Rid Yourself Of Rats With These Poison And Trap Free Rat Repelling Techniques | Gardening Australia

If you’ve ever tried growing your own food in an urban area, you may have come into conflict with rats.

Rats love gardens, mostly for the same reasons we do. They’re quiet, sheltered, devoid of predators and with a plentiful supply of food, water and nesting opportunities.

There’s something about rats. They’re adversarial. They’re active in both the day and night and are relatively unafraid of our presence. They seem to openly taunt us, the trappings we surround ourselves with and our imagined superiority. They’re just smart enough to get away with it.

Jerry’s garden is not only a productive food garden, it’s a hub of urban biodiversity, hosting hundreds of species through the year. As a sustainable gardener, Jerry is happy to welcome these residents and visitors. They contribute to the delicate web of life that makes his garden function and thrive.

But not rats!

HOW IT’S DONE

Poisons and traps will work if used effectively and responsibly. But beyond these, what are the other things you can do in your garden to stop the scourge?

Compost bins

Compost bins are often ground central for rat infestations. They’re dark, sheltered and warm and with a ready supply of food and nesting material-exactly what rats need.

The first thing is to make sure your compost bin is completely enclosed. If you have an open bottomed bin, you can line the bottom with fine wire. However, be aware that persistent rats will chew through thin wire. Jerry has a compost bin that is completely enclosed on all sides. However, even this is not enough as he’s observed rats chewing to get their way in.

Jerry says if he finds rats trying to move into his compost, he “hoses it out”. Wetting their bedding area will discourage their nesting. Another tip is to ensure “the insides of the bin have composting material, rather than just a pile in the middle”. By turning the compost) you’re ensuring the decaying material is distributed evenly, and preventing insulated pockets for rats to nest in. It also prevents a concentrated stockpile of food for the rats to pick and choose from at their leisure. Another good tip is to prevent adding cooked food scraps, bread, dairy or meat to your compost. These energy rich foods will take a long time to break down and are magnets for hungry rats.

Traffic Obstruction

Rats are “neophobic”; they find continual change and new things off-putting. Move potted plants and other garden materials around your garden occasionally. Not only will it remove long term nesting habitat, they’ll be unpleasantly surprised by that new pot that’s blocking the path of their former favourite highway.

Water source

Rats need a regular water supply to breed. This is often too easy to find in a garden. Fix your leaking tap!

Last line of defence

All of this will make life uncomfortable for rats and stop them nesting long term. But it’s not going to stop opportunistic feeding on your prized vegetables.

Rats will often mow down tender seedlings. To prevent this, you can construct simple coils out of chicken wire to go over the top & protect your seedlings until they get large enough to be unpalatable. Remember that rats dig, so the coils will need to be sunk into the earth as you put in the seedlings.

Another of Jerry’s stalwarts in the rat war is his trusty pantyhose. Slipped over prized fruit like guavas while they ripen, they will prevent nibbling.

Predators

Many people think of a cat when struggling with rats. But free-ranging cats outside can have huge negative environmental impacts, feeding not only on rats but important native lizards and birds.

Jerry’s favourite approach is one that’s “relatively holistic”. As always, he’s a fan of letting nature take its course. His garden is populated with tall wigwams, constructed from bamboo, that he uses to grow climbing plants. The supports serve a dual purpose, providing hunting perches for the predatory tawny frogmouth. Nocturnal predators and masters of disguise, tawny frogmouths have adapted well to urban areas in part because of the ready supply of rats to feed on. If you can encourage tawny frogmouths to hunt in your garden, rats are going to have a far harder time scurrying around in the open.

Another ally in the battle is one familiar to many subtropical gardeners, the carpet python. It’s one of the widest distributed and most common pythons (non-venomous) in Australia, and it feeds on frogs, birds, possums and rats. People often have them removed from their gardens due to concerns for their pets, but if you don’t have pets, and you do have a resident carpet python-your rat problem is likely to be firmly under control.

Rats are a fact of life in urban areas. However, if you take these tips your garden will be a lot less appealing to these persistent pests as a feeding and nesting ground.

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