How To Get Rid Of Rats Outside Without Harming Other Animals [19 Tips]

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Unfortunately, rats are a common and annoying pest that will visit your home whenever it feels like it. It is essential that removing rats does not harm other animals in the process. You must be wondering How To Get Rid Of Rats Outside Without Harming Other Animals?

Following are the ways to get rid of rats without harming squirrels, cats, dogs, and wildlife.

  • Seal the hole
  • Remove trash cans
  • Grow a kitchen garden at a distance from your house
  • Use repellents
  • Keep the house, and garden clean
  • Eliminate food sources
  • Proper storing of pet food
  • Get rid of water sources
  • Use smoke bombs
  • Use natural scent
  • Get rid of the shelter
  • Place pet-safe rat traps
  • Employ owls to kill rats
  • Use Electric Rat Repellents
  • Place dry ice
  • Trim the bushes
  • Install motion sensor light
  • Trapping
  • Plant herbs in the yard

You must get rid of rats as they are a carrier of infections and can destroy your house. To find out details on the tips, continue reading the article.

How To Get Rid Of Rats Outside Without Harming Other Animals
How To Get Rid Of Rats Outside Without Harming Other Animals

How To Get Rid Of Rats Outside Without Harming Squirrels?

Both squirrels and rats belong to the family of rodents, and both of these animals show different behavior and have a diet. The houses with lush green gardens can have frequent squirrel visits. Squirrels are not as annoying as rats which can invade and destroy your home. While getting removing rats, you do not want to harm a squirrel.

Using rat poison is extremely dangerous for squirrels. If a squirrel eats the poison, it will instantly die, and you will find a dead squirrel near your house instead of rats. So the problem will still be there. Follow the tips mentioned below to eliminate rats without harming squirrels.

Seal The Holes

Prevent rats from breaking into the house by sealing the entry points. Remember, rats can squeeze inside through a tiny hole, as small as half an inch. Therefore, you must consider this when looking for holes in the house structure.

Carefully examine the house exterior, focusing on doors, windows, inside attics, the bottom wall, the garage, cabinets, ceilings, and pipes. If you find any hole, seal it immediately with thick hardware metal cloth.

Ensure that the metal cloth is at least half-inch thick as rats can chew through the thin metal cloth. Then fill the hole with a cement mixture. In this way, you will block rats from entering your house, and squirrels will be safe.

Remove Trash Cans

Households left over in the trash cans provide rats with food and nesting material. Rats can jump inside the cans to feed on your food leftovers and will collect all the material they require for building a nest near your house.

Purchase heavy dustbins with a lid. Always throw garbage in sealed plastic bags and ensure the cap of the dustbin is securely shut.

Grow Kitchen Garden At A Distance From Your House 

The kitchen or vegetable garden is convenient and gives your house a fresh vibe. However, these gardens also attract hungry animals like a rat that are always in search of food.

Rats will invade the garden and destroy it. They will not only eat the vegetables grown, but they will leave their droppings in the soil, which is extremely dangerous. Rat scat consists of diseases that can transmit to animals and humans. Plus, they can also burrow inside the plant soil.

Use Repellents

Rats have sensitive olfactory receptors. They can smell things from miles away, if not feet away. Their attraction or repulsion towards an area or place depends upon the scent coming from that place.

As mentioned above, food items attract rats because they can smell food from miles away and will move into the area with an abundant food supply. To get rid of rats, you can place things with a pungent smell to get rid of rats. These sharp-smelling things will not cause any harm to the squirrels.

Dryer Sheet

You can buy rat repellents from the store or use things available at home. The available rat repellents are dryer sheets and mothball. Place dryer sheets around your house or near the entry points of the rats. It is the most humane way to eliminate rats without harming another animal.


You can also use mothballs made up of naphthalene. A sharp-smelling compound which rats can suffocate rats to death. Therefore, when a rat smell naphthalene, it will run away from that place.

Keep The House and Garden Clean

Rats are attracted to dirty places. Keeping your property clean is necessary if you do not want to attract pests, whether rats or others. Therefore, you must keep your house clean with no food and leftovers around, so rats cannot smell from far and move inside your home.

Do not leave cardboard boxes, old clothes, newspapers, and magazine piles in the corner of the house because these things provide nesting material for rats.

Taking care of the garden is equally important. Clean the piles of fallen leaves and fruits as fallen fruits are an easy food source for rats. Do not leave piles of leaves and overgrown bushes uncleaned for a long time, as these are ideal nesting spaces for the pest. Additionally, cut tree branches that are leading towards the house.

How To Get Rid Of Rats Without Harming Cats?

Cats are natural rat eradicators who feed on them. Keeping a pet cat is beneficial as the smell of a cat will keep rats away, and if a rat gets inside the house cat will attack and kill it immediately. It will not be a pretty sight, but rats become instantly aggressive when they see a rat or mouse in their surroundings.

It is a common issue among cat owners that they bring home a dead rat. Therefore, if you have a rat issue in the house, adopt a cat immediately. You will have a furry friend and a solution to your rat problem. Apart from adopting a cat, you can also use the following tips,

Eliminate Food Sources

Food is the primary source of rat attraction. Rats will invade any place with easily accessible food with a continuous supply. When the food source ends, they will move out. Rats can eat everything, including food inside the pantry, pet food, and pet waste.

Proper Storing Of Pet Food

I recommend you never store the pet food items inside the garden sheds or in the garage because rats can smell food items from miles away. Rats can build their nest on the exterior of the house.

Similarly, do not place pet litter boxes in the open as rats are filthy and can feed on pet waste. To store pet food, put them in big heavy metal containers and preferably reserve them inside the house, far from pest reach. Plus, remove bird feeders every night. Rats are nocturnal and also enjoy munching on bird food.

Take care of your pets. Rats are omnivorous and can kill and eat small, vulnerable animals like birds, chickens, ducks, and more.

Get Rid Of Water Sources

Rats are attracted to water sources as they are attracted to food. So, you must eliminate the food sources from outside of your house. These water sources include open-air ponds, buckets, faucets, leaking water pipes, and garden hoses. It is impossible to get rid of all the water sources.

Therefore, I suggest you at least take care of the water pipes. Observe the pipes for erosion and holes. Also, fix any leaking water sources like faucets and hoses around the house and install a fence surrounding the pool.

Place Smoke Bombs

Smoke bombs can kill any rodent, including rats, mice, groundhogs, and more. However, you have to be careful when placing these bombs. Wrong placement can make them poisonous to humans and other animals.

The smoke bomb is placed inside a rat burrow to kill all the rats inside the tunnel. Commonly, rats make burrows and tunnels outside or inside the wall. Therefore, after you have placed the smoke bomb, ensure you securely close it. So there is no space.

The fumes from the bombs spread throughout the tunnel and rodents are trapped inside. Smoke bombs are easy to use and safe if you follow the precaution.

Use Natural Scent

There are some natural scents that rats hate, but they do not affect cats. These natural scents include peppermint, eucalyptus, garlic, lime, onion, hot pepper, ammonia, and ground coffee.

You can place essential oil (peppermint oil, citronella oil, lemon oil, and eucalyptus oil) soaked cotton balls around your house or near the rat’s entry point. Another effective way is placing ammonia-soaked rags around your home and inside the cabinets to repel rats.

Sharp ammonia smell can kill the rats. If the invasion of rats is frequent, place ammonia solution with water and detergent around the house.

How To Get Rid Of Rats Outside Without Harming Dogs?

Dogs are fun pet animals. However, caring for dogs will be challenging when you have a rat infestation. Rats can bite the dog and can also transmit many infections that can cause serious illness to the dog. Leptospirosis, toxoplasmosis, and rat-bite fever are the most common diseases.

The most common way of getting rid of rats is poison. But the rat poison can kill the dog instantly. Below are a few tips to get rid of rats without harming dogs.

Get Rid Of The Shelter

It is essential to remove rat shelter to eliminate rats from your home. The rat will build a nest inside your house when they find food sources nearby. Therefore, if there are any food sources like pet food or open dustbin, get rid of them immediately.

Then look for the rat burrows around the house. When you find rat burrows, seal them tightly. Rats make their nest using clothes, cardboard boxes, and papers.

Therefore, get rid of any empty cardboard boxes from your house. Use essential oil in your closet when you have a rat problem. Never leave pieces of cloth or clothing items piled up for a long time because it provides perfect hiding space for rats.

Place Pet-safe Rat Traps  

Rat traps are one of the most common and effective ways of getting rid of rats outside. However, there is a risk of harming other animals, so be careful using the rat traps. There are three types of rat traps snap traps, glue boards, and live traps.

Glue Boards And Snap Traps

On glue boards, animal sticks to the liquid glue on the board. It is considered the most inhumane way to get rid of rats.

The snap traps are powerful and fast and can harm other small animals. Using these traps is dangerous for other animals. Pet or wild animals can get stuck and die on the glue boards. Similarly, any animal, regardless of the size, can get trapped in the snap trap.

Live trap

Out of three live trap is the safest. Place the live trap in many places around your house or yard. Check the live trap multiple times a day. When you find a trapped rat, release it far from your property. Therefore, live traps are the humane and proper way of getting rid of rats without harming other animals.

Employ Owls To Kill Rats

Owls are natural rat killers. One cannot simply adopt an owl, but you can attract them to the house, garden or yard. Owls are nocturnal, just like rats. To draw owls into your garden, build an owl house on trees.

Ensure that the owl house does not have a large opening so other birds can get inside. Place the owl box at least eight feet high on an old, sturdy tree so squirrels cannot get inside.

Use Electric Rat Repellents

Ultrasonic rat repellents will not have any effect on the dogs. The bonus point is that these electronic rat repellents are cheap and last more than three years. The ultrasonic rat repellents emit high-frequency sound waves.

Humans cannot hear the sound emitted from these ultrasonic repellents. Only certain animals can listen to these sounds. Plus, this sound also causes disturbance in rodent communication. The ultrasonic repellent does not affect dogs, as they do not mind the sounds.

Place Dry Ice

Dry ice is composed of carbon monoxide, which is poisonous. Most exterminators place dry ice inside the rat burrow to suffocate them to death. Carbon monoxide causes red blood cell breakdown in the rat leading to a lack of oxygen.

Crush about two and a half cups of dry ice and place it inside the rat burrow or the tunnel. Seal the tunnel securely. So there is no gap. The carbon monoxide fumes releasing the dry ice will kill the rats trapped inside. Within two hours, rats will die in the burrow.

Use Pet-safe Rat Poison

Baking soda is a natural rat poison that can kill them within a few days to weeks. It is safe to use baking soda in the house with pets and children, as baking soda is not dangerous to them. To attract rats, add bait to the baking soda.

Mix a tablespoon of baking soda in the flour or the peanut butter. Place this bait near the rat burrow. Baking soda causes gas production in the rat intestine as rats have no way of passing gas naturally it will die due to acid build-up. If your dog eats this mixture, it will not have medical issues.

How To Get Rid Of Rats Outside Without Harming Wildlife?

Rats are the famous pest that will visit your home in search of food. While getting rid of these annoying pests, you can harm animals. You might think, I do not have any pet animals, so I can use any method to get rid of these annoying creatures.

However, you are wrong; While getting rid of rats, you can harm wildlife. Therefore, below are some tips that you can use to get rid of rats without causing any harm to the wild animals.

Trim The Bushes

Bushes and overgrown vegetation in the yard provide rats with hiding spaces. To get rid of rats, you must remove their hiding space. Clean your yard regularly and trim the bushes. So, there is no space for rats to hide. Bushes grown close to the walls are the most dangerous as rats can chew through the wall while hiding.

Install Motion Sensor Light 

Rats are nocturnal and are active in the dark hours. They avoid places with light. Installing a motion sensor will repel rats because they do not feel comfortable in the bright lights. Flashlights can also do the job of getting rid of rats. But it is not as successful as rodent-repelling lights or motion sensor lights.

Motion sensor light scares the rodents due to its randomness. Rats prefer quiet, dark spaces. When there is sudden light, they will run away.


Trapping the rat alive is the safest and most humane way of getting rid of rats. Place a bait such as cheese or peanut butter inside your trap. When the rat moves into the trap, it will get stuck. Later, when you find the rat, release it far from your house.

If you trap another animal other than a rat, you can release it safely too. It is safe to use traps when you want to protect wildlife.

Plant Herbs In Yard

Planting herbs like mint, rosemary, lavender, oregano, basil, and sage in the yard, keep rats away. Rats can smell these plants from miles away and never come near your house. Therefore, your home will be safe and protected against rat invasion.

What Is The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of Rats Outside?

The most basic method to prevent rats invasion or getting rid of rats is keeping your property clean. When your house and yard are clean and provide no food or shelter, rats will not even come near it. The main reason rats are attracted to any place is food.

Throw away your trash in sealed bags in proper dustbins, so the pest cannot smell it. Cleaning the yard is essential. Remove weeds, and overgrown bushes, cut the long tree branches, and sweep the piles of leaves. Plus, clearing the fallen fruit regularly, so there is no meal left for rats.

What Does Mothballs Do To Rats?

Rats hate mothballs. According to the article by Sharma SN, Singh R, Kumawat R, Singh SK. on Rodents’ as Public Health Pests: Identification, Surveillance, and its Management.

Peppermint oil is not as effective as using mothballs to repel rats. A rat can come back after a few days if you use peppermint oil, but it probably will never come back when you use mothballs.

Mothballs suffocate rats to death. It is highly toxic and causes the breakdown of red blood cells in the rat decreasing oxygen. The maximum a rat can survive after eating a mothball is five days. You have to be very careful when using mothballs around children or pets.

Do Rats Hate The Smell Of Bleach?

Rats have sensitive olfactory receptors. They can smell things from a mile away. So rats will avoid places with sharp scents like bleach and ammonia. To keep rats far from your property, spray bleach in the surrounding, on the doors, and on the windows.

You will no longer have rat visits. If you find a rat burrow in your house, pour some bleach over it, and the rat residing in it will run far away without looking back.

What Kills Rats Instantly?

Glue traps and snap traps kill rats instantly. Both of these are considered an inhumane ways of eliminating rats. Plus, these traps can also cause serious harm to the cats. If a rat gets stuck on the glue trap, it will die due to the ripping of the skin. Snap trap is placed near walls to snap and trap rats leading to their death.

Can You Get Rid Of Rats Permanently? 

Yes. You can get rid of rats permanently; if you keep the house clean and seal the potential entry points. For this, you will have to locate rat access. Go around the house and carefully inspect each corner, including walls, ceilings, around the door, windows, fireplace, inside the cabinets, water pipes, and the attic.

When you find a hole, block it using metal hardware cloth. Do not ignore the hole as small as half an inch because rats can squeeze through one-fourth inch small spaces. After sealing the holes with cement, grow the rat repelling plants around your house.

Which Smell Do Rats Hate?

The rat hates the smell of predators. Common rat predators are cats, owls, snakes, and weasels. Adopting or attracting one of these animals to your house can be beneficial in limiting rats’ house visits. Rats have sensitive olfactory receptors.

They can smell other animals or predators from miles away. Many people spray fox urine around the house to scare away the pest. It is filthy but a successful method of eliminating rats.

Research by Rafal Stryjek, Berenika Mioduszewska, Ewelina Spaltabaka-Gędek, and Grzegorz R. Juszczak, on Norway rats’ behavior toward predator urine smell, states that rat’s exposure to the environment it lives in impacts its fear.

Wild rats are more comfortable with predators than house rats or rats in other places. Also, the predator smell displays anxiety and fear among the rats.

What Can I Put Down Outside To Keep Rats Away?

There are many natural rat repellents that you can use to eliminate rats. Plus, these natural repellents will probably not harm other animals. The plants that will keep the rats away include peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender, oregano, rosemary, peppers, lemon, basil, onion, garlic, and tomatoes. Grow these plants in your yard or kitchen garden and keep the rodents away.


Eliminating rats from your property is essential, but the safe removal of rodents is necessary. Because in some rats removal has caused injuries and death to the pets and other animals. The article summarizes all the methods to remove rats without harming other animals like squirrels, cats, dogs, and wildlife.

I have continually emphasized the safe and humane way of getting rid of rats. Cleaning the house, natural repellents, and live trapping are the most successful and cautious ways of getting rid of rats without harming other animals.


Stryjek, R., Mioduszewska, B., Spaltabaka-Gędek, E. et al. Wild Norway Rats Do Not Avoid Predator Scents When Collecting Food in a Familiar Habitat: A Field Study. Sci Rep8, 9475 (2018)

Sharma SN, Singh R, Kumawat R, Singh SK. Rodents’ as Public Health Pests: Identification, Surveillance and its Management. J Commun Dis 2019; 51(4): 47-57