Rats in my shed, help!
That alarming moment when you open the shed door, and see a rat scurry behind your garden equipment; it can give us quite a fright!
Understanding why you have rats in your shed, is often the key to getting rid of them.
The 3 main things rats look for are food, water and harbourage/shelter. If you store bird or dog food in the shed, this should be kept in a metal bin to stop rats gaining access; avoid plastic as they can chew through it easily. Rats will also eat any stored grass seed, bulbs or other dried seed types, again these should be stored securely.
Any spilt food should be cleaned up immediately, and any spoiled/spilt food that the rats have created should be binned.
What to do first? Cleanliness is next to Godliness!
The most important thing to do first and foremost, is get some old clothes on and a sturdy set of gloves that can be binned after use. It’s time to sort the shed, clean and tidy up, check for damage and put things away in an orderly manner. Belongings should be disinfected thoroughly, rubbish removed and damaged items checked over and disposed of if they can be.
It is important to check where their running, usually displayed as darker, greasy trails, or somewhat clean runs should the floor be very dusty and usually undisturbed.
After everything is clean, it’s time to focus on trying to store things neatly and where possible, off the ground and in storage boxes.
Second on the List – Identify how they got in?
Rats can squeeze through a hole the size of their skull, their ribs are hinged, allowing them to compress and gain access through extraordinarily small openings.
Key places to consider are the corners of the shed and cladding that may have been chewed, look for daylight shining through. Floorboards should be inspected and again, look for chewing and damage. Next, look at the shed doors and windows as well as where the roof meets the walls, they should close securely, with no gaps under or around them. Broken doors and panelling should be fixed as soon as possible, even a wood offcut screwed to the inside will suffice. It is worth checking the guttering and drainpipes, should you be lucky enough to have a toilet in the shed/workshop, check the pipes and fittings; rats can hold their breath for 3 minutes, they can swim up into your toilet bowl.
Thirdly, rat proof your shed.
As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. This is just as relevant when dealing with pests. If you can stop rats gaining entry to your building, you will save money, time and potentially avoid a host of diseases that rats carry. Below is a list of common entry points and how to rat proof them.
Doors should be hung square, close securely and be capable of locking/latching closed. Traditional shed doors are usually ledged and braced, these are not particularly secure, not just against rats but thieves. An easy upgrade is to frame the door internally, even adding a frame to the bottom of the door will work well against rats and help to seal up any rotten battens/boarding. Make sure the door sits low to the ground, creates a secure seal but can open freely.
The door frame should also be checked over visually, any gaps should be sealed and filled.
The same principles as doors apply for windows, ensure the close securely, can be fastened/locked and have no gaps. Loose panes should be secured with framing/baton.
The roof might seem like an unlikely cause, however from experience, it is often an easy point of entry for rats. Dependant on your roof type, the key areas are the soffits, eaves and fascia. Ensure they cannot access through these; wire mesh or wire wool is a great exclusion method; rats will not chew through wire wool. Guttering should be in good order and single pitch roofs should have a secure fit and seal.
Another often overlooked problem is vegetation, especially creepers. Not only do they damage your sheds structure, creating gaps and damp issues, they also act like a ladder for rats to climb up. Where possible remove or trim back to help reduce this.
Rats are renowned for living under sheds, its warm, secure and often undisturbed. To that end, they often end up exploring what’s above them, and chewing through your floor to gain access to your shed. Floor boards/sheets should be fastened securely and any holes repaired.
If your shed has other utilities such as water, a toilet or fans and mains power, it is important to check that these are fitted properly, any damaged or missing brick work/timber is filled and repaired and pipes are sealed if not in use. Do not use plastic drain valves, they will be chewed through in a matter of days by the rats.
Controlling rats in your shed
People often think that they should not seal up the shed if rats are an issue, as they might seal them in; this is not the way to think. Once we have removed as many variables and scenarios as possible, it is a simple task to then control them. Lethal control by trapping is best, poison should be left to the professionals. What’s more, when the rat finally dies from the poison, it could have crawled into your shed insulation where it is safe and warm. An inaccessible, decomposing rat in the height of summer is not a good experience; the smell, maggots and flies are all things to consider.
There are many traps available on the market, the trusty old snap trap, to more advanced self-resetting traps, the choice would be up to you. The key is to check regularly, dispose of rats as soon as possible and avoid poison and inhumane glue boards.
I have tried to be as succinct as possible, however I fear I have waffled! The main points to takeaway are regularly check your shed for signs of unwanted visitors, repair any issues immediately and keep the shed clean and tidy with any food stored securely in rat proof containers. I would personally rather have rats in my shed than mice, they are notorious for chewing our most beloved belongings! If you need any advice, feel free to give us a call and we’d be happy to offer some experience.
Thanks for reading,
- A24 Rat & Mouse Trap - Counter Kit £134.00 Incl VAT
- Rat & Mouse Trap - A24 1 Year Counter Kit £139.99 Incl VAT