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What Scents Are Rats Afraid Of?


Humans are afraid of rats. This is why we always go to great lengths to make sure our homes are free of rats. If only we can make our homes less attractive not only to rats but to all pets, then this would be a perfect world.

People try so many things; rat baits and traps, rat poisons, and even having a cat to do nightly patrols. Sometimes, these are effective, but do you know that rats are one of the smartest animals on earth? Rats somehow find ways to elude all these traps we set, which is why their species continue to thrive despite all our efforts at exterminating them.

Which brings us to the question: Are there scents that deter rats from staying in our homes? If indeed there are, then it makes perfect sense to add them to our arsenal of rat deterrents.

Before we dive into finding out if there are scents that rats are afraid of, let us examine what rats are and why we should get rid of them.

Overview Of Rats

There are pests in our home that are simply a nuisance. Their presence does not cause health problems to homeowners; pests like moths, weevils, silverfish, and centipedes are among this. Then there are high health risks like mosquitoes, cockroaches, and spiders.

Rats are in another level on its own, however. They are nuisance pests. They find their way to our clothes, food, books, and papers. They chew on these important items. Once chewed on, these items are almost useless. The health risks come when they contaminate our food and water. Rats contaminate food and water with their droppings, saliva, and urine.

There are at least 60 species of rats. Though they come in different sizes, they are typically 5 inches in length. Rats are medium-sized rodents with thin and long tails. Rats are different from mice in that they are larger and have thinner bodies. Rats multiply very quickly; a rat can start to bread five weeks after being born. Then they can reproduce after every three weeks and can do so for two years. Here in the United States, the city with the largest rat population is Chicago, followed by New York City. Washington D.C. comes in at third.


Rats are found all over the world. They are found in all continents except for Antarctica. They can be found in rice fields, in trees, in sewers, near houses, and anywhere near humans because, when there are humans, there are food sources.

The house rat lives in warmer climates, while brown rats live in temperate climates.  

Behavior And Habits

Rats are extremely intelligent animals. They are more intelligent than dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, and gerbils. They have an incredible memory. If they learn about a new path or direction, they will never forget it. Pet rats remember their owners much as a dog or cat would. Rats are also highly sociable. They live in social groups. They play with each other, and when they sleep, they curl up next to each other. They feel loneliness too and are very emotional. When they lose a loved one, or a mate, or are simply caged, they get extremely sad and lonely. But when they are happy, they laugh too.

Rats do not need much water to survive. They can go for 20 days without it and they would be fine. They get hydrated from the food they get.

Rats have this nasty habit of chewing on anything. They chew our books, papers, clothes, cardboard, and boxes. The reason for this is that they have incisors that are constantly growing throughout their lifetime. They need to chew on something to stop it from growing.


Rats are primarily dependent on humans for their food source. They scavenge for food in our trash, and worse, attack our food on the table or cupboard. Rats really prefer meat but are actually omnivores so they can still survive in the absence of meat. They are known to eat grains too. Aside from that, they kill insects for food, as well as snails, small mammals, birds, and fish.

Rats Are Disease Carriers And Transmitters

Rats transmit diseases by contaminating food and water through their droppings, saliva, and urine. This is the biggest reason for us to get rid of them. One of the diseases they cause is rat bite fever. This is a disease humans get after getting in contact with rats infected with the bacteria Streptobacillus moniliformis and Spirillum minus. Symptoms are fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and rashes.

Haverhill fever is another rat-induced disease. This one is almost the same as the rat bite fever but is contracted by ingesting food, water, or other liquids that are contaminated by rodents. Signs and symptoms are similar, but with more severe vomiting and sore throat. Those who are at high risk in getting this disease are those who keep rats as pets. People who work near rats are also vulnerable. Signs and symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pains, and joint pains.

Leptospirosis is contracted through rat’s urine in flood waters usually, and enter the bloodstream when there is a break in the skin. It is caused by the genus Leptospira.  Signs and symptoms include headache, vomiting, nausea, high fever, jaundice, red eyes, rashes, and abdominal pains.

Can We Repel Rats With Scents?

This brings us back to our original question. The elders would recommend a few scents that they say can repel rats and deter them from infesting our homes. For instance, they do recommend mothballs. Mothballs contain naphthalene. Naphthalene is known to prevent the ability of the red blood cells to carry oxygen in mammals. The truth is the amount of naphthalene in mothballs is too small to affect rats. It definitely works on moths and other insects, but not in larger rats.

Others recommend peppermint and cedar leaf. Try soaking a cotton ball with peppermint oil and place it near any possible entrances of rats. This is said to deter rats from entering your home. Same is true with cedar leaf oil. Use it the same way as we would with the peppermint oil. However, the problem with this is that the smell of peppermint oil and cedar oil rises up and does not stay down to ground level. Rats are too small to smell it, so when the scent of these oils rises up, it will be practically useless, at least if your intention is to repel rats.

Rats are also said to hate the smell of cloves. Using a cheesecloth, fill it with crushed cloves, then add cayenne. Place it anywhere you see a rat.

What about urine? They say rats do not like the smell of urine. Ammonia is closest to urine in terms of scent. Get some bottle caps, and fill with ammonia. Place these ammonia filled bottle caps in places that are frequented by rats.

You may or may not try these stop-gap measures. If you have them in the house, then why not try it? The thing is, there are no studies that can support these. Basically, these are myths. Once rats are set comfortably in your homes, they would most likely stay there the rest of their lives. They would just not risk going back out to the outside world again, with the threat of death hanging over their heads. Besides, a rat is used to the smell of garbage, and sewers, so they can definitely tolerate any smell we throw at them. In that case, you can probably try the services of the best pest management in North Carolina, Go-Forth Home Services.

DIY Management

The best way to prevent rats from entering your house is to seal off all openings, cracks, and holes around your house. This effectively closes all entry points that a rat may have. Traps may work for some time, but this will not eradicate them.

Remove their food source too. The only reason rats enter our homes and become pests is that they can find food there. Place food in sealed containers. Then regularly throw away your garbage, where they can always forage for food. Cutting off all their food source diminishes their reason for staying in your homes.

Go-Forth Home Services

If you feel that rats have invaded your own private space, you may contact the best pest management in North Carolina, Go-Forth Home Services.

Go-Forth Home Services has a team of highly skilled and well-trained experts who the only state of the art equipment. They also employ family friendly and pet-friendly methods of extermination, so you know your family would be very safe. The team has excellent experience in exterminating pests like rats, mice, roaches, mosquitoes, moths, flies, and weevils.

Go-Forth Home Services is a family-owned company that has earned the trust of residents and business establishments in North Carolina for more than 50 years now. For more inquiries or to set an appointment, contact us today.