Drat..Rats! Natural ways to repel rodents

courtesy: cartoonstock.comuThere’s no place like home. And there’s no place for rats in mine. My husband and I were in for a shock last night when we pulled open a wide, deep drawer in which we store our household linens. There were little black pellets scattered between sheets, towels and dish cloths. I recognised these pellets as rat poop because of a forgettable past encounter with a rat whom I had somehow managed to trap some years ago. Although I had been trembling like a leaf at the time,  the poor thing was clearly more petrified as we had stared at each other, as clearly I wasn’t the one suddenly filled with an urge to excrete profusely. Fast forward to the present. The fact that the pellets we spotted yesterday were dry suggested that the creature who produced them was not around. The discovery of course filled me with dread and melancholy. Our beautiful, clean, hygienic and nice-smelling home was unknowingly playing host to an invited guest whose name rhymes with cat (now that’s a furry creature I long to have and hold).


The initial shock eventually wore off and replacing it was a protective instinct: i felt like a lioness raring to protect her pride. I was not sure what I wanted to do but one thing was/is clear: I am not going to kill any rat. So began the search for a herbal, organic solutions, natural remedies and repellents- humane ways of addressing the problem. We will of course be getting one of those metal cage contraptions to attempt to trap the rascal and set him free somewhere far, far away. But in case the nasty bugger outsmarts us (I have seen many a rat cleverly dislodge the bait and flee before the trapdoor snaps), I am considering other methods


At least five people have suggested rat poison and/or glue pads. I am not judging these people but the technique when I say it  is not for me. I’m happy to report that an equal number of people suggestied some peaceful, humane solutions.

I thought I’d share some of these suggestions and household remedies for people like me who don’t want to kill rats no matter how eek-ed out and protective they are of their homes.

1. Peppermint oil:  Apparently rats loathe herbal aromas. So plant peppermint, spearmint and citronella plants around your home. If these are not available where you stay, peppermint oil works too. This can be found in most markets. Soak some cotton balls in the peppermint. Make sure that they are saturated. Place the cotton balls in areas where rats are likely to crawl. Replace the old cotton balls with cotton balls with fresh peppermint oil at least twice a week.

2. Napthalene balls: Rats don’t like the smell of these either. It’s not enough to put these in your cupboards, woollen-storage closets….these need to be replenished and replaced as napthalene balls shrink with time. Their potency diminishes when they shrink. So be alert and put fresh napthalene balls out. This is where I failed and Mr. Rat taught me a lesson the hard way.

courtesy: madasafish.com

3. Ammonia: Some websites are also suggesting ammonia. Mix one part ammonia with one part water. Soak old socks or a cloth in the ammonia and squeeze out the excess liquid. Place the cloth where the rats are likely to enter the home. Check the cloth at least once a week and replace if necessary. Personally, I don’t plan to try this one out as the slightest whiff of ammonia makes me feel nauseated.

4. Spices: Chilli peppers, cayene pepper, even tabasco sauce can drive these lil beasts away. Sprinking garlic powder and diced garlic cloves can also do the trick according to ehow.com. The pungency of garlic can make rats feel nauseated and send them running in the opposite direction (opposite from you, that is). But if the strong smell of garlic makes you feel sick, then clearly this option is not for you. Incidentally, garlic oil is also a cockroach-repellent.

5. Gizmos: My uncle recommended an ultrasonic device that emits high-frequency wave speeds that permanently ensure that rats stop recee-ing your home. This is mostly designed to protect cars, offices, server rooms and godowns. Here’s the link: http://www.varnacrafts.com

courtesy: stuartmcmillen.com

I’m going to try out the peppermint oil technique tomorrow. Fingers crossed. Keep an eye on this space.

(Sources: etips.sulekha.com, ehow.com)


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