How to reduce or eliminate Rats in your Garden

How to reduce or eliminate Rats in your Garden

With the explosion of gardens and chicken coops in the city, there is also an explosion in the rat population.

Last year, we saw rats in our yard early in the morning and late in the evening just before dusk.  We tried rat traps with peanut butter and even hot glued nuts to the trap to try to catch them with no luck.

We noticed one area of the garden with squash and tomatoes being chewed on and eaten by rats.

This year we started seeing signs of them again and just this week I lost my first two tomatoes to what I believe are rats.  I was just about to pick a ripe Roma tomato and a Prairie Fire tomato when I went out the next morning they were gone picked clean off the plant with no signs of the tomato.

I have been following another tomato gardener and I will try to use his method to eliminate the rats in my yard.  He recommended the use of Tom Cat Rat Traps for each tomato.

The most difficult part of using these traps is having to pick them up each morning so that I do not catch our dog, squirrels, or neighbor pets since it would significantly injure or kill them and I do not want to harm anything other than the rats.

You can hire pest exterminating companies to come in and deal with the rats.  I would recommend you check out the company before hiring them and verify how they will be handling the problem to make sure they are not using poisons or other dangerous traps that could injure your pets or your neighbor’s pets.

The cost of exterminating companies can be very expensive and you may not be a permanent solution since they may move back in after the exterminating company is done which would mean you would need to have them treated regularly and permanently.

After sharing my success in using the Tom Cat Traps a friend of mine shared how he disposed of the dead rats that he now was catching, which I would like to pass along to you.  Once he trapped the rats to dispose of them he would put them in an area of the yard that pets could not get to and leave them for the crows to come in and pick them up to eat.

They seem to love the free meal and you do not need to deal with the smell of a dead rodent.

Tom Cat Rat Traps

On my first night with the traps set all 3 traps were empty, I had baited them with pieces of a Sungold tomato since they appear to like my tomatoes.  One of my traps actually had the tomato missing and I found pieces around the trap.  Not sure how they could take it without setting the trap off.

We also heard that they do not like the smell of mint so we potted mint throughout the garden, since the 2 tomatoes missing were on plants right next to a mint plant I do not believe that mint will deter them.

You do not want to use poison since whatever eats the poison and is then eaten by another animal it will kill them as well.  Such as birds, and pets like dogs and cats.  Do not use poison

Just because you don’t use poison does not mean neighbors are not using the poison to kill rodents.  I would recommend you walk your yard to make sure you do not have any dead pests that have died in your yard if you have pets that will be in your yard.

You should walk your yard to see if there are places that need to be cleaned up to eliminate a place for rats to take shelter this will also help to keep the rats away.

Do not leave dog or cat food outdoors, this will attract rats and mice.

Do not have open compost bins this will attract rats, it is best to have enclosed barrels that animals cannot get access to.

I will keep posting my results so that you know if this new trap works or not and I will experiment with other remedies as I find them.  I did not grow my garden for the rats to eat, this will be my focus since my vegetables are just now coming on.


Night 1= 0

Night 2= 1 rat caught

Our dog chased a rat that was carrying a green tomato across the yard.  Now very upset that they are eating my green tomatoes.  I set 5 traps that evening.  1 rat dead in a trap and I was surprised that they sprung another trap without getting caught.

I set 4 traps around the 3 tomatoes that have fruit beginning to ripen and that is where we trapped the rat.

Night 3= 2 rats caught

The two traps that were not sprung had the bait (a piece of tomato missing) I have discovered that you need to wedge the tomato piece in so that they have to work to get it out, which will spring the trap.

I am sad that 2 larger green tomatoes were removed from the plants by the rats, so I know there are more to trap

Night 4= 1 rat caught another escaped after triggering the trap

Rats are eating green tomatoes as well as red ones.  If untreated the rats can destroy your vegetable garden, I had a few nights that we had 7-10 tomatoes eaten by the rats.  I recommend using the traps as often as possible to keep the population in check.

Going forward I will give the running totals of the rats we have trapped this summer= 35

The best bait to use that they have to work to get out is peanut butter.

You might think about securing your traps to a piece of wood or attaching them to something.  I had several traps that were not in the location where I set them and found that the rats had been trapped but dragged the trap off.  Once I found them unfortunately they had not died so I had to shoot them with a pellet gun.

I had not attached my traps to anything and now one of them has vanished, I am assuming it has a rat attached to it.  I also have decided to cover the traps with some wire that will allow rats to get into it but will keep other animals from getting caught by the traps.


I am also trying something to protect my larger tomatoes from being eaten by pests, I have wrapped the tomatoes in tulle (this is a mesh fabric).  I will keep you posted on the results.

The tule wrapped around the tomatoes and tied to the stem works well if you make sure the tomato is completely sealed so that the rats cannot get to the tomato.  I had some that were not wrapped very well and tied off and the rats got to the tomato.

Based on the results I would highly recommend using tulle to protect your tomatoes from rats, squirrels, birds, and other pests.  You can use string to tie them or clothes pins to secure the tulle.

One other person that I followed on their videos dealing with rats mentioned that after a while the rats figured out how to chew threw the tulle and now are using a wire mesh around the fruit and vegetables to keep the rats out.  I will try this and will post updates here so keep checking in to see the progress.

Co2 Cartridge Rat and Mouse traps are supposed to be very effective and are safe around pets and children.

There are other models that will give you a counter every time the trap is set off.

The great part about these traps is they reset themselves so that it can kill multiple rats per night without you having to reset the trap.

I have not used this trap but have heard that they are great to use especially with pets and children in the area.  I will update you if I purchase one since they are very spendy.

I have used mint plants scattered throughout my garden in pots and this year will try mint spray since I have read several articles on using this to keep the rats from coming into the area.

I hope this post on How to reduce or eliminate Rats in your Garden is helpful since this is a critical problem for all of us that garden.

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