Overview of Rat Repellants: Are They an Effective Solution?

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard or read the long-used adage that prevention is the best medicine. Indeed, you likely have heard this mantra in situations beyond a medical or healthcare setting. The reality is that when it comes to rats in a residential or commercial setting, trying to eliminate them after infestation occurs is far, far less preferable than preventing them from entering in the first instance. We present you with some thoughts regarding rat repellants and their effectiveness at preventing a rat infestation at your residence or business. Before we dive into that specific discussion, we present you with some basic information about rats and rat infestations.

Dangers of a Residential or Commercial Rat Infestation

You may be like many people and find rats very troubling creatures. What you may not fully understand is that rats and their droppings can be dangerous. Rats and their excrement can present a very real health hazard if the rodent takes up residence in your home or business.

Rats can be the carriers of a number different dangerous pathogens. These are viruses and bacteria that have the capability of making humans sick. Indeed, there are pathogens like the hantavirus that have the potential to make a person terribly sick with a condition known as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Indeed, over 30 percent of the people who develop hantavirus pulmonary syndrome die.

As noted, it’s not just rats themselves that can present a health risk on your home or business, droppings, urine, and even saliva can as well. For example, rat droppings can contain the previously mentioned hantavirus. Hantavirus can survive for an extended period of time in rat droppings, even after they dry out.

Dry droppings crumble very easily. When that happens, feces dust can become airborne, carrying the virus along with it. A person might inhale the dust containing hantavirus and end up contracting the very serious disease just discussed.

Because of the inherent health and associated risks associated with a rat infestation, it is important to understand how you can protect this from happening. This includes a consideration as to whether rat repellants are a viable, suitable option.

Most Common Types of Rats in the United States

Although there are a significant number of different types of rat species in North America, there are two that are far and away the most commonplace:

  • Roof rat
  • Norway rat (also known as the sewer rat or brown rat, among other monikers)

These rats are found across the continental United States, including in Southern California. As the information just noted about these rats indicates, a home or business owner is vulnerable to attack from these rodents from the top to the bottom of a structure.

The roof rat is a highly adept climber. This type of rat can easily make its way up a tree and onto the roof of a residence or business. The reality is that there exist a variety of ways in which a rat can enter a building once on the roof.

By contrast, the Norway rat is not an adept climber. This rat remains on the ground (or even in sewers). Being at ground level, or in subterranean area, provides this rat plenty of options for making its way into a building.

When it comes to the use of rat repellants as a preventative measure, understanding what type of rat is in your area is useful information. This info aids in determining where and how to employ repellants, if that is the course you select to take.

Signs of a Rat Infestation

These are a variety of signs that you may be facing an issue with a rat infestation. These include:

  • Gnaw marks
  • Droppings
  • Scratch marks
  • Holes in premises and objects
  • Squealing sounds
  • Scratching sounds
  • Scurrying sounds
  • Smell of urine
  • Visual of rats themselves

Rats are primarily nocturnal animals. Thus, some of these signs of rat infestation may not present themselves until after the sun sets and before dawn.

Repellants and Preventing a Rat Infestation

There are a number of different rat repellants available on the market today to home and business owners. These repellants include:

  • Sonic and ultrasonic devices
  • Sprays
  • Chemicals
  • Cats

Sonic and ultrasonic devices sound like solid ways of humanely keeping rats at bay. The problem is that they are oftentimes completely ineffective.

There are a good many spray products advertised today. The reality is that sprays are also generally ineffective when it comes to keeping rats away,

There are chemicals (including poisons) that can prove effective at repelling or killing rats. The problem with these types of products is safety. Chemicals, including poisons, can pose a very real health risk, particularly to children and pets.

Finally, cats are on the list of potential rat repellants. The presence of a cat or cats may keep rats and mice away, at least for a time. The issue becomes whether or not a particular cat will “mouse.” A notable percentage of cats today are raised indoor by mothers who’ve never stalked rats or mice and, as a consequence, do not teach their young to do so. What this means is that while a cat may keep rats at bay for a while, in the end, if a cat doesn’t “mouse” or stalk rodents, the lack of action renders a cat less of a threat to rodents.

Effective Rat Infestation Prevention Practices

In the final analysis, the most effective way to keep rats out of a home or business is by taking a comprehensive approach, by using a number of tactics to discourage these rodents from attempting entry into a building. These include making certain all exterior holes in the structure are sealed.

Keep in mind that a rat is capable of getting through a hole the size of a quarter. In addition, rats have powerful teeth and jaws and can check through many types of materials. The most effective material to use to block holes in the exterior of a residence is properly cured concrete.

Another prevention practice is to keep garbage cans tightly sealed (inside and outside a building). Keep bushes, shrubs, and other vegetation neatly trimmed. Consider eliminating vegetation planted directly next to the exterior of your home or business. You might even want to place a “no-rats land” around the perimeter of your building – a ring of gravel about 18 inches wide.

If you have firewood stowed outside your home, do not place it directly against the structure. Place it 6 to 12 inches above the ground as well.

You will want to eliminate standing water, which also attracts rats. This includes standing water inside and outside your home or business.

Professional Assistance

Because of the very real limitations associated with rat repellants, if you have concerns about whether or not you have a rodent issue at your home or business, consider getting a professional evaluation. In the final analysis, the most effective way to guard against rats or address an infestation is with professional assistance.