Many homeowners don’t realize it, but the space beneath the decking serves as the perfect location for rats to take shelter. If they are living under the decking, there is a good chance they will find a way to get into your home as well.
Rats are uninvited visitors, and it is important to take rat-proofing steps to eliminate them before they cause serious damage to the structure of the decking.
What Are the Signs of Rats Under Decking?
One important thing to understand is that rats tend to be more nocturnal animals, which means they’re most active during the night.
As a result, there is a good chance you won’t see them running around under your decking during the day. However, there are numerous signs that can alert you of the presence of rats living underneath your decking.
One of the most obvious signs of rats under your decking is their droppings. They leave them everywhere they visit. In fact, rats are known to produce as many as 40 droppings per day.
These droppings are in the shape of a sausage and can be anywhere from half an inch to three-quarters of an inch. They look similar to a grain of rice. You may also notice an ammonia odour (from their urine) if there are rats in the area.
Rats like to be underground away from predators and humans, and because of this, they will make burrows and passages below the ground.
Look for two- to four-inch holes, and if you see some, there’s a good chance that it is the home of some unwanted rodents.
Gnaw Marks and Rub Marks
If you have ever seen a rat up close and personal, you know they have long teeth in the front of their mouth. These teeth don’t stop growing. To ensure their teeth remain sharp and trimmed, rats will gnaw on various types of hard materials. Rats will also rub their bodies against surfaces, leaving behind the dirt and grease that has built up on their bodies.
Therefore, if there are rats underneath your decking, there is a good chance you will see some gnaw and rub marks on the wooden posts and planks.
There are numerous animals that build nests, and rats are one of them. They use an assortment of materials, including fabric, cardboard, etc. to create a comfortable home for themselves. If you see this type of material bundled up into what appears to be a nest, a rat infestation may be an issue you have on your hands.
How to Eliminate Rats from Under Your Deck In 5 Easy Steps
There are numerous things you can do to eliminate and prevent rats from living underneath your deck. Here are a few ways you can rat-proof your decking so rats won’t find it attractive.
1. Get Rid of Leftover Foods
Rats are highly attracted to areas where they are confident in being able to find sources of food. After all, food is needed to survive.
Therefore, any remnants of leftover food around the decking will attract rats to the area. In order to eliminate this issue, make sure leftover food from eating out on the deck is disposed of properly. Check for food scraps that may have made their way onto the ground and keep garbage cans away from the deck.
All of these steps will ensure there are no food opportunities for the rats.
2. Eliminate Sources of Water
Similar to food, rats need water to survive and will look for any area where they can gain access to a drink. You will want to ensure you have any damaged faucets or pipes repaired to help prevent the leaking of water.
Your decking also shouldn’t be completely level, as this will cause rainwater to pool on the surface which can provide another source of water for potential rats.
If you have pet water bowls outside, they should be stored overnight. If you have a garden with a water source like a waterfall, you will want to remove this from the area.
3. Maintain a Clean Yard/Garden
Rats tend to be attracted to covered, shaded, and overgrown areas, as it provides them with shelter and a place to hide.
The dirtier an area, the more likely rats will be lured to the area. Keep bushes trimmed and the lawn mowed in an effort to reduce large overgrown areas. Piles of wood should be elevated off the ground to deter rats.
4. Create a Rat Barrier
One of the main reasons rats like to make a home underneath your decking is because it is easily accessible, shaded, and dark. Therefore, in order to keep unwanted rodents out, you need to seal off this area so they cannot access it.
Chicken wire is an effective option, as rats generally will not chew through the wire. Potted plants can be placed in front of the chicken wire if you’re concerned about aesthetics.
5. Get a Cat
Rats are able to detect any presence of predators in their immediate surroundings. Therefore, when they catch the scent of a predator, they will avoid that location. For this reason, you may want to consider getting a cat to help deter rats from finding your decking attractive.
Ensure your cat is vaccinated for rabies to prevent an infection in the event it is bitten by a rat.
Note: Dogs work great at scaring rats away as well.
Should You Use Poison to Get Rid of Rats Under Decking?
One of the most effective rat removal techniques is rat poison. This is particularly true if you have a very serious infestation underneath the decking. However, some people may wonder whether the poison is safe to use outdoors.
While rat poison can be used to remove rats under your decking, it is important to do so with some caution. For instance, if a child or pet unintentionally ingests the chemicals from the poison, it could result in accidental poisoning.
With that being said, the best way to use rat poison outside is with rodent bait stations. These devices are equipped with small holes that allow the rats to enter, but they cannot be accessed by children or pets.
Rats are one of the most invasive pests that can cause damage to your decking, your home, and your property as a whole. Given how long decking lasts, it will benefit you in the long run if you maintain it properly and keep it free from pests such as rats.
The information above will help you safeguard your decking and significantly reduce the risk of a rat infestation under your decking.