Seeing a rogue rat skirt across the floor can be shocking; particularly if it’s the first indication that you may have a rodent problem in your home. Fortunately, if you take the right steps and adopt some good habits, you may never have to deal with rats in the first place.

Here are some tips to help you learn how to avoid rats at home, so you never come face-to-face with those pesky creatures.

How to deter rats from the house

The first step to deterring rats is to remove all sources of temptation that might encourage them to venture inside your home. This means emptying bins on a regular basis, keeping all food covered, including fruit bowls and anything on the kitchen bench or stove. You should also keep birdcages scrupulously clean and keep pet food bowls away from the floor (and don’t leave pet food or water bowls sitting out).

Here are some more tips on how to rodent-proof your home:

  1. Walk around your property, looking for cracks, gaps or holes that might be big enough for a rat to squeeze through. Don’t underestimate this – rats are flexible enough to get through holes as small as a pencil. Once you’ve found these potential rodent entry points, use sheet metal, steel wool, wire mesh or hardware cloth to plug the gaps.

  2. Check around door frames and window frames and make sure they are sealed tight all the way around. Install a metal kickplate on your door if it already has gnaw marks.

  3. Cut back any tree branches or hedges that touch or hang over the house as rats can use these as a pathway to your home. They can climb and balance well, making any branch at any height a potential method of entry.

  4. Check your roof, ventilation and weep vents to make sure they are secure, undamaged and sealed tight. If you have a chimney, make sure it’s capped to prevent animals from entering.

  5. As a final task, locate all the utility entry points and piping in your home and plug any gaps that rats might be able to get through. Keep in mind also that rats can climb along electrical cables to get into your attic or loft space.

How to repel rats

As well as removing all entry points, you could also try to add as many rat repellents to your home as possible. While rodenticides – pest control measures specifically designed to kill rats – are your best bet, you may want to supplement that with a few extra touches. Learn more about how to kill rats in our article.

One option could be to perfume your home with scents that rats hate, like ammonia or the smell of mothballs (although mothballs can be toxic to humans, too). Other options include peppermint, eucalyptus and citronella, although none of them have been proven to be effective against rats. Faced with hunger and searching for a warm place to sleep, rats tend to be unstoppable – unless, of course, you litter their path with traps or baits specifically designed to capture and kill them.