Environmental Health: 8 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Rats

Looking for natural ways to get rid of pesky rats? Well, you’ve landed on the right article!

Rats are one of those unwanted visitors you don’t want to deal with at home. But unfortunately, they can infiltrate your shed and outdoor furniture anytime, especially during winter.

Rat and mice infestations can make your home life miserable. They can be destructive; chewing through walls, insulation, and even electrical wiring.

1) Problem number one: Just seeing them around your house is bothersome. 2) Problem number two: you never know where they might be hiding!

And lastly, they carry a risk of infectious diseases, which could affect you and your family.

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So this is the perfect time to get rid of these pests in your home. In this article, we’ve curated some of the most simple and effective home remedies you can try.

Are you ready to make your home rat and mice-free?

Key takeaways:

  • Getting rid of rats can be done without poisons. By this, we mean eliminating them without even necessarily killing using natural ingredients.
  • Using rat poison can both damage the ecosystem and members of your family. Thus, it’s recommended to use natural rat repellents to reduce health risks.
  • Rat traps such as a snap trap are a fast way to kill rats.
  • Rats prefer warmth, so they’ll gnaw at everything they can to get to somewhere warm and safe.
  • Knowing where rats hide, including their habitat and what they eat can be your advantage. This will help you detect whether there are signs of a rat infestation in your home or not.
A garden rat
Image Credit: Flickr, Mark Seton

What are Rats?

While most of us are already familiar with what rats look like, let’s dive deeper and get to know more about these rascally rodents!

Rats are medium-sized rodents related to mice and other rodents, such as shrews and moles. They originated in Asia and Australia and are spread throughout the world.

They may be small, about 5 inches in length, but rats are well-known carriers of diseases. What’s more, it can be really challenging to control them as they can live pretty much everywhere.

Rats also thrive on three things. As long as humans are around these, chances are, rats will boom. These include:

  • Food sources. Rats are omnivores, meaning they’ll eat anything available to them. Any food supplies you have at home, e.g. peanut butter and pet food (bird feed), can be targeted.

They’re also best known for scavenging through a woodpile, compost bins and compost heaps. They love household waste and food scraps/food waste.

Some of them would even kill small animals like lizards and wild birds for some grub!

  • Water sources. Did you know that rats can survive for a month (or even more) without water? This is because they consume enough water in the foods they eat.

But when they do need to drink water, this is where drains and water pipes become accessible to them.

  • Shelter. Rats won’t have any problem with living in the wilds. They get shelter from weeds, grasses, and even plants. But if you have a garden, there’s a chance that your backyard can also be their hideout.

These pesky rodents tend to refuge under furniture, behind walls, or in seldom-used corners in homes. They also love to nest inside of/under appliances.

A wild brown rat lurking in the garden
Image Credit: Rawpixel

Rat species

Rats reproduce rapidly. Females can mate up to 500 times in just six hours! While brown rats can give birth to up to 2,000 babies in a year.

How crazy is that? No wonder why their populations are getting out of control.

As a result, rat and mice infestations at home can lead to increased droppings and damage.

Brown rat in a moss garden
Image Credit: WikiMedia Commons

Signs of Rat Infestation in Your Home

Here are a few signs of rodent activity that might indicate you have a rat infestation in your home:

Sign #1: Droppings and smears

One of the signs that you have rodents lurking around your home is their droppings. They tend to leave their droppings and smears behind as they move through your home.

These droppings are usually small, dark, and pellet-shaped. In most cases, you’ll spot them in routes along the walls created by rats.

Moreover, as they travel these routes, they leave smears and smudges along the walls.

Sign #2: Unpleasant smell and squeaking sounds

Rats give off a powerful and unpleasant ammonia smell. They’re also very loud, making squeaking, hissing, and chattering noises.

Noticing either of these is a sign that you have toothy rodents around the house!

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Sign #3: Damaged materials and equipment

As mentioned earlier, rats can be destructive. They pretty much always leave damage in their wake. This could be chewed electrical cords, gnawed on furniture, containers, or papers.

They also love to eat leftovers on the counter. What’s more, they leave droppings and even urine throughout your home. This increases your and your family’s risk of exposure to diseases.

Sign #4: They’re living behind your walls

Although it can be challenging to detect their presence behind your walls, there are a few signs to look for:

  • First, if you hear any strange sounds in the walls, including scurrying and running noises.
  • If there are piles of droppings behind stoves, as well as in your basement, attic, and corners of your home.
  • Smudges along the walls, either dirt or grease (or a mixture of these two).

Note: If you often see live or dead rats in your home, or if these signs are all present, it’s best to ask a professional for help. This can be a pest control specialist or pest management company.

But if you think the situation is manageable, you might want to find natural ways to get rid of rats.

Brown rat sneaking snacks
Image Credit: WikiMedia Commons

8 Natural Ways To Repel Rats & Mice

Rats can squeeze themselves in holes as small as half an inch. Thus, if a hole is not yet that big, they will nibble on it until they achieve the desired size.

Mice, in contrast, can get in through gaps as narrow as a ¼ inch. And they will do the same thing as rats just to wriggle through.

Once inside, if they’ve found food and water, they’re more likely to stay and populate your place quickly. But as much as you want to get rid of them ASAP, you can kill rats without poison.

Listed below are some of these practical, natural ways shared by our experts!

1. Onion

Just an onion’s odour is one of the non-toxic, natural ways to get rid of rats. Humans aren’t the only ones who dislike the pungent odour of onions. Rats and mice cannot tolerate their smell either, so it’s an excellent way to keep them away from your home.

Here’s what you can do – cut one slice and place it where the rats are inhabiting. Then replace it once it’s gotten rotten.

2. Essential oils

There’s a list of essential oils that you could use as one of the safest and natural ways to eliminate rats. These includes:

  • Peppermint
  • Citronella
  • Eucalyptus

The robust smells of these oils can dissuade rats. It can be highly effective once rats get exposed to these essential oils in 5-10% concentration.

Just be cautious if you have cats or dogs, though, as some of these oils can be toxic to your furry friends! Visit this blog if you want more tips to create a pet-friendly garden and home.

An owl's feather
Image Credit: Flickr, NC Wetlands

3. Owl’s feather

Research shows that rats are smart enough to sense threats in their surroundings. In particular, learning how to act and then escape from an owl’s attack.

So, you can get rid of these pests by putting the feathers of their natural predators near their habitats.

4. Human hair

No matter how healthy it is, they can’t bear the sight of human hair. Thus, it can be one of the most effective natural ways to get rid of rats.

Place a few strands inside the holes or areas where they hide and visit the most. Simple as that!

5. Ammonia

Not only does it act as an excellent cleaning agent, but ammonia is also a good rodent-repellent because of its pungent smell.

Prepare 2 to 2 ½ cups of ammonia, 2 to 3 spoons full of detergent, and 100 to 200 ml of water. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and place it where rats often stay.

Steel wool
Image Credit: Flickr, JoslynLM

6. Steel wool

Steel wool can also be used to block rats’ access points. You can use it as a barrier to keep rats from getting inside your house.

It’ll be difficult for them to nibble steel wool. Hence, they’ll eventually give up on passing through the holes.

7. Dried cat litter (or snake’s if possible!)

Cats and snakes are the natural predators of rats. As they are known to be wise, rats would automatically stop going back to a house if they have seen traces of their enemies.

You could buy dried snake litter or cat litter from a pet store or zoo. Fool them by placing the litter in the holes where they usually dwell.

In time, rats and mice will not return to these spots because they are afraid of snakes and cats.

Note: If you want to get rid of stray cats at home, here are nine effective tips you can follow.

A bowl of mothballs
Image Credit: WikiMedia Commons

8. Mothballs

Mothballs are one of the most tried-and-tested natural ways to get rid of rats. Place them in deserted areas that “could possibly be the rodents’ habitats” (yeah right!).

This repellent can be readily found in the supermarket and is easy to use. Just be cautious in scattering them throughout the house as the smell is also anything from unpleasant to dangerous for humans and other animals.

Use gloves to cover your hands when dispensing the mothballs.


It turns out that you can exterminate pesky rats in your home without actually killing them! So, if you think rats dwell around your house, remember that you can eliminate them without touching them with your bare hands.

We hope these home remedies will give you some ideas on how to do it in natural ways! At the same time, it helps you get rid of rodents for good.

And if you want to keep rats away from your tools and garden essentials, why not check out our range of sheds below? Learn how to encourage worms in your garden next to your greens!

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Simple: use natural home remedies. To give you a quick overeview, here are some of the natural rat repellents you can try:


  • Onion slices (they hate the smell)
  • Essential oils (e.g. peppermint, citronella, and eucalyptus)
  • Owl's feather (they're scared of predators)
  • Human hair (they hate it)
  • Ammonia (they don't like the smell)
  • Steel wool (to block their holes)
  • Dried cat or snake litter (they're scared of predators)
  • Mothballs (they don't like the smell)

Rat traps are known for being the easiest way to kill rats. All you have to do is to trick the rodents by offering them some food inside the trap.


A great example of this is a snap trap which can kill humanely upon snapping.

The number one thing that attracts rodents is food supplies. This could be your leftovers, pantry staples, and pet food.


The second would be your home in general, basically. Rodents tend to seek shelter and warmth during the cold season.


Your home's attic, corners, and behind walls are their primary targets.