How to get rid of rats in the garden

Credit: flickr /florence_craye

Q: How can we get rid of rats who run through our cedar hedges and eat all the fruit on our trees? They also ate our tomatoes, peaches and apples. We have a small dog so we don’t want to use poison.

As long as there is a food source and places to hide or move around, rats will always be present. The food source either has to be removed completely or made more inaccessible. For example:

  • enclose your tomatoes in fine chicken wire mesh cage
  • provide a sheet metal skirt around the tree trunk to prevent climbing
  • remove lower hanging branches touching on structures
  • clean up the garbage can, barbecue grill and compost pile (avoid grain products, uncleaned eggshells, etc.)
  • remove debris from bird feeders and food spilled around pet dishes

You can also alter the environment to make it less inviting, such as removing unnecessary weeds or vegetation.

Humane trapping might be an option. I would strongly suggest you enlist the services of a pest control specialist who can visually assess the site and suggest other options. Avoid handling rats since they can carry contagious diseases.

Alternatively, the classic option of a good cat never fails.