Seeing Rats In The Garden: Signs, Deterrents And More

Spotting rats in the garden can be a major shock, but it’s a normal occurrence for many people. Rats are a common pest in the UK, and they like to be near human dwellings for the shelter and food they provide.

The problem is that a few garden rats can soon evolve into a rat infestation that enters your home and starts causing havoc. So, you need to act as soon as you see rats or signs of rats in the garden of your property.

Flytech Pest Control Solutions has extensive experience removing rats from homes and gardens across Lisburn and Belfast. As such, we’ve got the knowledge you need to be proactive when you spot rats in the garden of your home. Keep reading to find out more.

Why Seeing Rats In The Garden Is Never Good

Rats are wild creatures, so it’s easy to think that it’s natural to see them wandering around your garden. The truth is that rats are vermin, and they spread diseases, including Leptospirosis, Monkeypox, Tularemia, Salmonella and more.

One rat in the garden might not seem like enough to cause worry, but if it finds that there are plenty of food scraps from unsecured bins or bird feeders, it will soon return with more rats and start to breed. Rats release pheromones that can attract other rats, so you’ll soon find that one rat turns into an infestation.

While you might think they’re far enough away and separated from you by thick vegetation, rats in the garden will quickly seek out shelter indoors. If your home has any obvious entry points, such as small holes in the walls or gaps under doors, or even wide open doors for fresh air, rats will take advantage of them.

Whether the rats are in your garden or have infiltrated your home, they can make your space less inviting for guests and less enjoyable for you and your family. Children and pets both like to spend time outdoors. In the summer, it can be fun to enjoy a BBQ in the sunshine as a family. With a rat infestation in your garden, you’ll soon find yourself spending less time outdoors.

Once they come inside, you’ll soon notice their presence and find them a nuisance. Rats eat through wood, brick, plastic and more in a bid to wear their ever-growing teeth down, and since they’re most active at night, you’ll often hear them scurrying around while you’re trying to sleep.

Many rats nest in attics and loft spaces, where there’s plenty of insulation and warmth, so you’ll hear them above your head. You’ll also smell them, as rats have a distinctive odour and leave droppings and urine around your home.

So, if you notice rats in your garden, you need to act fast to ensure they don’t turn from a minor inconvenience into a full-blown rat problem.

Spotting Signs Of Rats In Your Garden

Being small, brown and mostly nocturnal, it can sometimes be difficult to have direct contact with actual rats in your garden. Thankfully, there are other tell-tale signs of rat activity that can make it clear that you have a rodent infestation.

Some of the main signs of rats include:

  • Actual Rats: If you spot a live rat scurrying through your garden or find a dead rat, then the chances are there are others, but it can be hard to see live rats during the day.
  • Rat Droppings: If you see 1-2 cm long droppings that look like dark brown jelly beans, then these are probably rat droppings. Rat faeces and rat urine are both toxic and can spread hantaviruses, so make sure you dispose of them and clean your garden using PPE and strong cleaning products.
  • Rat Nests: A rat nest in a garden usually looks like a collection of twigs that has been pushed into a nook or corner. Rats nest in burrows, the rafters of garden buildings, or anywhere they can find shelter from the elements and predators.
  • Rat Holes: Holes in the ground, especially around food sources like compost bins or sheds, could show that rats live in your garden. These holes can also be the entrance to rat burrows, where there are rat nests.
  • Bite Marks: If you see gnaw marks on your garden furniture, outdoor buildings or fence posts, then this could be a sign of rodents. Rats, in particular, chew regularly and have large front teeth, so look out for tooth marks.
  • Chewed Garden Hoses Or Wires: Thin cables or tubes, such as hoses or electrical wiring for products like outdoor lights, are popular with rats. So if you see clean bite marks through them, then this is a sign they’re living in your garden.

In most cases, if you spot one or more of these signs, then you have rats in your garden. In some instances, it could be other garden pests, such as mice or squirrels. If you’re unsure, hiring experts in rodent control like Flytech can ensure that you don’t harm protected wildlife like red squirrels, hedgehogs or badgers.

Rodent hole from rats in the garden of Belfast home
Large holes in your garden are a common sign that rats have made a home there

Simple Ways To Deter Rats

Deterring rats naturally requires a lot of effort and hard work on your part. It’s not as simple as getting a cat or putting out rat poison. While cats are natural predators, most aren’t driven to kill pests and might not act as the deterrent you expect, so you should only get a cat if you want one as a pet. Cats, whether yours or other roaming felines, can eat rat bait that’s left out in unsecured traps, as can other wildlife, so leave catching and killing rats to the professionals.

Thankfully, there are some simple techniques you can try to deter rats from your garden naturally. Among the core ways to deter rats is to make your garden less appealing to them. Rats require food sources to survive, so if they can find them easily, then they will make a permanent home there.

Compost bins and bird feeders are common sources of food for rats, so you need to make sure they are secure. If you want to feed wild birds and other animals in your garden, such as hedgehogs, but don’t want to start attracting rats, consider covering and raising feeders or putting out food only at certain times and monitoring what animals eat it.

As well as food, rats also need shelter, so you need to reduce the options for them in your garden. Rats prefer overgrown areas to hide in so they can avoid predators. Therefore, you can prevent rats by keeping your garden well-maintained and trimming down hedges and grass regularly.

Other common sources of shelter and food for rats include outdoor storage areas. If you have a compost bin or garden building, such as a shed, then you need to check for potential ingress points and secure them. Wood piles provide a great shelter too, so make sure you store your wood indoors if possible.

As well as blocking visible entry points, you also need to consider how rats can create their own ways to get in, such as by chewing rotten panels. Replacing these will make it harder for them to gain access to food and shelter. Rats can also dig under the base of compost bins or garden buildings, so burying chicken wire to form a parameter can be an effective method to keep rats at bay.

A trick that some say works, and others believe is an old wives’ tale, is that essential oils can make for natural rat repellents because rats have a keen sense of smell and don’t like certain scents, such as peppermint or citronella. Use a product with a strong smell, such as peppermint oil, strategically throughout your garden to repel rats and make your garden less inviting to your local rat population. There’s no definite proof, and it won’t get rid of large rat infestations, but it might help you reduce the chances of them entering your space in the first place.

If you’ve tried these methods and rats still visit your garden, or you already have a large rat problem, then you need a professional pest control service. Flytech can help you to get rid of rats promptly and make your garden a welcoming place again.

How Professional Pest Controllers Remove Rats From Gardens

Home remedies may deter a few rats, but if you have a large infestation, you need the help of a professional pest controller. Belfast City Council does offer rat removal, but this is a limited service with a long waiting list, so many residents prefer to use private pest controllers. You can find out more about Flytech VS Belfast City Council by reading our blog post.

For homeowners in Belfast and Lisburn, Flytech is here to help with your rat problems and eliminate rats for good. Our team are experienced in removing rats and pest proofing your home to ensure they don’t come back.

Using live capture traps, we can contain and eliminate the rats in your garden. Once this is done, we will remove all rat droppings to stop other rats from finding your garden.

We can also advise you on ways to keep your bins, bird feeders, garden buildings, compost heaps and pet food stores more secure to avoid offering an available food source for rats and other pests.

If the rats from your garden have entered your home, we can remove them along with any rat nests, droppings and other detritus to ensure your home is comfortable and ready for you and your family to enjoy.

To get your professional pest control services in Belfast, Lisburn and the surrounding area, contact Flytech on 07955 008274, and one of our friendly team will be happy to help.