By SF Gate Contributor Updated July 22, 2021
If your garden provides food, shelter and water, you might fall victim to unwanted rat visitors. These small, mostly nocturnal pests aren’t picky eaters and will devour everything from fruits and nuts to pet food and snails. They’re known to carry diseases and can significantly damage your crops and structures. You don’t have to resort to using toxic chemicals to get rid of rats in your vegetable garden; organic deterrents can also do the trick.
Grow Rat-Deterring Plants
Planting members of the mint (Mentha spp., hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8, depending on variety) will make rats think twice about setting up shop. Rats dislike the smell of mint and although it’s known to be invasive, it can effectively work if you grow it outside the perimeter of your garden or in areas with heavy foot traffic that will regularly trigger the scent to fill the air. Dried mint leaves or mint oil can have a similar deterring effect.
Predator Urine Scare Tactic
You can get rid of rats in your vegetable garden by making them think that there’s a predator nearby. Predator urine, such as that of a fox, according to the National Library of Medicine, is an effective rat aversive. The urine, which is available at local garden centers, comes in powder or liquid form and can directly be applied around the perimeter of your garden. Alternatively, wet cotton balls with the urine and spread them around and in your garden.
Trapping Nuisance Rats
One of the most effective ways to get rid of nuisance rats is by using traps. Although glue boards are available that will trap rats, they don’t kill the pests right away, and when you check a trap, the rat might still be alive, leaving it up to you to kill him. Snap traps are a better option. You can bait these with dried fruit, pet food, nuts or bacon, and place them in the natural travel ways of the rats, about 10 to 20 feet apart. When a rat goes for the bait, the trap activates and kills him.
Clean Up Your Garden
Cleaning up your garden can make it less attractive to rats and prevent them from entering. Minimize possible hiding places and food sources by cleaning up garden debris, thinning heavy vegetation and harvesting or picking up fallen fruit. Use a rodent-proof bird feeder and remove pet food immediately after your pet is done eating, because birdseed and pet food can also attract rats. [external_footer]