Where rodents are concerned, prevention is always better than cure. There are a few things that you can be mindful of in your garden to help prevent and deter rats and mice.
Remove sources of food
Rodents are constantly seeking new sources of food. If you want to avoid your household waste becoming a rodent’s next meal, it’s critical to ensure it is stored in a strong bin with a secure lid. It is also important to remember that pests are a symptom of their environment. Rats or mice may only be present in a particular area because of issues around rubbish, or less apparent problems such as drainage defects.
Any compost heap is attractive to rodents, as they are warm and have an abundance of food. If you have an open compost heap then it’s important that you do not compost meat, cheese and cooked kitchen leftovers, as they will decompose quickly and attract rodents. Alternatively, consider using a closed compost bin with ventilation, as this will help to avoid any unwanted attention from rodents.
Bird feeders can provide a very favourable food source for rats and mice. Choose bird feeders that will contain the bird food and reduce spillages on the ground, also refrain from throwing bread crumbs on the ground and if you see rats feeding from around the base of the bird feeders, stop putting food out for a time to encourage them to move away.
Cleanliness and tidiness
Dirty and messy areas will attract rodents in their search for cover and food, so it’s best to try and keep clutter to a minimum. Move tools, wood, garden furniture and plants away from sheds or walls where possible, to ensure you can check if anything is happening behind them.
Signs of rodents
Being aware of what signs of rats and mice to look for in your garden can help you detect any early stages of pest activity, giving you the opportunity to act swiftly before an infestation can spread.
Droppings – rats can produce up to 40 droppings per night which tend to be concentrated in specific locations. Mice dropping are smaller and scattered more randomly, with between 50 -80 droppings per night.
Scratching Noises – you may hear rodents as they scurry under decking, sheds and floorboards, or by a grinding or chattering noise they make with their teeth known as bruxing.
Burrows – brown rats in particular, are known for digging and excavating extensive burrow systems for shelter, food storage and nesting. Check decking, paving, garden sheds and garage areas as rodents will build burrows next to solid objects or structures. They also like quiet, secluded, over grown and well vegetated areas.
A wide range of amateur products are available for DIY rodent control. However, gardeners should take a proactive and long term approach to rodents, as just applying a pesticide will not address the root cause of the problem and therefore fail to solve it quickly and effectively. If a rodent infestation is persistent or widespread it is best to seek the advice of professionals.