents instantly. How they work is by putting food bait and when the rat steps on it to eat, the spring releases the mechanism and it snaps and kills it. They should be placed strategically, near their entry holes and hidden from children and pets. See this video how to set a rat snap trap:
    3. Electrocution traps are also meant to kill the rodent right away. They are containment boxes with metal plates that are charged with high voltage and shocks the rodent as soon as it steps on them. They are quite expensive and effective but not all of them can be used in the garden.

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    Rodent poison

    The ingredients are rodenticides – diphacinone, brodifacoum, bromadiolone. Rat poison can be found in a variety of forms – blocks, pellets, bars, chunks, granules.

    First kind of poison – kills the rats slowly. They can eat a few times from the poison and day in a couple of days.

    Second kind kills them after single feeding. This is generally an easier way, you do not have to wait for days and know where to look for the rat carcass.
    Using poison is less labour intensive and doesn’t require any special skills or tools. It is a cheaper version of traps and gets the job done. However, if you can’t handle the rat infestation with poison on your own, don’t hesitate to call experienced professionals who will do the rat control service for you.

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    Best Way to Get Rid of Rats in the Garden

    For now, the most effective method to get rid of rodents is a mixture of a few consecutive jobs. For successful elimination of your rats problem, first, eliminate what attracts the pest. Second, trap or kill the pest. Third, take measures to repel the rodents in the future.

    Evict them from the burrows with water.
    Water is the best eviction mechanism. Use a garden hose to flood their burrows. They might come back later once the water gets soaked in the soil, but if you do it again and again, eventually they won’t come back again.

    Rats Spray Repellents
    The pros of using sprays are that they are easy to apply, can cover a lot of territory and are considerably cheap compared to other rodent repellents. They are cheaper than concentrates but have less amount of the active ingredients and that’s a drawback.

    This rat repellent is affordable, easy to use and can be easily found in stores. They can be placed even in hard to reach places, but are not highly recommended to use in the garden. They are toxic and are dangerous to pets and children, so be cautious with them.

    Granule Repellents
    They are one of the non-toxic ways to repel rats from your garden. This alternative way consists of a few key ingredients – essential oils – mint, cedar, rosemary, lemongrass; and diatomaceous granules. Some types of granules may have slightly different ingredients. *Be careful with their use when you have pets or children.

    Ultrasonic Repellents
    Electronic repellents are eco-friendly and use ultrasound that only rats can hear. The devices are considered to be very effective because they make rats panic and run away from your property. They are also the alternative to killing rats with poisons or traps. Other advantages of the electronic devices are their low energy consumption, they are rather inexpensive. But like all other rodent repellents their effectiveness is not yet proven to be permanent.

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    How to Get Rid of Rats in the Garden Without poison

    Image source: Wikipedia; License type: Public Domain

    Natural Rodent Repellents: Recipes
    There are two main benefits of using natural rat repellents. First of all, they are cheap and second of all they are eco-friendly. And the fact that you can make them yourself. You can have a peace of mind that your garden will not be subjected to toxins, and pets and children will not be at risk. Most of the ingredients for natural repellents are already in your kitchen or will not require a lot of money to purchase.

    Castor oil and garlic
    We already talked about the garlic repelling rats. You can use it in a homemade repellent recipe. Minced garlic clove, two tablespoons castor oil, liquid dishwashing soap and tabasco are mixed into a quart of water and shaken well. This is only to be used outdoors. Spray the edges of your garden and the entry holes of the rats.

    Peppermint Oil
    On a cotton ball use no more than 5 drops of 100% peppermint essential oil. Spread the oil on areas that you want rats to avoid, in your case, around the garden. Re-apply on a weekly basis, or as often as you deem necessary. You can also mix it with water and make a spray. Use it on your plants, on garden furniture. While it may not chase them off your garden, it will at least keep them away from the sprayed areas.

    If you are afraid of using traps or poisons, you can use ammonia. Place open containers or bowls with the ammonia where you have noticed rats. Or you can soak some cotton balls in it and leave them at the edges of your garden. This requires even less amount of work as it will evaporate on its own and you don’t need to spray anything.
    Another thing that can deter rats from your property is predator’s urine. You can actually purchase it at a sporting goods store or at a garden centre. You can choose among fox, bobcat or coyote urine. Again you can use cotton balls soaked in the urine to place around your garden and the smell will drive rats away from it.

    Get a Quote

    How to Get Rid of Rats in the Garden Shed

    Rats (Image: David Kjaer)

    Step 1
    Equip yourself with protective mask and gloves because you will probably be dealing with rat feces and urine. You need to find the nest first, it is the most crucial part so you know how many rats you are dealing with. If you can find and use a blacklight torch, it will make the job much easier as it can help you see urine or traces of the rats that are not easily seen.

    Step 2
    Find the rat’s’ entry points in your shed, keeping in mind that holes as small as coins can be their entry. Look carefully inside and outside of the shed. Corners, walls, even the roof and ceiling. Holes in the ground near the shed can also be their entry points. Inside the shed, look under things that are stored there, beneath them can be the holes.

    Step 3
    When you have found all holes, you need to seal them with rodent resistant expanding foam they will not be able to gnaw. Such materials are sheet metal or metal meshing, cement, mortar, and other similar. If you notice, or know of any cracks in the foundation or the walls of the shed, you should seal them as well, using cement.

    Step 4
    Install traps for killing or live-catching the rats inside and outside of the shed. They are easy to set up and not too expensive. There are a variety of traps for killing and live-catching the rats, it is up to you which one you buy. They work with food bait, and the best bait for rats is said to eb butter or peanut butter. You need to set the traps up properly and check on them on a regular basis. Wear gloves every time you dispose of a rat.

    Step 5
    Take preventive measures to stop them from coming back to your garden and shed. For more efficient and permanent results, you can use a combination of the above mentioned rat repellents in your garden. Setting up a few traps in key places and a few repellents should be enough to keep rodents away.

    Get a Quote

    How to Get Rid of Rats Nest in Garden

    Seal entry holes and other entrances with metal or cement. Rats looking for shelter can find their way into your garden and settle into bushes, piles of wood or grass, and eventually they might get into your shed and nest there.

    Eliminate their shelter options. If you there are no places in your garden that they can hide and they will move on. Keep your shed well sealed, keep your grass short, trim your bushes, do not leave trash or compost outside and easily accessed by rats. Secure wood piles by preventing access to them as well.

    How to Get Rid of Rats in the Garden Humanely

    Image source: Wikimedia Commons; License type: CC BY-SA 3.0

    Any adhesive type of traps, flat boxes or glue traps, must be avoided. Why? Because quite often a rat that is caught in this such a contraption might bite off or break their limb to get away from the glue. The glue can also badly scar and irritate their eyes.

    Non-lethal rodent traps

    These traps are used when you do not want to kill the rats. Live-capture traps are not expensive, they are simple to use and can be easily found in hardware stores, and humane societies. They are usually plastic or metal boxes with a door released by a spring, that when triggered by the rat inside of the box, closes and captures it alive.

    They capture individual rats but if you start the process of capturing them at the first signs of rats, this will be enough to keep your garden vermin-free. If there is an infestation of rats already, you could combine the use of these traps with repellents.

    Such traps are available at online stores, or you can make them yourself. It can take up a lot of time and patience to make the traps and deal with the pest problem. The advantage of catching the rats alive, is that you can relocate them and don’t even have to touch them.

    Where to place traps?

    Wherever you have seen rats, or rats droppings, near their entry points, around your garden and shed.

    Use an attractive bait

    Salty and sweet foods will attract rats. Peanut butter, seeds and saltine crackers are used quite often to catch rats.
    The myth that rats love cheese has been disproven already. You can actually have a higher chance of catching a rat with candy or chocolate than with cheese.
    Even pet food can be used as bait.

    Where to set the rats free?

    If you decide to go with non-lethal traps, you should first check if you are permitted to relocate rats in your area. You should decide on a place to relocate them and make sure it is kilometres away from your home, because rats can find their way back to your garden.

    Any professional pest controller would advise that you do not dispose of rodents manually, be they dead or alive. A bite can put you in danger of an array of diseases, and getting in direct contact with a carcass is even worse. Simply inhaling the dust around it can cause respiratory problems.

    But if you are doing it anyway, make sure you use protective clothing such as rubber gloves and a dust mask. If you want to dispose of a dead animal, bury it away from your house in a deep hole in the ground, so it doesn’t get dug up by neighbourhood pets. And, always check your own national and local regulations.

    Get a Quote

    Rats in the Garden During the Day?

    Seeing rats during the day is considered to be a sign of an infestation with great scale. In fact, this is more of a myth than an actual fact. Rats are nocturnal animals, which means they are more active during the night, however, seeing them during daylight is something completely normal.

    As long as there isn’t any activity of people and natural predators of the rats, the rodents would feel safe enough to go out on inspection in the garden in search of food. If you cross their way at this moment, you will inevitably stumble upon at least one rat.

    Another reason for a rat to go out of the nest during the day is if another dominant rats force it to do so – there is indeed a hierarchy among rats.

    If a rat nest has been disturbed by a person or another animal, rats would leave it immediately. Since the nest is probably adjacent to the garden, they will have to cross it in order to flee from the nest, which is another possible reason why rats might be seen in the garden during the day.

    If you don’t take care of the rats’ pathways and leave them be, the vermin will use these “roads” as passages during the day, which will only further increase the chances of spotting a rat in the garden during daylight. Best way to deal with this problem is to locate and destroy their pathways in the most comprehensive manner according to the situation.

    Get a Quote

    Shooting Rats in Your garden – Is it Legal in UK ?

    Image source: ; License type: Public Domain

    When other pest control methods are either too expensive or simply don’t work for your rat infestation, the first thing that comes to a person’s mind is to blow some rat brains out. While it may be effective, it will cost you time, effort and certainly some cash too. And this is not all, in some countries it may turn to be unlawful or permitted only under very particular circumstances

    When it comes to shooting rats in UK, it may happen only when a list of requirements is strictly met. When you want to shoot wildlife you need to make a research about the following information:

    1. What you can hunt legally
    2. When it is allowed to do it
    3. What equipment you have permission to use

    If any of the above is ignored, a person may end up jailed for causing harm to a wildlife animal.

    In case you live on a rant and want to use an air rifle, you need permission from the landowner, because the weaponry is about to be used on his territory, respectively. You also need a certificate to use a shotgun, rifle or another firearm.

    A certificate is not required for air rifles up to 12 ft/lb and air pistols up to 6 ft/lb.

    Check out this complete guide on how to use an air rifle for rat control in case you have the permission to do so.

    Forbidden weapons to use include:

    1. Bows and crossbows
    2. Explosives

    Infestation Facts on Other Household Pests

    Ant InfestationBed Bugs InfestationCockroaches InfestationFleas InfestationRat InfestationMice Infestation Ants are a common pest in our homes. If you want to learn more about this menace and how you can and should treat them. Read more on our ant infestation page. The terror that is sleeping in your bed. This little blood sucking house pest could be in your mattress without you even noticing it. Learn more about the bed bugs and how to spot a bed bug infestation. A pest that you don’t want to spot in your kitchen. The cockroach can quickly take over your home, especially at night. Learn some interesting facts about the roaches, and how to spot the signs of cockroach infestation on time. Fleas can be a huge issue, especially if you have children and pets present in your property. Flea bites can be irritating and even dangerous in some cases. See how to spot flea infestations early and more facts on the pest. Rats are a pest that come in your home for food and shelter. Those rodents like to hide in walls, basements and attics. They are a major health risk and should not be allowed inside. Get familiar with their habbits and signs of rat infestation. The house mouse is a small rodent coming inside of your home to steal your food and nest. The reproduction rate of this pest is quite impressive. Get to know mice and learn how to quickly spot mice infestation signs, before it is too late.


    Get a Quote

    Why Do You Get Rats In Your Garden?

    Before they started living in our homes, businesses and sewers, rats were wild creatures. A London garden provides plenty of opportunities to live as they did for millions of years – eating fruits and plants and burrowing into the soil – while still having the conveniences of the city nearby.

    A rat infestation in the garden may spill over into your home or business if their population grows too large. Exterior infestations need to be taken just as seriously as an interior one.

    Here’s my tips for how to spot a rat infestation in the garden, their causes and how you can prevent them.

    How can I tell if I have rats in my garden?

    Rats are primarily nocturnal, so you’re unlikely to ever see one unless it’s a serious infestation. However, they do leave behind plenty of evidence if they’ve made a home in your garden.

    • Rats scurry along the side of walls and fences to stay out of sight, which leaves behind dark, greasy marks known as “smearing”.
    • Rat droppings are dark brown/black sausage shapes around ½ to ¼ inch in length. Check for them along fences and walls or anywhere they might make shelter.
    • Rats dig small burrows in soft soil around 2 to 4 inches in diameter and gnaw holes in fences, sheds and compost bins.

    How can I prevent a rat infestation in my garden?

    Rats need three sings to survive: food, water and shelter.

    To beat rats, you need to think like a rat. Look around your garden with these three things in mind. If you find opportunities for all three, you’re at high risk of rat infestation – if you’re not infested already.


    If you have any plants, bushes or trees that produce fruit in your garden, make sure you quickly sweep up any fruit that has fallen onto the ground. After all, fruit is meant to be attractive to wildlife, and is a bountiful food source for rats. The more it rots, the further the smell will spread.

    Rats are also just as happy to eat birdseed as birds are, so keep your bird feeder far off the ground and check below for any seeds. Always use a bird feeder with a seed catcher tray beneath it to catch any food that falls out.

    Unfortunately, rats are omnivorous, opportunistic feeders and will happily burrow underground to chew on flower bulbs or vegetables that you plant in the garden. All you can do is try and make it difficult for them with mesh barriers or off ground planters so that they go off to find an easier food source – which there are plenty of in London.


    Depressions in a patio or pathway can form puddles that rats can drink of, so try to flatten out any hard surfaces in your garden. You should also check for any unused flower pots or other objects that may be collecting water. Not only will getting rid of standing water stop rats from drinking, it will also remove a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects.


    Despite being known for making their nests in sewers, rats like to keep their young dry, which is why flooded sewers coincide with rat sightings. Any dry, undisturbed site in your garden can provide shelter for a family of rats.

    Popular sites for rat nests include unused sheds, wood piles or rubbish. It’s not uncommon for people to leave old furniture or gardening equipment in a dark corner of the garden somewhere, which creates an ideal habitat for a rat family.

    How can I keep rats out of my compost bin?

    The luckiest rats are the ones that find their way into a compost bin. What’s waste for you is a family feast for rats. Rats can chew through wood, plastic and even concrete, so good compost habits are more important than the bin you use – though you should obviously avoid any with gaps or holes rats can pass through.

    Rats are especially drawn to strong-smelling protein and fat rich foods, so avoid putting meat, fish or cheese in your compost bin. You should also keep your compost wet, which will prevent rats from nesting inside it and also give you better compost.

    Should I use rat poison in my garden?

    No, NEVER put shop-bought poisons down in the garden.

    Far too many cats, dogs and even children have been harmed or worse by irresponsible external poison use. Rat poisons should only ever be used by professional pest controllers with secure bait stations in combination with thorough proofing and prevention works.

    What to do if you see a rat in your garden

    • Look for dark smears alongside fences and walls, droppings around ¼ to ½ an inch and holes or burrows 2 to 4 inches in diameter.
    • Find and remove sources of food, water and shelter. Common food sources are compost bins, bird feeders and fallen fruit and berries.
    • Keep your compost bin wet to deter nesting and don’t compost meat, fish or cheese as the strong odours will attract rats.
    • NEVER use shop-bought rat poison in the garden as there is a high risk to pets, children and surrounding wildlife.

    Rat in the garden what to do

    Give us a call or request your call back to get more advice about garden rats today.

    Decking can be a popular attraction for pests so it’s worth making a few quick and simple preparations to stop potential pests from making your garden their home.

    But how, exactly? Follow these top tips and tricks to help you pest-proof your garden by removing the attractions that pesky birds and mice look out for.

    Removing the appeal

    A decked-out space in our garden can be seen as the main attraction, but we must withdraw that mindset from the pests. Pests, such as rats and mice, will scout out places before deciding on where to settle down, so try and make your decking as uninhabitable as possible.

    One of the common causes of pest attraction is litter in your garden – whether this is food left outdoors from a BBQ you hosted or your bin lids not being tightly shut. If you have a get-together on your decking, make sure you thoroughly clear up and clean the decking so that no sauces or dropped food remain which could entice rodents and other critters. Remember; rats, mice and hedgehogs will also eat bird feed, so make sure to opt for a bird feeder that isn’t placed on the floor or a table and put it away from your decking.

    Overgrown hedges and lengthy grass can be another attraction for pests in our garden – so keeping on top of trimming and mowing is essential. If your main pest problem is birds, movement is a great deterrent. Try hanging something that moves – like a wind chime or wind spinner – to help prevent birds from making a mess on your decking.

    Ron Sutherland

    Removing entry points

    It’s important to then start removing any potential entry points for your pest. Pests won’t be able to make a home under your decked areas if they can’t get in to begin with, so investing in extra materials to create a barrier is worth it.

    The perfect location for a pest to make home is somewhere warm – beneath your decking provides this. To stop this happening, use wood, mesh or chicken wire and run it along the entire edge of your decking between the boards and the ground. If you’re worried that this will ruin your decking’s aesthetic appeal, you can install a wooden trellis and have the mesh running behind it. Then, arrange potted plants or flowerbeds around your decking to mask the mesh further.

    Pests can find themselves squeezing through small gaps – so it’s vital that your decking is sealed properly.

    Linda BurgessGetty Images


    Wooden decking makes for the perfect destination for woodworm. Unless you have composite decking that doesn’t rot, you might want to take steps to prevent this particularly unpopular garden pest.

    It’s worth knowing that there are three different types of woodworm here in Britain. The common furniture beetle is usually what people mean when they say ‘woodworm’, but the house longhorn and deathwatch beetles are far more destructive – although thankfully rarer.

    To prevent woodworm in your decking and outdoor furniture, try to keep the wood dry. This might be difficult for large areas like your decking, but your tables and chairs should be relatively safe under a waterproof cover. Sealing your wood with varnish is a good shout too. This creates a barrier that prevents female wood-boring beetles from laying eggs in the pores of the wood.

    Is your garden already overrun with pests? If you can see small holes across your decking and furnishings – these are usually in a cluster and often about 1mm wide – there might be woodworm present. Although this is treatable, you first need to identify which type of woodworm is doing the damage, so it might be worth seeking professional advice. Common furniture beetle problems can be treated yourself using products that you can buy online. However, if the culprits are house longhorn or deathwatch beetles, you may need to treat by injection.

    NinaMalynaGetty Images

    Pests will keep trying

    If you already have pests in the garden and need help getting rid of them, you could consider using non-lethal traps or scent repellents.

    Hot spices can be an off-putting smell for rodents in the UK. Plant a peppermint tree around the edges of your decking or sprinkle cayenne around potential entry points to deter vermin from nesting. Of course, there are also plenty of commercial rat and mice repellents, including ultrasonic pest repellent, that you can buy that will work to keep pests at bay.

    Have you considered using non-lethal traps to capture pests? But forget cheese; sweet treats work best to lure mice. Place these around your decking and make sure to release the rodent at least one mile from your home once caught.

    Related Story The House Beautiful team From the team at House Beautiful

    How to Get Rid of Mice Living Under the Deck Without Killing Squirrels

    Gray squirrel image by Lucy Cherniak from

    Getting rid of one pest under your deck without harming another can be a tricky maneuver. Typically, what works to eliminate the presence of one animal, such as a mouse, also affects other animals, such as squirrels. If you want to remove the mouse but not the squirrel, baits and poison won’t work, since they are not species-specific; neither does your standard mouse traps because they could injure the squirrel. However, there is one solution that works to get rid of your mouse problem without harming squirrels.

    Purchase an electronic or humane mouse trap.

    Place the trap under your deck where the mice spend time. Place bait just inside the unit to entice a mouse to enter. For your safety, follow the directions carefully on the trap for instruction on how to do this. Some units come with their own bait but if yours doesn’t, use cheese or peanut butter to lure the mouse.

    Check the trap often. Most electronic traps display a blinking light to indicate a mouse has been trapped. If your humane mouse trap is not electronic, you likely are able to see the mouse inside the trap. Release the live mouse at least one mile away from your home to prevent it from coming back.

    How to Get Rid of Rats

    “They were as
    big as cats!”
    says homeowner Frances
    Gaglione of the rats
    that were scuttling
    across her patio.

    Illustration by John Cuneo

    In the 2007 film Ratatouille, a likable animated rat named Remy achieves his improbable dream of opening a restaurant in the heart of Paris. (Leave it to Disney and the French to make rodents seem appealing.) Usually restaurants with rats are cringe-worthy enough, but what happens if you spot the critters setting up camp right outside your house? Fear not, homeowners: Just put your local ­exterminator on the case, as this family did.

    The Client: Frances Gaglione, who lives with her husband and 5-year-old son in a semidetached townhouse with a concrete patio in Staten Island, New York.

    The Crisis: Four-legged furry creatures, but not the kind we want around. “They were as big as cats!” says Gaglione. “We have a sliding glass door, and at night, I would see them running by. We were trapped in our house. My neighbor had them, too. I’d hear these screams. And he’s an older man with a heart condition! We’d call each other, and look outside from our upstairs windows. And I’d say to him, ‘I don’t think that’s a cat!’” There’s no delicate way to put it: Gaglione had a rat problem.

    The Pro Steps In: “Frances was frantic when she called, so we came over the same day,” says Vincent Errante of Universal Pest Control, who’s been getting rid of all kinds of unwanted household pests for 10 years. His first order of business was inspecting the property to identify where the rats were living and eating. “Her interior looked fine,” he says. “But outside, I encountered a dead rat on her lawn. I saw garbage in a wooded area across the street, and figured that’s where they came from. And I saw activity in the neighbor’s yard, too.” Errante noticed other telltale signs of an infestation on Gaglione’s property: droppings, gnaw marks on the concrete patio, burrowing in the patio and lawn, and gray rub marks on the side of the house, caused by the oils in the rats’ skin. It was those signs that led him to the nesting area. “I followed the burrows and rub marks to the neighbor’s deck. The rats were living underneath it, climbing into the neighbor’s pool to drink, feeding on the bird feeder, and reproducing. It looked like it had been happening for about a month.”

    The Bill

    Illustration by John Cuneo

    How-to Rat-Proof Your Yard

    Case closed? Not yet. With the problem diagnosed, Errante could now eliminate the rats’ food and shelter and then eradicate the colony ­itself. But first he told Frances to call the city government about cleaning up the wooded area across the street. “The weeds needed to be cut down, because they harbor rats and mice,” he says.

    Then on to Operation Rat Kill. Errante placed 24 key-operated poison bait stations 10 feet apart along the pathways the rats were using. He anchored the stations to the concrete so Gaglione’s son couldn’t tinker with them and accidentally get at the bait inside. Then he baited (but didn’t set) six snap traps near the deck. “You have to give the rats time to get comfortable with the bait,” he says. “I came back a week later to trigger the traps, and had a tremendous knockdown.”

    He sprinkled poison powder in their burrows, and last but not least, rat-proofed the yard by sealing the open spaces around Gaglione’s exterior pipes with 1⁄4-inch steel hardware cloth and IPF foam, which contains a hot-pepper additive that deters rats from gnawing their way through the barrier. He also installed vent covers to make sure no ­unwanted visitors could get inside.

    The Aftermath: Gaglione decided she wasn’t taking any more chances. Once the rats were gone, she cemented over the entire backyard and bought a power sprayer to clean her son’s swing set. She also installed decorative rocks, a tent, and an outdoor table. “It was very expensive, but I don’t want the rats to come back,” she says.

    Her neighbor redesigned his property, too. “He ripped up his pool, deck, and lawn. He has only rocks and shrubs in his front yard now.” After four months of work, Gaglione’s property is now rat-free. She can let her son play outside, and she’s bold enough to have company over. But Errante visits monthly, because rats reproduce every 28 days. For the first three months, he replenished missing bait in the traps and closed burrows that had reopened. Now he puts wooden blocks ­instead of poisoned bait in the traps and watches for bite marks.

    What to Ask an Exterminator

    Good exterminators won’t give an estimate over the phone, so explain what’s going on, agree on an inspection fee, and catch, photograph, or videotape the offenders so the pro will have an idea of what to expect.

    What long-term strategy will you use? Exterminators should provide a list of chemicals they’re using, and they should change them every three months because pests grow resistant.

    How long till my hell is over? That depends on the scope of the problem, but don’t expect an overnight fix for any type of pest. “A lot of people think we can wave a wand,” says pro exterminator Vincent Errante. “It takes at least two months, and for a bad infestation, six months. That’s why it’s called pest management.”

    Will I go broke paying for constant visits? Exterminators typically come once a month in the summer and bimonthly in colder weather; many will create a schedule based on your needs. After an infestation, keep them on for a while and ask how to spot signs of trouble so you can monitor the situation on your own.

    Do you have any green options? Good exterminators use chemical and nonchemical methods to keep homes pest-free. “People think they need chemicals, but a lot of times there’s another solution. Mechanical and glue traps can sometimes do the job. For pantry pests, just remove the grains they’re feeding on.”

    Are you going to inadvertently kill Fido? For homes with dogs or cats, Errante suggests avoiding snap traps or glue traps for mice and rats. “But tamper-resistant bait traps are okay,” Errante says. You can also use anticoagulant-based baits, which often have a bitter additive called Bitrex to keep pets away; if your pet eats the bait, your vet can give him a shot of vitamin K1 as an antidote.

    How do I know I need you? “Rats are nocturnal, so if you see them during the day, that means they’re overgrowing their nest and you’ve got an infestation.” With bugs, a stray or two indoors isn’t always a problem, but if you notice them regularly, call a pro.

    Mice Eating Tomatoes

    I have been a tomato gardener for years, but living 4 or 5 blocks from the beach, our weather includes your typical “May gray and June gloom,” days. As a result even though my plants grow like mad and have tons of flowers, I inevitably get powdery leaf mildew all over them. It then spreads from one plant to another and kills them off before the tomatoes can ripen.


    I water from below into coffee cans buried at the base of each plant so as to avoid wetting the leaves, but it happens every year anyway. Now I am noticing that something is getting at the tomatoes just as they are ripening and ready to pick. It’s mice. My son has seen them and my dog has chased them, but they are doing a number on my fruit nonetheless.

    I keep an organic garden and don’t want to set traps, because I have 2 very curious dogs which have access to my back patio. Does anyone out there have an organic solution to either of my problems? I’m very grateful for any suggestions.

    By donna napolitan from San Diego, CA

    Mice In The Garden: Tips For Getting Rid Of Mice

    Image by jared422_80

    By: Bonnie L. Grant

    Mice in the garden are a nuisance and a potential health threat due to the diseases these pests carry. It isn’t unusual to have mice in the garden, especially when there is a ready supply of food. If you wonder, “Will mice eat in my vegetable garden,” the answer is a resounding, “yes.” Mice are opportunistic and vegetable damage is one of the common mouse garden problems.

    Identifying Mouse Damage in the Garden

    Identifying mouse presence is the first step in starting garden mouse control. Mice eat cereal grains but are also attracted to other vegetation. They eat small amounts in a sporadic fashion, causing contamination and other mouse garden problems. Especially take a look at corn and squashes. There may be small scrape marks from their teeth.

    Mice are most often spotted at night or early morning but are sometimes out in the daytime. They build nests of grass and other material in hidden spaces. Mice in the garden may be 5 ½ to 7 inches long and are a brown to gray color.


    How to Get Rid of Mice in the Garden

    Traps and bait are the most common methods of garden mouse control. Before you choose how to get rid of mice in the garden, consider the other factors affected by baits and traps. The family pet can get injured by traps set out in the open, so be certain to set them under a deck or crawlspace where domestic animals can’t contact the devices. Baits should be used in pet-proof housings to prevent Fido from coming in contact with the powerful poisons. Deciding how to get rid of mice in the garden should take into consideration the safety of children and four legged friends.

    Outdoor rodent control needs to start with an exterior cleanup. Remove piles of debris where mice can hide and nest. Rake up debris that creates cover for the mice. Good cultural practices can greatly reduce mouse garden problems. The outside of your house needs to be completely sealed so the mice do not escape into the interior of your home. After clean-up has been accomplished, it is time to set the mouse garden control you have selected.

    Traps come in several styles, but a snap trap is the most humane and effective. The traps are set in areas where mouse garden problems have been spotted. Bait the trap with gauze saturated with peanut butter, which will catch in the rodent’s teeth and delay it long enough for the trap to work. Place traps every 5 to 10 feet and replace the bait every few days to keep it fresh.

    Baits are an excellent way to reduce mice in the garden and protect your produce form their eating habits. Most baits contain an anticoagulant, which should be used in a bait station to prevent children and pets from coming in contact with the poison. Most baits require the mice to feed for several days before they are effective. Brodifacoum and bromadiolone are fast acting poisons that will provide garden mouse control after only one feeding.

    If all else fails, you can get a cat.

    Need help with what to do in your garden?

    Q What attracts mice to gardens?

    A Gardens are ideal habitats for these small mammals as they provide plenty of cover and a wide range of food sources. Sometimes, however, they come into conflict with gardeners when food supplies consist of highly valued plants, seeds and bulbs. When populations peak and food runs short, mice are more likely to become a nuisance in the garden.

    Caption: Mice sometimes run into conflict with gardeners

    Q Can you tell me more about mice?

    A Mice are small mammals that sometimes feed on garden plants. They are shy nocturnal animals, so there could be more of them in your garden than you suspect. You are most likely to see them when they’re brought into the house by cats.

    Rats and house mice are seldom a problem in gardens, although rats may take up residence in compost bins and garden sheds. Dealing with rats is usually a job for the professional – ask your council for help.

    Field mice commonly live in gardens, where their vegetarian diet can cause problems for gardeners. For most of the year their numbers tend to remain low. However, in autumn they can build up high populations and cause a great deal of damage into early winter.

    Q Could I mistake mice for anything else?

    A Shrews, unlike mice, are predators which destroy many insects and slugs and so are helpful to gardeners. They have a thin, pointy snout, almost invisible ears, and relatively short tails. They are very small and are mainly active at night.

    Caption: Shrews are very small, have thin, pointy snouts, and relatively short tails

    Q What type of mice am I likely to see in my garden?

    A The Long-tailed field mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) is very active, with large ears, a long tail and, unlike the house mouse, a white underside. The adults are 9-12cm long, including their tail. You sometimes find their underground burrows in the garden, lined with leaves and containing winter food stores of seeds and grain. Long-tailed field mice prefer to live in hedges, shrubs and around trees. They breed all summer and don’t hibernate in winter.

    Q What damage is caused by mice?

    A Seeds are often eaten by field mice, especially pea and bean seed that is sown when mice are numerous in the autumn, or when food is short in the spring. They will invade the greenhouse to carry off newly sown seeds from seed trays. The seeds of trees are also often eaten by field mice and voles, but this is usually helpful to gardeners, as it prevents large numbers of unwanted seedlings from appearing.

    Bulbs, corms and tubers may be consumed by field mice, especially newly planted ones. They like tulips and crocuses in the autumn. Fruit and vegetables may be taken by mice.

    Q Don’t mice do some good too?

    A They are important food for owls, foxes and other wildlife, so unless they are troublesome, they should be left alone. Mice also eat insects and weed seeds; in this respect, they are helpful to gardeners.

    Q What can I do to deter mice?

    A Seeds and bulbs can be started off indoors in pots, to avoid the attentions of mice. Fine mesh wire netting (6.5mm) and a sound concrete floor can exclude them from the greenhouse.

    Outside, wire netting placed over buried bulbs and seeds can protect them. It can also be wrapped around tree stems and buried slightly to guard tree and shrub stems from gnawing. In extreme cases, trapping can be carried out. Bait the traps with peanut butter or sausage roll for mice. Cover traps with a cloche or propped-up seed trays so birds and pets are not hurt by accident.

    Live-capture traps, where the animals are taken alive, can also be used. The traps must be checked every day, and trapping has to be carried on for a long period, as empty sites are soon recolonised by mice moving in from elsewhere. For this method to be effective, you have to release the trapped animals at least half a mile away, or there is a good chance they will make their way back.

    Some gardeners maintain that holly leaves or gorse sprigs scattered along seed rows will deter mice from digging up seeds.

    Caption: Covering pots of bulbs with wire netting can protect them from mice

    Q Can I poison mice?

    A No. Poisoning in the garden could present far too high a risk to pets and wildlife. Careful trapping and preventative measures should be enough to limit damage.

    Q Are there dressings I can use to protect my seeds and bulbs from mice?

    A The old remedies involving poisons like lead are no longer allowed and, in any case, are very risky for the gardener to use. There are no safe, effective modern substitutes.

    plants and flowers that mice won’t eat

    I have heard that the reason not to protect roses too early in the fall is that mice will make their winter homes in the mulch and nibble the rose canes through the winter.
    We bought a new lawn mower a few years ago. A couple yrs later, it sounded kind of funny in the spring, but my husband used it for a month or two anyway before we took it in for repair. The repairman said a mouse had built a nest inside the something-or-other, and every time my husband used the mower, the nest debris was being circulated inside that thingamajig, and the mower had sustained permanent damage. It will never start when warm, which means you can start it cold but must mow the whole yard without stopping. We found a charity that wanted it, and we bought a new mower. Now, we will make sure the mower is taken in for annual tune-up BEFORE mowing season begins.
    In my garden, I have a lot of rabbit damage, and, a new thing here in my suburban lot, deer damage. The rabbits are cute but they have damaged or killed many, many plants in my flower garden, and they have chewed a lot of bark off some of my shrubs. You might try googling for lists of rabbit-resistant and deer-resistant plants, on the assumption that those plants wouldn’t be appealing to mice either. I am kind of wondering if you are really seeing rabbit damage. . . You could try putting rabbit-fence circles around a few plants and see if those plants still get the damage, by way of answering the mice vs. rabbit question.
    Last year, to protect individual plants from rabbit damage, I used small-animal fencing, which is a 2×3 inch grid fencing, for stiffness, plus chicken wire for the samller hole size. I cut the 2×3 so that it has 2-inch prongs I can stick into the ground, and make a circle around the plant about 15 inches high. I line it with chicken wire, because rabbits can easily squeeze through 2×3 inch rectangles. I put those circles around some of my lilies, roses, cleome seedlings, sidalcea, and the rabbit damage stopped. This year I am contemplating buying a big role of 1×1 inch fencing, which is stiffer than chicken wire and would be sufficient by itself. The 1×1 inch fencing is great for compost piles, by the way.

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