One of the most effective ways to prevent rats or voles becoming a pest control problem is to discourage them from approaching your property. Traps and poisons will catch or kill at least some of the rodents when they arrive, but making your premises unattractive can be more cost-effective, and less unpleasant.
Knowing what foods or smells rats or voles avoid will help to keep them away. How effective any particular odours are at deterring these rodents will depend on the circumstances, such as the availability of food sources and the hardiness of the particular pests.
Peppermint. Some rats and voles will avoid the smell of peppermint. Soaking cotton wool balls in peppermint oil or sprinkling it on the areas where the rodents are known to run can act as a deterrent and encourage them to find alternative food sources. Natural peppermint may also help deter rats and voles but it is not always effective.
Cat litter. Cats are natural predators of rats and voles and these pests will instinctively avoid areas which are scented with the smell of feline urine. Having a cat may be sufficient to deter rodents from making their nests in your home or office as they will naturally produce the smell alerting them to the presence of a potential enemy. The use of ammonia on cat litter increases the pungency of the aroma, increasing the likelihood that it will deter rats and voles.
Predator urine. An alternative to cat litter is the use of a pest repellent that combines the urine of rodent predators such as cats, foxes, weasels and ferrets with other organic substances to form pellets. The smell fools the rats and voles into thinking that their enemies are nearby, which encourages them to stay away.
Other repellent smells. There are several other odours that may deter rats and voles from settling in your property. Moth balls can work, but are not recommended for long-term use because of their potential effect on human health. Another repelling odour is that of toilet cakes – the strongly scented blocks designed to keep toilet bowls fresh. Broken into pieces, the smell that they give off may repel rats and voles. Garlic and castor oil have also been known to work.
Repelling plants. Some plants act as a natural deterrent of voles – such as castor beans, marigolds, daffodils, alliums including onions, and caper spurge.
What do rats and voles eat?
Rats have a very keen sense of smell and are able to sniff out food from over a mile away. They are omnivorous, meaning they eat anything that humans do, from cereals to vegetables, and bread to fat. They will also eat pet food stored in boxes or bags.
Voles eat a mostly vegetarian diet. This includes plants, grass, roots and bulbs as well as berries, seeds, nuts, fungi and fruit. Vole colonies can strip bark off trees and devour fields of crops. They will occasionally eat snails and insects, but usually only when other food is scarce.
Storing food within airtight containers will help reduce the spread of odours which could attract the attention of vermin.
Will smells get rid of rats and voles?
Whilst these smells may help prevent rats and voles from settling in your property, they won’t solve a rat or vole infestation. For this, you’ll need a pest control strategy that eliminates access to food as well as killing or driving the vermin away. A professional pest controller will be able to assess what action is required and eradicate the problem before further damage occurs.