This Morning: Alice Beer shares tips for removing pests
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Rats are active throughout the year, and do not hibernate during the winter. That said, they do become less active as the weather gets colder, which is why you may see less of them around this time of year. Despite their aversion to the cold, these pests are extremely adaptable, and are adept at exploiting human sources. Rats will infest a garden if they find it hospitable for a dwelling. So, if your garden offers plenty of hiding places, they will love it. If it offers them lots of food, be it from a food garden you’re working really hard on, pet food left outside, or a constantly opened rubbish bin, they will love it.
According to the experts at Fantastic Pest Control, rats will find a warm place to stay during the cold season. Usually, this will be a house or buildings such as barns. However, if they cannot access your home, they will find a hole that can also work as a shelter.
They explained: “Although rats don’t hibernate, they can prepare for the winter by collecting their food supplies in other ways. They need to eat twice as much food in the winter. It is necessary for them to consume this amount to maintain their body temperature.
“In fact, rats are notoriously resilient in cold weather. They can survive the winter quite well and often need to exploit human resources to survive.”
To spot rats in your garden, the pros have highlighted a few signs to be on the lookout for- one of which is rat droppings. They said: “It’s very easy to spot rat droppings, they are a sure sign that you have a problem. They are oval-shaped and resemble a large rice grain about 10 mm long.”
If there are rats in the garden, pets are usually the first ones to notice. The experts said: “Cats and dogs will be the first to notice if there is an infestation. If you spot your pet stalking holes and crevices too much, you should be alarmed, because there is definitely something hiding.”
Burrows and bite marks in gardens could suggest a rat infestation the pest control gurus said: “The common brown rat is known to dig holes and make shallow tunnels. They’re usually placed close to the food source.
“Rats would gnaw on anything, but the most common thing you can find in the garden is rubber hoses. If there are teeth marks, this is a big sign.”
According to the pros, using rat poison is the “most successful method” for dealing with rats. However, as this is not humane and it’s not advisable to place toxic products anywhere near where you grow food, so it’s best to concentrate on natural methods.
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The pest control experts have instead shared how to keep rats away from gardens in order to” make sure they won’t come back”.
The first way is for households to plant their own pest control – specifically lavender and mint.
The pros said: “Rats generally avoid lavender, so you can plant it in your garden or place lavender pots around their preferred hang-out spots to help deter them.
“For a more lasting solution, sprinkle lavender and mint around the perimeter of your yard to keep rats away.”
Gardens should also be kept tidy to ward off these pests. This means putting soft garden furnishings away and storing woodpiles.
The less clutter you have, the more inhospitable your garden would be for rats. This includes the lawn. High grass is perfect for hiding, so make sure to mow it regularly.
The experts said: “Keep your patio furniture cushions in a secure cabinet when not in use. If you already have rats, you likely know that they love to nap on soft surfaces just as much as we do. It’s best to store cushions to keep them clean and free from rat poop and urine.
“Woodpiles provide a nice little hiding spot for rats when they need some privacy. Keeping a woodpile away from your house or a fence prevents rats from getting access to your home and food.
“You should store firewood at least 18 inches off of the ground and at least four feet away from any structures.”
As well as clutter, gardeners should also block access to food and water as this will just entice more rats and encourage them to stay longer.
The pros said: “It’s a tricky thing to do, but it’s a good idea to remove sprinklers, birdbaths and bird feeders from your garden.
“Unlike mice, rats cannot survive without water and this would be a good reason for them to keep away.”
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