How to get rats and mice out of your garden

How to get rats and mice out of your garden

As kids, we might all have been rooting for Jerry in his eternal struggle with Tom, but as adult gardeners, the last thing we want to see are signs of mice and rats.

Rodents cause all kinds of problems in our gardens, from chomping away on our crops to chewing our hoses, planters, and anything else they can get their little teeth into. Then, of course, there is the health risk of having mice and rats around, as they spread disease and can even indirectly lead to Lyme disease and Weil’s disease.

Doesn’t sound good, does it? And I’m sure you’ll agree that we need to keep rats and mice out of our gardens, but what’s the best way to do it?

In this article, we will teach you how to look out for signs of rodents, how to get rats and mice out of your garden, and how to keep them away in the future.

One thing we can’t give you the answer to is this age-old question-

Why do I have mice and rats in my garden?

You probably don’t want to hear this, but if you’ve got rats and mice in your garden, it’s likely due to poor housekeeping. No, I’m not talking about how often you hoover the carpet or clean your windows, but I am talking about how tidy you keep your garden.

If you have a bird table or feeder, you have to make sure to clear away any food that gets knocked onto the floor, or those opportunist rodents will sniff it out and come for a feed. Likewise with fruit that’s fallen from trees and bushes, pet food left outside, bin bags full of food waste, and even compost heaps.
Keeping your garden free of any food waste, securing your rubbish bins, and cleaning up bird poo and other animal waste is a good way to keep rats away from your garden in the first place.

This video explores this subject-

What damage do rats and mice cause?

Rodents are a nuisance, but rats and mice can cause different types of damage. With rats, the biggest risk, apart from disease, is the damage they cause from gnawing everything in sight, and even stuff out of sight such as electric cables. Their burrowing habits can also cause the foundations of structures to become compromised.

There is less chance of structural damage with mice, but they love to feast on berries and seeds in your garden, and even eat your newly planted bulbs. They might have a bite here and there of other vegetables in your garden but are more likely to chomp on seeds, nuts, berries, etc.

Here’s a tweet about the kind of damage rats can cause-

Looking out for signs of mice and rats in your garden

There are multiple signs to look out for that will let you know if you have a rat or mouse problem in your garden, and we thought we’d list the main ones here-

1. If you find burrows in your garden, you’ve probably got a rodent problem. Burrows can be found anywhere, but are most often located in places like under decking or next to the shed, or places that give easy access to a food source such as a compost heap or dustbin.

2. Chewed up garden equipment is another clear sign of rat activity. Rats will gnaw away on almost any type of material including wood, plastic, rubber, and even stone and metal. So, if you’re finding your garden hose, plastic plant pots, etc. getting chewed regularly, you should start looking into how to get rid of rats.

3. Finding bite marks in your vegetables, or things like berries left strewn about on the floor, are ways to tell that you have mice living in your garden. Also, if you notice that freshly sown seedbeds have been dug up, or that there are fresh holes there, it’s a good bet that it’s mice that have made them.

4. Rats poo a lot and it won’t be hard to find their droppings if they are living in your garden. Rat droppings are cylinder-shaped but with one pointed end and one flat or slightly rounded, and can be between 1-2cm long. These droppings are dark brown in colour.

5. Little footprints in the mud are yet another sign that you have rats or mice in your garden. Rodents move around a fair old bit, especially rats, and often leave trails where they have been. A good place to lay a trap is along these lines of travel.

6. If you detect a smell of ammonia, you’ve probably got a few rats squatting on your property. The smell comes from their urine and is quite strong if there are several animals in an area.

here’s a clip on the subject that you can watch. The overly dramatic and sinister music might put you off, but the information and images offered are good-

How to get rats and mice out of your garden

So, once you know you have a rodent problem in your garden, how can you get rid of them? Here are a few different methods that you can try-

1. Use a mouse repellant or rat traps with humane options or mouse traps. These come in different forms such as spray repellents, granules, or plug-in ultrasonic repellents. Sprays can either be odours that rodents don’t like or be designed to replicate the scent of natural predators and scare the rodents away. Ultrasonic repellents create sound waves that can not be detected by humans but can cause mice and rats distress and hopefully make them leave the area.

2. Planting certain flowers and herbs can help eliminate mice and rats and stop them from coming back. Garlic, daffodils, and lavender are good choices, as rodents hate the smell of them. Also, spices like black pepper and cayenne can be used to deter these unwanted visitors.

3. Keep your garden tidy by using your lawnmower and strimmer often so that it reduces the places that rats and mice can hide. As already mentioned, remove all food sources from your garden too.

4. If there’s one thing that rats do not like, it is change, so get busy and move stuff around. Garden furniture, potted plants, garden tools, and anything else that you can shift around easily should be rearranged to deter rats and make them uncomfortable moving around your garden.

5. Get a Tom to chase those Jerries. Cats are a natural predator of rats and mice, so getting one as a pet and letting them go on the hunt can get those rodents moving on pretty quickly. If you own a dog, letting it play in the garden will make the rats uncomfortable and increase their likelihood of leaving the area.

6. Rats need water sources to survive and will use anything from drainpipes to dripping outdoor taps and pipes. Keeping an eye on these and finding ways to stop rats from using them to drink from will help you in your struggle. Birdbaths and other water features should be removed.

7. Setting traps is always an option, and these days, there are the classic lethal traps that kill the animals and non-lethal ones that trap them. If you do use a non-lethal trap, you will have to travel far from your house and other people’s before releasing it into the wild.

8. There are poisons that you can use to get rid of rats and mice, but they are not advisable if you or your neighbours have pets, as they might eat the poison by mistake.

If you’d like to have a go at making your own mouse trap, here is a video showing you 7 different ways to do so-

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message:

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