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:
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.