Depending on where you live, rats may be a bigger problem for you than others. However, the fact is that they can be a massive issue in some gardens and the chances are you’d prefer that they don’t visit all too often. Assuming you’re not yet at the stage where you need to call in the experts, and still have the opportunity to prevent their entry, these 10 tips should help you to enjoy your outdoor space in peace, without any unwelcome visitors.

1. Cut Down on Sources of Food and Water

While rats may not seem like they ever have too much to do, they act with purpose just like any other creatures. If they have a reason to visit your garden, then chances are they will. Unsurprisingly, one of the main reasons for them entering gardens uninvited is to forage for food. You might put food out intentionally, such as for the birds or local cats, or there may be something they like to eat occurring naturally. There’s also the massive attraction of bins filled with old food. If possible, try to reduce the amount of food a rat can potentially access upon entering your garden.

2. Don’t Feel Like the Birds Need to Compromise

If you’re anything like us, you don’t want rats to appear, but you don’t want to reduce the amount of food you put out for birds. Indeed, the main difference is that birds are often welcome visitors in the garden, and you might not want to make it impossible for them to find something to eat. To keep birds in and rats out, you need to be smart about how you leave the bird food out. There are plenty of options, such as making it impossible for a rat to climb to your bird feeder. No matter what you do, ensure that you choose an option that will soon make it clear to the rat that no matter what food is around, they don’t stand a chance of eating it themselves.

3. Take Food in Overnight

If you do leave food out for the various animal residents of your neighbourhood, take the time to bring it back in again before you go to bed. Rats don’t operate exclusively at night, but they do appreciate the cover of darkness and will do most of their foraging overnight. If you’re fortunate enough that they don’t come out in the day, you can deprive them of what they’re here for with ease, making it less likely that they come back in the future.

4. Keep an Eye on Hard to Reach Places

What might be hard to reach or a tiny gap to you could be a natural access point for rats, and you must have your wits about you to take care of things in the prevention stage without it getting worse. Check behind bins, under sheds and garages and around the edges of your garden to ensure that there are no holes and, if there are, take immediate action to block them off.

5. Don’t Give Them Somewhere to Stay

As if finding food and water wasn’t enough, giving rats shelter might mean they never want to leave! Once you’ve checked for entry points, check anywhere that could be considered dry and safe in and around the garden. This doesn’t only apply to indoor spaces likes sheds either. A bush or hedge can be the perfect place to shelter from the elements, and if you spot any signs of them taking up residence, it’s best to act sooner rather than later.

6. Look for Clues if You Have Pets

Several of these tips cover spotting the appeal your garden may have to rats before they become a problem and one of the best ways is to see if your other outdoor pets notice anything. If a dog spots a rat, the chances are it will chase it and you need to keep your eyes open to see if it is indeed a rat or something else. Some cats will go out of their way to solve your rat problem before it starts, while others will just make a lot of noise. Interestingly, if you keep hens or other birds outdoors, they can become both a clue and a cause. Rats love raw eggs, and if they spot that kind of regular food source, it can be difficult ever to discourage them.

7. Replace Any Broken Containers

You’ll have some kind of containers in your garden, even if it’s just the bins. Check them over regularly, as any breakages can lead to a source of food, depending on what you keep in them, and even shelter too. Make repairs or replacement a priority if you’re doing everything you can to keep rats away from your outdoor spaces.

8. Keep Things Clean

This tip mainly concerns bins again but can cover other areas of the garden that potentially have cause to become dirty. It may not be actual food or shelter that attracts rats. Instead, it could be the smell that gives them a reason to believe that there’s something worth investigating. You should, therefore, always attempt to stay on top of the cleaning.

9. Use Repellents as a Last Resort

Rather than removing things from the garden that may attract rats, you could conceivably take steps to keep them away actively. We’d always advise repellents rather than poisons – if you get to the stage where you need something like that, it’s time to call in the experts. There’s a vast number of options out there, from sprays and liquids to devices that emit sound. That ensures that there’s something to suit everyone.

10. Make These Tips Part of Your Garden Routine

There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this feature, it’s because you’ve spotted a rat in the garden or the signs of one. Unfortunately, unless you’ve gone to great lengths to keep the issue under control, pest control isn’t something that’s ever finished. Make a point of keeping an eye out for these unwelcome visitors as part of your regular outdoor routine around the home.