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What Smell Drives Rats Away?


No one wants to see rats in their home. The filthy pests leave droppings and urinate all over, and you don’t even want to think about the diseases they might bring. Aside from keeping the home clutter-free, some scents are also effective in driving rats away from the property.

So what kind of odor can keep rats away from your home? Rats have a better sense of smell than humans which is why they find a lot of scents repulsive such as chemical smell, predator smell, and natural smell. However, it won’t be enough to simply rely on these odors for rat control because these adaptable creatures can easily get used to the smell.

What Scent Can Repel Rats?

Every year during winter, around 21 million American households are affected by rodent problems. At this time of the year, rats seek a stable food source and shelter from the extreme temperature outside. If you want to make the house less attractive for these pests, homemade repellents are a cheap and environment-friendly option to keep them out.

Many people believe that astringent, menthol, and spicy odors are effective in keeping mice away. This makes peppermint oil, chili powder, citronella, and eucalyptus the most common natural rodent repellents.

Chemical smells, such as ammonia, bleach, and mothballs also work as mice deterrents. These substances are typically found in a home, which is why some homeowners utilize these chemicals if there is no peppermint oil or chili powder available.

Rodents also turn their tails once they catch a whiff of a predator, even if there isn’t one nearby. Cats, ferrets, raccoons, and other rat predators emit a certain chemical that is easily picked up by the rats.

Are Homemade Repellents Effective?

Most of the time, homemade repellents are significantly less effective than they claim. Even if the scent manages to cause irritation for the rodents and keep them, they will eventually get used to the smell and carry on with their routines.

Although rats have a keen sense of smell that helps them locate food in a home, they are adaptable to any place they live in. Remember that these pests can survive in a sewer – an environment that’s harsher than a home. It will definitely take more than just astringent odors to keep them out permanently.

3 Odors that Will Deter Rats in Your Home

There are three kinds of odors that rats dislike: chemical smells, predator smells, and natural smells. These deterrents should be accompanied by more effective preventive measures, such as keeping the house clean, sealing gaps in the walls, storing food in sealed containers, and trapping rats where they are seen.

Although these repellents shouldn’t be the only rodent control method in a home, these can help keep the pests out for some time.


1. Natural Smell


Out of the three kinds of odors that can repel mice, natural smells are probably the weakest repellents. Rats can survive in smelly environments like sewers. If these rodents are already used to such strong odors, then natural repellents like peppermint, chili powder, eucalyptus, eucalyptus, and citronella will have limited effects on them.

  • Peppermint Oil - The scent of peppermint smells nice in a home, but this pleasant odor is something that rats dislike. According to a study published in Thailand in 2010, rats spent significantly less time hanging around in places where the scent of peppermint lingered. To use peppermint oil as a repellent, just put a few drops of the essential oil on a cotton ball. Place the cotton in areas where there are signs of rat activity. You can also plant peppermint around the house’s perimeter to keep the rodents out.

  • Chili Powder - Chili is believed to cause irritation in the nasal passage of rats when inhaled by the rodent. These rodents won’t return to the same area where they smelled or ingested chili powder. To keep the rodents out, it’s important to sprinkle the chili powder in the rat-infested areas every day.

  • Eucalyptus - The potent smell of eucalyptus can prevent the rats from nesting in a house. Some homeowners prefer this essential oil to peppermint because it has a milder scent than the latter. According to a 2014 study, even a eucalyptus solution with a 5% concentration can keep the rats from stealing food in an area. Instead of putting drops of eucalyptus oil on a cotton ball, this essential oil is typically diluted in 5%, 10%, or 20% concentrations. To keep the rats at bay, make sure to spray the diluted eucalyptus solution in the rat’s pathway every day.

  • Citronella - Citronella is typically utilized as a mouse repellent, but it is also effective in repelling mice. A study published by the Punjab Agricultural University found out that rats avoided the food located in areas that were sprayed with citronella oil. Another effect that the scent of citronella can induce on rats is reducing their appetite. According to research published in 2015, rats that were exposed to the scent of citronella oil experienced a significant decrease in their body weight because of reduced appetite.

2. Chemical Smell

Store-bought rodenticides contain chemical substances that are proven effective in killing or repelling mice. However, the biggest problem with using these repellents is that the chemicals are also toxic to pets and humans as they are for the rodents.

When handling the following chemicals as rat deterrents at home, make sure to read the label first to prevent poisoning or other health hazards. Here are three chemical smells mice hate which are also found in most households:


  • Ammonia - Ammonia is used as rat deterrents because it mimics the scent given off by rat predators like cats. To utilize ammonia as a rodent repellent in your home, simply mix two cups of the chemical with 6.5 oz of water and 2 spoons of detergent. Pour the solution into a bowl and place it in an area where rats pass through.

  • Bleach - Bleach is commonly utilized as a cleaning agent at home, but it can also keep mice away. Dilute the bleach with water so that the stench won’t be too much for your home. Aside from repelling mice, bleach can also disinfect the areas that have rat droppings, blood, and urine.

  • Mothballs - Mothballs are solid substances that are made of naphthalene. But it would take a huge amount of these substances to have a significant effect. The scent of naphthalene also lingers in the area even after it’s long gone, which is why mothballs are not a good option for homes with children and pets.

3. Predator Smell

Rats dislike the smell of their predators, even if they aren’t found anywhere near the area. If a rat finds a place that smells like a cat, ferret, or raccoon, there’s a huge chance that the rodent will stay away from that site.

According to a study in The Journal of Neuroscience, the stress hormones of rats increased when they were exposed to the odor of cats and ferrets. The rodents also showed defensive behaviors such as prolonged rearing, grooming inhibition, and avoidance of the item that reeks of predator scent.

Since the smell of rat predators can induce fear in the pests, keeping a pet cat may help in repelling mice. However, it’s also important to remember that rats can become aggressive when cornered. They can transmit disease-carrying parasites to the pet or seriously injure them while fighting back.

Keep Your Home Rat-Free with Midway Pest Management

Are rats starting to build a nest in your home? It’s important to stop them before they start wreaking havoc and spreading diseases in the house. Call a professional exterminator like Midway Pest Management once you notice the first signs of rodent presence, such as droppings, gnaw marks, and greasy tracks.

Here at Midway Pest Management, our technicians are experienced in eliminating the rodent population using the right tools and best approach. Contact us today.


Read more: Will Mice Crawl on You While Sleeping?

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