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How to Get Rid of Rats Without Killing Them

Getting rid of rats without killing them is possible by eliminating conditions that promote their infestation. The requirements for breeding and living are adequate food, water, and shelter.

To get rid of rats without killing them, starve them out. Then remove any source of water and block all the entrances to their hideouts with steel wool. After that, spray natural scents that can repel them like peppermint and eucalyptus oil around their habitats.

Unlike cruel traps or poison, natural rat repellents are less costly and stressful. Discouraging rat attacks on your home without killing them will not put you and your pets at any risk. Subsequently, these are the different friendly ways of getting rid of rats at home.

Guide on how to keep rats away without killing them

Here are some tips on how to eliminate rats without any dangerous poison that may put you at risk:

1. Elimination of potential food sources

Making food inaccessible will make your space less attractive to rats. There can be no requirement to eliminate something that does not exist. 

If you have breakable containers for storing food, rats can chew them easily. Only use metal or durable containers because they are not prone to rat chewing and destruction. You can put your food inside the fridge, so it is not accessible to rats.

2. Use natural repellants

Like most small animals and insects, including roaches, rodents are sensitive to odors. Buy or make a spray that deters rodents with a strong essential oil. For instance, make a mixture of Cayenne pepper,  peppermint, bay leaves, or a baking soda solution. 

3. Make high-pitched sounds

Like humans, rats do not like high-pitched sounds, which helps repel them away from home. Buy an ultrasonic animal repellant from the market to keep rodents away without harming them physically. The sonic devices cannot disturb and annoy you since the sounds produced are often within the range that you cannot hear.

Only pick and use the sonic rodent repeller that even young people cannot hear its sound to make them go crazy. A lousy device releasing a high-pitched sound may also cause discomfort and drive away animals desired at home.

Ultrasonic pest repellers can work but may prove unsustainable. Once rodents get used to the sound, they will not get scared and move away from your house. It becomes even more worrying considering that this particular rodent-repelling method can encourage pest attacks.

A study done by the Journal of Vector Ecology found that ultrasonic devices can increase the rate of mosquito bites by over 50 percent.

4. Close all entry points

A potential rat control measure is to find areas, especially on walls and floors, that rats use for entering your home and seal them. Understand that rats can squeeze through even a gap capable of accommodating your two fingers. 

Seal the cracks with caulk or cement and undertake frequent monitoring to ensure the strategy works appropriately.

However, the strategy may not be effective if your house is wooden since rats can chew through it without any trouble. Therefore, apart from sealing all entry points, implement the other tips above to keep rats away from your space.

Use scents that will keep rats away

Scents or smells that rats hate will keep them away. Those include predator scent, ammonia, white vinegar, onion, and garlic. The sensory organ of a rat can detect particular chemicals or scents in the environment that can affect its behavior.

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Rats have an instinct to hate distinct odors that may pose a danger to their health. You can thus use that to your advantage to get rid of rats from your property in a compassionate manner.

1. The scent of predators

A lot of research has discovered that the scent of a predator like a cat makes rats have a strong stress response. When a rat is exposed to the cat odor, the stress hormones increase, and behavior changes.

Because of that reaction, people have always kept cats at home for thousands of years, mainly to repel rats. The smell of other predators like raccoons and ferrets may also scare away rats.

2. Natural scents

You can use many natural smells to keep rodents away. The scents are safe not only for you but also for the environment. Natural odors exist in peppermint, Eucalyptus, Citronella, and chili oil or powder. 

Chili pepper contains an active ingredient called capsaicin. When inhaled, the chemical compound triggers a burning sensation in the rat’s mucous membrane, forcing it to move away.

Eliminate what they feed on because rats cannot live without food. Apply chili powder by spreading it around and inside your house, with more focus on areas rats use for entering and exiting.

The main disadvantage of using natural scents is that the application has to be done regularly to keep rats away from home. A potential solution is to have houseplants, effectively releasing strong scents, to deter a rat attack and infestation.

Reliance on natural scents from plants may not be recommended since rodents like invading smelly areas, including your sewers. The effect of organic smells may not reach such vital places.

3. Chemicals

Because they are toxic, the application of chemicals is not encouraged as they can kill rats and poison you and the environment. Exposure to chemicals is a known cause of breathing difficulties, nausea, and headache.

Mothballs are a pesticide option that many homeowners rely on at home to keep rats far away. The naphthalene, producing toxic gas in mothballs, can deter rodent infestation.

Another chemical useful in repelling rats is ammonia, available in large quantities in urine. When a rat detects ammonia in the urine of an animal or a predator, it assumes the area is a marked territory. The rat then avoids getting into your home to avoid encountering an animal threatening its life.

What are rats afraid of?

Rats are afraid of getting into contact with humans. Because humans are big, rats consider them a threat. Also, rats are scared of predators such as cats, birds of prey, snakes, rat terriers, snakes, and weasels.

Furthermore, the rodents are afraid of strong-scented smells, whether natural or artificial, from mothballs, chili pepper, peppermint oil, and garlic.

A clean and organized home will also make rats afraid and scare them away since there are no food sources and shelters for hiding. Expect an unhappy rodent when loud noises exist in your environment and you seal holes allowing entry into the house.

Since rats by nature do not like trying new things, it becomes a challenge to rely on baits to control them. That being the case, contact a rodent control expert relying on different methods to keep rats away from your space. Without controlling a rat infestation, you risk dealing with structural damage to your property.

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Are there houseplants that can repel rats? 

There are houseplants that can repel rats and other rodents, such as squirrels, groundhogs, and raccoons. Subsequently, below are the houseplants proven through research to help with repelling rats without killing them.

  1. Amaryllis: The plant’s bulbs have toxic chemicals, causing the infection and inflammation of the digestive system in rats.
  2. Black pepper: It makes breathing ordinarily tricky.
  3. Christ plant: The crown-of-thorns plant has sharp thorns to scare rats away and avoid being pricked. Its watery fluid is poisonous when consumed, causing severe skin irritation and stomach aches in rats.
  4. Marigolds: Many home gardeners cultivate the plant in and around gardens to discourage attacks by mosquitoes, rabbits, deers, flies, and rats.

In conclusion, if you find it tough to get rid of rats without killing them, hire a trained rodent and pest control expert. A professional can determine the extent of a rat attack and implement the proper control and prevention measures.


  • Oregon State University: Tips for keeping rats out of home
  • University of Missouri: Ways of controlling rats
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