Gardening expert gives tips on deterring pets and pests
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Pests such as rats can be active all year, however, it is in the winter months where they seek warmth in a home. Rats pose a major hygiene threat as they carry a range of illnesses and parasites, meaning it is so important to banish the problem before it gets out of hand. Paul Blackhurst, Technical Academy Head at Rentokil Pest Control, explained: “The recent heatwave has seen more of us spending time eating and drinking outside, but many plants and animals have suffered.
“Sources of water have dried up, and fewer berries and seeds have been produced.
“Rats are active during the summer have learnt that our gardens are reliable sources of leftover food as well as water from ponds and baths.
“As we start to head towards the traditionally colder, winter months, rats in the local area will seek food and shelter in our homes.
“It is crucial for homeowners to stay one step ahead of an all-too-common pest problem by putting in place preventative measures that will help to stop an issue before it starts, and hopefully reduce the need for rodenticides,” he added.
The first step is to identify whether you have a rat infestation. This can be done by sprinkling fine flour or talc along a small stretch of floor near the footprints and checking for fresh tracks the following day.
Outside in the garden, Britons may notice burrows next to structures such as sheds, garages and well-vegetated areas.
Paul added: “This is particularly prevalent during the colder months, with brown rats digging and excavating extensive burrow systems for shelter, food shortage and nesting.”
Once a rat infestation has been spotted, it is important to “restrict access to their lifelines”.
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This includes getting rid of their food, water and shelter. The pest expert said: “This means ensuring that rubbish is stored in a strong bin with a lid that is large enough to prevent waste from overflowing.
“Rats and other pests can easily tear through black bin liners to get to unwanted food.
“They are also able to chew through cardboard boxes, which is why we recommend storing any bird feed, pet food, cereals or other dry foods in airtight plastic containers.”
If you have a bird feeder in the garden, a seed catcher should be added to prevent the food from falling onto the ground and ending up in the mouths of rats.
Britons should also limit hiding places inside and out, which means keeping vegetation trimmed back and removing clutter in storage areas.
The expert continued: “Knowing when to call in professional help is also important.
“A number of rat infestations begin due to defective drains, which can provide the perfect environment for rats looking for food and water from waste that has been flushed away.
“If you do see any obvious holes in the exterior of your premises or suspect that your drain has been compromised, then be sure to talk to a professional pest controller.”
The experts at Checkatrade also recommended using essential oils such as peppermint oil.
They said this scent can be used to “deter rats” from setting up camp in your garden. It can be placed around any item in the garden such as vegetables.
Lemon, citronella and eucalyptus oil can also be used wherever traces of the rodent are spotted.
Essential oils are great to keep rats away because they “can’t stand the smell”. Scents such as peppermint and lemon tend to be very strong.
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