For some people, keeping rats and mice at bay can feel like a full-time job. For example, anyone who keeps a significant number of pets or livestock on their property will need to maintain enough food to keep them fed. All that food acts as a magnet to rats, who like nothing more than getting their paws on a free meal. Traps and bait stations are effective measures for capturing or killing rats one they’re on your property, but they aren’t very effective deterrents. If you want to prevent rats from coming onto your property to begin with, you need to see something they will find repulsive; that’s where the right smells come into play.
Using strong smells to repel rats is ideal for those who feel squeamish having to handle dead rats or release captured rats back into the wild. There are numerous scents purported to work, but their effectiveness can vary considerably in practice. However, if you want to go down this route, some scents are more effective than others and more pleasant for people to be around.
Many people have found success using cotton balls soaked in vinegar, which creates a powerful odour that rats find unpleasant. Cotton balls are excellent carriers for pungent liquids; you can easily place them in the cavities where rats hide and sometimes build their nests. Other effective smells include peppermint oil, citronella oil, and beaver oil.
The drawback to using these methods as deterrents is that they won’t work in ventilated areas. You need an enclosed space where the smell isn’t going to dissipate too quickly. Placing the soaked cotton balls near doors and windows can be effective as long as they aren’t left open too wide.
Some people have also reported success using crushed onions, peppers, and garlic placed in bowls and used in the same fashion as the cotton balls.