How To Scare Rats Away From Home

How To Scare Rats Away From Home

There are few things in life that are certain, but one thing’s for sure: no one wants to come home to a rat. To prevent these creatures from taking over our homes, it’s worth looking at why they might find our houses more attractive than other nesting places.

Read our tips below to learn effective techniques to keep rats away from your home, garden and yard so that you don’t have to worry about an unexpected encounter with one of these unwelcome guests.

How To Keep Rats Away From Your Home

In the southern United States, many homeowners have to deal with the roof rat (Rattus rattus). These are brown or black rats that are smaller than the Norway rats that live throughout most of the rest of the United States.

The roof rat is better suited for these warm climates than the Norway rat. These rats set up their nests in trees, bushes and woodpiles and generally only seek out our homes in the winter. They especially love palm trees and other high nesting locations where there are fewer predators. It’s easy for roof rats to climb several stories, and they can fall from a significant height without injury.

Roof rats live close to food and water sources, and are common out in the country, living near farms orchards and ponds. In the city, these rodents prefer areas around the river, parks and gardens and areas that aren’t regularly mowed.

These black rats have a varied diet that includes bugs and worms, seeds, nuts, green plant growth and all of the fruits and vegetables we grow in our gardens. You’ll sometimes find them seeking out easy meals at pet bowls, chicken coops and bird feeders.

Prevention is the key to dealing with rats, and the best way to keep them out of your house is to discourage them from visiting your yard in the first place. Here are some tips to keep all types of rodents away :

  • Keep pet and bird feed indoors, or if you must store feed outside, keep it in metal or hard plastic containers.
  • Remove trash piles, wood or brush piles.
  • Pick fruits and vegetables from your garden as soon as they are ripe and bring them inside.
  • Keep your lawn mowed and remove debris piles and wood piles.
  • Fix plumbing leaks so you don’t provide rats with a water source.

Preventing Rats From Entering Your Yard And Garden

Rats come looking for shelter in our homes primarily during cold or rainy periods, as well as when more suitable nesting locations can’t be found, often due to overpopulation. Do rats hibernate in winter? This is a common question among homeowners. Rats survive the colder months by seeking shelter and warmth in our homes. Adult roof rats can squeeze through tiny holes as small as a quarter in roof eaves, fascia and siding and along the foundation.

Is there a way to scare away rats? Some homeowners claim that their pets are effective rodent hunters. While the scent of a dog or cat could indicate to a rat that a predator is nearby, most rats are savvy enough to evade pets, especially since many of our pets remain inside most of the day. If you really think about what eats rats, you will quickly realize that most pets aren’t a very reliable way to keep these rodents away.

To keep rats out of your garden , consider live traps, scent repellents and even fencing to keep rats away from your plants. Although sonic pest deterrents are commercially available, scientific studies have concluded that not enough is known about how pest species process sound for these to be effective.

Closing Common Entry Points

If you still have tried all the tactics we have suggested and you still rats, you should make a larger effort to seal any possible holes or crevices that these creatures might be using to get inside.

Here are a few suggestions on how to protect your exterior against rats and other types of wildlife:

  • Inspect your roof and siding, as well as any crawl spaces under the house, for possible access points.
  • Patch holes with hardware cloth or fill them with steel wool or copper mesh before applying patching compound. This will discourage rats from chewing a hole in the same location.
  • Caulk around pipes and wiring where these materials enter the home.
  • Make sure your dryer vent has a screen to prevent rats from entering through that opening.

DIY Deterrents

When these other rodent control methods fail, consider using rats’ habits against them. Roof rats hate changes to their environments, and they are strongly affected by unfamiliar odors. Here are some ways you can scare rats away from your home and deter mice from getting inside :

  • Use cotton balls soaked in clove or peppermint oil around their points of entry or near food sources.
  • Place scented dryer sheets in pantries, under appliances and other hard-to-reach areas.
  • Try pureeing hot peppers and water in a food processor or blender and then strain the mixture and add to a spray bottle. Spritz this spray in areas where rats have been chewing (and where you, pets and small children won’t come into contact with it later). Be sure to use gloves, as this mixture may sting your skin.
  • Allow your pets into the area where rats like to nest. Both the sound and smell of Fido or Fluffy may be enough to convince the rats to find a better place to live.

What If Rats Do Get Inside?

To remove rats, we recommend using either live traps or contacting a pest control professional. Other forms of rat eradication have significant downsides. Electronic traps that kill immediately with a jolt of electricity, but then you are forced to dispose of the carcass and risk the transmission of disease.

Rat poison kills indiscriminately, which means that other animals can get into the poison or eat a poisoned rat and be affected themselves. Also when you put poison out, rats might carry it back to their nest, and then die inside your home, causing additional problems as the animal decomposes. While glue traps and snap traps can be effective, they are also are considered by some homeowners as inhumane options, since these creatures can suffer for days before they die.

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ABC Can Get Rid Of Rodents, So You Don’t Have To

When you need help dealing with rats in or around your home, reach out to ABC Home & Commercial Services . We have rodent experts who can come out to check your home for rat damage and access points , and help you get rid of these intruders once and for all.

Are There Smells That Keep Rats Away?

A homeowner who has dealt with rats or mice inside or elsewhere on a property may wonder: are there certain smells that keep rats away? If rats are naturally repelled by particular scents, foods, plants or other substances, it makes sense that these could be good deterrents for someone to use in keeping their home and property free of rodents.

Before we get into more specifics about making your home less attractive to rats and mice, let’s talk about why rodents really are a problem that needs to be handled both quickly and effectively. If you’ve ever had rats living in your home, attic or garage, then you know these pests are far more than just a simple nuisance. These pests carry infectious diseases, as well as parasites, including fleas and ticks that can be dangerous for people and pets. Worse still, the gnawing needs of these animals can cause extensive damage to drywall, wood, electrical wiring and other structures within your home, causing house fires. If rats build a nest somewhere in your home, their urine and feces can also be a big problem, endangering the health of your loved ones.

If you’ve dealt with rats before, or if you want to protect your home from these unwelcome guests, it makes sense that you would research how to keep them away from your home and property. Many homeowners who have children or pets are particularly interested in more natural rat repellents, since they are concerned about exposing their loved ones to any potentially harmful ingredients or other common yet dangerous means of controlling rodent populations. Let’s review which smells and substances homeowners have used and which are most effective in keeping rats, mice and other rodent pests away from your indoor and outdoor living spaces.

What Is The Best Mouse Repellent?

One of the best ways to keep rats and mice away from your home and property is to cut off any access to food, water and shelter. These are the three basic needs of any rodent, after all—of any animal, really—so if rats and mice are venturing into your home or garage, they are almost certainly doing so in search of these three things.

Therefore, if you want to keep rodents out of your home, it’s important to block off their physical access to interior spaces by closing off any holes or gaps around windows or doors, through vents, in the eaves or anyplace else around your home. Cut off access to any potential food supply by keeping your food in airtight containers in your pantry or refrigerator, rather than out in the open, and keeping any pet food in tightly sealed containers as well. Limit rodents’ access to water indoors by fixing any leaky pipes or faucets and dumping out any standing water that might attract them or encourage them to stick around.

You can also make your yard less appealing to rats and mice by cleaning up any fruits or nuts that drop from trees, positioning any bird feeders well away from your home and keeping your trees, bushes and other landscaping trimmed. Certain kinds of rats and mice are burrowing animals that build nests in the ground beneath overgrown shrubbery, and roof rats can travel from tree branches onto the roof of your home or garage if limbs aren’t cut back from the roofline, so a well-maintained yard can go a long way toward keeping rodent pests away.

Once you’ve done your due diligence to make your property less enticing for rats and mice, it’s time to focus on the best mouse repellent or rat repellent that might be effective in keeping these pests away from your home. But which repellents—if any—really do the job?

Are There Scents That Deter Mice?

Many people believe there are powerful, spicy or astringent scents that deter mice and rats from taking up residence in a home, such as peppermint, garlic or vinegar. The truth is, however, these smells are unlikely to repel rodents in any effective way. Even the naphthalene that is contained in mothballs, which is known to inhibit red blood cells’ ability to carry oxygen in mammals, isn’t strong enough to affect mice or rats, or to deter them from entering your home.

Even if you scattered mothballs throughout your kitchen and set out peppermint oil-soaked cotton balls in every corner, you’d certainly have a strongly fragrant house—but any rodents would just go on about their business, not bothered at all by the seemingly overwhelming scent of their surroundings. Think about it: Rats and mice can happily thrive in sewers and other strong-smelling locations. Clearly, they aren’t excessively bothered by powerful scents, despite their keen senses of smell!

What Smells Do Rats Dislike?

Rats and mice have very sensitive senses of smell for a variety of reasons. For one thing, these rodents use their keen senses of smell to determine which foods are safe to eat. If a rat smells a particular food on another rat’s breath, it knows that food is likely to be safe to eat, and will gravitate toward its scent if it encounters that food in the future.

Rats and mice also use scent to communicate in important ways with others of their species—specifically, they use their urine to send messages to other mice or rats. This is called “scent marking,” and it’s a prime example of what a sensitive sense of smell these rodents have. Since rats and mice are typically most active at night, they need heightened senses other than vision to rely on when moving about their business in the dark. These creatures can use urine markings to let other rodents know a variety of things, including their sex, mating status, territorial and predator warnings and more.

Since rats and mice have such keen olfactory abilities, it is true that smells have a lot to do with whether they’ll be drawn to your home or want to stick around once inside. However, this has more to do with scents that rats and mice are drawn to than with scents that they dislike. As previously mentioned, if a rat or mouse makes its way into a kitchen where food is sitting out in the open or food scraps are left out on the floor, those scents will be readily apparent—and very appealing—to the rodent. This is why it’s so important to keep your home clean, especially areas where food is prepared and consumed, and to keep all human and pet foods stored well-sealed so that rats and mice can’t use their powerful incisors to have a nice snack.

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Unfortunately, the fact is that there aren’t really any smells that are known to effectively deter rats from sticking around in a certain location. There are certain smells that rats are reported to dislike, such as the bitter scent of cocoa, but rats are more likely simply to avoid eating a substance they dislike than to stay away from the entire area.

Some people have reported that ammonia is effective in keeping rats and mice away, since its smell is similar to that of urine. Many others, however, report that ammonia is actually not an effective rat repellent, and the potential dangers of ammonia may outweigh any rat-repellent properties it may have. Ammonia can be dangerous to have around if there are children or pets nearby, or if you use certain products that may have a chemical reaction with the ammonia.

Can Homemade Rat Repellent Be Effective?

When it comes to effective rodent pest control, a common adage applies: “The best defense is a good offense.” This means that it’s a lot easier to rodent proof your home and property through proactive measures, such as eliminating the rodents’ access to indoor spaces, as well as to food and water sources, than it is to treat a rat problem once it develops. If rats or mice move into your home, you might try traps, poison or other means to kill them off, but each of these options comes with certain disadvantages that can make it tough to figure out the best approach. If you have an actual rodent infestation on your hands, do-it-yourself methods may not be enough to address the problem.

ABC Can Handle Your Rodent Problems

Rather than trying to concoct homemade rat repellents that aren’t likely to work, it’s often best simply to hire a professional exterminator to handle your rodent problem. Whether you’ve spotted the odd rat or mouse in your home or you’re dealing with a full-on rodent infestation, the pest control specialists at ABC Home & Commercial Services can take care of it and help in keeping rodents out of your home. Our skilled technicians are experienced in handling rodent problems of all kinds, and we will work with you to determine the type and extent of your rodent issue, as well as the best way to address it. We always consider the well-being of each home’s occupants first, including any children and pets. We will help you eliminate your rat problem so you can relax, knowing your home is rodent-free.

What Smells Do Rats Dislike?

Keeping your home free from rats and other rodents are essential for your health and the health of your family. If you have a problem with rats in your home, place of work, or anywhere else, it is important to know how to repel these little critters.

Rats have a tremendous sense of smell. Just as some smells attract rats, there are also many smells that rats dislike. And knowing something about a rat’s sense of smell can help you deter them from setting up home on your property.

Rats’ sensory organs have the ability to pick up certain chemicals in the environment that affect their behavior. This means that rats instinctively hate certain smells because these aromas mean danger for them. You can, therefore, use this information to your advantage if you discover that you have a rat on your property.

Of course, no one wants to see a rat in their home or to find evidence that rats have infested a basement, garage, or any other living area. The best way to keep rats away from your home is to avoid clutter and dirt. This not only creates aromas that will attract rats to your home but gives them the perfect environment to build their nests and live in.

But what else can you do to make sure that rats are not attracted to your home? Use the various smells that repel rats, of course. So, what smells do rats dislike?

Among the smells that rats hate are chemical odors such as the smell of naphthalene, the stench of rat predators like cats, raccoons, and ferrets, as well as several natural scents such as the smell of citronella, peppermint and eucalyptus oils.

Let’s start by taking a look at the strong chemical smells that keep rats away.

Chemical smells

There are, of course, many chemicals that repel rats and stop them from infesting your home. However, many homeowners are wary of using these chemicals because they are toxic to humans and to the environment. For example, many people claim that rats hate the smell of mothballs.

While the smell of the chemical naphthalene which is found in mothballs may deter rats, you would need to use such a large volume that they would be toxic to humans. This scenario was described in an informational article published by the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC).

This article related how one man placed several boxes of mothballs in his basement because he had heard that rats detest the smell of mothballs. The next day, the man’s wife complained of breathing difficulties and developed a chronic headache. After contacting the NPIC, the man learned that mothballs produce a toxic gas that can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, and respiratory irritation.

There are also some claims that the smell of substances such as bleach, paint thinner, ammonia or other strong toxic chemicals can deter rats. However, there is no scientific evidence that rats hate the smell of such chemicals.

The smell of predators

One of the smells that rats definitely dislike because it heightens their sense of danger is the smell of their predators. If a rat comes across the odor of an animal like a cat, ferret, stoat, or raccoon, they are likely to stay away.

Evidence of rats’ aversion to the odor of predators has been published in The Journal of Neuroscience and Behavioral Neuroscience. Researchers discovered that smells from cats and ferrets elicit a strong stress response in rats.

They noticed that when rats were exposed to cat and ferret odors, their stress hormones rose and their behavior changed. So, keeping a cat at home to keep vermin away might not be such a bad idea. Cats are not just good at natural pest control, but even their odor seems to act as a pest deterrent.

Researchers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute also determined that rats dislike the urine of carnivores. The urine of meat-eaters has a specific compound (2-phenylethylamine) that rodents hate. To humans, the smell of urine is slightly offensive. But, to rats and mice, the smell of urine is the smell of danger.

Of course, it is unlikely that you will want to use the smell of urine to deter rodents. Furthermore, rats living in natural environments live among predators, finding ways to avoid being eaten. If your home is attractive enough (easy access to food and shelter), predator smell may not keep them from inviting themselves in.

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There are, however, some natural aromas that may help to keep rats away.

Natural smells

Read on to find out what smells rats hate that will not negatively affect the environment and are safe for humans. We will also let you know if there is any scientific evidence to back up the claims of these natural rodent repellents.

Keep in mind, however, that rats make their homes in many very smelly places, including sewers, so any potentially repellent scents will have limited effectiveness if your home is otherwise attractive.


Many websites claim that rats do not like the strong smell of peppermint while other websites claim that peppermint does not affect rats at all. While peppermint will make your home smell nice, is there any evidence that peppermint can repel rats?

There is actually some scientific research which shows that rats do avoid the smell of peppermint.

For example, researchers in Thailand found that peppermint oil was somewhat effective in keeping rats away. They came to this conclusion when the rats spent less time in areas where there was the smell of peppermint.

Interestingly, the same scientists discovered that bergamot is another smell that keeps rats away. Bergamot is a citrus fruit whose flavoring gives Earl Grey tea its distinct taste. While humans can either like or detest the flavor of bergamot, it seems to be a smell that rats dislike.

Because rats seem to dislike peppermint, you could try using a peppermint spray at the entry points to your home. You could even plant mint in your garden to help deter rats from setting up home in your yard.


The potent aroma of eucalyptus oil seems to be offensive to rats and could prevent them from nesting, feeding, or living in your home.

One of the reasons that the scent of eucalyptus can be used as a rodent repellent is that it contains compounds rats hate. A study published in 2014 found that spraying a solution of 5, 10, or 20% eucalyptus oil repelled house rats. The scientists observed that the rats avoided food in a part of their enclosure that had been sprayed with the eucalyptus solution.

However, it should be noted that there was food on the other, untreated, side of the rats’ enclosure, suggesting that the repellent effect may only exist when there is an alternative.

One of the drawbacks of using eucalyptus oil is that you have to spray every day to keep the rats at bay. On the positive side, even though rats do not like the smell of eucalyptus, the pleasant aroma will keep your home smelling fresh.


While citronella is known to repel mosquitoes and other flying insects, there is some evidence that the smell can be off-putting to rats.

For example, some researchers found that rats tended to stay away from food in parts of their pens that had been treated with citronella oil, preferring to eat from the untreated side of their pens. The researchers concluded that a daily application of citronella could act as a potential natural rodent repellent.

The same caveat applies here as we mentioned for eucalyptus oil, however. Another study assessed the effects of citronella inhalation on rats and found that it decreased appetite.

There are many smells that rats do not like and you may be able to use these to keep them away from your property. However, any good rat prevention and control method should incorporate a multi-faceted approach to keeping the critters out.

So, first make sure that rats have no way to enter your home through the basement, attic, or openings in external walls.

4 Natural Rat Control Methods

Many of the methods for dealing with a rat infestation involve rat poison. However, there are more natural options for doing so. It’s just a matter of understanding what rats like and dislike in nature and replicating those conditions in your home or yard. You will be surprised at how easy it is to control rats in your area using these resources.

1. Larger Predators for Controlling Rats

Dogs will chase rats off, but other than spooking them, they probably won’t get rid of them. Cats on the other hand are the domestic animal that won’t just chase rats off but will follow them to all the little places you can’t pursue. If you live in an area conducive to an outdoor cat, consider this as an option. However, be sure that you can commit to being a responsible cat owner before doing so.

2. Using Scented Deterrents for Controlling Rats

If you’re not a cat owner and don’t want to invest in one animal just to get rid of another, go simpler and just make your area smell as though a cat or dog was present. Something as common as the scent of large predatory pet fur or urine can be enough to deter rats from a spot. Whether you purchase predator urine or have fur donated from a shelter, try placing it in the area where the rats are nesting a creating the most damage.

Another smell that will keep rats away is ammonia. You can soak a cloth or a cotton ball in ammonia and put it into a small container or coffee can. Set this where the rodents nest or cause damage. The smell is so strong that they will have no choice but to leave and go somewhere else. For rats that seem to love being under your automobile, you can set the ammonia in a coffee can under your car.

3. Use Live Traps

Check and see if your local law allows you to trap live rats, then move them. There are a few city ordinances that may not allow you to trap live rats.

The thinking behind prohibition ordinances is that by trapping them and moving them, you will be creating a rat problem for somebody else. If your city will allow, you can trap the rat in a live trap and move it to another location where they are released and still live, like a wooded area.

4. Taste Deterrents to Control Rats

For some reason, rats love to chew on car engine wires. They crawl under the engine to keep warm, and then they chew your wires. The ammonia under your car should work. If you keep any engine wires in your garage or shed, you may want to put some hot pepper sauce or wasabi on them. This will keep them away for sure!

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